Make a Wish (Jane Doe Flash Fiction and a Bit About Rocks)

Rough Writers and Friends November 17 flash fiction challenge: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that is told around a campfire.

Charli’s original post for this prompt, at the link above, took me back not only to my grandfather’s fire faeries, but also to the rocks.

Oh, the rocks! He and my grandmother were rockhounds extraordinaire, Grandpa serving for a time as president of Reno’s Gem and Mineral Society. I spent many happy childhood hours with them and pesky siblings and assorted cousins, rambling over the rocky high desert of rural Nevada, eyes peeled for scorpions and snakes as well as for geodes, petrified wood, agate, tiger’s eye, fire opal, rhyolite, obsidian, turquoise. We hunted quartz crystals on Crystal Peak; fossils of fish and snails in the pluvial lake bed of Lake Lahontan; copper nuggets in old tailings of an abandoned mining operation. We found arrowheads and scraping tools and more lovely rocks than anyone knew what to do with. My grandparents’ house and garage and yard overflowed with rocks just as they did with books, each one a treasure. It doesn’t get any better than books and rocks.

Photo: University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. The varying levels of ancient Lake Lahontan’s shoreline are clearly seen.

We went to ghost towns as well, and Grandpa’s jewelry making started there with pieces of old china we found in the remains of web-festooned buildings of stone or rotted wood. He’d carefully cut cabochons with the china patterns intact and set them into stud earrings, dinner rings, and cameo-like necklaces. Inspired, he moved up, buying fancier equipment so he could cut the raw gemstones we found, polishing and shaping them for settings he made himself. My favorite of these Grandpa Originals is still an arm band he and I designed together, a silver snake twining up my arm to a turquoise head.

A mere handful of my Grandpa Originals. I’ve lost and broken countless more.

I liked the geodes best, seemingly dull plain-old-rocks that held treasure, or not, inside. We lugged them back home, if we were lucky enough to find them, and Grandpa would saw them open, all of us hovering around, waiting to see. “Get back,” he’d have to tell us over and over. “Rock chips fly. Stand back.” Sometimes they were more just plain-old-rock inside, but some geodes cradled miniature caves of crystal, pyrite, or chalcedony. My most treasured geode is one I wouldn’t let him cut open, that remains whole to this day, because of the mystery and potential it holds. Schrödinger’s geode.

Thanks for the memories, Grandpa–and Charli, too.

On to the flash:

Off to her left, a low bonfire, in the homeless camp near the stadium. Jane edges forward as her mind travels back.

Back, to childhood fires in stone rings and fireplaces. Her grandfather always let her set the first match. Sometimes he had magic powder she could cast, turning the flames azure, emerald, amethyst.

“Look with soft eyes, see without seeing,” he would say. “See them, in the flames? Fire faeries. See them dancing?” She on his lap, they’d watch together.

She edges closer now, afraid of these strangers but aching for fire faeries, to make a special wish.


This is a vignette from The Life and Times of Jane Doe. Fun flashes from other writers can be found at the Carrot Ranch link above.




Author: Deborah Lee

I like trees, dreaming, magic, books, paper, floating, dreaming, rhinos, rocks, stargazing, wine, dragonflies, trains, and silence to hear the world breathe.

3 thoughts on “Make a Wish (Jane Doe Flash Fiction and a Bit About Rocks)”

  1. What wonderful memories of your Grandpa and rocky days! I wonder if we ever crossed paths? I have a few fossils from old Lake Lahonton, too! With books and rocks, your grandparents’ house must have been pure treasure. I love adding magic powder to a campfire and next time I will soften my eyes and look for the faeries. I hope Jane Doe gets her wish.


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