Peyton was warned the lyre would empower her emotions.

“I need to try a different approach!” Peyton shouted in frustration.

The lyre did come with a warning that the musical instrument would empower her emotions. She thought the inventor meant the expression figuratively and not literally. The golden lyre’s ouroboros body of a dragon eating their tail should’ve warned her this was no ordinary instrument. She tried to play a calming song but couldn’t string together any music against the wind’s angry whips.

She retreated inside her tiny rental cabin in the middle of the forest outside Hochatown.

“That’ll teach me to play a song about my breakup on a magical lyre,” Peyton mumbled, trying to make a joke out of her predicament.

She took a deep breath, closed her eyes, and let her mind drift to happy thoughts of cute baby animals and silly memes as she played a peaceful tune. The pounding winds softened against the wooden cabin until the storm came to a complete rest with the song’s conclusion. 

Peyton opened her eyes to the sight of the lyre’s inventor standing before her. Peyton cussed, nearly dropping the instrument.

“What did you give me, Modva?” Peyton demand. “Are you like an actual alien or something? I thought you were in a costume when I met you. And how did you even get in here and find me?”

Peyton met Modva outside a small used bookstore earlier that afternoon in town. Peyton assumed Modva was a human in her late 20s, just like herself and that the light purple skin was cosmetic. She didn’t give the inventor’s appearance second thought even though she didn’t know of any book character who wore a long, white lab coat with black spandex leggings and a black sweater. Two hair sticks tied up Modva’s black hair with rubies encapsulated on the ends, complementing her red sneakers.

“First, as previously instructed, I gifted you with the Winds of Emotion Lyre to help you process your feelings,” Modva calmly and factually stated. “Second, you would technically classify me as an alien based on your definition of being born on another planet. Third, I have tracking installed on all of my inventions to follow up with people. Finally, your door was unlocked.”

Peyton stood silent for a moment as she processed what she’d learned. She marched up to the inventor and thrust the lyre in her arms.

“I don’t know what your endgame is, but whatever it is, I don’t want any part of it,” Peyton huffed as she opened the front door.

“All I was hoping was for you to learn that the journey itself was all that mattered,” she explained as she left the cabin on her own accord, putting up no fight to respect Peyton’s wishes.

“I don’t need some dangerous magically lyre for that,” Peyton scoffed before shutting the door. 

Modva sighed. “Let’s try this day again.”

A photograph of the view from Beavers Bend Brewery during the day while a flight of beers on a table.

Modva stepped off the porch’s steps and walked down a trail to a free-standing wooden white door with a red frame. She pressed down on the black handle and pushed open the door. The door contained another time and place where the sun shined on the small town. The door had a view of Peyton enjoying the view and beers from Beavers Bend Brewery – before Modva gifted her the lyre outside the bookshop.

Modva adjusted her lab coat. “I need to try a different approach.”

A drawing by Mikey Marchan with a blond woman holding a lyre who is angry with the purple alien in a white lab coat for giving her the cursed object.

This week’s short story introduces Modva, a new end-timer! As touched on in the story, Modva’s journey throughout time and space involves her helping people with fantastical inventions that reshape reality.

The story came about from a writing challenge where authors had a list of words, sentence blocks, defining features, and a word count limit of 800. The Defining Features were, “End the story the way you start it. i.e. use a cyclical structure” and “an ouroboros is present somewhere in the story.” The Sentence Blocks were, “Let’s get it started again” and “The journey itself was all that mattered,” which I used all of them. I used two of the four words from the word list, “Cyclical, Doc, Wind, and Music.”

The location was influenced by a visit to the town last year, and this article my friend Heide Brandes wrote for NonDoc.