WIP: Solomon’s Choice

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The door slams open.

Merit sweeps in, their cheeks flushed, silver hair mussed as though they’ve been running fingers through it. With eyes for no one but me, they rush to the bed, crouch, and peer into my eyes.

Jason recoils.

Merit stares. Focuses. Narrows their eyes. “Hold still.” And plops an honest-to-gods doctor’s bag on the bed next to me.

It looks like worn black leather as they open it, but it clearly is not, because Merit goes digging in there, to the shoulder, then sticks their entire head inside. “Blasted – there it is!” they proclaim, and rise, pulling out a tiny glass beaker with a blue flower inside.

I see two Merits, briefly. While the possibilities for such a thing are lovely, it strikes me as wise not to comment on it.

Jason goes beet red.

“That’s very flattering,” says Merit, and places the blue flower against my forehead.

Coolness spreads through me immediately, coolness that chases away an unpleasant heat I hadn’t even realized was there. I sigh and lie back.

“Still needs that second dose,” says Merit.

“Where is it, already?” snaps Terrance.

“Supposedly, still in the proverbial cauldron. There we go. Who are you?”

This last was directed toward my son.

No one answers for him.

“Jason,” at last. “His son.”

“Oh, so you’re the son,” says Merit, peering closely. “Fascinating. You look just like him. You weren’t cloned, by chance?”

“No!” exclaims  Jason.

“Pity. That would’ve been interesting to study. How are you feeling, Sol?”

Jason snaps me a look. Yes, yes, someone else I gave my name to. It’s fine, damn it.

“Sol?” says Merit, looking mildly amused. “Possibly – I’m no expert – but possibly, answering the question would prevent you from saying whatever you think out loud.”


“What did I say?” I say.


A three-times bestselling author, Ruthanne Reid has led a convention panel on world-building, taught courses on plot and character development, and been the keynote speaker for the Write Practice Retreat. Author of two series with five books and fifty-plus short stories, Ruthanne has lived in her head since childhood, when she wrote her first story about a pony princess and a genocidal snake-kingdom and used up her mom’s red typewriter ribbon in the process. When she isn’t reading, writing, or reading about writing, Ruthanne enjoys old cartoons with her husband and two cats, and dreams of living on an island beach far, far away. P.S. Red is still her favorite color.