Size / / /

It's lunchtime, so she's in the kitchen, making a sandwich out of tuna fish and pre-chopped celery and onion. The kids are safe away at school, her husband off at work, and the house is hers for a few brief, calming hours.

It's cold outside, but her kitchen is warm and bright, and in its comfortable familiarity she can almost banish away the chill of melancholy, the knowledge deep inside her that there should be, there must be, something more to life.

She adds the mayonnaise, some garlic, some pepper, mixes briefly, and plops a spoonful onto the bread.

And then he's there, perched at the edge of one of her battered dinette chairs, the stub of his tufted tail fitting into the old torn place in the upholstered seat almost as though that alone was the cause, the purpose of the rip.

"Hello," he says, his dark curls bouncing with his enthusiasm, playing peekaboo with the tips of his curving horns. "We need you again. It's urgent. Oh! Is that tuna you're making?"

She slides the sandwich onto a plate, slightly dazed, yet somehow not at all, then pours him a glass of milk, and another for herself.

"Who are you?" she asks, but he just shrugs, his mouth full of tuna.

She drinks her milk in one scared (excited?) series of gulps, and slams the glass down on the counter.

"Who are you?" she asks again, though she is seized, quite suddenly, by a madly vivid impulse to turn, to walk to the bedroom, to reach behind the heavy antique dresser and grasp, and draw . . . what? A blade? Don't be silly, she's no good with even paring knives, which is why, of course, she buys the pre-chopped tuna salad mix. Have to buy more of the stuff. That was the last, and her husband so loves his tuna. . . .

"Let's not go through this again." He sighs, and wipes stray bread crumbs from his beard, rising to his cloven feet. "It gets so dull, and deep inside you know you know. Just get your things and we'll be off. There's a dragon this time, and a mage so dark that shadows linger round his eyes. We need your help."

And she stumbles, slowly gaining speed and grace, to her bedroom door, finds the things her sideways self knows she'll use, then strides back to her kitchen guest.

"The kids?" she asks, her last mad grasp at normalcy.

He snorts, and drops his dishes in the sink. "Will be fine," he says. "They're on this-world time, not ours. You'll be back before they even know you're gone. Before you even know you're gone. Or sort of." Another shrug. "You know I hate the science stuff. Now, let's away!"

A cause. A dream. Her "something more." She smiles, just a bit at first, then wider, and holds her sword hilt tight, and then. . . .

It's lunchtime, so she's in the kitchen, making a sandwich out of tuna fish and . . . no, there's no chopped celery and onion left at all. Strange. She slides her sandwich onto a plate and frowns at dishes in the sink, a milk filmed glass on her counter's edge.

Those kids, she thinks, and wipes away a single tear, caused maybe by the onion's ghost.




Marcie Lynn Tentchoff is an Aurora Award-winning poet and writer who lives on the west coast of Canada with her family and various animals, both domesticated and not. Her work has appeared in such publications as Weird Tales, On Spec, Mythic Delirium, and Aeon. To contact the author, send her email at mtentchoff@dccnet.com.
Current Issue
21 Sep 2020

Quiet 
The day the last qawwal was killed, my childhood city, already known for its lethal silence, for its censorship of words, for its refusal to listen, went into a deep deep quiet.
Podcast: Quiet 
By: Aqdas Aftab
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Anaea Lay presents Aqdas Aftab's “Quiet.”
Back Story 
You like that every single word, image, and idea in my poetry has meaning and is put there for a reason, so when you ask about the plant in my poem and need to know more about it. . .
Podcast: Back Story 
By: David Clink
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Ciro Faienza presents David Clink's “Back Story.”
Wednesday: Dead Astronauts by Jeff VanderMeer 
Friday: The Supernova Era by Cixin Liu, translated by Joel Martinsen 
Issue 14 Sep 2020
By: Fargo Tbakhi
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Jenny Blackford
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 7 Sep 2020
By: Catherynne M. Valente
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Bethany Powell
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: Bethany Powell
Issue 31 Aug 2020
By: R.B. Lemberg
By: Julia Rios
By: Sonya Taaffe
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: R.B. Lemberg
Podcast read by: Julia Rios
Podcast read by: Sonya Taaffe
Issue 24 Aug 2020
By: Leslie J. Anderson
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: Leslie J. Anderson
Issue 17 Aug 2020
By: Emma Törzs
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Liz Adair
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 10 Aug 2020
By: Anya Johanna DeNiro
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Laura Cranehill
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 3 Aug 2020
By: Christine Lucas
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Christine Lucas
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Krishnakumar Sankaran
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: Krishnakumar Sankaran
Issue 20 Jul 2020
By: Ranylt Richildis
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: JD Fox
By: JD Fox
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: JD Fox
17 Jul 2020
Strange Horizons is now accepting fiction submissions for our Mexico Special issue, which will be published at the end of November 2020!
17 Jul 2020
Strange Horizons lanza su convocatoria en busca textos narrativos para su Especial de México, que se publicará a finales de noviembre de 2020!
Load More
%d bloggers like this: