PodCastle 626: DOUBLE FEATURE! A Sharp Breath of Birds; A Guide to Birds by Song (After Death)

Show Notes

Rated PG-13.

“A Sharp Breath of Birds” is a companion piece to Laura Christensen’s artwork “Swan Dive.”


A Sharp Breath of Birds

By Tina Connolly

You are two on the day you see your first personal bird. It is the sort of thing you barely remember later, at six, seven, twenty. And yet you cling to it as your first memory: a sleek black penguin waddling through your nursery, it in black, you in white lace, mended and re-mended because you will not stop pulling off the threads to suck. You remember, later, a surprising softness to its feathers. You remember that it went right on past, even though you lunged for it. Your two-year-old images end like this: dark, warm, comforting, gone.

At seven, you see the birds regularly. You incorporate them into all your pretends; there is always some princess carried off by a bird to a nest made of raven feathers and filigreed spoons and shiny bits of silvered foil. Alice from next door easily accepts all the bird imagery as a fact of life; surely everybody plays games with birds in them, and she finds you books with more; the seven sparrows, and the dove maiden, and the nightingale at sea. Sometimes the princess is rescued by Alice, or Alice by the princess, and sometimes both girls rescue themselves, and sometimes nobody rescues anybody and they settle down as gainfully employed bird-bandits and bring more spoons and candlesticks and hand mirrors to the nest until your mother puts a stop to that and the bandits have to put all the things back.

At twelve you swear to keep playing princess-bandits forever, swear it under a double moon with a flock of geese flying past.

At fifteen you, drunk, try to remind her of this.

At seventeen Alice says nobody gets to make nests in real life and she says it louder, ten times, as if enough repetitions will get you to accept it and then she hands you a letter from her sweetheart inviting her to the next dance and asking if she could please bring a date for his cousin, recently home from the war. The paper trembles between you and you look at it for a long time. You fold it up and hand it back. Why not, you say, and a murmuration of starlings on the carpet takes skittish flight.

The rain is falling on the day you marry Alice’s sweetheart’s cousin. It seeps under the cracks in the chapel door, floods the aisle. It soaks your white silk shoes and you are supposed to be paying attention to the words you are saying but instead the words repeat like a metronome: I paid seven dollars for these shoes and I will never wear them again. The water does not seem to bother anyone else, they keep smiling fatuously at this charming double wedding, though the winds lash outside and the windows are blinded by it. Five fat swans sail out from behind the last pew and make their way up the aisle, attendants you did not ask for. Later, there are pictures, you and Alice and the men, and Alice puts her hand on your back and smiles for the camera. Your hands hang there, lifeless, and at your feet, the swan dives for something dead.

A year after the wedding, the feathers start growing in. They line your arms, scarlet and crimson, and you never once think about pulling any of them out. Instead you marvel at them, running a finger delicately over the line of barbs until they ruffle and your breath catches in your throat. The dark-eyed junco that hops along your bathroom sink cocks its head, marveling with you.

In public, you begin wearing capes; very dramatic. But many women are these days. You look at the drape of each one, wondering if it is fashion or disguise, but mostly you look to see if Alice ever wears one. She does not. Alice is unhappy these days; unhappy and trying to hide it—her husband is unfaithful when he’s gone and drunk when he’s home, and everyone knows it, and papers over it with smiles. Your post-war husband keeps to himself; you dust his study and you occasionally forget and dust him, and watch the line of quail pip-pip past his legs. You don’t really mind, because it means you don’t have to worry about your cape at home, and you sit outside with the sandpipers and watch them scurry in and out of your feathers, safe and comforted.

Alice comes to see you, once. You are bare-shouldered, and the feathers are everywhere, a scarlet cape of their own. She startles at the sight of them, and an exaltation of larks startles in reply. She sinks into a seat, unconsciously rubbing her tight-sleeved arms. It is summer, and even in this town sleeves are no longer required. You think at first they cover evidence of her unhappy marriage, but then you see the way her fingers scratch at the tight material, pull and tug. You think about how the feathers grow from your skin, and you think about how pulling them out might leave visible red dots, might make you itchy and irritable.

So, quietly, you talk of anything else, stories and books and plays and music, and nothing about birds, nothing about silver, nothing about nests. Until Alice is laughing like the old days, and promises to come see you again, the next time her husband is out of town. She will not, you know. She will be too afraid. But she wants to, you think, and a cardinal lands encouragingly on her knee. Alice stares at it for a long time, all inquisitive eye and bright red wing.

When there are enough feathers, you pat your sleeping husband goodbye, leave him a single carnelian feather for luck. You climb out of your attic window and onto the roof of the house. Your wings snap out, clap against the night sky, startle five ruby-throated hummingbirds and a bat. The night is black and the stars shine in it like little scraps of silvered foil. Hummingbirds in tow, you fly across town to see if, just perhaps, someone is staring out of their bedroom window, awake and in need of rescuing. The hummingbirds drop off along the way, but you pick up a pair of hunting owls, and a stream of swifts up far too late, so when you arrive for the rescue it is in the company of a comforting host of feathers and down.

But what you find instead is Alice, standing there. Alice, awake, on her own roof smiling at you, and behind her something unfolds with a snap and your breath hitches at the sight. Alice, ready, with wings as bright and wide and crimson as your own.


A Guide to Birds by Song (After Death)

A. C. Wise

Instead of a suicide note, Dana’s lover left her a typewriter.

Not an apology, not an explanation. Just a ream of blank pages and the waiting keys.

When she closes her eyes, Dana sees Katrin falling. Fourteen floors. The rush of wind. Pavement and broken bits of sunlight casting shadows under the pedestrians below.

She picks at the edges of the scene. Her fingertips hunt threads, any narrative she can hold on to in order to make sense of the world without Katrin in it. The beauty of flight. The turned wing of a bird, arched open to the blue of the sky, sunlight streaming through each crystalline feather.

Dana wipes at her face with the back of her hand and touches a single key. Lightning streams through her veins, and she gasps. There, just beneath the keys, is a pulse, a wingbeat, the drum of frantic bird’s heart spelling out words she can almost understand. Katrin is there, her story tucked into the blank pages waiting to be filled.

If she wants a reason, a story to take the place of her sorrow, she’ll have to write her own.

And so . . .

Dana drove into the desert, leaving the hot, crowded city for the hot nothingness of sand and sun. She drove until the car ran out of gas. She walked, lugging Katrin’s typewriter, until her legs gave out.

Where she stopped, a church made from the bones of a whale rose out of the sands. Open jaws whispered sanctuary. Dana crawled inside, and the ribs arched over her, sheltering her.

She curled against the ivory while her body curled protectively around the typewriter. Whale bone and woman flesh, both enclosing a space of absence, the ghost Dana had come to pull from under her skin.

It was there, typing in the desert, writing her lover’s suicide note, that Dana met the angel.


Sparrow: She’s a psychopomp carrying your lover’s soul. Her song tastes like the first moment you saw your lover in that little café. You almost choked on your coffee. That is love, the beginning seeded with the end. That is the sparrow’s song.


Gabrielle sets the typed page on the desk amidst the halo of empty bottles, empty coffee cups, and empty cigarette packs. Only the ashtray is full. She’s started looking at the objects, and the typewriter in their midst, as artifacts.

She’s an archaeologist, peeling back the layers of Dana’s manuscript, trying to understand her. The pages pile ritually beside the typewriter each evening and vanish by morning. Dana never speaks of them, and Gabrielle has learned better than to ask. The secret of her lover lies in these pages; it’s up to her to unearth it.

She doesn’t understand anything about Dana. She’s still trying to piece together the shape of her life from before Dana appeared, seemingly falling out of the sky to occupy a hole Gabrielle hadn’t realized was there. Until Dana filled it.

The moment of impact: when Gabrielle looked up in the café and saw Dana standing in the door. Sunlight caught in her dyed-black hair. It washed the meaning from her tattoos, leaving only the impression of ink on skin. The weight of sorrow was palpable around her. It made Gabrielle catch her breath, almost choke on her coffee. From that moment, she wanted to understand Dana. She’s been trying ever since.

Dana doesn’t make it easy on her. Every time Gabrielle looks, the story changes. Last time, Dana took the typewriter to a cliff and wrote on pages warped by the sea while a storm crackled along the horizon. The time before, it was a subterranean cave, and Dana wrote her lover’s death by the glow of luminescent mushrooms.

Gabrielle asked about it only once, her chin nestled against Dana’s shoulder, her arm around Dana’s waist. “What are you writing?” she’d asked.

“A ghost story.”

“Like around a campfire?”

“Sort of. Except it’s about the way absence reshapes the world around it. Like the impression left behind on the pillow when you lift your head.”

At the sound of a key in the door, Gabrielle starts. She shifts the notebook to cover the pages, but the door never opens. Only her imagination, her guilt manifesting in an auditory hallucination. Dana never told Gabrielle she couldn’t read the pages, but she never invited her to read them, either.

Gabrielle drains her wine and moves from the desk. She pours another glass, and one for Dana, leaving it on the counter. She loses herself in dinner preparation, not thinking about Dana, not thinking about the manuscript.

Fingers brush the back of Gabrielle’s neck, and she jumps. Dana must have slipped in while Gabrielle wasn’t looking. Must have called Gabrielle’s name, and she didn’t hear. Gabrielle brings plates to the table. The untouched wineglass remains on the counter; her own is stained with imprints of her lipstick.

As she eats, Gabrielle is careful not to ask about the manuscript. She doesn’t even glance toward the desk or the typewriter. The sun sets, and shadows creep over the litter of bottles and coffee cups. Gabrielle talks about the museum and the new wing they’re building. Once it’s done, the ornithology collection—Gabrielle’s collection—will fill the space.

After dinner, Gabrielle does the dishes, sliding everything into the soapy water, keeping only her wineglass. She hears the rattle of pills in their little plastic container and tenses, waiting for a sharp comment: See? I’m taking my medicine like a good girl.

But nothing comes. They aren’t going to fight. Gabrielle breathes out. Either the pills are working, or the manuscript is.

There’s a murmur, so soft Gabrielle doesn’t catch the words, but it’s Dana’s voice. It’s accompanied by the tap of fingers against Gabrielle’s hip. Gabrielle’s eyes snap open. Cooling water drips from her hands. She withdraws them, drying them, and in her haste her elbow catches the wineglass balanced precariously on the edge of the counter.

“Damn it!”

She crouches, shaking unaccountably as she sweeps broken glass into her bare palms. It slices her, and she hisses surprise, letting the pieces tumble back to the floor. Drops of blood tap-tap-tap the blond wood.

But Dana’s fingers are on her shoulder, pulling her away. She lets the glass scatter, brushes off her palms and stands. Her cheeks are wet. Steam from the dishwater? She doesn’t dare wipe them for fear of tiny grains of broken glass still clinging to her skin. She breathes out, closing her eyes again and surrendering to the moment, even though the trembling hasn’t stopped.

Gabrielle lets her lover fold around her. Breath stirs against her throat. Lips follow breath, tracing over Gabrielle’s skin. The hand on Gabrielle’s waist brings the heat of the desert sun.

She keeps her eyes closed. Her fingers fumble at buttons. She presses her palm to the ribbed fabric underneath, remembering too late the smear of blood she’ll leave behind.

The cloth’s texture writes itself on Gabrielle’s skin. She nearly trips up the steps to the half-floor holding the bed. The aerie—Dana’s word for it. If she keeps her eyes closed, nothing can spoil this moment. She doesn’t need to see Dana’s face; the fingers, sure on Gabrielle’s skin, are enough.

This. Here. Now. It’s good. Better than it’s been in a long time. Maybe she shouldn’t. . . . But it’s so good, and it’s been so long.

Pleasure builds like a rush of wind, like the ground rising to meet her.

Impact.

Gabrielle’s eyes fly open, her head jerking toward the window. The ghost-impression of wings lingers on the glass. The violence jolts, a moment too late; a shock of another kind is already running through her, a gasp slipping free as she comes.


Mourning Dove: She’s deceptive. You think there is only one layer to her sorrow, the weeping sound she makes as though her heart is broken. But there is also the whistle of her wings as she takes flight. It is the sound of rushing air. It is the last sound your lover heard as she fell.


There’s a smudge of blood on the window where the bird struck the glass last night. Gabrielle notices it as she’s rinsing the cup from her morning tea. The memory of impact jars her, and she catches her breath. She glances toward the aerie before remembering she woke up alone.

Sometime in the night, she heard the distinct clack of keys. But her limbs stayed heavy, trapping her in the bed, and sleep dragged her back down. The second time, her sleep was deep enough that she never heard Dana leave.

Gabrielle pulls cleaning supplies from under the sink and climbs onto the counter. The window is stiff with years of paint and humidity, but Gabrielle gets it open. Balancing precariously, she reaches out as far as she can.

Her muscles are pleasantly sore, her skin raw and tingling. She hasn’t showered yet, putting it off for as long as possible. It’s silly, a teenage thing, like when she was in high school and bought the same kind of perfume as the girl she had a crush on. Not so she could wear it, but so she could spray in on her pillowcase before going to sleep each night.

She wants to hold on to the scent of Dana, pressed into her skin. She cherishes the faint nail marks left on her body. Distracted, Gabrielle slips. Her arms pinwheel a moment, trying to catch herself on the window frame. She misses. Her cheek strikes the counter on the way down, and stars pop, bright, behind her eyes.

Dazed, she lies on the floor, staring at the ceiling. When she turns her head, a stray page lies inches from her face. She must have knocked it over when she fell. Sitting up, she reaches for it, but pauses.

There’s something missing. No shards of glass, no blood. She broke her wineglass last night, didn’t she? She cut herself. Gabrielle turns her hands over, examining them, but her fingertips are clean. She pushes her sleeves back to look at her arms. The marks Dana left, the secret language of love bites and scratches, is gone. Gabrielle presses a hand to her forehead, blinking against sudden dizziness. When she looks up again, even the blood on the window is gone.


Mockingbird: She is a trickster, an illusionist. After death she has the ability not only to recreate common sounds—the neighbor’s cat, a car alarm—but sounds specific to you: the catch of your lover’s breath, her footsteps on the stairs, her voice. This is not cruelty; your reaction to the mockingbird is your responsibility alone.


It was there, typing in the desert, writing her lover’s suicide note, that Dana met the angel.

Sunrise found her chilled, her back against a curve of whalebone. Pages lay wedged beneath the typewriter, sand clogged between its keys. There were feathers, too.

One from a gull, miles from any shore. Another, jammed beneath the space bar, bright canary. Parrot. Pigeon. Crow. But the keys still worked, responding with letters instead of a flock of birds. Typing eased the ache in her fingers, so Dana didn’t stop until a shadow fell across her.

At first she mistook it for a massive vulture. But when she shaded her eyes, she saw it was a woman, not a bird. Or it was both.

The angel’s toes curled around the whale cathedral’s arched ceiling as she peered between the slats of its ribs. Everything about her was pale—hair, lips, even her nipples. Only her eyes were dark, black all the way to the edges. Her shoulders, when she flexed them, made a sound like settling wings.

The angel opened her mouth, and Dana waited to hear Katrin’s voice. Instead, the angel let out a piercing cry. Sunlight caught the fine crystalline feathers covering her body. When the angel leaped into the sky, Dana scrambled to follow.


Storm Petrel: Her song is a rush, a voice too eager to get the words out, afraid of losing ground. It tumbles like gravity until it hits the right tempo, then it becomes the sound of a record scratch, long and drawn-out. It is the sound of your first fight with your lover—vinyl pulled from beneath the needle, then shattered against the wall.


There’s a bird in the apartment. Gabrielle drops her keys, startled at the unmistakable whir of trapped wings. She reaches for the light, heart hammering, but the sound doesn’t come again. Nothing. The apartment is empty. The window above the sink is closed.

Gabrielle pours wine to calm her nerves. What would make her think a bird had gotten in?

Dana’s desk is immaculate. All the bottles and cups gone, loose pages stashed out of sight. The typewriter gleams in the late-afternoon light. Gabrielle runs a finger over its keys, resisting the impulse to check between them for feathers.

She opens her laptop and searches for “whale bones in the desert.” Her stomach twists, and she almost closes the tab before scanning the results. Images appear—bones laid flat, broken, scarcely recognizable as whales. What did she expect? An actual cathedral entered through propped-open jaws, a vaulted arch of ribs leading to the altar of the tail?

She shuts the laptop before she can search for Katrin’s name. Katrin existed. Dana loved her. And she fell. That’s all.

To distract herself, Gabrielle pulls the proofs for the museum’s latest catalog from her work bag, pages filled with beautiful hand-drawn illustrations showing details of wings, feathers, beaks, claws. Mockingbird. Mourning dove. Sparrow.

When a subtle ache starts behind her eyes, she sets the pages aside, glancing at the door. Dana should be home by now. Gabrielle moves to the desk, presses a hand flat against the stacked manuscript, fingers itching to rifle through the pages.

A ghost story is about absence, the way something that isn’t there shapes what’s left behind.

The spaces between the words. The spaces around them. Maybe that’s where Gabrielle should be looking for her answers. If she traced the emptiness on each page, would it reveal the shape of Dana’s heart, the shape of Katrin?

Gabrielle fans the pages, but doesn’t lift them. In all her writing and rewriting, what is it Dana isn’t saying about Katrin? What is the absence hiding?

Falling. The beauty of flight. It’s almost romantic. A loveliness covering something ugly, harsh, something Dana can’t bring herself to write. Bloody water filling the tub, dripping on the tiles, wet ropes of hair and cooling flesh starting to soften around hard bones. Maybe her dead lover’s name wasn’t even Katrin.

For a moment, Gabrielle feels it, the ghost winding between the words, pressing up, pressing back against her palm. It’s almost a heartbeat, tapping out words, a name. She yanks her hand back. A shadow darts past, wittering overhead. The rustle of feathers. The panicked flight of wings.


There is an uncanniness to all birds’ voices. Sometimes there are words just on the edge of hearing. They say me, too or help me. Sometimes they say their names, the ones we’ve given them—chickadee, chick-a-dee-dee-dee. Sometimes it sounds like they’re saying the name of someone you should know, someone you can’t quite remember. (The human mind is designed to seek patterns, to find meaning where there is none.) After death, birds’ voices become clearer. You’ll wish you could put things back the way they were, when you didn’t understand them.


Dana came home from the desert with the angel on her back. In her apartment, it perched in the aerie, watching her. She tried to reread the pages she’d banged out until her fingers ached, fighting stiff keys clogged with feathers and sand. But they’d turned ancient, gone the ivory of bleached bone, the ink paled to brown like dried blood. Illegible.

Panic. The sensation of wings. Tiny claws scratching at her skin from the inside out. A thousand birds trapped between her bones.

With her eyes closed, she pressed a hand to her chest. Through cloth and skin she felt the faint tap-tap of a beak, Morse code answering her pain. K-A-T-R-I-N. Her pulse drummed a response: I’m here. The words echoed, written featherlight against her palm. When she opened her eyes, she found the angel waiting with her arms open.


Evening Grosbeak: She is a multiplicity. Instead of one voice in her song, there are many, each clamoring over the other. Each one a lie. Each one the truth.


Gabrielle half-wakes, struggling to come up the rest of the way. A weight crouches at the end of the bed. Her eyes won’t open. Her limbs won’t move. She wants to sit up, but the sheets hold her down.

There’s a rustle of pages like wings.

Her eyes snap open. She’s lying on her side, facing Dana’s naked back. She can’t tell if Dana is breathing. Everything is indistinct. She’s seeing the room through a fog; the space is wrong. She wants to reach for her lover, but can’t.

Her eyes snap open. She is alone. But footsteps climb toward her. She can’t see. Can’t wake up. Can’t get away.

Her eyes snap open. Dana’s naked back faces her, furrows scored deep into the skin, welling with fresh blood. It drips tap-tap-tap on the floor. Blood soaks the sheets. Everywhere. Tap-tap-tap on the window. The moment of impact shocking her awake.

Her eyes snap open. A weight crouches at the end of the bed. She can’t see it properly, but she knows it’s the angel, the one who followed her lover home from the desert. Feathers brush her skin. A cold hand reaches for hers.

Her eyes won’t open. Hands strike the pillow around her. The terrible sounds of impact. The promise of violence never delivered. Close, but never touching. They create a rush of air, a sound. They draw closer, but not close enough.

Gabrielle sheds dream after dream. Fighting to wake up for good. Her throat is raw with every word she fails to scream. It tastes of blood.

She is falling.

Sunlight knifes her awake with a ragged gasp. A sound like dying, which turns into a choking cough. Gabrielle claws at her throat and the sheets until the sensation passes, then draws in a lungful of air.

For a moment she can’t orient herself, can’t trust that she’s finally awake. Then she manages to roll over. The imprint of Dana’s head haunts her pillow, but Gabrielle is alone. She kicks the covers away. Pages freshfrom the typewriter scatter like feathers.

She snatches them up, scanning.

There are words scribbled in the margins, curled around the text, filling the blank spaces and defining them. Notes on birdsong in her handwriting.

No. It must be a trick. She couldn’t have written them. Didn’t write them. She’s being haunted.

Gabrielle tosses the pages away from her, but it isn’t enough. She scrambles after them, tearing and tearing and tearing, scattering them from the aerie like snow.


Calliope Hummingbird: In life, her song is called bickering. In death, she is silent. You find yourself wishing she would speak again, even to argue. Even to weep or scream. But she only looks at you with bright eyes, withholding judgment, withholding forgiveness, withholding her song.


Fucking the angel is nothing like Dana expected. It was . . . it is . . .

It is moments threaded along a string, constantly picked apart and woven together again. It is. It was. It will be.

The angel’s talons rake her back, her thighs, her arms. Let out her blood.

The angel takes her hand, leads her to the aerie.

“I’m not ready for this. Katrin . . .”

The angel’s eyes are black all the way to the edges. Her pulse drums K-A-T-R-I-N. Dana’s answers: I’m here.

Dana’s fingers tangle in feathers, pulling the angel down and into her, harder and deeper. The angel’s beak is between her legs, and she is coming. Oh, God, she is coming, and nothing has ever felt this good.

Blood soaks the sheets, hotter than tears. Tap-tap-tap, hitting the floor. She cries out, choking on her lover’s name, and all that comes is a sob.

Her fingers are in Dana’s Katrin’s hair. Wet ropes tangled from bathwater grown cold.

Gabrielle’s fingers are in Dana’s hair, on her wrist. So much blood. Shaking her. Holding her down, keeping her from flying.

She . . . No. Dana. Dana brought the angel back from the desert. Dana holds Katrin, soothes the goose-pimpled flesh where the pinfeathers have torn free. Gathering bloody feathers and keeping them from scattering in the wind. She will hold on until the shaking stops. She will never let go.

Fucking the angel is . . .

Gabrielle tears the pages until there is nothing left. Only blood and feathers covering the bed.

She pulls the angel into her. Deeper. Harder. She comes.

And she is all alone.


Loon: There is much debate over her song. Is she laughing or crying? Is it a lonely sound or an invitation to join in her joke? Do you think death will make it easier to tell?


Gabrielle opens the apartment door to birdsong. A robin, a pigeon, a thrush. A high, nattering yell, and one that sounds like a question asked over and over again. A macaw, an owl, a peacock’s scream. She drops her keys, throwing her arms up to cover her eyes as wings rush overhead.

When she lowers her arms, her iPod glows at her from the docking station, a single word scrolling across the screen: birdsong.

Her fingers shake as she turns the player off. The cacophony stops.

“Dana? Hello?”

The silence is thick, a presence filling every corner of the room.

“Dana?”

Part of her knows there won’t be an answer, but she wants one, needs one so badly it hurts. She needs something to still the flutter of her pulse, so close beneath the surface of her skin. The pills by the sink aren’t cutting it anymore. That’s why she stopped taking them. That’s why . . .

She closes the door, sets her keys down. The window over the sink is open. There’s a smear of blood on the glass, almost like a fingerprint.

A breeze rustles the papers on Dana’s desk, peeling them from their neat pile and scattering them around the room. Gabrielle’s head throbs, the edges of a migraine coming on.

She reaches for the pill bottle, knocks it over.

Bending, she picks up a fallen page instead. It’s blank. She picks up another. Blank. All of them.

A shape of absence. The words picked apart too often, unraveling. One tug and the whole story comes undone.

Wind rattles the single page left in the typewriter, demanding her attention. Blank, too.

Feathers roll through the room. No, not feathers, paper, torn to shreds. There’s a scrap lodged between the typewriter keys. She digs, trying to reach it, but her fingers are too large and the space too small. The keys clatter, a staccato pulse, Morse code, the rattle of wings. An apology. A confession. A ghost story. Each key strike echoes the frantic, trapped beating of her heart. Begin again.

She waits for the door to open, the sound of Dana coming home to prove her wrong. But the only answer in the silence is the frantic scrabble of the typewriter and the shiver-hum of wings.

Words crowd the blank spaces of the page, responding to the strike of her fingers. She shakes. Tears roll down her cheeks. Haunted.

Instead of a suicide note, Gabrielle’s lover left her a typewriter.

About the Authors

A.C. Wise

AC Wise photo

A.C. Wise’s fiction has appeared in publications such as Uncanny, Shimmer, and the Best Horror of the Year Volume 10, among other places. She has two collections published with Lethe Press, and a novella published by Broken Eye Books. Her work has won the Sunburst Award for Excellence in Canadian Literature of the Fantastic, as well as twice more being a finalist for the award, twice being a finalist for the Nebula Award, and being a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award. In addition to her fiction, she contributes the Women to Read and Non-Binary Authors to Read series to The Book Smugglers.

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Tina Connolly

Tina Connolly’s books include the Ironskin and Seriously Wicked series, and the collection On the Eyeball Floor. She has been a finalist for the Hugo, Nebula, Norton, and World Fantasy awards. She co-hosts Escape Pod, runs Toasted Cake, and is at tinaconnolly.com.

Find more by Tina Connolly

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About the Narrators

Dani Daly

Dani Daly
Dani is a jack of many trades, master of none. But seeing as she loves the rogue life, that’s ok with her. You can hear stories she’s narrated on all four Escape Artists podcasts, StarShipSofa, Glittership, and Asimov’s Science Fiction podcast and you can contact her on Twitter @danooli_dani if you’d like her to read for you.

Find more by Dani Daly

Dani Daly
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Tina Connolly

Tina Connolly’s books include the Ironskin and Seriously Wicked series, and the collection On the Eyeball Floor. She has been a finalist for the Hugo, Nebula, Norton, and World Fantasy awards. She co-hosts Escape Pod, runs Toasted Cake, and is at tinaconnolly.com.

Find more by Tina Connolly

Elsewhere