Tasting Flight - February 2015
"Descent" by Carmen Maria Machado (Nightmare Magazine #29)
|Art by Johnny Dombrowski|
"Tiger Baby" by JY Yang (Lackington's #5)
|Art by Derek Newman-Stille|
"The Joy of Sects" by Joseph Tomaras (Unlikely Story #11)
|Art by Andrew Ostrovsky|
"The Ticket Taker of Cenote Zací" by Benjamin Parzybok (Strange Horizons)
About a young poet, Eduardo, taking a break from his life and his boyfriend to try and get some writing done while spending time as a ticket taker at an old holy site, "The Ticket Taker of Cenote Zací" is a Corona and lime. Perhaps a little obvious as the story takes place in Mexico, at a small cave where people come to stare at a mystic pool, but the story is easy to drink with a twist of bitterness that makes it much more nuanced than beer alone. The conflict in the story arises when Eduardo starts to notice people going missing inside the cave. At first he ignores it, but as he starts to feel his creativity peak when he notices the people missing, the mystery of the cave slowly drives him on and on. The story builds slowly, raising the stakes sip by sip as Eduardo struggles with his own success in the face of his growing unease and obsession about the cave. And then his boyfriend comes to visit him, and for a brief moment things seem like they might work out. Except that Eduardo learns the price for his own feeding off the departed. And sense of loss at the end is so palpable, so devastating for Eduardo because he cannot even understand it fully. Like staring at the lime lost to the bottom of the bottle (this can't just be something I struggle with, right? That lime, still with flesh—delicious, beer-soaked flesh—that can't be fished back out the neck of the bottle...), the story leaves a hollow space in Eduardo and in the reader, an absence like a wound.
"Love Letters to Things Lost and Gained" by Sunny Moraine (Uncanny #2)
|Art by Julie Dillon|
"The Language of Knives" by Haralambi Markov (Tor.com)
|Art by Sam Weber|
"Sea Anemone" by Ursula Kovalyk (Words Without Borders)
This story is a Smoking Slovak, which is Slovak whisky mixed with just a little bitter and placed into a glass that has been held inverted over a smoldering maple plank to capture the flavor of smoke. In the story, an old woman remembers her time as a burlesque dancer under the name the Sea Anemone. Though now old and run down, that memory has never left her, and though on death's door, that past and experience will not leave her. They linger, a palpable smoke that lifts from her body when she is discovered dead. It's the memory of a better time, a freer time, and one the woman was desperate to cling to, living with the smoke inside her, with its delicate balance. And when she passes, that moment is gone, and the smoke dissipates, the moment it represented truly gone. It's a lovely story, full of the sense of faded glory, of the woman living for that past and unable to really exist in the world that has left her behind. Nostalgic and lonely, the story evokes the past even as it slips through the cracks and is lost.
"Gold Dress, No Eyes" by Alexis A. Hunter (Flash Fiction Online)
A piece that explores the aftermath of a deadly attack on a galactic cruise ship, this story is a Beautiful Corpse, a mix of gin, blue Curaçao, Lillet Blanc, lemon juice, and a dash of Absinthe. The story is almost entirely scene, a description of the elements floating inside the dead ship, a body and a host of objects that reveal a tragic history. The story, like the drink, takes a lot of different elements to make something innately melancholy. It hits hard and leaves the head swimming, the universe spinning slowly. Everything seems to fall away, leaving only the artifacts behind, the objects that once had such meaning and importance but, cut away from the lives that touched them, are becoming simply things. The story captures that moment of transformation, much to late to do anything about it except feel the loss. Powerful and layered, the story, like the drink, begs to be taken slowly, to let it settle and sift and hit before it drifts away.
"She Opened Her Arms" by Amanda C. Davis (Fantastic Stories of the Imagination)
A story about a young girl coming to terms with her younger brother, who has special needs, this story is a Fae Done-Away, a mix of cucumber vodka, mint, grapefruit juice, ginger-infused syrup, and club soda. In the story, the girl watches over her brother, and when a strange man shows up and tells her that he's not really her brother, she pauses. According to the man, who might not really be human at all, her real brother was taken by the Fae and replaced with an impostor. And at first she believes him, and rushes off to save her brother, to swap him back. But as she does, she realizes that even if she succeeds, she's only be swapping the boys back. Which would mean losing the person she's known as her brother, losing the boy she loves as her brother. And so she stops, because even with his needs, her brother is still important to her, more important than having a brother who doesn't need her help or doesn't embarrass her occasionally. It's a sweet story, full of magical flourishes, just like the Fae Done-Away.