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Amulets: A Slideshow

Photo of Roberta Allen

Roberta Allen



Eyes closed, Tara squeezed the amulet so tightly in her hand that she shrank the island of Taniqua, her home, to the size of a studio apartment in Manhattan. Suddenly, before her stood Tomo, the handsomest man she’d ever seen. He lived on the other side of Taniqua. Will he be the one? she wondered, absently loosening her grip on the shell, which made the island expand and distanced Tomo a full city block before she squeezed the amulet again.


Overrun by rabid raccoons, mainlanders fled to the island of Kiobo, where they succumbed to long bouts of melancholia until a Kiobian priestess revealed an amulet that drew melancholy from their hearts and minds. They would need to touch it every day, she said. Unknown to them all, a rabid raccoon had hidden in one of the mainlander’s boats. It ran off with the amulet while they slept but another, just like it appeared next morning in its designated place, scaring the hell out of the rabid raccoon who dove headfirst into the sea and never was heard from again.


What was glowing in the sand? She walked over. A piece of wood? Glowing? She bent down, picked it up. No, it wasn’t glowing. Had she hallucinated? It tingled in her hand. A few yards away in the spot where she had stood on the island of Taragonor, the sand suddenly parted, revealing a deep pit. Horrified, she realized that she would have fallen in, had she not spied the curious piece of wood.


Happily rolling around in the tub he had filled with millions of thousand dollar bills, Ray didn’t notice Elliot, his lifelong enemy, tiptoe into the bath room and grab the amulet that had made him rich on the island of Barua. Soon after, Ray was amazed to see the bills sucked down the drain he had not bothered to plug.


Charles always carried his amulet “just in case.” So when he came face to face with the five foot raven on the island of Ditar Lei, he felt brave enough to try and stare the bird down. But the raven didn’t know from amulets. He mistook Charles for a large worm and gobbled him up along with the lucky crab claw that for some reason got stuck in its throat.

About the Author

Roberta Allen

“In my fictive world, flawed natural objects, cast-offs from the sea in varying stages of decay, often shards or tiny fragments, some unrecognizable, are photographed as sacred symbols, each with a particular though arbitrary function defined by a verbal label. Each island is named by recombining the letters in the name of an existing one. I explore a language of forms intended to inspire. Despite their humble origins, these small and seemingly insignificant artifacts aspire through words and images to mystical heights.”

Roberta Allen is the author of eight books. A short story writer, novelist and memoirist, her latest book is The Dreaming Girl, a novel republished by Ellipsis Press. She has been a Tennessee Williams Fellow In Fiction. A visual artist as well, she has exhibited worldwide, and has work in the collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. She teaches private writing workshops.