From Modern Mythcraft to Magical Surrealism

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Podcasts

Fiction

10 Steps to a Whole New You

(1) Be unaware that the wolf was presenting itself to you in sheep’s clothing. It began, as most things do, simply enough. In a simple neighbourhood, on the edge of a town. Too urban to be rural, too rural to be urban. Women grew old. Some women aged with their children, grandchildren, family around them. Some grew old alone, isolated, bitter. Others might grow old and die sick, in pain. Then there was you.

Fiction

Things to Bring, Things to Burn, Things Best Left Behind

Oz is holding a knife to his wrist when they knock on the door. For a moment he hesitates, weighing his options. His eyes dart between the door and the knife—eeny, meeny, meiny, mo—and land on the door. “Might as well,” he mutters, and gets to his feet. The dull sound of the knife as he sets it aside on the kitchen table seems to fill the room. It’s a terrible thing, he muses, how loud a house is when there’s no one else in it.

Fiction

Umami

“I have a favour to ask,” said the fushi to the chef, “and in exchange, I will grant you a wish.” “What sort of favour?” Yun San asked. She wiped sweating palms down her brown hanfu and tried to show a brave face. Thick mist had whisked her away from the back of her restaurant into the wilderness. Even were she thirty years younger and somehow able to outrun her captor, she had no idea where she was.

Fiction

An Indefinite Number of Birds

Stanley began watching birds on the day he panicked and asked JD how much he really loved him, and JD responded, “Oh for fuck’s sake, Stanley. How many birds are in the sky? I don’t know—a bunch!” Stanley couldn’t get the question out of his head. By week’s end, he’d bought a birdwatching guide and an embarrassingly expensive pair of Leica binoculars. He spent a tense Sunday morning ready for the birds to awaken and sing the day’s gossips and confessions, watching and ticking things off in his journal as dawn grew from a hint to a bloody smear to proper daylight.

Fiction

To Look Forward

We are the ones who dare, back and forth; our hair whipping over, our hearts full of joy. Our bodies burn bright and clean and crisp, glistening when we reach the sun. A healthy tan has coated our skin, our foreheads drip with sweat, our palms firm and slick. We are: over and over again, up in the air; not known to each other, but known to the sky. Mid-jump, mid-action, mid-reaction, mid-air; always there, on rusted swings, on creaking chains, on hot-sun days, back and forth and over, once again.

Fiction

And This is How to Stay Alive

Kabi finds my body swinging. I watch my sister press her back against the wall and slide to the ground. My mother shouts, “Kabi! Nyokabi!” No response. “Why are you not answering? Can you bring that brother of yours!” My sister is paralyzed, she cannot speak, she cannot move, except for the shivers that take hold of her spine and reverberate through the rest of her without permission. She is thinking No, no, no, no, no. But the word is not passing her lips which only open and close soundlessly. Mum is coming down the stairs.

Fiction

Black, Their Regalia

Outside, the quarantine train was unblemished white. Where its tracks skirted populated regions, barbed wire and warning signs—DANGER! ¡PELIGRO! INFECTIOUS MATERIALS! ¡SUSTANCIAS INFECCIOSAS!—discouraged trespassers from marking the cars with spray paint. The interior was another story. In her cabin, a narrow sleeper with four beds (one for Screaming Moraine, one for Fiddler Kristi, one for Drummer Tulli, and one for their carry-on luggage, several densely packed grocery bags, and an electric violin), Tulli found graffiti scrawled near her upper bunk.

Fiction

The Things My Mother Left Me

Tausi sat listening to her aunts, who crowded in a circle at the far end of the room. Their dresses were a kaleidoscope of greens, reds, blues, and yellows, each worked with repeating patterns that shifted with the eye. Huddled like that they seemed to her one polychromatic beast with seven heads and fourteen limbs. None of them made an effort to whisper as they planned her life.

Fiction

The Padishah Begum’s Reflections

Hidden by the feathers of the Peacock Throne, Jahanara watched the Frenchmen’s heads appear at the top of the steps. Diwan-i-Khas, the hall of so-called private audience, would loom before them now. Morning light caught on its outer pillars and scalloped arches, setting the whole aglow: marble embers sparking with pearl and silver inlay in creeper patterns wound around gearwork. Light slanted through the hall, danced on silk and dust and metal, and threw the delegates’ shadows in before them unannounced.

Fiction

The Lily and the Horn

War is a dinner party. My ladies and I have spent the dregs of summer making ready. We have hung garlands of pennyroyal and snowberries in the snug, familiar halls of Laburnum Castle, strained cheese as pure as ice for weeks in the caves and the kitchens, covered any gloomy stone with tapestries or stags’ heads with mistletoe braided through their antlers. We sent away south to the great markets of Mother-of-Millions for new silks and velvets and furs.