Rated PG. Contains alienation from community and spirit
by Vylar Kaftan
Since I moved to the city, I’ve been dying piece by piece. It’s not really the smog, or the crowds, or my tiny apartment above the Arabic bookstore, or any of the things that bother most people. It’s the way people hurry around, their faces to the sidewalk, darting through the streets like ants swarming over a dead lizard. City life is fractured into thousands of pieces–faceted like the view from insect eyes. Maybe it makes sense to ants. To a small-town girl like me, it’s overwhelming.
The problem is that I’ve been here long enough to start dying. I lost two fingers last week. They fell off while I was sleeping. I found them next to my pillow in the morning, and put them in a shoebox with my big toe.
About the Author
Vylar Kaftan writes speculative fiction of all genres, including science fiction, fantasy, horror, and slipstream. She won a 2013 Nebula Award for her novella “The Weight of the Sunrise”, as well as a 2013 Sidewise Award for Short-Form Alternate History. She was also nominated for a 2010 Nebula Award for her short story “I’m Alive, I Love You, I’ll See You in Reno.”
Her stories have appeared in Lightspeed, Strange Horizons, Asimov’s, and Clarkesworld. Her work has been reprinted in Horror: The Best of the Year, honorably mentioned in The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror, and shortlisted for the WSFA Small Press Award.
A graduate of Clarion West, she’s volunteered for that group as well as the Little Owls mentoring program for young writers. She’s a member of SFWA, Codex, Broad Universe, and the Carl Brandon Society. In 2011, she founded FOGcon, a new literary-themed science fiction and fantasy convention in the San Francisco Bay Area. She blogs at VylanKaftan.com.
She lives with her husband Shannon in northern California. Her hobbies include modern-day temple dancing and preparing for a major earthquake. Her favorite color is all of them. She prefers the term “differently sane.”
About the Narrator
Rachel Swirsky came onboard PodCastle as the founding editor in 2008 and was honored to run many beautiful stories by amazing authors. She would name them all, but would rather point you to the beginning of the PodCastle archive. It’s a Peter Beagle story.
Rachel graduated from the Iowa Writers Workshop, and she’s been nominated for the Hugo Award, the World Fantasy Award, the Locus Award, and several others. She’s won the Nebula Award twice, once for her novella “The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers Beneath the Queen’s Window” and once for her short story “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love.” She’s been published a number of times in the first three Escape Artists podcasts: EscapePod, PodCastle, and PseudoPod, and narrated a bunch of episodes, too.
Find her website at rachelswirsky.com, visit her on Twitter, and help her write more stories on Patreon where you can get an original story or poem each month for as little as a dollar.