Size / / /

Behind the roadhouse

her lips drag over flannel

mouth skimming a seam, shoulder to collar

until he pushes too hard, drives

her hip into the clapboard siding

and she gasps, sucking down

the cig smoke trapped

in his worn-soft shirt.

She doesn't smoke but it tastes better

than the blood in her mouth

the ulcers she's chewed

inside her lips, waiting for her husband

to come home, wondering what—

who—he'd become,

if she'd recognize him this time

or if he'd be a perfect stranger.

This other one, he bumps his forehead to hers

a quick forced tilt so he can see

her eyes, and he huffs, "You okay?"

still fucking but concern edging

into lust-hazed eyes, eyes that earlier

across the pool table

had flickered with something—


she'd thought she recognized.

She nods, focuses on the wet oval

on his shirt. "More,"

she whispers, and he kisses her through

his grin and the sweet whiskey still slicking

his tongue. She knows as he rocks her

steady pressure against splintered planks

his breath and hers fogging the dark

she knows he is not

her perfect stranger.

But he numbs the gnawing ache

that grows every time her husband goes

in search of a stronger body

a vessel that won't creak under the demands

of his soul, such weighty cargo,

and, stranger still,

tonight she finds that going numb

is enough.

She notes how this one fits inside her

fits so familiar inside his skin

not like her husband: stretching bone

and gristle beyond their limits

and not like her: clamping down on each

homesick wish, heart furling tight around

new hurts and leaving great, echoing

chambers of herself behind.

When he groans against her shoulder,

filling the rubber, he remains


relieved but not expended

softening yet undiminished.

She wants to learn this trick.

She watches him pull out, step back,

shed his latex skin without concern.

After he tucks in his shirt, he offers

her another beer "or maybe a ride home?"

She shakes her head, shifts

her weight, feeling off-balance in her

chest not her legs.

Something is unfurling.

"Busy day tomorrow," she decides. "Leaving town."

His eyes flicker like luck. He grins again.

"Wasn't that bad, was it?"

"Baby," she says, grinning back,

"it changed my life."

Lisa M. Bradley is a Tejana living in Iowa. Her words have infiltrated Uncanny Magazine, Interfictions, Cicada, The Moment of Change, Mythic Delirium, and other publications. She loves gothic country music, broken taboos, Spanglish, and horror films—all of which influenced her collection, The Haunted Girl (Aqueduct Press). For more, see her website or Twitter.
Current Issue
27 Jul 2020

Stefan škrtl další sirkou a zapálil jednu ze svíček, které s sebou přinesl, pak další a další, dokud je neobklopoval celý kruh. Hanna nakrčila nos. Svíčky vydávaly zvláštní zápach, ale ne nepříjemný. Připomínal čerstvě posečenou trávu. I jejich tmavě olivová barva byla nezvyklá.
By: Amel Moussa
Translated by: Hager Ben Driss
Many things in my kitchen resemble me; I relate to them; we entertain one another. Water, fire, and electricity vegetables, water rich fruits, and dry fruits
أشياء ٌكثيرةٌ في مطبخي تُشبهني أتماهى مع هذه الأشياء ونُؤنسُ بعضنا.
He ignored her remark, ignited another match and lit a small candle. Then another one. He continued until a circle of candles surrounded them on the stage. Hanna scrunched her nose. The candles exuded a strange smell, but not an unpleasant one. It resembled freshly mown grass. The color was unusual too, a deep olive-green.
By: Eisuke Aikawa
Translated by: Toshiya Kamei
The translucent Ōe-san steps out of the bathroom and sits at the table as usual. He spreads butter on an invisible slice of bread, takes a bite, and chews it, holding the morning paper in his other hand. Just like a mime. I sit on the floor and observe his movements.
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!
Issue 13 Jul 2020
By: Alex Jennings
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Kimberly Kaufman
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 6 Jul 2020
By: Stephen O'Donnell
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Thomas White
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 30 Jun 2020
By: Carlie St. George
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Janelle C. Shane
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
Issue 22 Jun 2020
By: Neha Maqsood
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: Neha Maqsood
Issue 15 Jun 2020
By: Remy Reed Pincumbe
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Preston Grassmann
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 8 Jun 2020
By: Kathleen Jennings
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Keaton Bennett
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 2 Jun 2020
By: Sheree Renée Thomas
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Maggie Damken
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
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