Not From an Astronomer

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Each week, we pick a short fiction piece from our Fairlight Shorts archives to feature as our story of the week. This week, we’ve chosen a story about affairs by Meredith Miller.

Meredith Miller was born in the U.S. and settled in the UK in 1997. She teaches English Literature and Creative Writing at University. Most of her spare time is taken up with either mountain walking or restoring old buildings, which latter seem to seek her out.  She has lived in Wales since 2018 and speaks both English and Cymraeg.

In her twenties, Meredith wrote and performed poetry as part of a feminist performance collective in New Orleans. She published her first short story in 2009, and has published two novels with Harper: Little Wrecks (2017) and How We Learned to Lie (2018). Her third novel, Hamoaze, is forthcoming from Honno Press in March of 2024. Meredith continues to write and publish short stories, one of which was shortlisted for the Rhys Davies Prize in 2022.

‘Not From an Astronomer’ follows a forgotten astrologist who is ignored by her peers.

Enjoy!

 

Heaven seems rounder at night. It cloches us, breathing frost.

The weather is fine; no one will worry about Lina until morning. Thank God for the illness that shrunk her in childhood, made her delicacy indelicate, pocked her and put her at the edge of protection. Thank God there is no God, only heaven rounding above. Everyone is gone away across the Channel. They’ve sold another telescope to another king and it will take weeks to carry it in pieces to Prussia. Thank the stars themselves for this empty, flat roof.

A sound of scratching, a scurry. A badger in the mulch, perhaps. There are folded skirts of darkness between the sound below and the ticking of the clocks beside her, sharp comfort in the cold. Now the waiting, for her eyes to settle and widen, for the dark to open up. It isn’t sharp sight that’s needed to see the distant stars, it is softening. Even her brothers know that.

The sky breathes tobacco from her father’s pocket inside a halo of unwashed linen, the metal scent of German snow in the English night. That is how things crowd round each other, how they layer up.

The first thing Lina sees in the darkness is herself singing Vivaldi with a sock in her mouth. Herself small and stifled. That girl, so desperate to be quiet, so desperate to sing, is not really here. Fold her away in lavender. No one will need her for two weeks at least. Not at night, anyway.

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