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Jareth eased into a parking spot, turning off the rock ‘n’ roll screaming from the radio. The wind nipped at his skin, so he zipped up his jacket a little tighter. His silver necklace winked at him in the reflection off the convenience store windows. A month ago this place would have been teeming with evening rush hour customers, but not today, not anymore.
The bell dinged. Plastic sheeting and caution signs still covered the glass refrigerator doors. The mob had made a hell of a mess, so he was surprised to see such a quick restoration. And glad. He needed his cigarettes. For a bad couple of weeks when a lot of stores were still shut there had been hardly available at all, but he’d made a point of keeping his habit. It was a matter of pride, even with his wages cut to the bone. They’d opened the restaurant again, but on short hours, just another service business slowly adjusting to the new world.
He kept his gaze down when he approached the cashier, his visor blocking eye contact. You couldn’t make eye contact.
“Hi, Miguel.” Jareth said. “A pack a cigs, please. The usual.”
Miguel also wore a visor; everyone did. If you couldn’t buy one, you made one or wore a hat. Really dark shades also did the trick. You needed something, anything, to keep you from meeting another person’s gaze.
“Still cleaning up?” Jareth asked.
“Almost done.” He nodded at the plastic sheeting. “That’s the last bit of broken glass. It’d be easier if they’d worked out insurance yet.”
Jareth retrieved the cigarettes. He only saw the pack and Miguel’s tanned, large hand.
The Naked Me – N. Immanuel Velez
A Nightingale’s Map of the City – by Suzanne J. Willis
Halfsies – Eric Del Carlo
The Snow Queen’s Daughter – Sean R. Robinson
Matt Thompson’s story “Luminaria” was published in Metaphorosis on Friday, 29 July 2016. My original plan for this story was for a kind of Borgesian pirate yarn – magic realism meets boys-own adventure, or something along those lines. I’m not sure I succeeded, but the concept of a metaphysical shipboard mutiny I’d finally arrived at stayed with me. I adapted a shorter, abandoned story I had lurking in the ‘trunk’ and it turned out to…
Q: If your writing style were a bird, what type of bird would it be and why?
A: A bird uncaged, flying about a wonderfully strange garden. A bird who collects the beautiful shiny things that catch its eye, then weaves them into a story-nest, built of twigs and branches and Spanish moss. The garden is the framework, the rules of writing, but they’re there to support the story, not to constrain it. Within the rules is an abundance of space to play and to map one’s own path. The story-nest is pruned and plucked and woven over and over, with the bird discarding some of the bright, shiny objects so that the nest becomes something lovely in its own right, more than the sum of its parts. And sometimes, a bird that flies clear of the garden’s boundaries to test what lies beyond, for that is where the best monsters live.
Suzanne Willis’s story “A Nightingale’s Map of the City” was published in Metaphorosis on Friday, 10 February 2017. Subscribe to our e-mail updates so you’ll know when new stories go live.
N. Immanuel Velez lives in Virginia, and when he isn’t writing or crunching numbers he spends most of his time with his wife and two daughters.
N. Immanuel Velez’s story “The Naked Me” was published in Metaphorosis on Friday, 17 February 2017. Subscribe to our e-mail updates so you’ll know when new stories go live.
I extended my hand out the window, reaching as my mother had taught me since I was old enough to understand her words. Palm up, an invitation to the distant skies. The steppe ended in the distance, the horizon shattered by snow-choked mountains. From my window, I could see the clouds roiling white, the azurite sky behind it a challenge. Not a challenge, I reminded myself. I could hear my mother’s voice in my ears.…
Q: What’s your favorite story?
A: It may be that, as I read recently, there really is only one story: Things are not as they seem. As for favorite ready-made plots, I honestly do not have one I favor over any other in the sense of plot mechanics or story movement. I am much more drawn to themes, which grow out of characterization. One of my personal maxims is that what happens in a story can never be more engaging than the people it happens to. Without characters who elicit emotion, a story is artless. It becomes a scholastic exercise. A writer will know this when her or his work is greeted with this soul-shriveling comment: ‘Your story was really clever.’ That indicates a tale that is a literary mousetrap, a ba-da-bum of words leading (rather than inviting) the reader toward a prefab conclusion. The reader has to care. I vastly prefer sympathetic characters to tell my stories, though some successful writers manage with sets of players who elicit no empathy whatsoever. (I don’t care for this sort of work.)
As far as themes, my favorite is probably personal redemption. A Christmas Carol wasn’t about three ghosts hounding an old man; it was about a miser’s spiritual reclamation. I also like, in this mode of personal redemption, to tell the big story through a small lens. I often put relatively insignificant characters (as far as their place in my imagined society or future) in the foreground and have them fight their little battles, while commenting on something much bigger–i.e., a character resists some oppressive aspect of a futuristic society, making the struggle immediate and desperate, rather than broad and epic. In my stories an evil empire might crumble, but you’ll find out about it through a guy trying to put together the money to cover next month’s rent.
Suzanne is a Melbourne, Australia-based lawyer and writer. Her spare moments are spent with stories and music. There is a garden outside her little library that was built in the hope that the stories and the greenery might coax the faeries to make a home there. Her tales are inspired by fairytales, ghost stories and all things strange, but her favourite time is spent chilling out at home with her patient partner and pampered pooch.
Suzanne can be found online at suzannejwillis.webs.com