“Unlocking the Air” is the name of a story by Ursula K. LeGuin, and is included in the collection titled Unlocking the Air and Other Stories. It first appeared in Playboy in 1990; the book was published in 1996. It’s a story about the first beginning seconds of making something wished for long after you had ceased to hope for it.

If you haven’t read it, you should. Go buy a copy, it’s damned good stuff. This is a bit from the middle, just as a taste:

When Stefana stopped at last, Bruna stood up as tall as she could, and because they were standing on the highest edge of the Square, in front of the old Dispensary, by craning she could see the great crowd, the faces like snowflakes, countless. She saw the evening darkening, the snow falling, and no way out, and no way home. She was lost in the forest. The palace, whose few lighted windows shone dully above the crowd, was silent. No one came out, no one went in. It was the seat of government; it held the power. It was the powerhouse, the powder magazine, the bomb. Power had been compressed, jammed into those old reddish walls, packed and forced into them over years, over centuries, till if it exploded it would burst with horrible violence, hurling pointed shards of stone. And out here in the twilight in the open there was nothing but soft faces with shining eyes, soft little breasts and stomachs and thighs protected only by bits of cloth.

She looked down at her feet on the pavement. They were cold. She would have worn her boots if she had thought it was going to snow, if Fana hadn't hurried her so. She felt cold, lost, lonely to the point of tears. She set her jaw and set her lips and stood firm on her cold feet on the cold stone.

There was a sound, sparse, sparkling, faint, like the snow crystals. The crowd had gone quite silent, swept by low laughing murmurs, and through the silence ran that small, discontinuous, silvery sound.

“What is that?” asked Bruna, beginning to smile. “Why are they doing that?”

As for me, I live on Gabriola Island, in the Salish Sea off the coast of Vancouver Island, with my partner skadhu, our two beautiful kitties Bird & Pip, and our Golden Retriever Cardhu. I like messing about in computers as well as canoes, and I believe that ducks matter a good deal more than they’re given credit for.

I have been schooled in design, by rod and by lash, and am otherwise self-taught. My current interests include biking, building, and Buddhism.