This week’s stories are about what happens to women who aren’t seen by the world around them as fully realized human beings.

The Reluctant Author by Megan Patton | Luna Station Quarterly

Alma died in her tidy New York home shortly after 5pm on October 17th, before the news came on but after the daytime talk shows ended. No one noticed that they were short one Alma Perch, aged sixty-five, quiet librarian and widow of Melvin Perch, a mild-mannered ornithologist who discovered a rare type of pigeon in the late eighties. This discovery brought him mild academic fame but nobody was really that impressed: this impacted nothing, and the general consensus was that the Perch Pigeon was going to shit on your car no matter what. Still, the Perch family was well liked and the neighbors mourned Alma once they realized she’d left them.

The coroner said he’d never seen anything like it and refused to talk about the Perch case to anyone after the investigation was over. After signing her death certificate, he offered his resignation and moved to Connecticut to open a rare book shop. The funeral director in charge of Alma’s remains took an early retirement soon after her funeral. His bewildered sons sold the business and reported that their father was sailing around the world in a cruiser with sails that snapped happily in the wind. Alma’s death was recorded as natural and listed as heart failure. Everyone involved agreed that the body be cremated. It was just too weird.

This story is painfully beautiful. How many women across the centuries had words in their heart and wanted to let them out, but couldn’t or didn’t or wouldn’t, or were barred from it? This story isn’t even about that, but it’s about that. Highly recommended.

Image: “Machine With 23 Scraps of Paper” by Arthur Ganson

Little Men with Knives by L.S. Johnson | Crossed Genres Magazine

Trigger Warning: Domestic violence, suicide, abuse, gore

I read in a magazine that if you imagine something, really see it in every detail, you can make it happen. Actualizing, they called it. Each night I lie here, rigid and bleary-eyed, and imagine the next day. I imagine myself sleeping long and deep and then getting up promptly, showering and drying my hair and pinning it neatly for once. I imagine myself putting on a clean uniform. I drink a cup of instant coffee while I chop up the hotdogs for the dwarves and toss them with some leftover fried rice. Put on my orthopedic shoes and my coat, and go out the back door, leaving the platter of food on the porch. The neighbors think it’s for strays, they think me the mad cat lady of the neighborhood. But in truth what began as an occasional act of kindness has become a necessity: skip a meal and the little bastards will cut up my uniform again.

Sometimes life just breaks you. Then little men with knives appear. And life is still breaking you. And then there’s the dividing line between Before and After. And what do you do After?

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Do you think the events of this story really happened or only happened in the mind of the main character?

Image Credit: The Gnomes Are Up To Something on Flickr


K. Tempest Bradford is a speculative fiction author, media critic, and issuer of the Tempest Challenge. Follow her on Twitter, G+, Tumblr, or her blog.