I am sweeping the kitchen floor, angling the broom between the wooden legs of the barstools, when I brush against little rainbows splashed across the tile. The morning light has shifted as the sun heads north for summer, and today it finds its way through the bougainvillea outside the eastern window to touch the tiny crystal hummingbirds my mother gave me long ago. Even before I finish turning toward them, these delicate birds, dazzling in the early morning sunlight, I am transported. I am inside a mountain where exquisite flying creatures made of crystal hang suspended in the vast space. I am claustrophobic, but in spite of being inside all that rock, I know only the airy openness and the grandness of the carvings. I am in Fionavar, where Guy Gavriel Kay’s dwarves have made their magic, where he has brought a young woman from our world. Kimberly Ford isn’t claustrophobic, and she has come to love the two men with her very much, both the dwarf who is there to make his claim for kingship and the human mage standing by his side. I take in the dizzying display through her senses.
The awe is alive in me. I return to my kitchen, discover my arms still pushing the broom. I am busy in this world while I visit another. I feel a kind of nostalgia, almost an ache, the way I might miss being part of a place I’ve known and loved in our own world. Later, washing dishes, I remember the rainbows and the way they evoked that other place, and I am struck by what a gift it is to receive this, this intimacy with people and places from other realms, to be allowed to get to know them, love them, even miss them in some undeniable, wistful way. My memories of that cavernous space and all that unfolded later by the lake are as real to me as my memories of this lifetime in our own world. I am struck by how much richer my life is for having known and loved these people, these places Kay gives us. And then, standing beside the sink, I know how much I want to be part of this gifting, how much I want to be able to bring this kind of magic to the world. And it comes to me for the first time, hands wet and soapy, water running from the faucet as I begin to rinse the dishes, what it might mean to have a gift like this. It comes to me, as I stop and stare at myself in the mirror behind the sink, tears burning in my throat, how very much the gift may need to be given.
[Editor’s note: Guy Gavriel Kay is the one I’ve always named my favorite writer from a wealth of favorites. I’ve been privileged to be his contemporary, to have had the pleasure of reading each new work as he completes it, and the buoying hope each time I finish savoring his latest work that there will be another new book one day for me to enjoy. This story is from his first major work, a trilogy titled The Fionavar Tapestry. I can’t say enough good things about it, nor express how grateful I am to have stumbled upon these three hardbacks sitting beside each other on a shelf at the Lake Merritt Library so many years ago when they were not long published. I count this serendipity and the consequence of being able to eagerly greet each new book of his over the decades between that day and this as one of my big blessings in this life. Kay’s website is here: http://www.brightweavings.com/index.htm.]