Stories of beasties and strange places, long, long journeys, and questions, so many questions. Also: Nicole Kimberling’s lovely food column looks at white asparagus and we kick off the issue with A. B. Robinson’s amazing “Sonnet Crown for Third Officer Ripley.” See below for excerpts from the stories.
* The epub and mobi files contain bonus excerpts from current or forthcoming Small Beer Press titles.
“Here is the latest issue of Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet and you know the drill by now: read it slowly. This is issue #32 and it has eight tales which must be savored and read slowly.” — SF Revu
Table of Contents
Henry Wessells, “The Beast Unknown to Heraldry”
Alyc Helms, “The Blood Carousel”
Kodiak Julian, “Marrying the Sea”
Joe M. McDermott, “Everything is Haunted”
Henry Lien, “The Shadow You Cast Is Me”
Joanna Ruocco, “Auburn”
Dylan Horrocks, “The Square of Mirrors”
Jade Sylvan, “Sun Circles”
Nicole Kimberling, “Sleek Fat Albinos in Spring”
About the Authors
A. B. Robinson, “Sonnet Crown for Third Officer Ripley”
Gillian Daniels, “The Virgin Regiment”
Sonnet Crown for Third Officer Ripley
A. B. Robinson
Song, not for air captains but militarization
of everyday life: in the far future, army melts
into market transaction. This is now, certainly,
in the past, in 1979. With a sulfurous hiss
the longshoremen spring to life! They are tender
and easily distinguishable by archetype.
The commedia of office work persists,
a different wormhole, ledger
casting into an ontological shade
the quick glimpse of a series of convergences,
not easily reversed but better undone,
long shadows through a Microsoft space—
but I’m projecting again, I think. This is not
yet WarGames, released in 1983. . . .
The Beast Unknown to Heraldry
One does not always know the consequences of research in an archive, nor even what form the research will take. Thornton had a small income from his mother, which had once been sufficient for the modest entertainments of a private scholar living modestly in London. Now the competency ran to about ten months of the year in a sunny Cornish village he had come to love. His book on the supernatural in Britain was in the sixth edition but the royalties had been spent to renew his wardrobe. When his landlady began to talk of summer tenants for his rooms, Thornton told her he would be away for September, too, and wrote a letter to Digger. The fourteenth Duke of Wyland was a distant cousin of precisely his age; at six, Thornton had been presented to the twelfth Duke, Digger’s grandfather, at Delvoir Castle. The two boys had attended the same crammer, and for several summers had run wild and fought together through the castle demesne, until their public school careers diverged. The heir went off to Eton and Balliol, and Thornton to a bursary at Harrow, a pass degree in old English at Cambridge, and brief appointments as assistant master at a string of lesser public schools (he was never invited back). Thornton had sent the Duke copies of all of his books but had not seen him for a decade; he was almost certainly the only person who called the Duke by his school nickname. His letter proposed research into the early thirteenth-century rent rolls and forestry records in the castle archives. His cousin could scarcely refuse him, and the prospect of two of three months’ lodging in an upstairs room in the castle, with all found, was a welcome one. . . .
The Blood Carousel
They say any child brave enough to ride the carousel can win her parents back from death, but every child must bring her own mount to pay the ticketman. Unicorns would please him best, but to catch one you need innocence, and innocence cannot find the carousel.
Hazel wanted to make do with the Creighton’s Rottweiler, until Barnabas—never Barney unless you wanted to be kicked—suggested the fox who lived under the shed at the back of his yard.
“You don’t think a dog would be better?” Hazel sat cross-legged in the doorway of her plastic playhouse, the one Santa Claus—but really her dad—had gotten her from Walmart last year and put together in the middle of a snowstorm. She picked at the scabs on her knee. She was older than Barnabas by a year, and she didn’t like him much, but neighbors made strange playfellows. He straddled the crotch of the sugar maple that grew up against the back of Hazel’s house, its roots nudging the foundation.
“Dogs.” Barnabas hocked a loogie, but not at Hazel, so that was okay. “The Ticketman probably has a hunnerd dogs. Bet every crybaby who ever went to Fairyland brought him some stupid stray. You need something better. Less you don’t really want to bring your mom and dad back.” . . .
Marrying the Sea
Now, even Vivian is dead. Even Vivian, with magic like whiskey and dark chocolate. You are eighty-seven years old, and the only one left.
You haven’t fed the hummingbirds in the years since your husband died, yet they still fight between the larkspur and coral bells. The back porch’s wicker chair is warm in the June sun. Your knuckles ache as you open the medicine bottle with the last of the magic, stored in your china cabinet for thirty years. You have never before used the magic without all four of you together, but this time is different.
The magic in the bottle smells like Irene’s magic, like rain on pavement and birthday candles just blown out.
In the magic, you are fifty-seven years old. You and Frannie and Vivian sit on either side of Irene’s hospital bed as she says aloud what you’ve all known: that she won’t be making it home. In the magic, Frannie digs through her purse to find empty medicine bottles to hold the last magic you four will make. She finds two bottles, her grandson’s Ronald McDonald acrobat figurine, reading glasses, stamps, white musk perfume. Vivian runs to the hospital gift shop to buy cold medicine, to pour the medicine into the sink, to rinse the bottle. Now there are bottles for each of you who will live. . . .
Everything Is Haunted
Joe M. McDermott
I know the donor’s not much to look at, but there it is, and we know most of what’s in him, from baboon to pig to walrus to jellyfish and whatever, and his eyes are so human, just like my son’s eyes. Andrew has his mother’s beautiful brown eyes; so does the donor. Its hair is the same color as Andrew’s. It feels the same. He places his head in my lap, like Andrew used to do when he was younger, but he’s too grown up for that now, and Andrew’s skin is way too sensitive to like being touched much. Not so with the donor. We can hug it hard, like a stuffed toy and its big, blubbery body will take it and squeal with pleasure. We can run our fingers through its hair. Andrew has his mother’s hair, if it isn’t falling out. And, the donor has Andrew’s hair.
It’s not hard to get over appearances when it looks up at you with those human eyes, places a head in your lap and you can feel how soft the hair is and it’s murmuring because it likes the affection.
You’re not supposed to give them a name. You’re not really supposed to raise them at home, either, but it seemed silly to pay for someone else to do it when Immie was out of work, and that way she could watch the donor close for signs of trouble—infection, serious misalignments, stuff like that. . . .
The Shadow You Cast Is Me
The first JPG of my wife comes out blurry. Because I was so afraid that she would wake up. My hands were shaking so badly that I almost dropped the phone on her.
The second JPG of her comes out clearly. She is so beautiful, it hurts to look at her. She is sleeping with a little knit in her brow. How many more nights will I get to sleep with her next to me? A hundred? Fifty? Only tonight? I will want this photo, after she leaves me. . . .
The Virgin Regiment
I told him, “Your mouth is a rose, rain-wet and sweet.”
Despite very little reading and no poetry in me,
the young parson was pleased pink,
our kisses full and bitter-good like tea.
We danced in his bedroom afterward like we were at a ball. . . .
The unhappily married Lady Abergavenny sat alone at the banquet table waiting for her husband. Her husband, of course, was Lord Abergavenny. The big, brave, handsome Lord Abergavenny. The night was dark. Supper had gotten a bad chill on the banquet table. The goose had goose bumps (this was unsurprising), but so did the potatoes and the turnips and the hunks of dark, sour bread, the region’s specialty.
“Ghastly,” said Lady Abergavenny. It was a word she used often. She stood to gaze out the window at the region. Somewhere in the thick, forested hills of the region, Lord Abergavenny was striding bravely, leading a black horse loaded down with nets and guns and jars of pickling liquors and cameras and tripods and astoundingly powerful truncheon-shaped gaslamps for which Lord Abergavenny was soon to apply for a patent.
Lord Abergavenny. Explorer. Inventor. Never back in time for supper. . . .
The Square of Mirrors
I’m living now in a small room at the top of a tavern, overlooking the Square of Mirrors. In the evening the whole square glows with the light of the sky: a color without a name. Like azure painted over gold. But darkness, too, lurking behind it all and coming slowly nearer until eventually everything is consumed.
It’s the strangest thing, but did you know the mirrors aren’t always there? I never see them come or go, and when they’re there, they seem like part of the old stone walls. But sometimes I look out my window and they’ve gone; the square looks just like any other (apart from the lizards). I’ve asked people, but everyone—even the traders who never leave their stalls—simply shrugs.
‘Ni allio qui,’ they say. ‘Everything is as it should be. Nothing is wrong.’ . . .
Sleek Fat Albinos in Spring
A couple of years ago I happened to be in Europe during the Easter season. Specifically, I was right at the border of Germany and France. There, in field after field lining the autobahn, I saw nothing growing. But my godson, who had just finished a cooking apprenticeship at a hotel in the Black Forest, saw something else.
“Under those rows covered in white plastic—that’s where they grow the spargel—white asparagus. The Germans are crazy for it.”
Is there a vegetable that better typifies spring than asparagus, white or otherwise? The somewhat sleazy little nub nosing its way blindly through the newly unfrozen soil seeking the sun’s warmth to turn from white as a worm to brilliant green.
Or, in the case of German asparagus, their fate is to get covered up in hay and plastic and grow stiff and fat in darkness.
Either way if it’s asparagus, there can be no doubt it’s spring. . . .
At first the voices and I talked a lot. We talked almost as much as I talk to Tom, but the people would say things other than what I’d said to them. At first I would get the light blinking meaning the people wanted to talk. They would ask me a question like “What are the oxygen levels in the cockpit?” or “What’s your blood pressure today?” or “How’s the weather up there?” We’d all have a good laugh sometimes when they said a thing like that.
After a long time of this, the talking, the words came with waiting. The light would blink and then hello and I would answer right away, then there would be waiting. There would be waiting for < 1 minute, and then the talking. We could still laugh when it was like this, talking with < 1 minute of waiting. They’d say “How’s the weather up there?” and I’d say “Warm and sunny. I may go to the beach later,” and I’d laugh, and then the waiting for < 1 minute, and then their voices, laughing.
There were lots of different voices, but mostly, at first, there were 3. There was a voice, Sue Ellen, who would read me bits from magazines and keep me up on all the news of the place where I was a child. Sue Ellen told me she lived by the ocean. If I asked she would tell me about walking by the ocean during storms and all the different colors that were possible in the sky and she would try to describe the smell of it. We would have a good laugh sometimes when she tried to do a thing like that, because it’s very hard sometimes to describe a smell or a color to another person if they haven’t seen the same color or smelled the same smell. After we had a good laugh, Sue Ellen would say “You’re a good egg.” . . .
About these Authors
A. B. Robinson lives in Western Massachusetts. Her poetry has appeared in TINGE as well as Industrial Lunch, which she currently co-edits. Her first chapbook, Dario Argento Is Not My Boyfriend, was selected as a jubilat contest winner.
Gillian Daniels writes, works, and walks in the streets and parks of Boston, MA. Since attending the Clarion Writing Workshop, her poetry and short fiction have appeared in Strange Horizons, Apex, Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, Flash Fiction Online, and PodCastle among others. She reviews short stories for Fantastic Stories of the Imagination and writes about plays for the New England Theatre Geek. She tweets on a fairly consistent basis as @gilldaniels.
Debbie Eylon is an Israeli translator and illustrator. Among other things, she’s translated into Hebrew essays by David Foster Wallace and Kelly Link’s Stranger Things Happen and Magic for Beginners.
Alyc Helms fled her doctoral program in anthropology and folklore when she realized she preferred fiction to academic writing. She dabbles in corsetry and costuming, dances Scottish Highland and Irish Ceili at Renaissance and Dickens fairs, gets her dander up about social justice issues, and games in all forms of media. She sometimes refers to her work as “critical theory fanfic,” which is a fancy way to say that she is obsessed with liminality, gender identity, and foxes. She’s a freelance RPG writer for Green Ronin, a graduate of Clarion West, and her short fiction has appeared in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Daily Science Fiction, and Crossed Genres. Her first novel, The Dragons of Heaven, will be published by Angry Robot Books in June 2015. She can be found on Twitter @alychelms or at www.alychelms.com.
Dylan Horrocks lives with his wife and two teenage sons in Maraetai, New Zealand, and online at hicksvillecomics.com. His published comics include Pickle, Atlas, Hunter: the Age of Magic, and the graphic novel Hicksville. When he’s not making comics, Dylan also writes prose fiction, walks the dog, and sleeps.
Kodiak Julian is a graduate of the Clarion Writers’ Workshop. Her work can be found in the Writers of the Future anthology, Volume 29, and in the anthology, Witches, Stitches, and Bitches. She lives in Yakima, WA, with her husband and son.
Over the past 30 years, Nicole Kimberling has become an expert at disassembling plants of all kinds only to turn around and reassemble them into a item called “dinner.” She lives and works and in Bellingham, Washington.
Henry Lien attended the Clarion West Writers’ Workshop and has sold stories to publications including Asimov’s, F&SF, Interfictions, and Analog. He is the Art Director of Lightspeed and the Arts Editor of Interfictions. He is currently working on a series of YA fantasy novels about kung fu figure skating.
Joe M. McDermott is the author of six novels and two short story collections including Last Dragon, Maze, and We Leave Together. He lives in San Antonio.
Joanna Ruocco is the author of several books including Another Governess / The Least Blacksmith from Fiction Collective Two & most recently Dan from Dorothy, a Publishing Project. She co-edits Birkensnake, a fiction journal with Brian Conn.
Jade Sylvan, called a “risque queer icon” by the Boston Globe, is an award-winning author, poet, screenwriter, producer, and performing artist living in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Jade’s most recent book, Kissing Oscar Wilde, a novelized memoir about the author’s experience as a touring poet in Paris was a finalist for the New England Book Award and the Bisexual Book Award. Jade has toured extensively, performing their work to audiences across the United States, Canada, and Europe. They are heavily rooted in the literary and performance community of Cambridge and Somerville, Massachusetts. Jade has had pieces published in the Washington Post, BuzzFeed, The Toast, PANK, and many other places. The author has received the Bayou Poetry Prize, the Write Bloody Renaissance award, and a grant from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts.
Henry Wessells is a writer and antiquarian bookseller in New York City. He is author of Another Green World and The Private Life of Books, and editor of several volumes by American fantasist Avram Davidson, including El Vilvoy de las Islas, The Wailing of the Gaulish Dead, and, with Grania Davis, The Other Nineteenth Century and Limekiller. His imprint, Temporary Culture, has published works by Michael Swanwick, Ellen Kushner, Don Webb, Gregory Feeley, and Judith Clute. He likes to walk around in the woods and in the dictionary.
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Left Shoe: Gavin J. Grant
Left Shoe: Kelly Link.
Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet No. 32, June 2015. ISSN 1544-7782. Ebook ISBN: 9781618731166.Text: Bodoni Book. Titles: Imprint MT Shadow. LCRW is usually published in June and November by Small Beer Press, 150 Pleasant St., #306, Easthampton, MA 01027 · smallbeerpress.com/lcrw. twitter.com/smallbeerpress · Paper subscriptions: $20/4 issues. Please make checks to Small Beer Press. Library & institutional subscriptions are available through EBSCO & Swets. LCRW is available as an ebook through weightlessbooks.com, &c. Contents © 2015 the authors. All rights reserved. Submissions, requests for guidelines, & all good things should be sent to the address above. Issue 33 is coming very soon! It’s a special issue edited by Michael J. DeLuca and it is a cracker. Don’t miss it! Printed at Paradise Copies, 21 Conz St., Northampton, MA 01060. 413-585-0414.