Tag Archives: My Fiction

Wounds/Textures List

For when you need variety…

Wounds:

Abrasion

Breach

Break

Bruise

Chunk

Cleave/Cleft

Contusion

Crater

Cut

Damage

Fissure

Fracture

Furrow

Gash

Gorge

Graze

Grief

Hole

Incision

Laceration

Lesion

Mutilation

Nip

Notch

Pain

Rent

Score

Scrape

Scratch

Slash

Slit

Split

Suck/ing

Tear

Trauma

Textures:

Blistered

Dripping

Ragged

Rotten

Wet

*

Yes, most of these are from Thesaurus.com

Photo by Simon Migaj on Unsplash

The Librarian: Short Story

(for Suzie, my best librarian friend)

THE big table makes you look smaller than you are. Like a little morsel, a macaroon, a petit four alone on a dinner plate. You twitch, fidget. You curl your spine protectively over your phone screen despite the towers of books that surround you. Ponderous tombs of science, philosophy, and madness.

The World Atlas Extraordinaire sits on a stand older than this building next to you, propped open to the Pacific Islands, resplendently corralled by the cartography of the currents, dancing whorls of sacred scarification.

Each time the door slides open your eyes dart around in your skill like scared rabbits. You’re looking toward the door now; the shining glass, the herald of the morning sun. You are waiting for someone.

I like to pretend you’re waiting for me—but the girl walks in. (Besides, I’m already here.) The girl with the navy blue sweatshirt and hair the color of milky oil sliding off a dead whale. Her face is younger than mine. Of course, she is younger. All of you are. Her uniform skirt bisects her thighs perfectly, exposing her beautifully formed knee caps and the lacy pattern of veins and arteries flowing under her skin. Her sock-less feet are so dainty that her sneakers could easily be mistaken for ballet slippers.

She should be a ballerina with long, tangled hair. But she is a student and so are you. But you are not wearing a uniform. What day is it? Sunday? Monday? Where is the nearest school?

More importantly, what time is it? It must be near Lunchtime. I’m beyond famished. Even when I eat Breakfast and Second Breakfast I’m still a bottomless pit.

She sits as you stand. You do not hug like I expected you to but you do touch her shoulder as you lean over her chair. You ask her if she needs anything. She doesn’t. She pulls out a notebook and her headphones from her pink polka-dotted tote bag. (I have a bag too but it is not made out of polka-dots.) You walk away and she begins to scribble viciously across her blank page, her ears full of music I cannot hear.

Maybe she is a poet. Poets are delicious. They taste like burnt sugar and apricot pipe tobacco. (As opposed to artists, who usually taste like soggy, fermented herbs.)

When you return her head is bowed as if in prayer and your arms are bursting with books. Paris, Venice. Belgium, Madrid.

Travel or History?

What war, if any?

What’s your poison?

And why ignore the atlas? It’s been sitting right next to you the whole time. Just like I have. Surely maps are not obsolete. I know GPS exists now-a-days but you need more than travel diaries to travel. You have to know how to get where you want to go before you even think about going there. (I speak from personal experience, of course, but rarely does anyone listen to me…listen and survive, anyway…moving on.)

She plucks her headphones out of her ears and gives you one of the most dazzling smiles I have ever seen one human give to another. Her pink-frosted lips form the shape of the softest thankyou I have read anywhere, on paper or on flesh.

Maybe you’re planning to run away together. She’s already ready. Her tote has extra clothes and a very sharp knife hidden at the bottom (a gift from an overprotective mother, no doubt. Mothers should be overprotective). And you look like you have the money to buy anything else you two might need for a—what is it called? Funny, after all this time I still don’t know your words for it.

Getaway? Suicide?

When you only live from one meal to the next? No worrying about where to sleep, what to see next? Vacation?

No, you will have nothing to go back to. When you leave it will be for forever. Your family will disown you, will harry you through the halls and hedgerows, mazes and ballrooms and strip the skin from your sorry carcass if you ever return—no wait, that’s me. Not you. Sorry.

I’ve been living from one meal to the next without worrying about where I will sleep or what I will see next, unless it’s food. I eat food, dream food. I always look for food. But my version of you abandoned me long ago.

How long will you wait before you change your mind and leave her?

Good thing you’ll never find out. You’ll never get the chance to betray her. As you sit and study the geography of possibility I creep closer.

The shadows ebb and flow around your feet.

She doesn’t have time to dig out her knife.

(Copyright 2019 by Jessica Halsey)

The Librarian isn’t interested in working today. Don’t bother her.

*

The Librarian (short story) copyright 2019 Jessica Halsey

Photos by Oladimeji Odunsi on Unsplash

Namaste Apocalypse: Zombie Short Story

Jane loves yoga. She loves it so much she risks life and limb dodging ravenous zombies and expending valuable resources like food and energy just to get to her weekly class. It helps her cope with the daily grind of Post-Apocalyptic Rural America and helps her through the grieving process of the recent loss of her mother. Jane loves yoga so much that when an unexpected zombie finally catches her off guard, it helps her cope with life as a cog in the legion of the undead. Follow along with Jane as she transitions from yoga loving human to yoga loving brain muncher!

Disclaimer: This story contains mature language and zombie violence. Reader discretion is advised.

Continue reading

Little Girls

They carried the baby bird wrapped in a yellow, flowered handkerchief up the ladder and into the attic. Its eyes bulged behind their closed, membranous lids and its prickly down barely covered the stubs of its wings. The wrinkly, peach flesh was damp with perspiration and plant juice. It choked and twitched feebly, beak broken open. “We’re going to operate now,” said the little girl in the red corduroy dress. Her glossy black shoes were scuffed and muddy and her little white tights were ripped by the holly bush. There were no lights in the attic but Mother gave them three candles with the stipulation that Make Believe was not allowed to knock the candles over and burn the house down. The two girls scooted past boxes and trash bags filled with grown up things and tiny baby things from times neither of them could remember. They were like bright, neon fishes, easily distracted by strange movements, strange colors, strange noises. They crawled as one creature with four knees and four paws, dirt smeared and tipped with chewed claws, two of which were clasped together around the quivering baby bird. “On the operating table!” the little girl in the red corduroy dress whispered urgently, snatching the handkerchief from the other little girl and slamming it down on the top of one of the boxes. “Scalpel!” she cried. The other little girl pulled the handkerchief away from the baby bird and lifted it to her nose. There was something there that reminded her of earthworms and pill-bugs. Like the juice that dripped from the knife to the kitchen floor. Like the scolding she received when she stayed out in the sandbox past lunchtime. She reached into the pocket of her blue overalls and held out a sprig of holly.

*

Photo by brabus biturbo on Unsplash

Direction

Take the splintered memory of your father beating you from between your mother’s clenched teeth. If you can still hear his screams, go west. You will come to a ditch cradling a dead cat. If his neck is twisted, proceed north. If his belly burst open like a rotten orange under a motorcycle wheel, go south. You will find the rider’s bloody boot prints scuffing the Black-Eyed Susans. If you mix the pollen with loose-leaf tobacco and roll a cigarette your doppelgänger in another universe will be gifted a front row seat to the next public execution. But that is not the direction you want to go. If you ignore me and walk toward the old Civil War battlefield marked with the city’s slapdash attempts at historical editing. Your old lovers, wherever they are, will turn pale as if a nurse has taken too much life force from the abrasive latticework of a failed experiment. You will taste blood in your mouth. They will fall to the floor and you will not be there to catch them or kiss the languor from their eyes. You won’t want to. If you don’t see a dead cat, continue west as if nothing is wrong. You will eventually come to a fork in the road. Or a river. And you must either cut off all your hair or throw your clothes into the Salvation Army donation bin that washed up on the riverbank after the storm. You have to go bare in some way, your own body acting as a trembling neophyte’s compass, pointing towards the sharpest point away. If fear bites down on you so hard your ribs crack and snap against your heart, you can choose a different direction. You can run, screaming, back home or you can try to walk on water.

*

Photo by Oliver Roos on Unsplash

Home

Home scratches at her shingles with tree branch fingers, pulls the air conditioning unit to her moldy, aluminum ribs and keens a whale song of mourning. We found her wandering the tornado snarled wild three months ago, empty and starving. We fed her pieces of dining room table, gas key fireplaces, and cast iron bathtubs, clawed feet first. We gutted her plumbing, ripped out her nerves and re-wired the electricity, reinforced foundation seams that let the water in every time it rained. She did not respond well. We found rot and mold in her corners, force fed her antibiotics and quarantine standard operating procedures while she belched ladder-back chairs, sofa cushions, wind chimes, and broken bookcases. She still has her bad days. After feeding time Home likes to sit back porch facing east and picture window facing west; Home sits and watches the sun set, sits for hours in the dark. She gets regular walks around the wolf pen—let her mingle with the vultures, I said, let her feel useful and clean up the dead, but no one would listen—she shakes every time the tornadoes come through. She has bad memories and, hopefully, maybe a few ecstatic ones. When it rains, Home hitches up her porch and hops from one corner to the other, splashing in the puddles when she can.

*

Photo by thomas shellberg on Unsplash

A previous version of this piece was first published in Six Sentences waaaay back in 2009. In fact, this was the very first thing I ever got published.

Things I Read Dec.-Nov. 2018ish Through July 2019

This is documentation and record keeping.

This is a third attempt at archival work.

In no particular order.

Books. Novellas. Short Stories. Scholarly Articles.

The Beasts Who Fought for Fairyland Until the Very End and Further Still: Catherynne M. Valente

Wounded: Laurell K. Hamilton

Guilty Pleasures: Laurell K. Hamilton

The Laughing Corpse: Laurell K. Hamilton

Circus of the Damned: Laurell K. Hamilton

Beauty: Laurell K. Hamilton

Shut Down: Laurell K. Hamilton

Goblin Slayer vols. 1-3: Kumo Kagyu

Daughter of the Blood: Anne Bishop

Battle Angel Alita vols. 5-9: Yukito Kishiro

Battle Angel Alita Mars Chronicle vols. 1-2: Yukito Kishiro

Too Wyrd, Runespells #1: Sarah Buhrman

Magpie: A Collection of Really Short Stories: Carrie Mumford

Pisces-Silver Blood Collection: D.N. Leo

Binti: Nnedi Okorafor

Binti: Home: Nnedi Okorafor

Binti: The Night Masquerade: Nnedi Okorafor

Claymore vols. 1-4: Norihiro Yagi

The Long Walk: Stephen King as Richard Bachman

The Name of the Wind: Patrick Rothfuss

The Wise Man’s Fear: Patrick Rothfuss

Lists I Left for My Sister: Rosamund Hodge

A Reminiscence of Dr. Samuel Johnson: H.P. Lovecraft

Polaris: H. P. Lovecraft

The Beast in the Cave: H.P. Lovecraft

The Alchemist: H.P. Lovecraft

The Tomb: H.P. Lovecraft

Dagon: H.P. Lovecraft

Ghost Sniper: David Healy

Hot Head: Damon Suede

Mission: Protect the Ex: Alina Popescu

Strength to Let Go: Tales of the Werewolf Tribes Book One: Alina Popescu

Penal Units in the Red Army: Alex Statiev: Europe-Asia Studies vol. 62 no. 5 (July 2010)

Love in the Time of Global Warming: Francesca Lia Block

The Collector: Titainborn Universe Book Zero: Rhett Bruno

Parable of the Sower: Octavia Butler

The Big Flash: Norman Spinrad

The Cruel Prince: Holly Black

The Lost Sisters: Holly Black

The Wicked King: Holly Black

Red Queen: Victoria Aveyard

Giovanni’s Room: James Baldwin

Relic of the Mad Poet: A Journey to the Tree Of Sorrows Story: E. H. Robinson

Berserk vols. 1-2: Kentaro Miura

Of Children, and Houses, and Hope: Aliette De Bodard

In Morningstar’s Shadow: Aliette De Bodard

A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms: George R. R. Martin

Every River Runs to Salt: Rachel K. Jones

The Second Wish: Brian Lumley

The Sun, the Sea, and the Silent Scream: Brian Lumley

Favorites

Favorite Book: Parable of the Sower, Octavia Butler

Favorite Novella: Every River Runs to Salt, Rachel K. Jones

Favorite Short Story: Lists I Left for My Sister, Rosamund Hodge

Miscellaneous Comments

I enjoyed A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms and Love in the Time of Global Warming more than I thought I would. I was reminded a lot of Block’s Primavera and thought the writing was much more vivid than in Necklace Of Kisses and Elementals.

I was disappointed with Holly Black’s new Folk of the Air Series. The “bad boy” really isn’t that bad and the heroine falls a bit flat compared to the characters in Tithe, Valiant, and The Darkest Part of the Forest. I don’t know if I’ve just *gasp* grown up a little bit or she intentionally wrote those characters to be less complex (than those in her other series) and more obvious caricatures of tropes for wider accessibility/a specific type of audience. However, I will read all the books because I am invested in all her work and am immensely grateful for her efforts in reviving the Bordertown stories. And the Zombies vs. Unicorns anthology she co-edited with Justine Larbalestier is amazing. Don’t judge me for not making it through the Spiderwick Chronicles yet. I’ll get there eventually.

My godfather gave me his copy of Every River Runs to Salt and I am so glad he did. It will probably have a permanent home in my Re-Read Pile.

I feel like I’ve stepped too far away from poetry this year, writing and reading it. I’ve neglected the work and writers that bouyed me up in grad school. This is bad because poetry is the life blood. I am a salt covered slug without it. I will make an attempt to spend the rest of the year injecting more poetry into my life.