PodCastle Miniature 53: Charms
Rated PG: Contains Magical Higher Learning, Discrimination, and Charity
by Shweta Narayan
Old Mrs. Farley waves the Daily Mail in Edith’s face and shouts, Did
you see this, dear? She always shouts. She’s half deaf, bless her.
That I did, Edith shouts back. She doesn’t add, When I put them up this morning, stiff as I was from the cold, and again every time another customer asks. Wouldn’t be Christian. Wouldn’t be good business, either. But how the old biddy thinks the papers got on the rack without Edith putting them there, the Lord only knows.
Mrs. Farley slaps the paper onto the counter, rotogravure picture up, next to her packets of willow bark and powdered mummy. Edith tries not to look at it. Fails. That smirking girl staring back with her cigarette, that ugly short hair, the shapeless dress with its silly fringes and its shameless show of calf, frivolous before the great dark mass of Flamel Hall. Girls these days, says Edith. What they wear. Her voice stays steady, but her eyes go to the headline. SPELLCASTING SUFFRAGETTES! And below that some inane babble about the wizards lost in the war, the London College opening its doors, that child dancing right in as though she belongs. . .
About the Author
Shweta Narayan was born in India and has lived in Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, the Netherlands, Scotland, and California. They feel kinship with shapeshifters and other liminal beings. Their short fiction and poetry has appeared in Strange Horizons, Mithila Review, Breaking the Bow: Speculative Fiction Inspired by the Ramayana, We See a Different Frontier: A Postcolonial Speculative Fiction Anthology, An Alphabet of Embers: An Anthology of Unclassifiables, Lightspeed: Queers Destroy Fantasy, and Clockwork Phoenix 3, among others. Shweta was the Octavia Butler Memorial Scholarship recipient at Clarion 2007 and was shortlisted for the 2010 Nebula Awards.
About the Narrator
Claudia Smith is a video game translator who reads (and narrates) for fun. She was introduced to Pseudopod by her old university friend, Helen Keeble, and highly recommends reading her two books, Fang Girl and No Angel – especially if, as well as being a fan of the horror genre, you also enjoy a bit of light-hearted teen vampire romance parody.