In astronomy, we’re often taught to use “averted vision,” that is to look to the side of the object we want to see, because our eyes operate in a way that allow us to see it most clearly when we’re not actually looking at the object at all. These four stories use a kind of averted vision themselves, showing us characters who are not entirely what we see them as being, but in the end could be nothing else at all.
Painted Grassy Mire, by Nicasio Andres Reed
Heat like a hand at her throat, then a breeze kicked up from Lake Borgne to swat Winnie sweetly across the face. One of those breezes every hour. A muddy, warm thing that got her through the day. What would life be without a breeze off the lake? Nothing. Nothing, just everyone gone to moss and decay.
The Wombly, by K.L. Morris
The Wombly arrives first on my father’s back. He brings it home, and it travels ‘round the family faster than a whip crack. It passes from him to Liza Lee to Mom to me, except I don’t tap, so Mom doesn’t tap back. The circle hangs open around our necks, a family all Post-Wombly except for one, that’s me, I’m still Pre.
glam-grandma, by Avi Naftali
The seagulls were strung like irritable white pearls across the Los Angeles sky. They floated through the alleyways, complaining and complaining. It was the hottest time of the year.
The Singing Soldier, by Natalia Theodoridou
When Lilia came into her parents’ bedroom one night, eyes sleepy and tin soldier firmly clasped in her little hands, complaining that his singing wouldn’t let her sleep, her Ma thought she’d had a nightmare. She pried the soldier from her daughter’s fingers, placed him on a high shelf in the closet and locked the door. Then, she motioned towards Lilia’s sleeping father and let the girl slip under the covers between the two of them.