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Dec 28 2013

Saturday Storytime: Boat in Shadows, Crossing

Tori Truslow says she’d like to be a genderfluid cyborg on Mars. Given her talent for making the suspension of disbelief a small thing, one would almost think it could happen. Thanks to AJ Fitzwater for the pointer to this and other good short fiction from 2013.

Listen: down in the mangroves, just a few days before this story-telling night, a certain fisher pulled up wicker eggs that turned into wicker fish. He showed his wife the trap that bore them, shiny stones tied onto it like eyes. She shook her head and turned to their daughter.

“It’s because you made it too lifelike,” she scolded, “and now something’s possessed it.”

“Oh, no,” the daughter said. “I made it more deathlike. So it’d suck fish to the same fate.”

And her parents thought, and conferred, and spoke to their cousins and their neighbors, who all agreed: a girl with such a talent could marry well.

One said he’d heard of a wealthy ice merchant from across the seas with an unmarried son, who needed someone with haunt-tricks to help their business—he had bought a ghostwood barge to use as a roving shop but couldn’t get it to go. Now, Bue’s parents cared for their daughter but not for ghosty fish-traps—and to be joined to a merchant family was a fine thought. So they asked her, as they sat down to supper, what she thought.

“But Ma, Pa, who’ll tend the traps?” Under her calm face, dismay tumbled with delight. The city, the city! But as a merchant’s wife?

“I can do that,” her mother said. “Just think! No more blistering your fingers with work, but sitting in a high chair and commanding a house! And there’d be money to send home.”

“So send me as a servant,” Bue said, ladling soup into their bowls. “I’ll earn you some coin, and I’d rather work with my hands than worry about accounts.”

“I’ve heard nothing good about rich boys and servant girls,” said her father.

Bue’s smile was not a delicate thing but a big rash grin when she said, “why should I be a girl?”

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