Benjamin Cort’s story “Bluebird” was published in Metaphorosis on Friday, 27 October 2017.
“Bluebird” started as a sci-fi riff on some of the early scenes of Grapes of Wrath. I imagined a cowboy of sorts with a hulking harvester monstrosity talking a family off their dusty farm so that a high tech city could make its way in. The “City” in Bluebird is inspired by another short story I wrote for an American Protest Literature class, which is too long and rambly for publication, but which gave me some fun names for corporations like Nanover and the Echo Conglomerate.
As I thought about writing the story, however, I realized that the farmland imagery isn’t quite what it used to be. So I decided to set the story in the suburbs, and have the protagonist be displacing some middle class family that might be more relatable. I also found an anthology about wings I wanted to submit to, so the tractor monster became a bird. Submission for the anthology closed about ten minutes after I started writing, but the bird stayed with the story anyways.
The actual story, about Towers and Allison, and Towers and his old town, emerged as I was writing, as did most of Towers’s character. Little of the original cool cowboy remains, except maybe the cigarettes. I’m a sucker for nostalgia, so I decided the family that stayed behind should be the family of his childhood friend/love. In the original ending there’s no watch, the bird destroys the town and Towers heads West in search of an ambiguous “she,” which could be the bird or Allison (but it’s probably the bird).
Morris Allen of Metaphorosis helped me steer towards the more interesting part of the story: Towers’s relationship with Allison. Over the course of a few drafts their past became more fleshed out, until the ending changed from ambiguous to happy. Well, happy-ish. Perhaps “not a total bummer” is the best way to put it. I hope for the best for those two, although my hopes aren’t too high.
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