There’s a fairy tale you half remember: a girl, a ghost, the memory of wood talking, telling her stories inside of stories. There’s a place you half remember: flowers and steam and a shadow moving toward you. There’s a feeling inside your ribs: anxious, fluttery, dying. That’s this issue of Shimmer.
The Ghost Pet Detective, by Ryan Row
Art’s funeral is full of crying girls. Law thinks this should tip some of them off, but there it is. Crying girls everywhere. White flowers in their hair. Black dresses and the scent of clean underwear and Ivory soap. There’s a ghostly snake wrapped around one of the girl’s nylon ankles. It slithers up her leg like the white stripe of a candy cane until its flat head disappears under her skirt. She doesn’t notice. The ghost of a tiger lounges beside the coffin. It died in the zoo, maybe. Or else it came straight out of Law’s head. He rubs his neck. Through the tiger’s semi-translucent fur, he can see a tiny bird fluttering around inside the cage of its ribs like a weird, trapped heart. (4100 words)
By the Hand That Casts It, by Stephanie Charette
If there was one thing Briar Redgrave hated most about her current profession, it was the clients. “But I wish it to be yellow, and vibrant,” the client insisted with a shake of her head. The crown of ostrich feathers on her wide-brimmed hat convulsed as though the bird that died for fashion’s sake was near resurrection. “It is my signature color. How else will the Viscount know that the flowers are from me?” (5100 words)
Find On Your Body the Bruise, by Maricat Stratford
First, you are everything. Then, you are a drop of blood on a blade of grass. You are the grass, the dirt beneath it, the network of aspen roots buried in the dirt — no, not yet. Pull yourself together now. You are a network of neurons spastically misfiring inside a broken skull. You are a fading chemical reaction, you are a feeling, you are a collection of memories. You are dead. You are not surprised. (1600 words)
Lighthouse Waiting, by Gwendolyn Clare
I am alone now. The gates mostly stand dark against the starscape; you are the first to come this way in some time. I hold myself together, hold myself out, and after so much practice I can do it almost without thinking. I sing my warning song made of radio waves and light. This, too, is reflexive. Before you, there was no one here to sing to. (2400 words)
Dead Things, by Becca De La Rosa
She comes to the manor screaming. Red hair, a tempest. Blood and bruises. Bare feet drumming the flagstones, disaster breeding disaster. Odile watches from her perch on the newel post. Marvels, shuffles. What a terrible creature, she says, to the oaken banister. The banister creaks in answer. (4000 words)
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