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It's been about ten years since I read this story. It was a fantasy story in a sci-fi and fantasy collection of top stories. The story followed a boy who met a girl, and I don't remember much else except that it turned out the girl had a jar full of... finger bones? baby teeth? Some other substance? that couldn't be replaced and that gave her magic and/or protection of some kind.

For some reason, the boy decided to smash the jar, and the girl either died or lost her powers in a big, emotional moment.

I'm pretty sure it was in a short story collection alongside the story "Learning to Be Me" (Not in the book Axiomatic, however), but I could be very wrong. I know I read both of those stories very close together, and I think I only had the single collection of sci-fi and fantasy stories.

  • Could it have been in The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Eighth Annual Collection? – Adamant Sep 19 '16 at 23:28
  • 'Learning To Be Me' has been repeatedly collected. Perhaps one of these will jog your memory; isfdb.org/cgi-bin/title.cgi?40532 – Valorum Sep 19 '16 at 23:28
  • "Learning to Be Me" has appeared under these covers. See anything familiar? – user14111 Sep 19 '16 at 23:29
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    “A Tooth for Every Child” maybe? It’s got “tooth” in the name and appeared together with “Learning to Be Me”? – Adamant Sep 19 '16 at 23:37
  • @user14111 - Though what little information I can find insists that it is about a boy named Keith who gives birth to a lobster that’s his mother…or something. – Adamant Sep 19 '16 at 23:45
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I actually found the story, a couple of weeks ago. It was "Nine Fingered Maria", by Hillary Moon Murphy. The jar had the bones of her amputated little finger in it. It was published in New Voices in Science Fiction before being released as a podiocast read by Christopher Reynaga.

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    You should be able to accept your own answer. :) I also updated the entry for New Voices in Science Fiction on ISFDB to include the story among its contents, although it has to go through a moderator first. – FuzzyBoots Jan 8 '17 at 0:05
  • Thanks for coming back and answering this. :-) – Aster Feb 26 '18 at 13:59

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