'Nanoflowers' is the seventh part of Cilla McQueen's Serial, which is being published on this blog in small sections every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

The preceding chapters were:

  1. Higgs
  2. Hotdog
  3. Birdie
  4. Inflation
  5. Pleochroic
  6. Tête à Tête

On Friday we begin the final chapter of the novella - 'Edwin's Egg'.


Eric the Red scanned Births Deaths and Marriages. So Beryl finally had her diamond ring. He closed the newspaper and folded it precisely.

Gather ye rosebuds, Beryl, not getting any younger. He remembered her waist that resisted his hands.

Eggtimer. Preserve in waterglass. Seal the pores. He picked up a cracked shell.

Sands of time, Eric, Beryl murmured, painting egg-white on the petals of small flowers, biological clock, you know? She sprinkled the flowers with icing sugar through a sieve.

Radiant nanoflowers, he said. Petrified violets.

Crystallised. She crushed the eggshells in her hands and looked at him sideways. Don’t let the witches go to sea.

The vegetable garden demanded attention. Unthinned, his carrots grew twisted and shoulder to shoulder. Mandrake. He drew out one corkscrew-shaped, hairy, two-legged carrot, wiped off the earth and bit it. There was a tough yellow stalk inside. Too late.

Lately his thoughts had returned less to Beryl than to NGC2158. He wasn’t sure he’d seen it. Whether what he had seen was NGC2158, because that was the night she had knocked the telescope askew. Since then he had searched in vain.

He looked up at the sky’s blue eyelid, sealed by day and opening at night.

As usual on this date Eric remembered the Czar Alexander, with whom he shared a birthday. Who, he repeated, leaning on his fork, declared the miner’s pick harder to wield than the sceptre.

He winced. A pink potato impaled on the tine.

He stooped to examine a dead fledgeling among the onions. Its translucent eyelid was the bluish white of his mother’s moonstone brooch from Peru.

Her voice was terrifyingly pure. Driving, his father threw back his head and accompanied her in a rich baritone that caused his eyes to water. Eric leaning forward in the back seat listened to their harmony in stereo.

He slipped the potato off.

It was soft-skinned, a black hole through it. Hole in the middle, he chuckled and sat down on the stump.

He pulled the Tolstoy from his pocket and opened it at chapter 21. Smoothing out the corner of the page he read aloud, "'You must be a hole-worshipper. You pray to a hole,' retorted Nekhlúdov’s driver, tucking his whip into his belt and adjusting the harness of one of the outside horses."

Pondering the probability of a torus-universe he continued digging. Emancipation of the serfs, the same birthday he met Beryl.

Obtuse, he had thought. In the transition from observer to participant in her life, he had discovered her acute. Rings around him. Whether she had really gone to Siberia he didn’t have a clue.

He viewed her distant profile, slightly tilted to show that she was listening, her eyes fixed on the road, hands on the wheel,

lightly as they picked lint from his lapel, brushed his shoulders, hovered over muffins depositing teaspoons of jam,

whipped egg-white into glistening peaks, made pastry for a bacon and egg pie, his favourite.

Twinkling in farewell.

Sumerian clay tablet with cuneiform inscription, ca. 2250 B.C.
Reference number: Curios-007-001-1

Stall at a trade fair showing the decoration on a cake that won first prize in the New Zealand Bakers' and Pastrycooks' exhibition
Reference number: 1/2-000269-G

Fragments of moa egg shell
Reference number: 114/282/05-G

Dodge hearse owned by Boyd & Son, funeral directors, Martinborough
Reference number: 1/2-181294-G

Ultra violet ray, Sanatorium, Rotorua
Reference number: PA1-f-051-27-4

Prince of Wales' Feathers Geyser, Wairakei
Reference number: 1/2-031979-G

Albert Percy Godber's grandsons, Colin and Norman Hartwig, with marrows and pumpkins, Silverstream
Reference number: APG-1441-1/4-G

Three Russian refugees working at Griffins factory, Lower Hutt
Reference number: EP/1973/2603/23

Eclipse of the moon
Reference number: 114/275/12-F

Hodgkins, William Mathew, 1833-1898: To further fields...
Reference number: E-014-q-1-024

Mounted deer's head, England
Reference number: 1/2-014036-G

Girl with large piece of kauri gum, Northland
Reference number: 1/1-006276-G

Electric Lamp House Limited :The Lamphouse annual 1948-49. New Zealand's leading radio and electrical guide
Reference number: Eph-B-RADIO-1948-01-cover

Strangely shaped potato
Reference number: 114/266/04-G

Coal miners taking a snack break, Stockton
Reference number: 1/4-001227-F

Group of senior librarians at National Library of New Zealand, 1967
Reference number: PAColl-0522-1-14-2

Sail training ship ARC Gloria in Wellington Harbour, 22 July 1988
Reference number: EP/1988/2970/10-F

Mrs Coley and a dog
Reference number: 1/2-034383-G

Hetley, Georgina Burne, 1832?-1898: Lyre bird.
Reference number: B-073-019

Young boy wearing a woollen garment
Reference number: 1/1-005697-G

Group portrait of the kiwi entertainment orchestra with a member of the Digger Pierrots, 1917
Reference number: 1/2-012912-G

Wreck of ship "Forrest Hall" on Ninety Mile Beach, February 1909
Reference number: 1/1-004956-G

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