Size / / /

Middle-aged and bifocaled, she waits at the stop sign for them to fly past,

windows open to welcome the hot air—better than watching through haze.

She grips the wheel, each new wrinkle on her hand another impossibility

between them.  Out of time.  Displaced person.  She is not supposed to be there,

her silence like a cancer—and everything vinegar on her tongue.

She is afraid to blink, to miss them, while the ice cream melts in her trunk.

Suddenly they ride with eyes ablaze, unfettered and invincible for fifteen minutes,

charging past cars, ignoring traffic lights.  There is freedom in each small rebellion.

 

The oldest with his curly hair and wild eyebrows seems to recognize her.

His mouth a full grin, his braces shining, he winks with a fleeting confidence that only comes

on two wheels in motion.  Fearless and beautiful in awkward angles,

he is like all the boys from books she adored when she was young; clever boys

with secrets—closet skeletons, noble hearts, and stepmothers' curses.

 

The bikes whir and flap, playing cards clipped to their spokes with clothespins,

and as the youngest passes, she sees the seven of clubs fastened to one wheel,

punctuating his ride with a clack-clack-clack that brings the bike one step closer

to the roar of a motorcycle.  She watches her brothers as they turn the corner

and rise up off the ground, trading wheels for wings, leaving this world behind—

endangered and unstoppable.  On the seat beside her, under needles and starwort,

are six shirts tear-stained, one still not finished, and behind her the siren draws near.



Valya Dudycz Lupescu is the author of The Silence of Trees and founding editor of Conclave: A Journal of Character. Her poetry and prose have been published in Gone Lawn, Jersey Devil Press, Mythic Delirium, Danse Macabre, Fickle Muses, Abyss & Apex, Pedestal Magazine, Doorknobs & Bodypaint, and other places. Since earning her MFA in Writing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Valya has worked as a college professor, obituary writer, content manager, goth cocktail waitress, and co-producer of an independent feature film. Her first comic book, Sticks & Bones, created with artist Madeline C. Matz, was successfully crowdfunded via kickstarter. They are now working on the next three issues to be published by First Comics. Her website is www.vdlupescu.com.
Current Issue
28 Sep 2020

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By: Maggie Damken
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Ciro Faienza presents Maggie Damken's “Undiscovered Hells,” with a designed sound environment.
Although the science fiction community has engaged in a significant, concerted, and necessary effort to correct for many of Campbell’s prejudices surrounding race and gender, there has yet to be a similar corrective effort on matters concerning class and labour.
The unofficial theme for this Short Fiction Treasures column is “arts, crafts, and work.” Whether the art, craft, or work is the main theme of the story, or whether it’s there as background and setting, it can add a level of immersion and satisfying texture to speculative fiction that I find irresistible.
Issue 21 Sep 2020
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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!
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