Plugs

Jonathan Wood’s story “Notes on the Dissection of an Imaginary Beetle” from Electric Velocipede 15/16 is available online.

Luc Reid writes about the psychology of habits at The Willpower Engine. His new eBook is Bam! 172 Hellaciously Quick Stories.

Jason Fischer has a story appearing in Jack Dann’s new anthology Dreaming Again.

Jason Erik Lundberg‘s fiction is forthcoming from Subterranean Magazine and Polyphony 7.

Women Watching from the Shore

by Rudi Dornemann

The waves coming in on the gravel shore were sewn through with dragons, pencil-sized, silver, each spinning a froth droplet in its fore-claws.

Two women sat side by side on one of the memorial benches and watched the prison moon rise over the breakers. One in a corduroy coat, the other curled into herself, only a thin shawl against the wind.

A samovar cart jingled and sloshed from the direction of the pier.

“Do you have a least-brass?” said the woman in the heavy coat. The other woman placed a coin on the ones already in her palm.

Two paper cups of tea; three small cookies, an afterthought, dropped in the hand of the woman in the shawl.

Thirty years before, these women were not friends. The woman in the shawl used to run a shop on the ground floor of the building where the other woman lived. She extended credit to her neighbors. She overcharged on a random basis, knowing they’d never complain.

The moon lifts; the sky darkens; colony lights flicker into view. Coldgate. Artemis II. Shandren. They’ll wait, like they do whenever they happen to walk out at the right time on a cloudless, full moon night. It happens more often than chance would allow.

The tea is harsh. Some of the dragons needle out from the water to snatch wind-blown crumbs from the cookies and tumble them in place of their froth-orbs.

Seventeen years ago, the woman in the coat was taken away and charged with crimes against the ruling pattern. She protested, but there was evidence from an anonymous witness, and she went up for nine years, and came back to find the woman in the shawl had taken over her shop in her absence. A gift from the patterners, although she never explained, and the other never asked. (The patterners pay; they do not give.)

The paper-edges of the cups soak a little further through with every sip.

There it was: Hsieu’s Bridge. They rose together from the bench. The woman in the shawl held her breath a moment, as if expecting the other woman to make some statement, but the other woman remained silent. Whatever truce lay between them in the place where forgiveness would never be, it would last another month, at least.

The women continued their walk up the beach. The woman in the shawl leaned into her companion’s corduroy arm.

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2 Responses to “Women Watching from the Shore”

  1. John Schmegegge Says:

    August 5th, 2008 at 4:35 pm

    I really loved this.
    I feel sad that I can’t go to Rudi’s site and read all his writing because he doesn’t have a site.
    Part of the problem of web-fiction is that it’s strewn in millions of pieces everywhere. Shorts like this, so beautiful…and so instantly forgotten.

  2. Rudi Says:

    August 6th, 2008 at 1:41 am

    Hi John,
    Glad you liked the story.
    It’s a little rickety still, but I do have a site, with links to a few other fictional scatterlings, on the fiction page: http://www.rudidornemann.com/fiction/
    And there’s a good number of my other Daily Cabal pieces at http://www.dailycabal.com/rudi_dornemann/
    You’re right, there is an ephemeral side to web-writing that makes it that much harder to write something that will linger in the reader’s mind. Which I suppose we should take as an additional challenge…
    Best,
    Rudi