- The Furies by Natalie Haynes (2014)
‘It doesn’t matter that I spent my whole life doing it. What matters is that I spent his whole life doing it. I would take it all back, Robert. Every moment I spent trying to be a fucking director, trying to make people happy, trying to be good at something. If I could go back in time, I wouldn’t do any of it. I’d just stand next to Luke every fucking second and when anything bad looked like it might happen to him, I’d get in the fucking way and I would keep him safe. And when people asked me what I did for a living, I’d say I loved him. That’s what I wanted to do. I thought it was the background, and it was everything. Everything.’
[…] I was so consumed with carrying the weight of Luke. My lungs felt tight with it sometimes. The world was heavier without him in it, and slower, and darker, and it took energy, actual physical energy to move through it. And I didn’t want to let go of it, either. What other way did I have to keep him real? Carrying his dead weight was better than forgetting him. Grieving was better than waking up to realise I couldn’t remember which of his eyes had the brown fleck in it.
Besides, I had lost patience with therapy after Luke died. I was referred to a grief counsellor who was every kind of idiot. Her capacity for trying to look on the bright side made my mother look like Sartre. I tried not to hate her and everything she stood for, but it was one struggle too many. I didn’t want to be cured of my grief, I wanted to wrap myself up in it like a comfortable old coat which I’d first put on when my father died.
I wanted to wear it every minute of the day, to sleep in it and wake in it, and never to be rid of it because it was the only thing keeping me warm. I gave up talking to my friends, to Luke’s friends, because everyone wanted to try to make me feel better, to talk about the healing qualities of time and what Luke would have wanted. But what Luke wanted didn’t matter any more. That’s what happens when you die. And I didn’t want time to heal my wounds. I wanted to pick at them until fat bubbles of dark blood formed on my skin, and then I wanted to watch them scab over and pick at them again.
- The Dark and Other Love Stories by Deborah Willis (2017)
She turned my head toward the outlines of the horses, ghostly and elegant against the black sky. At night, it was easy to forget how ordinary they were. Or rather, at night, we could see the beauty of their flawed bodies. They stood together, some of them asleep, some eating, and we could see the breath from their wide nostrils. They looked like shadows, not entirely real. We approached the horses quietly, with the single-mindedness of lovers. It was as though Andrea and I had created them, as though they were our secret, a gift we’d given each other. They had a quiet kind of bravery, a grace I’ve rarely seen since. The only thing that comes close is the dignity of some old women—the ones who remember being beautiful, the ones who know they still are.
She had been so beautiful. Why hadn’t she known it at the time?
He knew there were limits and that each species has its duration. Mayflies survive only a couple of minutes. Wild blueberry bushes live for thirteen thousand years. It is the usual, necessary, beautiful course of things. So why did he feel such grief?
- The Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak (2017)
“You’re the first person I’ve met with a 64,” I told her. “And you’re a girl.”
“Is that strange?”
“I didn’t think girls liked to program.”
“Girls practically invented programming,” she said. “Jean Bartik, Marlyn Wescoff, Fran Bilas—they all programmed ENIAC.”
I had no idea what she was talking about.
She tasted like thunderstorms and gummy bears.
- Wonder Woman, Vol. 1: Blood by Brian Azzarello, Cliff Chiang, and Tony Akins (2012)
Can you smell it, sisters? Our air be putrid with musk.
I like men, Hermes. And I’m not gonna apologize for that.
As you shouldn’t. But on this island, you might want to keep the story to yourself.
- Kinski by Gabriel Hardman (2014)
I’ve got to bust him out of there.
- Amy Chelsea Stacie Dee by Mary G. Thompson (2016)
I’m never going to tell anyone, even if it means that I can never forget, that I have to live with the memories my whole life. I don’t want to forget anyway. I want to remember them, every minute of every day.
I let the tears fill my eyes. It’s good that I’m here. It doesn’t feel good.
- The Last Final Girl by Stephen Graham Jones (2012)
“You seem to know a lot about this particular genre we’re in,” he says.
“But everything’s horror, isn’t it? Sometimes you just can’t see the blood.”
- The Devil in America by Kai Ashante Wilson (2014)
The perfect fit of them made Easter feel a sharp pang, mostly happiness.
To cry hard enough knocks a body down, and harder still needs both hands flat to the earth to get the grief out.
- A Crown of Wishes (The Star-Touched Queen #2) by Roshani Chokshi (2017)
“Find the one who glows, with blood on the lips and fangs in the heart.”
Under my mothers’ tutelage, I learned that beauty could be conjured. And under my and Nalini’s instruction, my mothers learned that death could hide in beauty. In Bharata, Nalini had commissioned slim daggers that could be folded into jeweled hairpins. Together, we’d taught the mothers how to defend themselves.
He was handsome in a way that made me want to kick him on principle.
“Who cares if a story is true or not so long as it is told?”
- Uprooted by Naomi Novik (2015)
And I wasn’t old enough to be wise, so I loved her more, not less, because I knew she would be taken from me soon.
He’d also agreed to be betrothed to the Archduke of Varsha’s daughter, a girl of nine who had evidently impressed him a great deal by being able to spit across a garden plot. I was a little dubious about this as a foundation for marriage, but I suppose it wasn’t much worse than marrying her because her father might have stirred up rebellion, otherwise.
I was a glaring blot on the perfection. But I didn’t care: I didn’t feel I owed him beauty.
- The Secret Loves of Geek Girls edited by Hope Nicholson (2016)
What’s your Patronus? I ask, and it seems strange that I have not asked until now.
These are the questions that matter more, more than how many siblings we have, than what our parents do for a living, than what television shows we follow in the fall. What is your Patronus? What is the thing that represents all protection to you, all reassurance, all strength, all love? What is the happiest moment you can remember, to summon the spell to you? What drives away the dark in your heart?
– “Minas Tirth,” Marguerite Bennett
We are friends still, for the curious. Still we speak in stories.
– “Minas Tirth,” Marguerite Bennett
The Brontë sisters had such lady boners for the Duke of Wellington that they wrote hundreds of pages of fanfiction about the guy.
– “How Fanfiction Made Me Gay,” J. M. Frey
Think about it this way: if you’d seriously and diligently prepared for the apocalypse so that, when it finally happened, not only did you survive, but you thrived, would you like people to treat you delicately and with sympathy? I want people to high-five me and congratulate me on discovering a new way of living, to celebrate with me my new understanding: that survival is insufficient.
– “A Divorcée’s Guide to the Apocalypse,” Katie West
The disappointment I feel is layered: I can’t romance Christine; I can’t romance Veronica; I can’t reunite them, or even acknowledge their relationship to them. I could tell Veronica that I met Father Elijah, the man responsible for the women’s time apart, and yet can’t mention that Christine was with me too. To be frank, coding extra dialogue wouldn’t have been a problem. Game design has a lot of cause-and-effect codes, usually in the form of “if X happens, then Y happens.” I just wanted to put my hand on Veronica’s shoulder and say, “I found Christine, and she still loves you, and you can see her at the Madre. It’s safe to visit now.”
– “Sex in Video Games,” Soha Kareem
And then there’s Ariel, who, at sixteen years old, married literally the first human being she ever interacted with. Even ignoring that their personalities might clash because they’ve barely spoken, how are their cultures possibly compatible? Every friend and family member Ariel has lives in the ocean, and Prince Eric rules over a coastal kingdom whose main resource is undoubtedly fishing. Congratulations, Ariel. Your new husband and his subjects make their living by hunting and eating your friends. That won’t be a horrifying thing to learn when she opens her wedding reception meal to find her best friend, Flounder, on her plate, mouthing, “Why, Ariel? I thought you loved me!”
– “Four Fictional Happy Endings,” Diana McCallum
You know where God lives and God is in paint and ink and pencil and the page: you fell in love and became that love. Transformed, like in a fairy tale. A girl who became a wolf, focused and hungry for only one thing: story.
You never stopped hunting stories. Little wolf, persistent but timid, prowling shelves and stacks; anywhere there were books, that was the forest you claimed. You found a frontier in your school library, rushing inside every morning with exquisite relief because books were home, books were where you were most alive, books were places you could pretend you were brave. Books were walls against everything that frightened you.
– “Ghost,” Marjorie Liu
- Everyone’s a Aliebn When Ur a Aliebn Too: A Book by Jomny Sun (2017)
(Click on the image to embiggen.)
- Final Girls by Mira Grant (2017)
It would be … good, to let go, to surrender, to be harvested.
STARTING A new school is always terrifying. Esther can’t imagine a situation where it wouldn’t be. She’s done it before, twice, but both times, she still had a living mother; she wasn’t the new girl with the dead mom, the girl everyone was primed to feel sorry for and judge. What if she doesn’t seem sad enough? What if she seems too sad, and it tips her over into weird? She doesn’t want to be the weird girl. There’s too much responsibility in the role. The weird girl carries the weight of the world, and it isn’t anything she’s ever wanted.
This is the meat of the scenario: this is the place where reality and nightmare collide, healing wounds as old as the psyche itself. Or it would be, had the failsafes not been removed, replaced by a gaping hole into which self and sanity seemed poised to fall. Esther should have been given whispers, rumors, local legends to ease her into the idea that the dead could wake and walk under the right circumstances. She should have been prepared, not dropped into a situation that would shred the credibility of anyone who wasn’t there, who wasn’t watching the monsters feed on the flesh of those they loved.
Esther should have been prepared. She should have salt and candle and book and shovel, ready to defend herself, shaped into a warrior by a hundred small, seemingly unrelated incidents.
- Final Girls by Riley Sager (2017)
I understand that urge for more information, that longing for details. But in this case, I’m fine without them. I know what happened at Pine Cottage. I don’t need to remember exactly how it happened.
As my tears dried to salt, he placed a menagerie of bowls on the counter and filled them with flour, sugar, butter, and eggs. He gave me a spoon and let me mix them all together. My first baking lesson.
There’s such a thing as too much sweetness, Quincy, he told me. All the best bakers know this. There needs to be a counterpoint. Something dark. Or bitter. Or sour. Unsweetened chocolate. Cardamom and cinnamon. Lemon and lime. They cut through all the sugar, taming it just enough so that when you do taste the sweetness, you appreciate it all the more.
While there were other multiple homicides during those years, none quite got the nation’s attention like ours. We were, for whatever reason, the lucky ones who survived when no one else had. Pretty girls covered in blood. As such, we were each in turn treated like something rare and exotic. A beautiful bird that spreads its bright wings only once a decade. Or that flower that stinks like rotting meat whenever it decides to bloom.
I didn’t want to be one of those girls tethered to tragedy, forever associated with the absolute worst moment of my life.
- Waking Gods (Themis Files #2) by Sylvain Neuvel (2017)
I’m grateful for Themis, to be in her company every day. I feel drawn to her. She isn’t of this world either.
—Interestingly enough, it is probably what we would do. At least, it is what we would have done half a century ago. It might be an urban legend, but I was told that in the fifties, the US military started thinking about what it would do if we encountered sentient alien life. They came up with a seven-step procedure, starting with remote surveillance. We would then secretly visit the alien world, and if we felt our weaponry and technology to be more advanced than the aliens, we would begin a series of brief landings during which we would gather samples of plant and animal life, perhaps abducting an alien or two in the process. After that, we would make our existence known to as many aliens as possible, and if we were satisfied with their reaction, we would make contact.
—And if we felt the aliens were superior? What was the plan?
—Pray that they do not see us as food.
If I grab a bunch of matter, anywhere, and I organize it in exactly the same way, I get … you. You, my friend, are a very complex, awe-inspiring configuration of matter. What you’re made of isn’t really important. Everything in the universe is made of the same thing. You’re a configuration. Your essence, as you call it, is information. It doesn’t matter where the material comes from. Do you think it matters when it comes from?
—Do you really wanna grow old with just grumpy old me?
—No offense, Kara, but I don’t think either of us will get to grow old, especially if we’re together. The only question is: Do I wanna die young with anyone else?
Now the world is ending and somehow I’ve managed to make that about me too.
She took on the entire universe and she won. She did what she set out to do. Your mom was a badass motherfucker.
- The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit by Michael Finkel (2017)
Because of the type of articles that were stolen, one family called him the Mountain Man, but that frightened their children, so they changed it to the Hungry Man. Most people, including the police, began referring the intruder simply as the hermit, or the North Pond hermit, or, more formally, the hermit of North Pond. Some police reports mentioned “the legend of the hermit,” and on others, where a suspect’s full name was requested, he was recorded as Hermit Hermit.
Big G’s Deli, an iconic Maine eatery, offered a roast beef, pastrami, and onion ring sandwich called the Hermit, advertised as containing “all locally stolen ingredients.”
He’d slid his boots onto sawed-off branches, a wilderness drying rack. One tree had held rakes and snow shovels; another, an olive-green baseball cap and a floppy gray fishing hat. Some items had been in place so long that the trees grew around them. A claw hammer was nearly swallowed by a tree trunk, impossible to remove, and Hughes said that this hammer, more than anything, made him realize how long Knight had lived there.
Not for a moment did he consider keeping a journal. He would never allow anyone to read his private thoughts; therefore, he did not risk writing them down. “I’d rather take it to my grave,” he said. And anyway, when was a journal ever honest? “It either tells a lot of truths to cover a single lie,” he said, “or a lot of lies to cover a single truth.”
He saw plenty of deer some years, none other years. An occasional moose. Once, the hindquarters of a mountain lion. Never a bear. Rabbits were on a boom-or-bust cycle, a lot or a few. The mice were bold—they’d come into his tent while he was lying there and crawl on his boots. He never thought about keeping a pet: “I couldn’t put myself in a situation where I’m competing with the pet for food and maybe have to eat the pet.”
It’s possible that Knight believed he was one of the few sane people left. He was confounded by the idea that passing the prime of your life in a cubicle, spending hours a day at a computer, in exchange for money, was considered acceptable, but relaxing in a tent in the woods was disturbed. Observing the trees was indolent; cutting them down was enterprising. What did Knight do for a living? He lived for a living.
Jail, in some sense, was preferable. Now that he’s free, it is clear that he isn’t.
Some philosophers believe that loneliness is the only true feeling there is. We live orphaned on a tiny rock in the immense vastness of space, with no hint of even the simplest form of life anywhere around us for billions upon billions of miles, alone beyond all imagining. We live locked in our own heads and can never entirely know the experience of another person. Even if we’re surrounded by family and friends, we journey into death completely alone.
- A Colony in a Nation by Christopher L. Hayes (2017)
Put another way: for white Americans, lethal violence is nearly as rare as it is in Finland; for black Americans, it’s nearly as common as it is in Mexico.
In the Nation, you can stroll down the middle of a quiet, carless street with no hassle, as I did with James Knowles, the white Republican mayor of Ferguson. We chatted on a leafy block in a predominantly white neighborhood filled with stately Victorian homes and wraparound porches. There were no cops around. We were technically breaking the law—you can’t walk in the middle of the street—but no one was going to enforce that law, because really what’s the point. Who were we hurting? In the Colony, just half a mile away, the disorderly act of strolling down the middle of the street could be the first link in the chain of events that ends your life at the hands of the state.
But as a principle of self-governance, particularly of American self-governance, “do what the cops say” is a pretty strange unofficial motto. This great land of ours, this exceptional beacon of liberty, was founded by men who, to borrow a phrase, refused to comply.
The typical cadet training involves sixty hours on how to use a gun and fifty-one hours on defensive tactics, but just eight hours on how to calm situations without force.
Despite the fact nonwhite people are disproportionately the victims of crime, the criminal justice system as a whole is disproportionately built on the emotional foundation of white fear. But then, that isn’t surprising. American history is the story of white fear, of the constant violent impulses it produces and the management and ordering of those impulses.
- 20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill (2007)
“I’m sorry to bother you,” she whispered. “When I get excited about a movie I want to talk. I can’t help it.”
(“20th Century Ghost”)
The memory of that day in the dump made him a little sentimental for his father – they had had some good times together, and Buddy had made a decent meal in the end. Really, what else could you ask from a parent?
(“You Will Hear the Locust Sing”)
“It’s fun to imagine, maybe, fun to think about it,” I said. “But the actual thing would be bullshit. Dust. Freezing cold. Everything red. You’d go blind looking at so much red. You wouldn’t really want to do it—leave this world and never come back.”
Art stared at me for a long moment, then bowed his head, and wrote a brief note in robin’s egg blue.
But I’m going to have to do that anyway. Everyone has to do that.
Then he wrote:
You get an astronaut’s life whether you want it or not.
Leave it all behind for a world you know nothing about.
That’s just the deal.
George Romero turned back to them, shaking his head. “That was great, when you hit the pillar, and you left that big streak of gore. We should do it again, just the same way. This time you could leave some brains behind. What do you two kids say? Either one of you feel like a do-over?”
“Me,” Bobby said.
“Me,” said Harriet. “Me.”
“Yes, please,” said little Bobby, around the thumb in his mouth.
“I guess it’s unanimous,” Bobby said. “Everyone wants a do-over.”
(“Bobby Conroy Comes Back from the Dead”)
- Wonder Woman, Volume 2: Guts by Brian Azzarello, Cliff Chiang, and Tony Akins (2013)
“As a god, I will tell you that they don’t care about anyone … but themselves.”
“You said that my lasso isn’t a weapon, but when one is entwined in it, they speak the truth. And THAT – the truth – is my weapon.”
- Wonder Woman, Volume 3: Iron by Brian Azzarello, Cliff Chiang, and Tony Akins (2013)
“War has lost his mind.”
“Why do you take so much joy from my misery?”
“Maybe because you tried to kill me. A bunch of times.”
“You lay down with my husband. What else am I supposed to do?”
“How ’bout kill HIM?”
“You people are all sexist.”
- Wonder Woman, Volume 4: War by Brian Azzarello, Cliff Chiang, and Goran Sudžuka (2014)
“Why, Wonder Woman, are you so afraid of being a god?”
- Wonder Woman, Volume 5: Flesh by Brian Azzarello, Cliff Chiang, and Goran Sudžuka (2014)
“So being mortal is like getting a lobotomy.”
“Something like that.”
“That’s the thing about spleen. You serve it fresh, or not at all.”
“I promised you an army. I can think of none more glorious than the Amazons.”
- Wonder Woman, Volume 6: Bones by Brian Azzarello, Cliff Chiang, and Goran Sudžuka (2015)
“You call those pants?”
“It’s time to admit we’re not perfect. And it’s an admission that I, for one, am relieved to make. Because out of perfection…? Nothing can be made.”
“Say, you’re pretty strong for a girl.”
“No, I’m just pretty strong.”
“I didn’t mean to offend…”
“That doesn’t mean you didn’t.”
- By the Silver Water of Lake Champlain by Joe Hill (2014)
“The roof of his mouth is just like mine. Ruffled like mine. Or like yours.”
“Poor thing,” she said.
“I wonder how old it is,” he said.
“Millions of years. It’s been alone in this lake for millions of years.”
Joel said, “It was safe until people put their damn motorboats on the lake. How can it know about motorboats?”
“I bet it had a good life.”
“Millions of years alone? That doesn’t sound good.” “It had a lake full of fish to eat and miles to swim in and nothing to be afraid of. It saw the dawning of a great nation,” Gail told him. “It did the backstroke under the moonlight.”
Joel looked at her in surprise. “You’re the smartest little girl on this side of the lake. You talk just like you’re reading from a book.”
“I’m the smartest little girl on either side of the lake.”
- The Last Unicorn (The Last Unicorn Graphic Novels #1-6) by Peter S. Beagle, Peter B. Gillis, Renae De Liz, and Ray Dillon (2011)
Do not boast, old woman. Your death sits in that cage and hears you.
How dare you come to me now – when I am this?
There is no immortality but a tree’s love.
All the way up the stairs it was a dragon’s head, the proudest gift anyone can give anyone. But she looked at it, and suddenly it was a grisly mess.
…oh. You’re beautiful.
I remember you. I remember.
- Here We Are: Feminism for the Real World edited by Kelly Jensen (2017)
Despite what people think based on my writing, I very much like men. They’re interesting to me, and I mostly wish they’d be better about how they treat women so I wouldn’t have to call them out so often.
(“Bad Feminist: Take Two” by Roxane Gay)
I am a bad feminist. I would rather be a bad feminist than no feminist at all.
(“Bad Feminist: Take Two” by Roxane Gay)
Feminism? I’m not sure I even know what that word really means. I understand the definition, but I’ve never had to know it in my bones.
(“Privilege” by Matt Nathanson)
This country was built around voices like mine, privileged voices. To speak out on the topic of gay/queer/transgender rights, to speak out on the topic of black lives mattering . . . I have learned that having my voice heard, even if I am on the side of the oppressed, is not important. In fact, it can be a detriment. Everyone has heard enough from voices like mine. My actions, my clearing of space for the voices of those oppressed, that is my job. That is where I can best be of service. To make room in my privilege for the voices of others to be heard.
(“Privilege” by Matt Nathanson)
How does a teenager who doesn’t have a car, who lives in the middle of nowhere, and who is socially isolated end up involved in drag? Through her parents, of course.
(“Dragging Myself into Self-Love” by Constance Augusta Zaber)
Feminism isn’t a glass slipper that fits only one perfect woman; it is an umbrella that has to become big enough to protect us all, even from one another.
(“Facets of Feminism” by Mikki Kendall)
To be a boy is a preferable condition. You are not a boy, but hating girls is almost the same thing. Isn’t it? That’s what boys do. You can do it, too.
(“Girl Lessons” by Sarah McCarry)
Real talk: a bicycle is self-propelled, fits a lot of places a car won’t, and think how great your weapon will look sticking out of your wicker basket.
(“A Guide to Being a Teenage Superheroine” by Allison Peyton Steger and Rebecca Sexton)
- The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (2013)
I did not choke. I felt the coldness of the water – if it was water – pour into my nose and my throat, felt it fill my lungs, but that was all it did. It did not hurt me.
I thought, this is the kind of water you can breathe. I thought, perhaps there is just a secret to breathing water, something simple that everyone could do, if only they knew.That was what I thought.
That was the first thing I thought.
The second thing I thought was that I knew everything. Lettie Hempstock’s ocean flowed inside me, and it filled the entire universe, from Egg to Rose. I knew that. I knew what Egg was – where the universe began, to the sound of uncreated voices singing in the void – and I knew where Rose was – the peculiar crinkling of space on space into dimensions that fold like origami and blossom like strange orchids, and which would mark the last good time before the eventual end of everything and the next Big Bang, which would be, I knew now, nothing of the kind.
I knew that Old Mrs. Hempstock would be here for that one, as she had been for the last.
I saw the world I had walked since my birth and I understood how fragile it was, that the reality I knew was a thin layer of icing on a great dark birthday cake writhing with grubs and nightmares and hunger. I saw the world from above and below. I saw that there were patterns and gates and paths beyond the real. I saw all these things and understood them and they filled me, just as the waters of the ocean filled me.
Everything whispered inside me. Everything spoke to everything, and I knew it all.
I do not miss childhood, but I miss the way I took pleasure in small things, even as greater things crumbled. I could not control the world I was in, could not walk away from things or people or moments that hurt, but I took joy in the things that made me happy. The custard was sweet and creamy in my mouth, the dark swollen currants in the spotted dick were tangy in the cake-thick chewy blandness of the pudding, and perhaps I was going to die that night and perhaps I would never go home again, but it was a good dinner, and I had faith in Lettie Hempstock.
- How to Be Everything: A Guide for Those Who (Still) Don’t Know What They Want to Be When They Grow Up by Emilie Wapnick (2017)
We know an activity or project is meaningful by the way we feel while doing it. When asked how she defines meaning, Melea Seward, a self-described “communications and strategy consultant, speaker, improvisational storyteller and educator,” described the sensation of her heart quickening and her breath becoming heavier: “You know it when you feel it. And you also know when you don’t have it in your life. Without meaning, your world feels tiny and your life is routine.”
I was once talking about Slash careers with a friend who lives in Los Angeles and she gave me a knowing look. “Oh, that’s just how everyone makes a living here,” she said. My friend was overgeneralizing, of course. There are plenty of people who live in L.A. and have regular day jobs. Her comment touches on two important things, though: (1) Slashing is a common way for artists like her to make a living and (2) There are a lot of aspiring artists in L.A.
- Bitch Planet, Vol 1: Extraordinary Machine (Bitch Planet #1-5) by Kelly Sue DeConnick (2015)
We’re basically able to take readings of various electrical impulses in your body and, through a complicated series of algriffins –
One sugar-free, salt-free, gluten-free muffin and three plates, please.
Shame them, maim them, try to contain them.
Agreenex ™: Because he’s sick of your shit!
- Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill (2007)
He snorted softly to himself. It wasn’t selling souls that got you into trouble, it was buying them.
Jude supposed—the thought seemed quite reasonable—that those black dogs attached to Bon and Angus had been their souls.
The cat that was crouched on the table saw it coming and screeched, her gray hair spiking up along her spine. She dived to the right as the dog of black smoke bounded lightly onto the table. The shadow Bon took a playful snap at the cat’s tail, then leaped after her. As Bon’s spirit dropped toward the floor, she passed through a beam of intense, early-morning sunshine and winked out of being.
Jude stared at the place where the impossible dog of black shadow had vanished, too stunned for a moment to act, to do anything but feel. And what he felt was a thrill of wonder, so intense it was a kind of galvanic shock. He felt he had been honored with a glimpse of something beautiful and eternal.
And then he looked over at Bon’s dead, empty body.
- Bitch Planet, Vol. 2: President Bitch by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Taki Soma, and Valentine De Landro (2017)
(Click on the image to embiggen.)
- Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller (2015)
I found only one tree that had caught fire. It stood alone, blackened and twisted. I sat on a rock and watched a crow return to it again and again. The bird couldn’t settle; it was all wings and flap and rusty cawing. It must have had a nest high up where the limbs became distorted. But I had no sympathy for the crow; the feeling I had was jealousy. I would have given up everything—the music, my memories of London, the forest—to become that bird and to be able to fly away to make a new nest in a new tree. But I also acknowledged that if it were possible for me to wish hard enough to become that crow, it would be equally possible that long ago, something else—a fly, a rabbit, a bee—may have looked at me, Peggy Hillcoat, and been jealous of everything I had then and might have in the future. And if that creature had wished hard enough, it might have given up everything to become me.
- For Want of Water: and other poems (National Poetry Series) by Sasha Pimentel (2017)
like corpses on tables, their faces
wounds just beginning
to make, their bodies maps, lines
drawn by men, the wind, this sun.
Say your father touched you, and say you can only remember it like a streetlight catching the shades when, drunk at a shindig you droop in too close to a friend, press your fingers to her cool white arm and ask her, are you my sister? Say she leaves you then, shaking her hair.
Like this the world is always on the verge, love
a forgotten sorrow.
He asks me where I hurt, everywhere. But more at my neck and lower back, because I won’t ask this stranger to cup the cone of my caged heart.
Each time I enter a memory, it changes with my entrance.
- Super Narwhal and Jelly Jolt (Narwhal and Jelly) by Ben Clanton (2017)
- Best Vegan Science Fiction & Fantasy of 2016 edited by B. Morris Allen (2017)
I hate to think how things would have been if that dog had gone to a shelter. I wonder what the workers and volunteers would have done when the little guy started to expand like unspooling Christmas lights, impossibly bright, tangled in the shape of dog. It hurts my heart to picture that loving collection of cosmic bodies crouching in a kennel.
(“My Dog is the Constellation Canis Major” by Jarod K. Anderson)
That was the start of it, but he changed faster as the days passed. A few days later, he was the size of a Great Dane and it wasn’t just a general glow anymore. There were actual points of light and, thanks to grandma’s books, I had names for those points of light: Wezen, Adhara, Murzim. And of course there was Sirius, the dog star, right in the center of his chest like a gleaming celestial heart.
(“My Dog is the Constellation Canis Major” by Jarod K. Anderson)
Trans-human. That’s what I’m called, somehow. The word never felt right though, then least of all. Trans is too high, too grand for someone so cobbled together. So is human, I suppose. If I get hurt, I’m as like to spill oil as blood. That’s why the witch didn’t see me. She didn’t see a person, she just saw parts.
(“Strix Antiqua” by Hamilton Perez)
- Lady Mechanika, Volume 3: The Lost Boys of West Abbey (Lady Mechanika: The Lost Boys of West Abbey #1-2) by M.M. Chen, Joe Benítez, Peter Steigerwald, Martin Montiel, and Beth Sotelo (2017)
Are you sure you want to be let out here, mum? This is no neighborhood for a lady. The streets are dangerous at night.
– Sir…so am I.
- Lessons from Shadow: My Life Lessons for Boys and Girls by Shadow Bregman (2017)
Now, it’s just Daddy and me. We lost Mommy and we lost Betsy and now it’s just the two of us together trying not to be sad all the time. It’s getting a little better I guess now that it’s been quite a while. But, you can never forget the wonderful people you knew and the great times you had, and you never should. Always keep them in your heart. Just try and get on with your life and be as good a person as the people you lost were.
- Feminist Fables for the Twenty-First Century: The F Word Project by Maureen Burdock (2015)
The only way to make the women visible again is to bring them all together.
Mona saw that art can change things, so she drew and drew until she changed herself.
- Kindred: A Graphic Novel Adaptation by Octavia E. Butler, John Jennings (Illustrations), and Damian Duffy (Adapted by) (2017)
- Star Trek Cats by Jenny Parks (2017)
Fear not, fair lady!
– Sorry, neither!
- Red Rising (Red Rising #1) by Pierce Brown (2014)
“I live for the dream that my children will be born free. That they will be what they like. That they will own the land their father gave them.”
“I live for you,” I say sadly.
She kisses my cheek. “Then you must live for more.”
Funny thing, watching gods realize they’ve been mortal all along.
She will not come back, but her beauty, her voice, will echo until the end of time. She believed in something beyond herself, and her death gave her voice power it didn’t have in life.
“Where did you hear that song?” I ask her without sitting up.
“From the HC,” she says, blushing. “A little girl sang it. It’s soothing.”
“Most things are.
“You traumatized Pax, by the way. He’s crying. Good work.”
“It is not funny at all. Steel is power. Money is power. But of all the things in all the worlds, words are power.”
I look at him for a moment. Words are a weapon stronger than he knows. And songs are even greater. The words wake the mind. The melody wakes the heart. I come from a people of song and dance. I don’t need him to tell me the power of words. But I smile nonetheless.
- Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty by Christine Heppermann (2014)
The action’s always there.
Where are the fairy tales about gym class
or the doctor’s office or the back of the bus
where bad things also happen?
Pigs can buy cheap building materials
just as easily in the suburbs.
Wolves stage invasions. Girls spit out
cereal, break chairs, and curl beneath
covers like pill bugs or selfish grannies
avoiding the mess.
No need for a bunch of trees.
You can lose your way anywhere.
Once there was a girl who even after she became a beast,
soft fur blanketing her cheeks, belly, and back,
still shaved her legs.
Blow Your House In
She used to be a house of bricks,
point guard on the JV team, walling out
defenders who could only huff and puff
and watch the layups roll in.
She traded for a house of sticks,
kindling in Converse high-tops and a red Adidas tent.
At lunch she swirled a teeny spoon in yogurt
that never touched her lips and said she’d decided to quit chasing a stupid ball.
Now she’s building herself out of straw
as light as the needle swimming in her bathroom scale.
The smaller the number, the closer to gold,
the tighter her face, afire with the zeal of a wolf
who has one house left to destroy.
It’s a mark of good horror,
my friend read online,
when it turns your own body against you.
- Getting Grief Right: Finding Your Story of Love in the Sorrow of Loss by Patrick O Malley (2017)
The writer Anne Lamott says it beautifully: “You will lose someone you can’t live without, and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.”
It’s not an exaggeration to say that, over time, the nature of “successful” grieving was redefined in my office by both my clients and me. It wasn’t getting over loss; it was learning to live with it, and to use the grief narrative as a way to preserve a bond with the one who died.
If we love, we will also grieve.
The same is true for, “Let me know if there is anything I can do.” The offer is rarely sincere, and a grieving person knows it. Comedian George Carlin imagined a bereaved person replying, “Yeah, you can come over this weekend and paint my garage.”
- Unleashed by Amanda Jones (2017)
- A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers by Alyssa Wong (2016)
There was nothing phoenix-like in my sister’s immolation. Just the scent of charred skin, unbearable heat, the inharmonious sound of her last, grief-raw scream as she evaporated, leaving glass footprints seared into the desert sand.
There are timelines I don’t think about.
- The Ship Beyond Time (The Girl from Everywhere #2) by Heidi Heilig (2017)
Using an excess of medical tape, Slate had secured a slapdash bandage on his left side, right beside the tattoo of the swallow over his heart. Swallows always returned to their nests; sailor superstition said to get one inked before you set out on your journey. The second one was for when you finally came home. He only had one.
I still don’t know just how it happened. Usually I’m better at guarding what little I have. But one day, I went looking for my heart and found it in Nix’s hands.
“Our lives are before us, not behind.”
“That depends on where you’re standing on the timeline.”
“What of free will?”
“Some people don’t believe free will exists.”
“Some people don’t believe in demon octopus, either.”
“You might wish many things, but that doesn’t mean they’ll come true. This doesn’t seem like that sort of fairy tale.”
“Now is what we have,” she said, and I blinked at her, surprised to hear my own words echoed in her voice. “Then again,” she added, giving me a small smile. “Perhaps now is all we need.”
- Golden Son (Red Rising #2) by Pierce Brown (2015)
“Quinn once told me a story.” He waits for me to moan a grievance at the mention of a story, and when I don’t, his tone sinks into deeper gravity. “Once, in the days of Old Earth, there were two pigeons who were greatly in love. In those days, they raised such animals to carry messages across great distances. These two were born in the same cage, raised by the same man, and sold on the same day to different men on the eve of a great war.
“The pigeons suffered apart from each other, each incomplete without their lover. Far and wide their masters took them, and the pigeons feared they would never again find each other, for they began to see how vast the world was, and how terrible the things in it. For months and months, they carried messages for their masters, flying over battle lines, through the air over men who killed one another for land. When the war ended, the pigeons were set free by their masters. But neither knew where to go, neither knew what to do, so each flew home. And there they found each other again, as they were always destined to return home and find, instead of the past, their future.”
- Fetch: How a Bad Dog Brought Me Home by Nicole J. Georges (2017)
- All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai (2017)
I am not a genius. If you’ve read this far, you’re already aware of that fact.
Marty McFly didn’t appear thirty years earlier in his hometown of Hill Valley, California. His tricked-out DeLorean materialized in the endless empty blackness of the cosmos with the Earth approximately 350,000,000,000 miles away. Assuming he didn’t immediately lose consciousness from the lack of oxygen, the absence of air pressure would cause all the fluids in his body to bubble, partially evaporate, and freeze. He would be dead in less than a minute. The Terminator would probably survive in space because it’s an unstoppable robot killing machine, but traveling from 2029 to 1984 would’ve given Sarah Connor a 525,000,000,000-mile head start.
Unless you’ve touched a corpse before, you can’t comprehend the visceral wrongness of inert flesh wrapped around an inanimate object that wears your mother’s face.
It’s amazing how much damage one penis can do.
In my world, every story is always about you.
You love someone for fifty years and then they die. People talk about grief as emptiness, but it’s not empty. It’s full. Heavy. Not an absence to fill. A weight to pull. Your skin caught on hooks chained to rough boulders made of all the futures you thought you would have. How do you keep five decades of love from souring into a snakebite that makes your own heart the threat, drawing the poison up and down the length of you?
We need new futures.
- From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor (2016)
A 2010 study found that the median wealth of single white women was $42,600 compared to the surreal median of $5 for single Black women.
American exceptionalism operates as a mythology of convenience that does a tremendous amount of work to simplify the contradiction between the apparent creed of US society and its much more complicated reality.
From the mutual foundation of slavery and freedom at the country’s inception to the genocide of the Native population that made the “peculiar institution” possible to the racist promulgation of “manifest destiny” to the Chinese Exclusion Act to the codified subordinate status of Black people for a hundred years after slavery ended, they are all grim reminders of the millions of bodies upon which the audacious smugness of American hubris is built. Race and racism have not been exceptions; instead, they have been the glue that holds the United States together.
Pathologizing “Black” crime while making “white” crime invisible creates a ba