It rang out like a gunshot, cutting across the clear summer sky. A single, perfect moment of violence nestled down in a gulf of apprehensive silence. Then laughter. Small, distant voices raised in affable squabble as they sorted the spoils of their little war.
Some were machined, bumblebees and swirlies born of sand and slag and turned out on great worm belts in some distant factory most of them would never come to think of. Others were drawn and sculpted over torches by clever folk who loved glass nearly more than life. Those who spent every waking hour gathering, turning, drawing and polishing until alleys, oilies, ades and countless nameless things skittered and danced across parched concrete for the joy of people they would never know. Still others were old, mysterious things from altogether foreign lands, at whose secrets the players could only guess greedily, hoping to acquire them even as they hoped to find them worth acquiring. All of them gleamed as they shot and clacked and leapt over the sidewalk, the rising sunshine turning their little circles into the birthplace of stars, if only for a little while.
The sound briefly filled the kitchen as she closed the cupboard, the little magnetic latch snapping greedily at it's companion. They had come with the house, and so she paid them little mind, preoccupied as she was. If you'd asked, no-one would have been able to tell you exactly where they came from. They worked, and that was enough to know about them until they didn't.
Smaller, quieter sounds filled the little room as she set out the plates and finalized her preparations. The gentle rustle of soft paper plates. The tic-tacking of utensils on pale green formica dressed in gingham cloth. A plasticky pop and hiss of compressed air. The imperceptible plop of ripe, red berries in sweet, white foam capping columns of flat cakes as perfectly round as the Earth in God's eye.
It was nearly time.
It sat and gathered dust on a high office shelf, there more for the look of the thing than with any serious expectation of being read. Even now, it's only companion was the passing reflection in the cabinet pane of the man who had brought it home from the second-hand (third-hand, really) book store, who had got it from a long chain of people going all the way back to nearly the date stamped in silver on it's worn, black velvet cover. A crimped silk strap lay between it's pages, nestled between a lonely poem and a faded painting of a weeping skeleton holding a handful of sand as it slipped away down between his finger-bones.
It was quiet then, with only the faint rustle of the book-louse as it chewed, leaving a trail of word-corpses behind it.
Outside, a mother called to her children to come back inside and have breakfast.
It's their favorite.
And just for one
moment, everything is just