Size / / /

On weekends I help my old neighbor look

for his soul. He says he used to be a wizard, or a giant

(the story varies from telling to telling), and, as was

the custom for his kind, he put his soul into an egg

(or perhaps a stone) for safe-keeping. He hid the egg

(or stone) inside a duck (or in the belly

of a sheep, or in a tree stump), and so long

as his soul was safe, his body could not be killed

or wounded. "Oh," he says. "I was the greatest

terror of the hills. I ate the hearts of knights,"

or sometimes, "I lived in my high

tower and none dared oppose me, and with the wave

of my hand I could turn stone to mud

and water to boiling blood."

Or sometimes "The earth trembled

with my every step." He says this

almost wistfully.

My neighbor is seventy at least, I think,

or older (unless he is hundreds of years old

as he claims). His skin is covered in dark freckles,

liver spots, and moles, and he says that each

blemish marks a year he's lived beyond

his rightful span. All he wants is to find the egg

(or stone) that houses his soul, so that he

may break the egg (or crush the stone) and die.

I asked him once, while we looked for his soul

in the garbage cans at the park, "How

could you misplace your soul?"

"I hid it so well, I forgot

where it was hidden," he said.

"Seems like a hell of a thing

to forget," I said.

"When you don't have a soul,"

he said,

"It's harder to know which things

are important

to remember."

We go out every weekend. He's old.

I live alone. We are companions

for one another. He tells marvelous

stories. I think he must have once

taught mythology, though he tells

the tales of gods and heroes

as if he saw it all firsthand.

Once he found a robin's egg

on the ground. It must have fallen

from a nest. He held the egg

in trembling hands, cracked it,

and yolk spilled out. No soul.

He shook the egg

off his hands. Bits of shell

fell to the ground. He wiped

his hands on his pants

and went on looking, picking

up rocks, dropping them

in disgust and frustration.

We go out every weekend,

we walk the length of the town

and back, but somehow

the earth never trembles.




Tim Pratt won a Hugo Award for his short fiction (and lost a Nebula and a World Fantasy Award), and his stories have appeared in The Best American Short Stories, The Year's Best Fantasy, and other nice places. He lives in Oakland, California, with his wife Heather Shaw and son River. For more information about him and his work, see his website. To contact him, send him email at tim@tropismpress.com.
Current Issue
1 Dec 2020

A toda la gente lectora: esperamos que disfruten mucho este especial de México de Strange Horizons. To all readers: we hope you enjoy this special issue from Mexico by Strange Horizons.
Onka miyek tlajle. Se lamajtsin itsintlan se xalxokokojtle kitlajkwilia etl.
The painful stigmata did not let me drive for long. / El doloroso estigma no me permitió conducir.
By: Ateri Miyawatl
Translated by: Ateri Miyawatl
Hay mucha tierra. Una anciana sentada bajo un árbol de guayaba limpia frijol negro.
By: Ateri Miyawatl
Translated by: Adam Coon
There is a lot of earth. An elderly woman gathers beans below a guava tree.
—Soy un tlacuache y tengo la culpa de tu extinción, Armando.
“I am a tlacuache, and your extinction is my fault, Armando.”
En el fondo del mar no hay poetas, sólo criaturas fotovoltaicas y paisajes sombríos.
By: Vraiux Dorós
Translated by: Toshiya Kamei
No poets are found at the bottom of the sea—only photovoltaic creatures and ghostly landscapes.
Manx was an amorphous alien made of pink slime, lard, and buttercream.
By: Luz Rosales
Translated by: Andrea Chapela
Manx era un alienígena amorfo rosa, hecho de babaza, manteca y crema para batir.
La materia oscura abarca ochenta por ciento del universo y, como el agar en un medio de cultivo, es lo que permite que estructuras como cúmulos o galaxias permanezcan unidas.
Dark matter makes up eighty percent of the universe. Like agar culture medium, this is what holds things like galaxy clusters—and galaxies themselves—together.
She checks the knob and the door is unlocked—she pokes her head through. Smoke from burning sage wraps around her.
Toma el picaporte y, al girarlo, descubre que la casa está abierta. Cuando se asoma, la golpea un olor a salvia quemada.
La evoco ahora: la tarde fría, el jardín insólito, las enredaderas, los pináculos, los charcos en curiosas figuras chinescas.
I see it now: the cold afternoon, the curious garden, the climbing vines, the pinnacles, the oddly-shaped puddles like Chinese letters.
I thought it was one of those reserved for tourists and ignorant throats. / pensé que era uno de esos reservados para turistas y catadores ignorantes.
drinking the symphony of the galactic parrot / bebe la sinfonia del pájaro galáctico / sk’upinbe sk’ejoj mutal yut vinajel
Some Mexican visual artists that I've really been loving are Miguel Covarrubias, Emilio Amero, and particularly Ernesto García Cabral.
Issue 23 Nov 2020
By: Michael Bazzett
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: Michael Bazzett
Issue 16 Nov 2020
By: Cat Aquino
Podcast read by: Kat Kourbeti
By: Michael Chang
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 9 Nov 2020
By: Miyuki Jane Pinckard
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
Issue 2 Nov 2020
By: Allison Mulvihill
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Ali Trotta
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 19 Oct 2020
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Aber O. Grand
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 12 Oct 2020
By: Elisabeth R. Moore
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Stephanie Jean
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 5 Oct 2020
By: J.L. Akagi
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Lesley Wheeler
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: Lesley Wheeler
Issue 28 Sep 2020
By: Maggie Damken
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 21 Sep 2020
By: Aqdas Aftab
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: David Clink
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 14 Sep 2020
By: Fargo Tbakhi
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Jenny Blackford
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
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