For a while, I was linking weekly (from my twitter and facebook) to stories of mine from the past decade. I let it lapse, but I thought I’d pick it up again on some Mondays. So:
“Marrying the Sun,” published in 2008 by Fantasy Magazine.
I wrote this story because of a prompt from Vylar Kaftan. She gave me the opening line:
The wedding went well until the bride caught fire.
I’ve been obsessed with Greek mythology since I was a kid, which might be why my first, strange thought was to pair the burning bride with the Greek sun god, Helios.
Bridget’s pretty white dress went up in a whoosh, from train-length veil to taffeta skirt to rose-embroidered bodice and Juliet cap with ferronière of pearls. The fabric burned so hot and fast that it went up without igniting Bridget’s skin, leaving her naked, singed, embarrassed, and crying.
Of these problems, nudity was easiest to cope with. Bridget pulled the silk drape off the altar and tied it around her chest like a toga.
“That is it,” she said. She pried the engagement ring off her finger and threw it at the groom. The grape-sized diamond sparkled as it arced through the air.
Gathering up the drape’s hem, Bridget ran back down the aisle. She flung open the double doors, letting in the moonlight, and fled into the night.
The groom sighed. He opened his palm and stared down at the glittering diamond, which reflected his fiery nimbus in shades of crimson, ginger, and gold. His best man patted him on the shoulder—cautiously. The bride’s father gave a manly nod of sympathy, but kept his distance. Like his daughter, he was mortal.
“Too bad, Helios,” said Apollo.
The groom shrugged. “I gave it my best shot. I can’t keep my flame on low all the time. What did the woman want? Sometimes a man’s just got to let himself shine.”
I don’t do a lot of humor, but with that opening line, what can you do?
I workshopped this during my last semester at Iowa where it got good reception from the other students. No one seemed to mind much that it was fantasy. I really do think the boundaries are dissolving–which I love, because I hope it means more people will be able to find more fiction they’re excited about.
Also, that means it’s been 8 years since I graduated from my MFA. Weird.
This was one of my first breakthrough stories, though the big breakthroughs–“Eros, Philia, Agape” and “A Memory of Wind”–came out the next year. Jonathan Strahan picked it for his Best Science Fiction and Fantasy, Volume 3.