Our latest story
“Fennel,” Mama called up from the kitchen. “Breakfast’s near ready.”
“Coming, Mama,” I yelled back as I pulled a simple, blue dress over my head. I tied my hair back tight, laced up my shoes and then ran down the stairs to the kitchen.
Mama was heavily pregnant again. She was stirring a large pot that bubbled away on the stove, filling the air with the aroma of milk and oats. Sage, Lentil, and Chilli were crawling around Mama’s ankles, squealing. Strawberry, Colander, Rosemary, and Tommy sat at the table, spoons in hands, waiting for their porridge.
Mama had the birthing disease. “When you have the birthing disease,” Mama would say, “you don’t have time to dilly dally picking out the perfect name for your little uns. I like to look at what’s nearby when the baby comes and pick a name that way.” Mama had been cooking just before I was born on the kitchen floor. Mama had been cooking before most of our births.
Pa sat at the head of the table, stiff backed. His raw, cracked hands rested in bowls of ice and his stone-grey eyes watched the children. I gave his hard shoulder a squeeze as I walked past him and made my way to the opposite end of the table.
Pa had laid-to-waste disease. He worked in demolition, destroying buildings with his rock-hard hands. When he was young, those hands had been harder than diamonds. But not anymore. As he grew older, it was like the hardness in his hands had begun to leak from where he needed it and, instead, it was spreading slowly but surely up his arms and across his chest and face. The money was too good to stop working, so Pa persisted, despite the toll on his body, despite the stiffness in his joints and the limited movement. I guess it made me sad, though Mama said it shouldn’t. We all have to bear our diseases, the good and the bad.Read more
This Side of the Wall – Michael Gardner
Jewel/Gem Offering – Talisen Fray
The Seer at Sunset Hills Shopping Plaza – Katherine Perdue
Emeralds or Amethysts – Alexandra Grunberg
Michael Gardner is a public servant and economist living in Canberra, Australia with his wife and two kids. He loves contemporary fantasy and horror – really anything strange or weird. And he has a very patient wife who puts up with his taste in TV shows and movies, and lets him spend more time writing then he probably should.
Q: Do you use music for inspiration? If so what do you listen to?
A: Yes. Sometimes this is straightforward. If I’m trying to write something sad, I don’t choose upbeat music. If it’s difficult to write, then I avoid distractingly catchy lyrics. But I also find that if I’ve written productively while listening to something before, especially if more than once, that piece of music gets imbued with the moment, becomes a kind of talisman. So that if I want to write that way again, with that kind of focus, I have but to listen to it. As for what kind? You name it: opera, bluegrass, rock, gamelan, all kinds.