Plugs

Alex Dally MacFarlane’s story “The Devonshire Arms” is available online at Clarkesworld.

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

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

Susannah Mandel’s short story “The Monkey and the Butterfly” is in Shimmer #11. She also has poems in the current issues of Sybil’s Garage, Goblin Fruit, and Peter Parasol.

Archive for the ‘Susannah Mandel’ Category

Our Lady Of the Snows

Friday, October 23rd, 2009

“Her house is everywhere where winter is”; but this turned out not to be true, as I learned when I went away to school and, for the first time, met people from other parts of our country. I learned then that it is full of places — wooded valleys, and windy inlets, rolling farmland or monastery country, indeed, even the occasional bustling city, as big as or bigger than Kardery — places, in short, where the people live not too differently from us. They speak the same language; they read about the capital, and the Empress; children trudge to school to study the same lessons we learn at home.

And yet, despite all these similarities, there is one house inside which these people have never been.

Corinne (she was the first girl I had ever met with bangs; they rippled over her dark eyes like a sheet of water) said that where she comes from, winter means only that the sun is obscured by a new, low sky of cloud. She said, when one goes walking across the pasture to the cows, one’s body casts no shadows on the grass; no, nor the tall stones that hold up the sky; and underfoot the green is wet and brilliant enough to replace – almost — the hidden sun.

Bruno, brown and blond, said that in the plains, winter means no rain, and that means fire. (It makes a noise like an angry army in the mountains, he said.) While in Kuchko’s home city – Kuchko is thin and pale, with a scarred hand — the trees only turn gold (she said), and the water noisy, and white mist rolls in from the bay and makes silver oceans in the air.

But none of them – none! — had ever seen or walked with the Lady.

I told them that, when the first cold comes, I will take them out into the hills behind the school. There we can get used to the corridors, the galleries and halls, while they are still upholstered in autumn. And then, when the time comes, we will go out again — dressed for visiting — and I will show them into her parlor, and we will go to her among the silent trees, and render her what we have brought to give, where she waits for us in her receiving room: Our Lady of the Snows.

From “Caipho and Erasmus”: Act II, Scene i.

Friday, August 28th, 2009

[Enter CAIPHO, with GAMALFIEL [the cat].]

CAIPHO:
Gamalfiel, tell me, what shall I do?
Two days gone by, and I’ve not made reply
to that last message of Erasmus’.
I doubt not but he wonders why I stay,
and why my answer cometh not.

[She sets down GAMALFIEL upon the bed.  GAMALFIEL goes to the pillow
and makes as if to sleep.]

Great good you are to me, you lazy thing!
Sleep then.  And I’ll kindle the terminal,
and see if there is fresh word from Camille,
some new report to help me understand
what I had best to do.
                                      Gamalfiel,
you don’t know how I envy you your rest!
My nights have been broken with misery
since Wednesday.  Oh, if only love
were not such agony!  If only trust
could be made sure!  If only I could know
that Erasmus is true.  But no; I’ve lacked
all surety since Camille made report
that he was texting Andrea while I
was at Grandma’s in Margate.
                                                  Well, let us see
if there’s fresh news tonight.  Come, come — turn on!

[Divers noises and the COMPUTER grows light.]

Ah, here’s word from Camille.  What does she say?

[She reads.]

Alas!  More further proofs — if I had need —
of his deceitfulness.  Oh, who would be
a woman?  Who would have a tender heart,
and see it broken by man’s perfidy?
Especially a young girl, and a heart,
so tender, and so pretty, as mine is
and as I am.  Gamalfiel, it’s hard!

[The COMPUTER shaking, as if in a wind.]

What’s this? Erasmus wants to chat with me?
Who would have thought that he would be online!
I will not speak with him, I’ll tell him no,
I’ll set him to “Ignore.”

[LIGHTS as of a storm.  ERASMUS appears standing on the floor rug, in
green light, as a HOLOGRAM.  Gamalfiel, wakened, looks on.]

CAIPHO:
Erasmus!  But how come you here? I tried —

ERASMUS:
I overrode your chat-room block.  You know
I have your password.

CAIPHO:
‘Tis true — I forgot.

ERASMUS:
What’s all this nonsense, Caipho?  Am I blocked
from chatting with you? I, your boyfriend!  Why?
And why no answer to my messages?

CAIPHO:
Hear him complain, as if ‘twere he’d been wronged!
And why not chat with Andrea, if you
need company?

ERASMUS:
Andrea?  What mean you?

CAIPHO:
I mean only that I’ve heard from Camille
what you were up to while I was away.
I should have known before I gave my heart
to thee!  Alas, poor Caipho!

ERASMUS:
This is naught.
You know Camille has never liked me.

CAIPHO:
Go!
I won’t hear my friend slandered to my face
by a poor gormless craven who’ll deny
the truth he stands accused with!

ERASMUS:
Aye, I’ll go!
I won’t stay here and be abused by you;
I see I have no chance against Camille.
Answer my email if you like, Caipho,
but till you’re reasonable, rave alone!

[He disappears.  The green light vanishes.]

CAIPHO:
And he is gone.
Oh, who would be a girl?  Gamalfiel,
my heart is breaking!  Let me spend my tears
on your soft fuzzy chest!

[She throws herself upon the bed and embraces GAMALFIEL.  GAMALFIEL meows.]

‘Tis true, my friend, but that kind word you say
cannot ease my regret.  Alack the day!
My heart governs my head: I love him still,
despite the wise persuasions of Camille.

[Exeunt ambo.]

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