Very happy to say that my short story, “Sharpening the Sickle to Shame the Scythe,” appears in Issue #16 of Fiddleblack.
It’s about the way people cope with guilt during the grieving process. So it’s a bit different from the kind of short stories I’ve published thus far.
Many thanks to editor Jason Cook for publishing this piece. He wrote this introduction to the new issue, which features wonderful poems by Brian Kubarycz and Elias Marsten, and stories by Anna Boorstin, Maxwell Howard, and Caitlin Woolley.
Here’s an excerpt from my piece. Thanks for reading. And of course I’d welcome a chance to hear your comments about the story.
In the hours before Lauren Hunter-Aikens got the news she was stuck trying to revise a story she had written in her creative therapy group.
In the story, the narrator imagined that the news of her son’s death would come by phone. She would be at work drinking coffee, clicking with intense focus through documents on her computer screen. Her phone would buzz in her purse. Not wanting to disturb the office silence, she would answer right away and keep her voice low out of respect for her colleagues on the other sides of her cube.
The voice would ask if she were sitting down. She’d say yes, why? The person who’d called would say the preliminary things she had feared for so long. Then the voice would tell her that there had been an accident. Most often she imagined the voice telling her there had been a car crash, but also very frequently it was an accident at home, where a nanny watched the boy until she and her husband got back from work around five-thirty. The boy had died in a fall down the stairs or been poisoned with household chemicals. A few times she imagined the boy had choked on something she and her husband had neglected to clean up, such as a penny or a tire from a broken toy car. In any case, in that scenario an everyday object in their home had somehow killed the boy. In the story, the woman would wail when she got the news, slamming her phone against the desk, causing the people in the cubes next to hers to jump up and look over the wall, asking what’s wrong, what on earth has happened?