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Your body becomes the haunted house
at the end of the street: a girl’s name
on your first medical alert bracelet listing no peanuts
& no milk. If ingested, compress Ashley’s ribs
until the breath returns like a ghost.
You told me you picked your new first name
from numerology. The first time around,
you had two death markers in your letters,
a hidden skull and crossbones between
Ashley and Margaret that played out
like theatre roles. First, your mother
dead in a car crash when she went
to get your EpiPen, and now you
as Ashley Margaret, a dead name
on a birth certificate. I say, your transgender
child self isn’t a ghost, but you insist.
Ashley died. There is no remnant left of her
hips, her soft hair, and her small hands
that wore nail polish, blood red and dripping
all over the white carpets. You don’t
even carry the medical alert bracelet,
EpiPen, or Allergen medication anymore,
as if the cells of your former girl-self
could breed out the disease with a new name.
Jonathan Michael: a strong sense
of numbers. Born under the right sign,
because you came out in a different month
than when you were born, so you shift
like a wheel of year from Capricorn
to Virgo. Still an earth sign,
you insist for the sun coordinates, but your
cardinal points are no longer fixed.
The structure you’ve built, with names
new numbers, and clothing that cuts
across your breasts worse than an ace bandage
is a new development on an old plot
of land. But you insist, insist, insist
though I’ve seen Amityville enough times
to know that the blood that seeps down
your thighs once a month will take more
than a few charms & a potion in a needle
until it finishes seeping out. Your body
becomes a haunted house, full of past lives,
lost souls, and wandering death traps
in peanuts or coffee creamer. But I love you,
Jonathan Michael, after the archangel,
and a cool even holy number when added up.
Your numerology hits you to the bones
you try to bury under the front steps. And
I love your haunted arches, your bloody walls,
and the cat screeching when you
come too close (the new hormones, you insist
change your pheromones to animal totems
as much as they change your voice). I love
every last haunted ecology of your skin
pocked marked again like a teenager
and slowly climbing with hair like
spiders webs. When I was a kid, I saw
Amityville twelve times in the theatre
(because I still thought thirteen was unlucky)
and I loved every last bit. The folklore of
your body, the superstitions between your
thighs, where to touch and how to do it,
don’t scare me. Your body & history
have become a haunted house, dear
Jonathan, but you’re not a ghost,
a dead name, or a withering hollowed out
willow tree. It’s me. I’m the ghost you’ll need
inside your doors to rattle your chains,
shake your floorboards, and creak the doorknobs.
Together, come Halloween, we’ll scare the little kids
adults and movie patrons who don’t understand
your name
your numbers
your astrological legacy & my protoplasm soul
always hunting, always yearning
for more.



Eve Morton is a writer living in Ontario, Canada. She teaches university and college classes on media studies, academic writing, and genre literature, among other topics. She likes forensic science through the simplified lens of TV, and philosophy through the cinematic lens of Richard Linklator. Find more information on authormorton.wordpress.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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Issue 17 Aug 2020
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Issue 10 Aug 2020
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Issue 3 Aug 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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