Shimmer‘s seventeenth issue is now available.
Issue 17 is the issue when we began paying pro rates, and we wanted to make it exceptional. We selected 17 stories that went further: more emotional intensity, more challenges, more complexity, more heart. These stories bleed. These stories weep.
Come with us on a journey that begins at the circus, and ends in the underworld.
“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
Shimmer’s one of the best-looking magazines out there: glossy covers, lovely illustrations, and perfect-bound, just like a paperback book. This issue’s a solid 150 pages long! 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. Shipping for print edition is calculated at checkout.
Table of Contents
The Mostly True Adventures of Assman & Foxy, by Katherine Sparrow
“I can’t believe it took us this long to leave,” Assman says.
Foxy nods her head and grips the steering wheel tight. “We don’t ever have to come back. Even though we said we would. People change their minds all the time.”
“The circus will take us in and change us,” Assman agrees. “We won’t be able to find the road back home.”
One of them actually wants to join the circus. She is splitting her tongue in two with a razor and trying to grow the hair on her chest. She is practicing falling in her sleep.
The other knows she will return home and live a life of work, kids, and backyard barbeques. But she loves herself for pretending, right here, right now, that she could leave. She wishes she could be as strong as her best friend.
How Bunny Came to Be, by A. C. Wise
This is Bunny. This is Bunny before she was Bunny, back when he was Phillip Howard Craft, working as a lifeguard at Sun Haven Beach Resort by day and slinging drinks in the resort bar by night. Back before the Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron saved the world from Mars, or fought the lizards from the center of the earth, or kept Air Force One from exploding with nothing more than a jeweled hairpin and a wad of peach-flavored chewing gum.
This is Bunny back when he was a bronzed god rather than a curvy goddess. His legs still go on for miles but he doesn’t shave them yet, though he does wax his chest until it gleams in the sun. Even before the Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron, Phillip knew the importance of a good beauty regimen.
The Moon Bears, by Sarah Brooks
The drainpipe hangs over the window and a gust of wind makes it bang against the glass. I think how profoundly satisfying it would be if it fell off completely, if it smashed the night’s smug silence. But my attention is caught by movement outside. Something comes out of the shadows, huge and silver and strange.
It turns its head from side to side like it’s sniffing the air, pads past all the silent terraced houses with their closed curtains and neatly parked cars and I want so badly for it to raise its head and look up at me, standing here, the only one watching, so close to the window my breath fogs up the glass and I try to stop breathing. I want it to see me.
It doesn’t, of course. It carries straight on and when clouds cover the moon it disappears. It’s just a bear, after all. You can’t expect it to be the same for them.
Sincerely, Your Psychic by Helena Bell
Dear Sir or Madam,
Did you know that many astrologers are also physicists? That the moment you were born the locations of celestial bodies were imprinted upon your consciousness? That prisons and hospitals see more activity during full moons, which is indicative of the precise and measurable influence of the heavens on the human psyche?
I do not know if any of the above is true; it was in the pamphlet for my correspondence course.
For homework, I suggest you reflect on a moment in your life which has had an adverse effect on your decision making process.
Out They Come, by Alex Dally MacFarlane
She speaks so little, out they come: foxes. One after the other, falling like russet tears. They land on all fours and shake the saliva from their fur and bare their teeth, sharper than knives. She wants to say to the village, “I’m not sorry, I hate you all, you deserve this.”
They are her strength, come to fight.
Love in the Time of Vivisection, by Sunny Moraine
I’m asking questions when he makes the first incision. This is the deal we made.
Why is always there. You can come at it in a number of different ways.
You can ask at the beginning, when the cuts are small and fine and the pain is keen, or somewhere in the middle when the pain lessens and you begin to be able to feel your muscles divided and peeled back and away from your bones, or toward the end, when the pain is gone and he has his fingers in the slippery tangle of your viscera. When he holds your heart in his hands.
Fishing, by Lavie Tidhar
In the mornings after the rains he used to fish out of his bedroom window. Inside there was soft wood panelling and hanging silk lights, bamboo mats, high ceilings, an antique phone replica in brass and teak, low sofas, white. Outside the gardens were a swamp, the palm trees drowning. In the summer the goats came and ate the vegetation, but when the rain came the goats were curried away, which was a joke he liked to make, if only anyone had cared to listen. He fished with a bamboo pole and string, and baited it with house snails. The fish swam in the gardens outside, great graceful serpentine beasts like nagas, their colors silver and gold and the red of fallen leaves. The sky above his head in those mornings was the light blue of church glass. Sometimes birds came down from the sky and perched beside him on the windowsill and chirped, and sometimes he almost thought he could understand them.
98 Ianthe, by Robert N. Lee
You used to be in the band; now you work on the asteroid. People you have to work with, they ask about it all the time when they find out. And they always find out—somebody always tells them. They all want to know what that’s like. “You used to be in the band? And now you work on the asteroid?”
They always think they’re the first ones to ask. You can tell because they always start with “You must get asked this a lot…” and nobody really ever means what they say—they always mean the opposite.
Didn’t you save any money? That’s the next question asked by approximately two-thirds of those who want to know what it’s like, being in the band and then working on the asteroid. They don’t really want to know that, though. They already know you didn’t save any money, or you wouldn’t be working on the asteroid, even if you weren’t still in the band. It’s not really a question, so much.
What they’re really saying is I would have saved some money. It’s all over their faces, although they probably think it looks like concern. Or pity.
It just looks like reverie and scorn.
The Desire of All Things, by Jordan Taylor
There wasn’t much to do on weekends, living way out with my mom and older sister in a single-wide trailer on the edge of Uwarrie National Forest. There wasn’t much extra money neither, not with Mom working two shifts at the Dollar General and Red’s Diner just to put food on the table, and me picking up what hours I could at the Five and Dime after school. Some kids partied in the woods on the weekends, or rode into Troy to make trouble at the strip mall. I stole.
It started out with little stuff—tins of lip gloss or glittery eye shadow I slipped in my pocket. I moved on to more expensive stuff right quick—earbuds, shrink-wrapped CDs, a silver lighter for the cigarettes I’d started to smoke. The lighter had called to me through the glass counter in the jewelry section at Roses—more practical than earrings or a necklace, but beautiful too. Thorny rose vines were etched into its gleaming sides, making it easier to grip when I showed off the lighter tricks my friend Vic had taught me.
The Metaphor of the Lakes, by Yarrow Paisley
To be clear from the outset because I believe in honesty, I am no longer certain whether I am living or dead; certain details elude me. Having spent so many spans inside this house, it is difficult to know anymore whether the outside world is forbidden me because of my “agoraphobia” or because I am a ghost fated to haunt only these rooms. There is little doubt at all, however, that I am a girl, a very pretty girl, although I can’t remember what I look like … and even though there are things called “mirrors,” in which one might verify an aesthetical impression, I have not encountered one of those in this house. At least, I don’t believe I have.
Romeo and Meatbox, by Alex Wilson
But crunch! What scent through yonder cranium wafts?
It is fresh meat and Juliet, the meatbox!
Arise, ye mostly dead, and cleave the skull
Whose cup o’erflows with that electric food
Which sparks our own undeadly minds to move.
I’ll be not gentle with that pretty flesh
Or vestal liver tempting freshly greens
Away from grayer matters. Spit it out!
We seek the brainstuff! O, the one true meat!
Let all she’s ever thought now spot our teeth.
[A yawn from above.]
She screams, her voice insipid and distracting.
(I’ll yet bite, though tongue’s a waste of gnashing.)
Romeo. Hey. Didn’t you die?
Like Feather, Like Bone, by Kristi DeMeester
The little girl is under my porch eating a bird. Her hair is matted. She did not bother to push it back before she began, and blood has clotted against the white strands. I try to ignore her, but she is crunching its bones, and the sound is like the ground cracking open.
I creep under the porch, squat near her, but not too near. She still has her milk teeth, and they are sharp, a tiny row of pointed knives. Small feathers cling to her heart-shaped face.
“You shouldn’t do that, sweetheart. It isn’t good for you,” I say.
“I want wings. Wings the color of the sky,” she says and slurps at the bird’s eyes.
Girl, With Coin, by Damien Angelica Walters
The girl who can’t feel pain is on display in the art gallery again.
Stitches bind her lips together, a cage to keep her voice prisoner. The seams of her costume feel as if they’ll split under the strain of holding herself in.
She stares into the crowd with her back straight. In her hand, she clutches a straight razor, the blade glittering under the lights like a dark promise of blood, a pulse slowing to nothing at all.
She doesn’t have a death wish. She isn’t suicidal. Suicide isn’t art. It’s cheap theater, not even off-Broadway quality. Anyone can do it.
And she isn’t into kink. Her show isn’t designed to get anyone off.
It’s about how much you can stand before you say enough, before you break.
Before you turn away.
River, Dreaming, by Silvia Moreno Garcia
I think about you, my love, late at night when the neon light filters through the curtains, tracing shadow animals upon the floor. I feel your absence like a phantom limb.
Sometimes I pull on my jacket and walk the streets, stopping at every bridge to stare at the river. Alabaster fish swim in its green waters, along with the corpses of the suicides. Ghosts and stones whisper their stories as I lean against the railing.
I look for you among the pale corpses. There I see a maiden in a white shift and a wrinkled man in his shabby corduroy jacket. But you are not there, my love. Oh, no.
The Fairy Godmother, by Kim Neville
When the Fairy Godmother is small, she can only grant small wishes. She turns buttons into pennies and makes gummy bears appear in coat pockets. She recovers socks lost in dryers. She vanishes bunions and mild rashes and embarrassing body hair. As she grows so does her power. The pennies become pearls. The socks become kittens.
No matter how many times she tries, she can’t make her father well.
The other children at school love the Fairy Godmother, mostly because of the gummy bears but also because she can make their paper airplanes fly in formation. She has a purple wand with a star on the end of it and her classmates are always stealing it at the playground. They swirl it around, trying to conjure up chocolate rivers or giant robot dogs. The wand emits puffs of gold glitter but their wishes
never come true.
The Fairy Godmother’s wings tend to get in the way on the monkey bars. She prefers the teeter-totter.
We Were Never Alone In Space, by Carmen Maria Machado
Last, it was Adelaide, up to her chest in the inky water, waiting as the light dropped away.
Before that, the sky went from peach to violet to almost black. She could barely distinguish it from the horizon. There would be no stars, not with the clouds. She could not tell if she was moving toward the shore or away from it. Terror sluiced through every mile of her veins. Was that the outline of a person bobbing in the water near her, or was she imagining it?
Before that, it was still Adelaide, running to the water, the hard tidal sand knocking her footsteps up into her kneecaps. It hurt, but she kept going. She could see it. The jetty. The sea beyond it, its frothy curls and unseen currents. She hurtled into the water and nothing but its increasing depth could slow her down.
The Herdsman of the Dead, by Ada Hoffmann
When you die, love, you will walk the path between our world and the Herdsman’s. It will be cold and very dark. Pull out your own eye—gently—and it will give as much light as a candle. You will still see only a few paces ahead.
Keep to the dry, smooth stones. Do not touch the white hill of salt to your left: it will wither your heart with thirst. Do not drink from the black lake to your right: it will make you forget too much. Do not stop walking, even when your legs feel hollow from strain, or you will become one of the stones.
There will be dogs with the nubbly heads of vultures. Ignore them. They cannot touch you unless you look into their eyes. They will caw
out questions, asking why a man like you bothers to walk this path. Ignore them. You must speak only to the Herdsman of the Dead and his daughter, and you will know them when you see them.
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