I really liked the story about Nura and the magic telescope lens. Really neat. Lots of good detail and imagery. I like Nura's character and how she's secretly a sorceress. I love the story telling format. It works for a shorter piece like this. I also like the last line about the birds.
My only suggestion would be to maybe give the beakers and flasks and potions creative names. I'd go heavier on imagery in his workshop. Maybe everywhere. You really gave us great details for Nura and for the Mushtarij constellation and you could do the same with other things. Like, describe the view from the balcony. Describe the telescope. Just a line or two to give these things life and hint of mystery. Describe the bottle.
I enjoyed the snippet/chapter and wonder what happened to poor Jeff. Obviously, some police worthy crime was discovered between the time Shirley called her husband and he got to his house.
The plot was decent. A sick man seems to have disappeared. Everything is in its place except that there is an unexplainable amount of dust everywhere and his clothing lying in a pile. So I'm thinking maybe something supernatural has happened to him? A new girl friend is mentioned. An earlier accident, so lots of hints of what might explain his disappearance. I really liked all the little clues to a bigger picture.
This reads like a first draft with lots of little mistakes and clunky sentences. I also think both Shirley and Eric wouldn't be too concerned about breaking in if they thought their friend might be lying on the floor somewhere, especially if he should be home.
If this is a first draft, then none of those things really matter and will be taken care of later.
I really enjoyed the story. A man's whole outlook on life is changed because he believes his money has been stolen by a train vendor. Then he learns it was the well dressed gentleman. And eventually, after falling into a cynical state, he learns even that man had tried to return the money.
And, unfortunately, the money seemed to have soured the old man's life, as well. Driving a wedge between his son, sitting there when it could have helped his wife, until he had to spend it to save himself.
I loved the train scene and the simple, straight forward dialogue. I liked the POV's thoughts on everything, too.
My only recommendation would be to make what the older man did with the money more explicit. I wasn't sure if any was left, or what he did with it, if anything.
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