Shimmer‘s 16th issue is now available. Woot!
Issue 16 has thirteen elegant and original stories. It’s got angels and cakes and a space elevator and a haunted jalopy and a zombie, and even a unicorn. But mostly? This issue is full of love: love for lost lovers and spouses and parents, love for those we can never have, love for freedom and memories and the eternally numinous.
Still, it’s Shimmer, so the course of true love never does run smooth. Terrible loss, shivery revenge, agonizing decisions, heartbreak, despair, and the stabbing pain of hope. It’s all in there, waiting for you.
“There is a particular mood to the magazine, like you’re walking alone along a foggy road at midnight with only the sound of your breath echoing against the mist.” –-Beth Cato, on Issue 14
At a solid 135 pages, the print edition is slim and sturdy enough to carry with you to read anywhere. Shimmer’s one of the best-looking magazines out there: glossy covers, lovely illustrations, and perfect-bound (just like a paperback book). Or get the electronic edition if you prefer to read in DRM-free digital form (your choice of PDF, Mobi, or ePub). Just click the button below.
Keep reading for the Table of Contents and tantalizing excerpts of the stories.
Table of Contents
Ordinary Souls, by K. M. Szpara
“Take this while I prepare. Little something for the nerves, free of charge. Open up.” Serena blew rose-colored smoke at my face and I breathed it all in.
“Better?” A green plastic ashtray sat neglected as Serena flicked the ash onto the linoleum.
I nodded as the magic settled into my bloodstream. “Thanks,” I said. “So, what do I owe you for the…”
We’d never talked about the dark side of her business. Some clients just never reemerged from her apartment. Serena assured me the results were worth the price. I’d never believed her until now.
“I don’t want your money, Callum, not for this.” She held another cloud of smoke in her lungs, longer this time, then puffed it out slowly. Her remedy fixed to my heart like a scab. “But I do have a trade in mind.
Goodbye Mildred, by Charlie Bookout
We got married on a Saturday in July, right out there in the yard.
What a blowout, bootleg booze and Mary Jane shoes. Remember how your sister wove goldenrod into your hair, and how you sneezed all through the ceremony? Remember the fireflies, and the guys in the band who spiked the punch? I remember. It was a different century, but I recall that July evening with far more clarity than yesterday’s blur. Sitting here on our back porch, I watch every moment of our fairy tale wedding flicker before me like a nickel talkie.
“It’s a two way street,” your father told me when I asked for your hand. The tide comes in, the tide goes out. You and your new wife have got to find a way to stand your ground. Be the stone for the tide to break on.”
And so we have.
Opposable Thumbs, by Greg Leunig
When they come in my room I say my greeting.
Usually my stomach moves before they come in my room.
Good evening sir or madam I say depending on if it is a man or a woman that comes into my room. If it is both I say Good evening sir good evening madam.
I am supposed to say morning or afternoon if it is not evening out. I am supposed to know what time of day it is out but I have trouble telling usually and I like how evening sounds the most so I usually always say evening.
Word and Flesh, by Dennis Y. Ginoza
When the oblacion is one year old, the Brothers nip off the tips of his fingers and toes. At six, he is castrated. When the oblacion turns nine, the Brothers begin to dose him with an herbal draught that causes the hair on his body and all his teeth to fall away. Throughout, the boy is fed great quantities of bland foods–oatmeal and poached eggs and fresh fruit inseason–and made to drink buttermilk by the pitcher. Though famine comes and goes outside the Universidad, the boy’s diet is never altered.
The oblacion’s chamber is re-padded in silk, the floor covered with rose petals scattered over mounds of fresh cut grass. He eats with the nubs of his fingers from plates of woven leaves, bowls of hollowed mellons. His only furniture are pillows and fluffy rugs; his commode is wrapped in cotton batting. The Brothers charge is unyielding–nothing that could bruise him must ever enter the oblacion’s padded world, nor may his skin be marred by sunlight, but must be kept unblemished and pure.
The Revelation of Morgan Stern, by Christie Yant
It is July 31st, your birthday, and I can’t reach you. I’ve been trying all day, but the cell networks are down, the internet is down. I even tried a pay phone–there are two left in town that I know of. I collected all my change and walked to the 76 in the village.
It was on fire.
I watched it for a while from a distance as it painted a brown, toxic streak across the sky. It was a long walk back to the house, or what’s left of it. My feet hurt, and it was too quiet.
The back of the house fell in, but I managed to climb into the kitchen and recover a few things. I have no way to tell you that I salvaged a donut and lit a candle and sang to you.
I don’t know if you’re alive or dead.
The Binding of Memories, by Cate Gardner
The men carried a ladder between them, its unwieldy length of rungs five times their combined height. They perched it against the department store wall, ignoring the curious stares of the mannequins arranged in the shop window. Arthur climbed the ladder (he had the head for heights) and Kenneth held the ladder in place (he had the fists of iron). Reaching the top rung, Arthur leaned to his right and un-snagged the balloon from a satellite dish. Snipping the ribbon from the balloon, Arthur stole the memory-message attached to it and concealed the slip of paper in his sleeve. The balloon lifted and the crowd gathered below cheered, believing they witnessed memories lifting to fulfill their dead in the hereafter and remind them how wonderful their lives were.
In a room beneath the streets, a book grew more ponderous.
The Death and Life of Bob, by William Jablonsky
Bob Jarmush is dead.
We do not even notice Bob’s empty chair until Marlene tells us, just after eight, when we are all settled in. It happened early Saturday morning, she says, her thin face devoid of its usual condescending smile. Bob collapsed while pruning his hedges, and by the time the paramedics arrived, it was too late.
His funeral is on Thursday; Marlene and her executive assistant Cayla will make a brief, dignified appearance. We may also attend if we wish.
We set about erasing Bob from the office. Jeremy, the IT kid, clears his password from the system; Cayla slides the Star Wars statuettes, R2D2 pencil sharpener, and framed picture with Mark Hamill into an empty office-paper box. Bob has no family, so there will be no awkward, somber-faced presentation of the box of junk at his front door. For this, we are thankful.
The Sky Whale, by Rebecca Emanuelsen
Through the oval window of the bullet train, Hitomi spots a whale emerging from the early-morning fog rolling gently down the mountainside. She turns and says, “Mama, Mama,” pulling on her mother’s long sleeve.
“Not now,” her mother says, fussing over something in her purse. Mama has been snappish for a long time now–this morning, certainly, but perhaps ever since they’d found the car on top of the apartment building a year ago, and the furniture swollen and splintered, and Hitomi’s red backpack washed away. So Hitomi turns back to the window to watch for herself.
Tasting of the Sea, by A. C. Wise
Ana leans on the balcony rail, watching the clockmaer across the broad expanse of emerald lawn. Beneath the spreading oak, sunlight dapples him. He is bent to his work, quick fingers catching gears, twists of wire, and bits of jeweled thread, stitching together a brand new heart. He sees only his work, unaware of her watching. She sees only him–his concentration, his fierce love. She sees the stoop of his shoulders, too, his weariness.
Lighting the Candles, by Laura Hinkle
The unicorn is a punk rocker who never buys her own drinks. She wears her skin like latex, clinging, luminescent, swaying beneath the dim bar lights. Her mohawk is sloppy and leaks down the back of her neck like spilled whiskey. She can smell them watching her. She makes them disgusted. She makes them desperate.
The bartender pours her shots of absinthe, tongue-burning licorice, too rich to taste good and too luxurious to refuse. Baby-faced Claude, dazzlingly gay and utterly immune to the webs that trail behind her. The unicorn either adores him or abhors him. Some nights it may be both.
Gemini in the House of Mars, by Nicole M. Taylor
His wife Lora had often given him the list, the litany, all the subtle distinctions, scars, asymmetries, and freckle distributions that marked her and her twin sister Lindy apart. But it was like one of those pictures they gave children to occupy them on long trips. There are twenty differences and how many can you find? Clark had never been good at those.
Looking at Lindy now, he remembered that she had a scar at the base of her right thumb from nondescript childhood accident, that she lacked the birthmark Lora had high on the back of her thigh. Lindy had a visibly broken pinky toe, Lora did not.
And, of course, Lindy was alive.
The Haunted Jalopy Races, by M. Bennardo
It all started when gallant Joe Jones and shiftless Sylvester Sneep agreed to race each other for the hand of pretty Sadie Merriweather. Except that’s not really how it started at all — not that first year, anyway, not back in 1938.
Back then, that first year, Joe Jones wasn’t thought especially gallant and Sylvester Sneep wasn’t thought especially shiftless. Sadie Merriweather was indeed thought especially pretty–at least by most of the boys in Rock Falls–but Joe and Sylvester weren’t racing for her hand.
Not even in Rock Falls, not even in 1938, did anybody think that the outcome of a jalopy race could decided the affections of a teenaged girl. Instead, it was purely a matter of honor.
In Light of Recent Events I Have Reconsidered The Wisdom of Your Space Elevator, by Helena Bell
They are coming for your space elevator; I will not let them have it.
You built it out of old liquor boxes and camping equipment as a present to yourself on your 12th birthday. The day you became a man, your father said. Control panels out of dresser knobs, a porthole on the starboard bow covered with Saran Wrap. Your only shield for reentry: blue sheets smattered with tin foil and duct tape at the seams to seal in the dark.
You told me the boxes used to hold Miles Davis records, adoption papers, a slide rule your father taught you how to use after your mother died, or left town, or married the man next door–you never told me the whole of it and my own mother says it’s none of my business. Suffice it to say you were both lonely and your father wanted you to be able to calculate the depth and breadth of a stranger’s pity. These flowers are not for us, he said, but for the sender. Marvel at my compassion for your unfortunate predicament!
You had other plans.
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