a short story about wonder and the underground movement to keep it alive

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a short story about wonder and the underground movement to keep it alive

The Regime couldn't ban wonder outright, so they regulated its expression. Unsanctioned art was made illegal overnight. But people need wonder the way they need sleep. The world is a grey, foggy, dreamless place without it.

We all find ways to get our fix. A respectable businesswoman sneaks out at lunch for a wordless hand-off with a backalley novella dealer. The starched-collar math teacher with three children of their own orders "the special" from the cafeteria lunch lady: a data-stick of ‘90s hip-hop taped to the underside of their plate of peas and potatoes.

The galleries and theatres are boarded up, but if you know the right speakeasy password, you can find Kabuki performed by every swath of the gender spectrum, or Shakespeare adapted to cabaret, or a sculptor denuding David from a block of marble for a hooting crowd. In brothels, you can spend a month’s pay on a private recitation of Sufi mystic poetry and get a glimpse of god in contraband Kufic calligraphy.

When we bookleggers and wonderlusters pass each other in the street, we give only the slightest of nods. We know. Wonder is alive and well, an ember wrapped in wet moss and birch bark. We carry it from age to age, waiting for the right bed of tinder and dry pine needles to set it down and show the world its hidden fire once again.

My Kickstarter for Deck of Worlds ends this weekend!

Thanks so much for all your support making it a success!


Short story written by Peter Chiykowski

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Story prompt taken from a photo by Mustafa Cengiz