From Modern Mythcraft to Magical Surrealism

PRIMITIVES

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Short Stories

Fiction

Odd Peas in a Pod

The year was 1999. Tupac’s Brenda’s Got a Baby was the anthem in Old Creek ghetto. Yes, I wasn’t born. But the first time, in a beat-up, metal-scrunched blue taxi, on her way back home, when the song came on, Mother felt my first kick coincide with the blistering bass beat. It’s a wonder how I knew that feet were made for dancing.

Fiction

The Memory of Chemistry

We hunt for the structure of the universe in its ghosts. – Dr. Michelle Francl / In the beginning / In the beginning was the trigger warning: / Prepare for insects. Prepare for words in Latin and Spanish. Prepare for science and other species of the supernatural. Prepare for losses that rewire the chemistry of the brain. Prepare for aging and the way it flays you back to the first cell. Prepare for ghosts.

Fiction

Potemora in the Triad

There are always three: the father, the unfather, and the child. That’s why Vriskiaab threw my unfather off his back after she bore my baby sister, or so Vriskiaab tells me when he stops in the shade of a dune, his massive scales warm under my calves and the tail of him stretching behind me for leagues. My baby sister is soft and crimson-tacky in the crook of my arm.

Fiction

Baba Nowruz Gives His Wife a Flower Only Once a Year

My mother tells me all the wrong stories. In our hut beneath the cypress trees, my mother opens up at story time. She steps away from her apron and her broom, her heaps of marjoram and pennyroyal, her pestle and her mortar, and her ingredients for medicinal soups. She throws off her scarf, and oils our hair with fragrant sedr oil. We keep company with her stories as the wolves outside howl their song to the moon. Just as their ancestors have and as their descendants always will.

Fiction

One Day the Cave Will Be Empty

“Tell me again about the night I was born.” Li Shing drags the comb through her daughter’s oil black hair. Impermeable, like a starless sky reflected against a dense sea. Or a fish’s opaque cloudy eye as it gasps at the bottom of a boat. Li Shing’s fist accidentally brushes the creature’s clammy gray neck, and she tries not to shudder.

Fiction

Drowned Best Friend

The clatter of rain against the window draws Lesley close. “Hey,” she hisses from across the kitchen. She calls me by my old name and I don’t even flinch. It’s morning, and I’m trying to get breakfast done before Mom comes down, because a perfectly fried egg makes her more likely to say yes to what I’m about to ask. The light was coming through the windows over the sink all yellow and golden, but the storm blew in fast, and now there’s electricity prickling in the air and everything smells damp. I left the window open, hoping she’d show, despite the water pushing through the screen into Mom’s flowerboxes above the sink.

Fiction

Beginnings

In the beginning, June and Nat are best friends. June is not yet a swarm of honeybees and Nat is not yet a cloud of horseflies, and the king hasn’t yet decided that separating them into parts like this—June’s left pinky finger one bee, her left ring finger another—is the only surefire way to strip them of what they really are. Which, at least in the beginning, is best friends, living together on the outskirts of town, sharing a dresser full of secondhand band tees, squeezing lemon juice onto one another’s hair in the summer, then sitting together on the blacktop to wait.

Fiction

How to Make a Man Love You

Zayyan meets Cecilia on the first day of freshman year. He does not believe in love at first sight, but he does believe in the scientific method, and what is this moment if not empirical evidence of the former? She is like no one he has met before. Black hair pulled into a messy bun, bare arms laden with books, brown eyes ardent as a summer storm.

Fiction

The Dybbuk Ward

I am not an illness. I’m a soul with a goal. Everyone on this floor is here for intrusive thoughts, ideations, risk of harm to themselves or others. What society used to call possession, they now call neurotransmitter imbalance or schizophrenia or obsessive compulsion.

Fiction

Christopher Mills, Return to Sender

This is the dead thing becoming the body. This is the dead thing opening the body’s eyes. This is the dead thing rising from the grave. This is the dead thing saying “What the hell—I didn’t ask to be summoned. I was having a great time being dead and dreaming about nothing.”