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
19 Oct 2020

Marbles 
I may be eyeless but I can see through the eyes of everyone and everything. My parents put cameras all over the house
Podcast: Ask Not What the Penguin Horde Can Do For You 
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Anaea Lay presents Noah Bogdonoff's “Ask Not What the Penguin Horde Can Do For You.”
Ask Not What the Penguin Horde Can Do For You 
We wear the masks long after penguins have been extinguished. By now we are hauntresses, hordes of extinction shuffling along the city streets under the excruciating weathers of this brutal world we’ve inherited. Individually, we are called pinguinos. It’s something to do; the world is depressed and none of us have jobs. Nights, we pull the masks off beak-first, breathing our first fresh breaths of the day. Then we strip out of our black and white sweatsuits. Then we pull out our vapes and get high. Some of the cool kids
Podcast: Marbles 
By: Aber O. Grand
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Ciro Faienza presents Aber O. Grand's “Marbles.”
Monday: Everyone on the Moon is Essential Personnel by Julian K. Jarboe 
Wednesday: Piranesi by Susanna Clarke 
Friday: A Tale of Truths by Berit Ellingsen 
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
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
Load More
%d bloggers like this: