A man walks into a bar; a bearded, bespectacled geek in his mid-60s; and
puts a pair of dollar coins on the bar. This being Callahan's, he is
shadowed by a blueish aura, a fractal that looks vaguely like an alien
bear with a heart-shaped head and branching antennae. It suits him.
"The usual Genever for me, Mike, and..." he glances at the young woman
beside him, her arm around his waist. "Cranberry martini for you, I
think?" She nods shyly. "A little light on the gin".
She is an inch or so taller, but clearly his daughter, with dark, slightly
wavy hair like his must have been forty years ago, the same nose and
face... She has her mother's eyes, though: grey like the sky just before
sunrise, with golden highlights. Her skin, also, is like her mother's,
pale with a sprinkle of freckles. Very pale.
"I don't have to ask, do I?" the bartender says gently. "And I'm pretty
sure they don't have ID where you come from. But I know you turned 21
today -- your drinks are on the house." The man smiles and leaves the
coin on the bar -- he knows he'll be wanting another drink tonight.
She is slightly transparent, and vanishes like the Bear's aura when they
pass briefly under the light that shows only reality. He deftly takes
her glass and hands it back on the other side. They sit for a while, sip
their drinks, and chat; more like old friends with years of catching up to
do than a father and daughter.
Finally she nods, and they walk over to the chalk line in front of the
fireplace, where they stand with her left hand on his shoulder, his arm
around her waist.
"Friends," the Bear says, "Allow me to introduce my daughter, Amethyst
Rose. She was stillborn twenty-one years ago today, and we've only
recently started to get re-acquainted. She prefers to be called Ame now."
He looks at her with what he hopes is an encouraging smile. She laughs
lightly. "Silly Daddy. I don't know how often I'll get here; it's a long
trip. But I'm glad I'm here."
They raise their mostly-empty glasses. "To coming out!" she says, and
looks sternly at him. "Don't say it!"
"To Ame!" They throw their glasses into the fireplace, where they
crash and mingle their shards in a cascade of blue flame.
They hug tightly, until she finally lets go and says, "I guess I'd better
"Keep in touch?"
"Of course, silly! You know how to reach me." She turns and walks toward
an X-window on the wall.
It shows a twilit clearing among tall trees made of stone; a single
rosebush with jade leaves, obsidian thorns, and a single purple blossom
stands near the far left edge. She walks through it and the surface
ripples like water. The blossom opens as she walks past it into the
The man stares after her for a moment, blinks, and goes back to the bar.
"I think I could use that second drink now," he says.