PodCastle 342: The World is Cruel, My Daughter

by Cory Skerry

Read by Danielle Daly

Originally published in Fantasy Magazine. Read it here!

When my daughter was one year old, I loved her for her smile. Anything could tempt her to joy—my own smile, the noises of cooking food, the proximity of the black kitten I gifted her upon her arrival.

What a fool I made of myself, contorting my face and making unlady-like sounds. All I needed was another giggle and the game would go on. She couldn’t yet ask questions I couldn’t answer and was delighted by the information I volunteered. “Kitty,” “No, it’s hot,” and “Boo!” all brought smiles. Even when she disobeyed me, I never struck her. My disappointment was enough to bring her to tears and she would pour herself dry on my bosom before looking up once again with a hopeful smile. Did I forgive her?

Of course I did.

When my daughter was five, I loved her for her eyes. They were the impossible purplish hue of forget-me-nots. We don’t have them in the salt marsh where I built our tower. Her eyes told me what she would say before she said it. But sometimes she still surprised me.

I bit my tongue when she asked me why our house had no windows on the bottom floor. She still hadn’t conceived of a “door.” I knew she would ask some day, but then, on that cool April morning, I wasn’t prepared.

“The sea rages in the winter, poppet. We don’t have room for her to live with us, do we?”

Rated R. Contains violence, including some suggestions of . It’s a fairy tale retelling, after all.

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