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kith ISSUE 03

second breakfast

Sword & Kettle Press


kith ISSUE 03

second breakfast

SWORD & KETTLE PRESS


Š 2016 Sword & Kettle Press. Authors retain the rights to their work. Headings set in Lora, designed by Olga Karpushina, 2011. Text set in Source Sans Pro, designed by Paul D. Hunt, 2012. Printed and bound in the United States. First edition. We’ve titled this issue about fantasy and food after one of our favorite fantasy food moments. We believe that food has its own brand of magic, and we hope you enjoy the foods and stories in this issue as much as we do. Special thanks to Mark & Fran Allen, J.R.R. Tolkien and the hobbits, Brian Jacques and Redwall, tandoori chicken, and everyone who supports Sword & Kettle Press. Sword & Kettle Press Kayla Allen, Editor-in-Chief Zahan Mehta, Contributing Editor swordandkettlepress.com swordandkettlepress@gmail.com


TABLE OF CONTENTS UNDER THE PEPPER • HEIDI DONLAN

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Heidi Donlan was raised on science fiction and fantasy, from Star Trek to Tolkien. She has been writing short stories and novel manuscripts for an inordinately long time, generally with female protagonists because there aren’t enough fictional girls having adventures. She is also an aspiring scientist working towards a degree in botany. THE 99th ANNUAL GRAND BOUT • ZOE MILLER

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Zoe Miller (zoegmiller.tumblr.com, @zoemiller) lives in Brooklyn, likes her fantasy fiction to be adorable and angsty in equal measure, and dreams of hanging out with a Samoyed one day. TO TRAP A MEAL • J W BENDALL

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J W Bendall (andnowforthis.tumblr.com) is a writer and primary school teacher from Melbourne, Victoria. He has published and premiered two plays, and is currently working on a debut fantasy novel. (NO) MAGIC • MITCH COLLINS

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Mitch Collins writes, on occasion, and eats, on other occasions. FLYING FASTER • SIERRA GOLDBERG

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Sierra Goldberg (sierratraveller.tumblr.com, @sierratraveller) currently resides in Hannover, Germany and works as an English teacher. In her free time, she travels Europe refereeing fencing competitions. She enjoys eating, exploring new cities on foot, and tasting craft beers. SALTY TEA AND THE SEA • ALEX McCARRON Alex McCarron (ammccarron.blogspot.com) loves fairy tales and fantasy.

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UNDER THE PEPPER Heidi Donlan Midshipman Audrey Grandbell sat down to noon dinner in the mess, noting with an eyeroll that Midshipman Penro was again reading one of those penny-dreadfuls about plucky midshipmen living on weevily hardtack and dodging scurvy. Naval life in the Fabrichians, which counted citrus as a major export and had no point more than a day's sail from fresh supplies, was nevertheless written with the same cliches every time. “I don't know why you waste your money on those. You're a naval officer. You live this, for goodness’ sake.” “These cut out the dull bits.” Audrey shook her head as she broke up her fresh biscuit into her stew and turned the pepper mill over it. There were worse ways to spend one's pay note, she supposed. In the meantime she would enjoy her fresh food without caring what some soft-handed writer thought of it… Her teeth clamped down on the fork. The sweetness of the fish, the bite of the pepper…a strange sensation swam into her mind, an impression of warm light and magic implements hanging on blue walls, the strange ineffable scent of a home. She froze, trying not to feel overpowered and not quite succeeding. For half a minute she sat stock-still, coming out of it with a start and hurriedly swallowing. She stole a quick glance at Penro, but he was too absorbed in his rag to see her odd reaction. As though she had anything to react to in the first place, she thought as she took another forkful. The impression, fading slightly in the interval between bites, flowed back in. It added no detail—no definition to the size of the room, no familiar voices, nothing in the scent she could identify, only the sense of eating this before. Still, that little was enough. Enough to know that she was not remembering the house of her captain, the woman whose name she had adopted out of gratitude and respect. Audrey grabbed the pepper mill and cranked it frantically into the bowl. “What in the world?” She hitched her shoulders up. Penro had finally looked up and was wearing a bemused sort of grin. “You’ll have the hanging gardens in your mouth. Leave something for the rest of us, will you?” She set it down, stuck for a sensible reply. She simply stared into the stew as she stirred it, but it wasn't enough to erase that piece of memory. She could still taste it underneath…that unbearable familiarity. She had to finish it. Naval discipline demanded it—no, it didn't, but she couldn’t stand the idea of Penro teasing her for it—no, why would he say


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anything about a half-eaten stew? It was herself she feared. To push it away would be to admit that it meant something. That the bowl held a genuine memory. She couldn't face that. She did not want to know any more about that room that seemed blue. It belonged to the Audrey who had lived up until the wreck of the Fabrichian ship Seatooth. That day stood like a wall, dark and impenetrable. She had no desire to see what lay behind it. Audrey forced herself to chew and swallow, trying to focus on the pepper. Was it the fish? It had to be the fish. She didn't remember eating this type before, a fresh catch from waters the ship rarely ventured into. That meant that her first family had been from around here…no, no. She gulped down water, full of regret for putting the whole biscuit into the stew; that contributed now, rather than being something she could use as relief from the taste. She shoveled the hateful food in as quickly as possible, ignoring manners, ignoring Penro's open stare. “I've never seen anyone eat like that.” She stared at him, trying to warn him off. “Like what?” “Like a starving man handed his least favorite food.” She wished she could think of a reply—any kind of reply, scathing or lighthearted. The vision of that room—a room where someone small sat next to her, holding a mug in both hands—refused to depart. “I'm not feeling well,” she said at last, standing up. “I need some fresh air.” She didn't give him a chance to reply as she tore up on deck, drinking in the fresh breeze. The clean salt scent went some way to erasing the fishy odor that had blanketed the mess. Smell, that was very strong in memory; she had read that somewhere once. She had heard old sailors talk about their favorite foods from childhood…men and women approaching seventy years could still remember the way their long-dead mothers had baked biscuits. That was no comforting thought. For seventy years she would have to avoid that fish, whatever it was. Except she couldn't, not as a midshipman, nor a lieutenant. Not even if she made captain; you couldn't dictate what admirals put on the tables in their flagships. Every time she encountered it, another piece would fall into place. She would see the grain of the table. She would hear a voice, mother or father. She would be able to tell what those instruments on the wall were for, and once she knew that, she would realize the wicked magic they had worked. Audrey knew they had been engineers. She knew, from what her adoptive mother had said, that the Navy had tried testing some new magical weapon on that ship. Audrey had tried hard not to add two and two, but over the years the conviction had set solid. That nameless couple had dragged their own ship to the bottom of the sea. And if they had invented something like that, it was where they deserved to be.


UNDER THE PEPPER • 3

Audrey rubbed at the scars under her uniform, the five long lines that dragged from her shoulders down her ribs. She could feel them now, tingling slightly. All she could remember of the wreck was blood and terror and thenLieutenant Grandbell pulling her from the water. It had been the remotest chance that Audrey had been saved. And she knew—not as an academic article, but she knew, in scar and bone, that the memories torn from her had lead to that ruin. That if they ever returned, they would drag her down again, and there would be no salvation. She would never reach seventy years. But Captain Grandbell wouldn’t understand that. All she knew was that she had found a girl half-dead in the wreckage of another ship. Audrey couldn’t possibly tell her that the child she had saved had been born of evil. She could only pray that the cook caught a different sort of fish next time.


THE 99th ANNUAL GRAND BOUT Zoe Miller The announcer yanked away the cloth covering a silver tray, revealing twin servings of glistening meat. “The secret ingredient is…chimera tongue!” Perfect! Heart storming in her chest, Anzu flicked her cat-like ears to the rhythmic applause thundering through the great amphitheater as she and her partner, Mireille, crossed the podium to shake hands with their opponents, the wunderkind mages Rechant and Teifou. Third years approaching graduation, the highest houses in the kingdom were already courting Rechant and Teifou. Compared to them, Mireille and Anzu were just two lowly second years, a human priestess and a feline rekt. They were tall, and each was handsome in his own way—Rechant if you preferred the lithe, studious sort, and Teifou if you went for broody oxen given human shape. Anzu hated Rechant’s ostentatious bow as he clasped one of Mireille’s hands with both of his, but she hated the grunt of acknowledgement Teifou deigned to grant her even more. A shiver ran down Anzu’s spine. The supercilious glint in Teifou’s eyes was a common look for mages, but something about it stirred mistrust in her. Damn mages. The gong sounded, and both teams hastened back to their positions. Rolling up the sleeves of her chef’s jacket, Anzu slammed her palms down on the long cooking table before her, which overflowed with baskets of gryphon eggs and tureens of umbraloak syrup. Those were difficult, hard-to-wrangle ingredients, but any rekt worth her salt knew how to cook chimera tongue six ways from Saintsday. After two years slaving away in this academy, she’d finally have her chance to shine! Tail stiff with anticipation, Anzu turned to Mireille. “All right! Mireille let’s get—” At the sight of the dolorous look spreading over Mireille’s face, Anzu’s voice vanished in her throat. She didn’t need to ask, the fire crystal clutched in Mireille’s hands told the whole story. The golden weave of its magical binding was cracked. “Sabotage…” Mireille said. “What? How?” “The binding is shattered, Anzu. Someone did this on purpose!” This couldn’t be happening. The crystal held processed aether in a form for mage to use. Without the aid of the binding medium, non-mages had no


THE 99th ANNUAL GRAND BOUT • 5

way of accessing the magic trapped inside, no way of producing flame. Chimera tongue had a light, buttery texture, but only when cooked. Raw, it was sinewy as sin. They were doomed. “Uh oh,” the announcer said. “Looks like the Azure team is having trouble getting started.” Anzu glanced over to their competitors, who’d already drawn elemental servants of fire and air from their own—conspicuously intact—crystals. Rechant was one of the best cooks in the academy; he could be oblivious and a bit of a snob, but he enjoyed the thrill of competition too much. He would never resort to underhanded tricks. His partner, on the other hand, absolutely would. Anzu spoke through clenched jaw. “Teifou, you jealous bastard.” “Jealous?” Mireille asked. “What do you mean?” “Isn’t it obvious?” To Anzu it was, but Mireille scowled, leaning in. “Evidently not.” At Mireille’s proximity, Anzu blushed. “Of our talent, obviously.” Her tail whipped with the impromptu lie. “We’re the first second years to make it to the finals and we’re not even mages.” Teifou was sullen and ornery as a lame bull, Anzu would never understand what Rechant saw in him. With envy riling Teifou up like a slipsnake, he would’ve sabotaged them just to enjoy the looks on their faces when they discovered they were doomed from the start. In fact, he was doing just that. As the crowd ooo’d and aah’d with the flamboyant gestures of Rechant’s magery, Teifou grinned ear to ear, his brow clenched with sadistic glee. He was all eyes for Anzu and Mireille’s despair, and none for his work. Mireille wrung her hands. “What do we do?” Anzu was hardly listening, glaring as she was at the Crimson team’s spectacle. Teifou spread his arms with an imperious flourish and his air elemental lofted parsley and onion into the air, slicing them into perfect portions, and seasoning them in a miniature tempest of oil and pepper. The heat of Rechant’s fire elemental reached clear across the podium. Succulent juices bubbled from the meat as arms of ancient flame licked across it, crisping the dimpled surface to a perfect texture. Seared chimera tongue? It was so…ordinary. Anzu’s shoulders slumped. “Mireille, I’m sorry. I…” Mireille forced a smile even as tears budded in her eyes. “There’s always next year.” Rumor was Mireille would be inducted into the priesthood this fall. For her, there would be no next year. This was her last chance to achieve her childhood dream of winning the Grand Bout.


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Still, she put on a brave face, saying, “It’s all right. We made it this far, all the way to the finals.” Thoughtlessly, she swiped the sleeves of her chef’s jacket against her face. “No sense crying over cracked eggs.” Distracted as she was by rage, it took Anzu a moment to notice the spark of inspiration tickling through her head. “Wait, what did you say?” “Cracked eggs?” Mireille asked. “It’s just an expression…” A shiver overcame Anzu. Her body attuned to the unrefined aether wafting from the magical ingredients stacked atop the overcrowded table. Rekts had no magical aptitude per se, but some, like Anzu, could sense aether as easily as other races could smell or see. In the noonday sun, she caught the sheen of a plate of small red orbs. “The roe!” “E-eh?” Mireille asked. “Salamander roe! It’s attuned to fire, and it’s got aether to spare.” “But it’s unrefined.” Mireille’s eyes flitted anxiously from side to side. “We can’t use it for anything.” “I can’t, and those sluggard mages over there certainly can’t, but you can! Commune with the spirits, that’s what priestesses do; you are a priestess, ain’tcha?” A whimper of indecision built in Mireille’s throat. “Priestess-in-training.” “Mireille, you’ve got more spiritual potential than anyone in the whole damned academy! Everybody knows that—everybody but you. You just need to stop overthinking things for once!” Anzu gripped her by the wrist. “Can you rouse those spirits?” Mireille’s fainthearted expression hardened with an uncharacteristic stoicism. Firming her lips, she nodded. They leapt into action. Anzu put all the strength of her small body into slicing the thick tongue into manageable pieces—it had to be small, the roe didn’t hold enough aether for a proper cook. Sweat burst from her brow with effort, but she didn’t stop, not even when her arms screamed and ached. She had to do this, for Mireille! And to show those mages what real cooking looked like. The ogre horn pealed, and the announcer cried out. “Ten minutes left!” With so much time already wasted, they’d have to make something fast and simple. Anzu greased a cast-iron pan with puffbunny butter. Hefting one of the large gryphon eggs, she cracked it open. Mireille diced a handful of scallions. Anzu swirled the eggs with sweet cream while Mireille sprinkled in salt and white Camorian pepper. Then, Mireille scattered the roe into the pan. Clumsily crossing her fingers in a mystic pattern, she began to chant. “Spirits of ancient fire, I entreat you.”


THE 99th ANNUAL GRAND BOUT • 7

No heat stirred; beneath its glassy surface, the roe was inert. Anzu’s tail thrashed behind her. She tried not to focus on the crowd chanting Rechant and Teifou’s names. Mireille gritted her teeth. “Spirits of ancient fire, head my plea.” Tears spilled down her cheeks, but her breathing held firm. “Please,” she whispered. “Help us…” A soft, yellow light bloomed across her skin, and red wisps stirred inside the roe like midnight faery fire. The egg began to bubble and froth. “Woah, slow down!” Anzu laughed. “You’ll burn it!” Mireille steadied herself, silent as she screwed her concentration to the aether flow. Anzu grabbed a wooden spatula and moved the eggs with precision. She’d never done this before, cooking with an unrefined heat source, but what kind of rekt would she be if she couldn’t improvise? She added the raw tongue. It was terrifying. Everything relied on Mireille’s herculean task of moderating the heat to cook all the separate ingredients at different rates without burning anything. But if anyone could do it, it was Mireille. The scallions grew vibrantly green and the egg took on a rich golden color as it encased the small roe and slivers of tongue. A savory smell filled the air. The ingredients sizzled, and Anzu’s muscles clenched, as she meticulously folded the omelet and flipped it in the pan. Both Anzu and Mireille breathed a sigh of relief as it didn’t stick, and, together, they pressed the omelet shut. At that moment, the final gong sounded. “Contestants,” the announcer said. “Present your dishes!” While Anzu and Mireille portioned out their dish in a mad rush, the Crimson team vamped for the crowd, leaving the plating to their elementals. Anzu congratulated herself on her professionalism as she and Mireille dutifully laid their plates before the judges— though she did throw a glare at Teifou as she passed. The announcer threw a slavering gaze across the assembled dishes. “Well they both look good to me, folks! Let’s see what the judges think.” The first judge, a well-dressed dandy wearing paisley topcoat, cut a single bite from the seared tongue. He chewed it carefully and followed it with a sip of dry white wine. “The bitter parsley tempers the tang of the meat. You’ve worked with chimera tongue before?” Rechant squared his shoulders. “Yes, your excellency.” The dandy tasted the omelet with the same care. His plucked eyebrows nestled down over his grey eyes. “But bitterness has a way of overriding the meat’s mild sweetness whereas the briny salamander roe, while an unorthodox choice, and perhaps a bit too hastily prepared”—Anzu coughed with mild embarrassment—“balances it rather perfectly.”


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He paused to dab his mouth with his napkin. “For their ingenuity of flavor…” As if there were no ceremony to it, he placed the silver coin that represented his choice down on the table. “The Azure team.” The crowd swelled with a rumble of conflicting voices. Anzu’s heart seized in her chest. She glanced over at Mireille, whose eyes were wide as wagon wheels. The second judge, a rotund man in a stretched military coat whose colors were as faded as its former glory, devoured half of the seared tongue before he bothered to sample the omelet. He only took a single bite before returning to Rechant and Teifou’s dish, lifting the plate to his face and scraping the remainder into his mouth like a starving urchin. With a belch, he worked his fingers along his greasy whiskers and said, surprising no one, “The Crimson team, I suppose.” The final judge was an elven woman, rather on in years, wearing a simple lace dress, her grey hair in a plain bun. Even after she’d tasted the dishes, she made no move to speak. Anticipation filtered through amphitheater like an impatient ghost. The announcer prompted her gently. “You seem unsure, Lady Jaya.” Regarding the plates before her, she furrowed her brow. “The seared tongue certainly represents a technical marvel. It takes great skill to manage elementals with such panache.” Anzu clenched her fist at her side. “Slagging mages…” The judge inclined an eyebrow towards Anzu. “Well-prepared as it was, however, it could’ve easily been done through mundane means, which is hardly in the spirit of the competition.” Rechant stood stiffly upright, and Teifou suppressed a scowl. The judge’s eyes roved over Anzu and Mireille. “You had trouble with your implements; using natural aether was an impressive bit of improvisation. Who thought of that?” Anzu cleared her throat. “I did, your excellency. But she’s the priestess, it would’ve never worked without—” “Indeed.” She leveled her gaze on Mireille. “You’re of-age, aren’t you? If you’re a priestess, you’ll soon take your rites.” Folding her hands in front of her, Mireille nodded bashfully. “This fall, your excellency.” “See if you can’t delay them a year or two.” The otherwise reserved judge spared Mireille a sly wink. “There’s no shortage of cooks who possess skill in the kitchen, but the same can’t be said of those who know its heart.” With graceful fingers, she deposited her coin by Anzu and Mireille’s dish.


THE 99th ANNUAL GRAND BOUT • 9

“What!?” screeched Teifou. Beside him, Rechant was still and silent as a statue, his sole response an almost imperceptible lift of a single plucked eyebrow. Even the announcer was gobsmacked. But, after a beat of hesitation, he shouted, “Then the winners of the 99th Annual Grand Bout are…Mireille Fontrese and Anzu Tet!” The crowd hurled dazzling handfuls of confetti towards the podium and beat their feet against the ground. Rechant sauntered casually towards the two of them. Anzu, however, had eyes only for Teifou. She made her way across the podium towards him, put a hand on her hip, and fixed him with a self-satisfied sneer. But her bravado faded quickly, in light of the heart stung look plastered across his meaty face, and so, she socked him firmly on the arm to draw his attention to her. “Chin up!” She said, steeling her confidence beneath the loom of his enormous body. “He’s not the only drop-dead gorgeous mage in the academy. He’s not even the only one in your class.” Embarrassment forced a fabricated glower out of Teifou. “You better watch your tongue, Tet.” With an instructive tilt of her head, Anzu indicated Mireille, who was trading bon mots with Rechant, her cheeks rosy as twin apples, and her long, fetching hair peppered with colorful confetti. “What, you’re the only dunce who ever suffered an unrequited love?” Teifou’s face softened, just a touch. Anzu thrust a hand forward, and he accepted it admirably. “You’re a gracious winner,” he said. “We rekts win so rarely, I’m too happy to be anything but.” She grinned, embracing his large hand with both of hers. “Thanks for that dirty trick, by the by. It’ll make the retellings of our victory all the sweeter.” Teifou blushed, averting his eyes as he chuckled. All things considered, he didn’t have a half-bad laugh. “What’s this?” The booming announcer interrupted them. A panting, outof-breath envoy stood beside him on the presenter’s dais. “I’ve just been informed of a change to the prize for this year’s Grand Bout. The winners will have the opportunity to cook for Queen Yelena herself!” The resurgent hoots and hollers of the crowd drowned out even the bellow of the announcer’s voice. Anzu flung her arms into the air and screamed in triumph. Preening like a marsh crawler beneath the crowd’s adulation, she was absolutely ignorant of the crash behind her as Mireille, overcome, fainted on the spot.


TO TRAP A MEAL J W Bendall “Wyverns eat men, Finnigan, not the other way around.” “Shana says the treaty is almost signed. To offend the Fey now would be incredibly foolish.” Commander Weitering and her scolding lieutenant sat at the head of a long banquet table, an ancient oak tree split down the centre and polished smooth. The other half ran parallel across the hall, seating a collection of monsters, spirits, and humanoids known collectively as the Fey. The two companies were arranged in an echo of the countless pitched battles between them, and the tension in the room was equivalent, which wasn’t helping Weitering’s appetite. “Why can’t I just eat a salad like that hairy fellow with the horns?” “I think he’s actually chewing on his Dryad neighbour, which is not the image we want to portray to our new allies,” said Finnigan. Weitering took the opportunity to study her enemy of thirteen years unimpeded by visor or battle haze. Beside the regular Dryad was a more exotic species with fruits growing from its limbs. Or perhaps that was just an orange tree? It was hard to tell what was Fey and what was food. The creatures were an eclectic feast for the eyes compared to the strictly regimented platoon of Korval elites, fifty clones in leather under-armour and formal grey capes. One Fey was a hunched stone gargoyle, constantly crunching off his finger and chewing it as he watched it grow back. One was a flock of miniature red finches, moving as a swarm to resemble a human. One seemed to be no more than a localised blue fire. Probably best they were hashing out terms, Weitering figured, before she came up against whatever the hell that was. “And eating the Wyvern is different how?” said Weitering. “Perhaps it sacrificed itself on behalf of its brethren for the greater cause,” said Finnigan. “Yeah? And you’d be willing to do the same thing, as a gesture from our side?” “Well, then maybe they spelled it to sleep. Isn’t that the whole reason we’re here?” said Finnigan. “So Shana and her mage cadre can get their hands on that spell book, taming nature and bring our gloriously civil empire to the wilds?” Weitering scowled at the Wyvern carcass centrepiece displayed proudly between the tables. It was the size of a siege engine, a rank of twenty soldiers


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across. There wasn’t a single scratch on the midnight blue carapace, and she’d seen such demons annihilate a squad in a brutal, bloody minute. The meat had been pre-cut and stacked artistically in mounds around its belly, so she could see no fatal wound there. She scowled again. “Look at these,” said Finnigan. “Dragonfly wings. Who would’ve thought?” He crunched one with satisfaction. “Expand your mind a little, Commander.” “Those are fairy wings,” said Weitering. “Got a good look at them while the little pricks were tearing out my left eye.” Finnigan stuttered, but under the challenging gaze of his superior, dutifully set a good example. A wolf man walked up, thumped a steak down in front of the Commander with a growl, and loped off. Weitering growled back, studying the meat from all angles like a tactical map. It was a dark yellow, but there was no telling if that was how it was meant to be. She took a long swig of beer, immediately letting it dribble out the corners of her mouth. “This tastes like honey.” “Some special craft, I’m told. They’re very proud of it.” Across from her, the Fey Queen was served in an identical way. She could pass for human, if not for the talons and the pure black orbs of her eyes. Her lips peeled back, revealing tightly packed banks of needle fangs, and she proceeded to shred the steak with sawing motions of her jaw. They would take a good deal of assimilating. Maybe, Weitering mused, she could retire peacefully to some sort of integration aid job in a back office in the capital. No more leading by ridiculous example. She yanked a long bladed knife out of her boot. “If somewhere down the line we’re accused of desecrating enemy corpses, I was only following orders.” Finnigan nodded as Weitering cut a sliver of meat, spiked it, and plucked it from the blade with her teeth, mirroring the Fey Queen’s horrific grin. “Huh,” she said. “Tastes just like—” The thick double doors at the end of the hall swung open theatrically. Shana was standing alongside the Fey Enchantress, a rotund Owl with a long, sinewy neck which danced constantly. “It is done,” they said in unison. The overhanging tension cut loose like a bloated stormcloud to the careful applause of the Korval and the screeches, brays and screams of the Fey. The feast disregarded its ceremonial origins and became a proper party. Fey cuisine favoured plants and bugs, which were evidently as stupid in the Ether world as they were considered by human society. Weitering found to her liking sweet vanilla cakes spotted with ladybugs, and she ate four more


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steaks. Finnigan ate white rice until he discovered the grains were actually tiny moving grubs. He then requested only water, until Weitering joked that it could easily be a Fey elemental, after which he just sat quietly. Several dishes were kept away from the increasingly adventurous humans. One Weitering was pretty sure was just a bowl of a dirt, but judging by the boggling eyes of the Fey table, was actually a rare and delicious kind of dirt. Shana sat at a small table at the head of the Wyvern centrepiece with the Owl. She didn't eat, and looked more stressed than Weitering had seen her during the actual negotiations. Her eyes kept flicking to the thick tomb resting unassumingly on the table between them. Weitering thought peace was a pretty decent goal, but higher powers wanted a prize thrown in for all the loss of life. Like that debt could be paid off. When everyone was good and drunk, the two sorcerers stood. “This book of Arcana is shared with our new friends not simply to balance our powers in good faith, but that they might come to understand and accept our different ways.” The Owl passed the book to Shana solemnly. Shana stroked the cover, flicked her thumb through the pages, checked it with mage sight. “Secure,” she said. The Korval on the side of the table towards the centre ducked under it as fifty pairs of arms on the other side heaved in unison. The table flipped onto its side, forming a makeshift barrier, although the Fey made no move more aggressive than picking at morsels. Shields emerged from under capes, and ceremonial swords were drawn and shown to be anything but. Within thirty seconds of the signal, the professionals were up against the wall in Turtle formation, spilled red wine seeping under their boots in an ominous imitation of past battlefields. “What is this order?” said Weitering. “I wasn’t aware of this.” “The sword remains hidden in its dark scabbard until the blade is required,” said Shana. “Commander, these are my personal guard, disguised as your men and told to follow orders as such. I charge you now: Slaughter the Fey. So says the Emperor.” “But you’ve got what you wanted,” said Weitering. Shana turned to her, looking honestly distraught. “They’re animals, Jane. That much was clear the longer we talked. They never could’ve lived alongside us.” “No,” said the Owl. “Animals act without honour, as you have done. And animals cannot plan ahead for such a betrayal, as we have done.” The Wyvern opened its eyes.


(NO) MAGIC Mitch Collins You’ve been open for about two years; hot start, cooled off for a while, even closed down this last month. Now you’ve reopened and the ratings are flooding in: better than ever. So how are you feeling about Spark? We’re the number fucking one restaurant in Los Angeles. All right, some Asian-Latino gastro-magic-fusion 10-seater hyphenated mess is technically number one, but you ask anyone who just finished a bite at Spark, and they’ll tell you we’re “number fucking 1.” Direct quote. Reviews by the people, for the people, they’re what count. We’re real Americano up in here. What is it exactly that sets you apart? Actually, let me rephrase. What’s the difference between number one and number fucking one? You know what the secret to good food is? It’s no magic. Whole story. Yeah, magic food is clean, hands-free, fast, “tastes the same,” source unknown—I know, it’s from the Ether. Do you know what the Ether is? Didn’t think so—but source unknown means you can call it locally sourced and no one gets to correct you. Organic, hmm. Is horseshit organic? Then magic food’s organic. Ouch. But back to the point, magic food—no good. That was the point, right? Anyway, say you’re from Podunk, Midwest, you sit down, you order, and FlashBangBoom your food is ready instant, your two little chubsters loved the dazzle, your sig-o loves that they loved it, and you’re just happy there’s a pile of glittery edibles in front of you instead of a plate of Fried Salt. Fives Dad, mission accomplished, you’re the market for magic food, I get it. But the Times, for real? “From presentation to plate, I have been thoroughly overcome with every emotion through each sensation…all in a single, solitary bite. Magic does not merely provide the food at Elían: the food is magic unto itself.” You do know I wrote that. Right? Yep. Love your writing, hate the content. I mean honestly what a capital-F Fucking load. The Times, you guys, of all papers, should know better. Hell, you got me into cooking in the first place—and notice I said cooking, and not


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culinary arts. That’s what happens when magicians get their hands into something—they start euphemizing and renaming and retitling to sound off like they’re doing more work than they are. C’mon, you know it. They could blink and make a five-course dinner appear, every bite perfect size and temperature floating right into your mouth or up your ass, whatever you want. I see that smirk; you get what I’m talking about. All that without a peep or a flick, but they gotta do it with style, they gotta do it with Presto! Alakagoddamn cliche! Fizzles and dragons and shit raining from the ceiling, just exciting enough for you to overlook that your food doesn’t taste like anything. You know it tastes good, right, but if you’ve got half a brain cell concentrated on what’s in your mouth, you’ll figure out there’s nothing distinguishable in it. Can’t taste ingredients, separate flavors, nothing—just a big gob of “good.” What’s the question again? Number one versus number fucking one? Right, right. Well, I guess I’m a bit pissed we’re not actually number one. Maybe it’s because we could be if I would suck it up and start dropping magic, make appearances at the critic tables, run the TV gauntlet—competition, “cooking” show, travel miniseries (mine would be called There is Different Food in Different Places!), and Prestigious Host of competition, in that order— if we serve about 5% of the portions we do now, one bite per plate max, topped with a bit of Chef Nick’s Sparkle™ and a BAM as I disappear back to the kitchen. I do that and the gold’s mine in a year. So you do practice magic? Or, you can at least. Nailed it. Yeah, technically I am a magician-chef: a “Magichef” if you’re an asshole. Certified and everything. I got the Touch. I’m a lucky sonofabitch and I know it. Don’t appreciate it, but I know it. I use it for laundry and for when I sit down to eat but left my beer in the fridge, mostly. Snap! Beer. [He does this. Literally.] Luxury. Teleportation and conjuration specialty, yours truly, but I’m pretty solid otherwise, too. Like I said, it doesn’t take much, magic. But it never touches my food or my other work, not even close. Makes you appreciate having hands. Makes you appreciate the folks who only have hands, especially. Most people don’t think about it, but most people like to forget that most of the world is magic free. In fact, you want to know where you can find the best food in this whole mess of a city? Follow the magic free foot traffic. Street carts, food trucks, hot dogs wrapped in bacon and dollar tacos stuffed with the really good stuff: green chile, al pastor, tripas, cabeza, buche. I mean, of course, offal. Magician chefs sell it like it’s some exotic excretion that they’ve made taste inoffensive with


(NO) MAGIC • 15

skill. Bull. Throw some sweetbreads in a frying pan for two minutes, S and P; now that’s magic. For real though, you ask most chefs in this town where they eat, when they’re not trying to schmooze the Magic-Food Channel at least, and they’ll point to the street. Or Chinatown. But you don’t want me getting started on Chinatown. Trust me, you don’t want ME getting started on Chinatown. The food you find there…well, excuse me while I mop up the drool. [Laughs] Excused. Is the trick then no magic in food? None at all, not ever? There must be some circumstances where it’s useful, provides something extra that you can’t find elsewhere. Besides “fizzles and dragons and shit,” I mean. I think my point is, magic isn’t the Midas Touch we all call it. Even if it was, who the hell is going to stuff their face with gold food? Put your hand down, New York. It’s a tool, like new tech, that’s abused by the lazy (the majority, and me) and perfected by a few. I’ll admit this: I’ve met two chefs who cook with magic, and I mean they cook and also just happen to use magic, who blew my fucking mind. Neither of them sparkled while they did it, neither of them pulled an entire plate out of the Ether, neither of them cooks with anything but their own two hands, and just one of their restaurants is starrated. Know what their secret is? Conjuring only single ingredients, but with the focus and refinement that when, say, asparagus appears it is almost unrecognizable, flawless, the essence and pinnacle of all asparagus, to be used sparingly lest the layman be overcome with pure asparagus punch. They got me waxing poetic about asparagus. I’m telling you they’re that fucking good. The thing is, their secret’s no secret. The magicstrates (magician titles, seriously) taught us how to do that in the first goddamn grade. It’s basics, but see no one wants to do that because that’s easy shit and there’s no Flash no Bang no Boom, just boring old skill, and “nobody appreciates quality anymore,” so why bother? Okay, so they’re good—really good, even. Why haven’t we heard of these guys, then? The argument against a lot of these, what you might call “niche,” chefs, is that the quality doesn’t translate to normal people. It’s only we who spend all of our time in and around food who could appreciate, and frankly afford, highend non-magic food. Hence MagicDonalds. Are these chefs different? What if I tell you I invited that family from Podunk, Midwest to dinner at one of those two exceptions—Jax, over in Boyle Heights—on me, while I shared


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a few beers with the barman and kept an eye on them? Just call me curious. Don’t call me generous. And no, the kids didn’t cheer when the food came out, carried by hand, (asparagus with prosciutto, a classic, but no kid’s cheering for asparagus), which made Ma nervous because would they behave themselves without a little show, which made Pa nervous because Ma was getting fidgety, but then they took their first bites. I watched the kiddos’ eyes grow and the smiles followed quick and quiet as they ripped into the rest of the plate, and Ma looked at Pa all confused with a smirk, before taking her first bite and right about melting, and Pa followed with a nibble and sat back and nodded and chuckled to himself before diving in with his family. There weren’t fizzles or dragons at their table, no, but there was an ease; laughter and talk (even from the kiddos) and a lot of clinking between the glasses and the forks on the plates, and scattered in there the relaxed silence that comes with the enjoyment of really good food. It was…nice. When they were done they all got up and said thank you to the waiter and thank you very much to the chef, who came out to see them off. The kids gave him fives. Ma gave us a smile and herded them out to find the car. Pa stopped over to shake my hand, and all he said was, “You know, that was really something. Thank you.” It brought a tear to my eye, for real. Like I said, it doesn’t take much. And yeah, it’s only one family, but if there’s one who can appreciate food like this, an experience like this, then there are others who will, too. I’d agree with that. That’s Jax, right? J-A-X? May or may not be my next stop. So ultimately, it’s not “no magic” then, is it? It’s using it in the right way, mixing techniques with magic free cooking. You might call it…fusion. [Laughs] Oh GODS NO. Maybe if you want to kill that style forever. Shit. Please don’t start that. Please. You’re right though, I suppose some magic is good magic. I concede. The whole “effortless” part is gone, but food probably shouldn’t be effortless in the first place. This also means Spark’s going to keep making changes as I go back to work on my craft, because now in addition to number one and number fucking one there’s also “really something,” and I have to say I’m jealous on that one. It’s all right, I needed a kick in the ass. Most magicians do. Shit, most people do. Hopefully this is a good one for more than just me. I thought my butt was starting to hurt. Closing thoughts? I feel like I gotta say something like…like, “It doesn’t take much—magic—to be really something.” Ugh, no, never mind. Just go stop being shitty.


F LY I N G FA S T E R Sierra Goldberg In future centuries, the saying would go, “Don’t drive faster than your guardian angel can fly.” By the time cars were invented, I would be a lot trimmer and the line would seem irrelevant. But on that sunny afternoon Cassida decided to win the summer races, I wish someone would have mentioned it to her. Have you ever seen England in high summer? Probably not. It’s hard to get to England in high summer. Your timing has to be more impeccable than a soufflé’s—the month might be right, but when you get there it’ll be raining out one side of the sky, hailing out the other, and sunny down the middle. I’ve asked about the weather—just out of curiosity, mind—but He’s not one for answers. As I adjusted to the contentment of a few of perfect summer days, I realised that they cut perfectly into the rest of the summer, like the spooncracked caramelised top does into the thick custard of a crème brûlée. A little extra spark and spice to add to the already rich, full months mid-year. This story is about one golden, hazy day in late June. The sun had risen golden and round, like a beautiful new loaf of bread, and sent little curls of steam hissing up from the dewy ground. Bits of flies and fluff and bees filled the air with a pleasant hum and clouds rolled around a sky so blue you wanted to take bit of it to the painters and say, “This is how it’s done, boys.” I would one day meet a man who did understand colour. Just a shame I couldn’t quite look after him the way I should have, but I should have known after that ear incident that something was more wrong than I had previously realised. Getting ahead of myself again. Doesn’t do in the kitchen and doesn’t do in stories. But about this blue sky, new loaf day: the rapeseed flowers had died away a few weeks ago, turning vibrant yellow fields to rich green swaths of flowing, whispering grasses. Some tall and waving in the sweet warm wind, some cropped short by the horses and rattling against the quick breezes. Honey was flowing faster than the mead—which was quite something to say even in those days. It was like someone had prepared a marvellous feast and the courses were coming out piping hot and gorgeous at just the right times. Perfection. In the big open field behind the house, Cas had spent hours setting up jumps and trenches for her chestnut horse. It was a scrappy thing, saved from its last awful days in some mill by only threads and brought back to life under


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Cas’ careful hand. I had watched tirelessly, enjoying the tidbits of honeycomb nicked from the horse’s treat box. “It’s not going to do anything, Cas,” Father had said last summer when Cas brought the ragged thing home one Thursday night. I lounged in the corner kitchen chair last summer, enjoying some of Cas’ father’s very fine home-brew and hoping Cas didn’t have early morning plans. Mother was planning a huge pudding after lunch and I wanted to make sure I was well rested before partaking. But one look at his daughter’s indomitable face, and he had softened like butter in the sun. “But it won’t keep you away from anything that needs doing.” She had nodded, too glad for words, and spent the night in the stables tending to it under my watchful, if dozing, eye. But the horse did amount to something in a sort of freak-show way. Cas managed to collect a bit of money at jousting tournaments showing off the jumps and sprints it could do. This suited me just fine. She was always in sight and never was in danger of falling, so I got to spend the weekends in and amongst the venders. Canterbury boasted a particularly splendid array of French cheese mongers that I’ve still got a liking for. Beautiful food, the French. Beautiful wine too. Today, however, we had left the jousting for a brisk steeplechase beginning in Gloucester. There were a few horses entered. The goal: to ride to Oxford and collect a flag before a swift return before the high summer feast. Spirits were high. Gloucester was vibrant with flags, pendants, music, people, and full, hearty English food. We had both gotten to town early and, after a bit of careful observation, I had left Cas to flit amongst her friends and tend to the nervous horse while I explored the stalls that had been erected in the square. It didn’t take me long to forget all about the race in all the preceding reverie. The baker from up the road had brought in this absolutely stunning horse-shaped cake and I had been drooling over it for hours. Fortunately, his meat pies were superb and helping me deal with the wait. I think he’d put fennel in the sausage and they were so succulent—juice everywhere and the pastry as flaky and crisp as you could dream of. No one in any century has made pies like that man made that Saturday, it pains me horrifically to say. Between my eighth and ninth pie, I paused long enough to realise that the race had started. Cas and the chestnut wisp of a horse were disappearing around the bend into the forest at the end of the field. Well, this is why He gave you wings, I said to myself, stuffing more pies into my pockets before bumbling off after the racers. I was catching up and going at a pretty good clip until we reached the first bit of dense undergrowth about ten miles in. It took all the wind out of sails, so by the twenty-mile mark, I was melting faster than an ice cream cake in the sun.


FLYING FASTER • 19

“Why didn’t you just get on the horse?” you might ask. Well, I didn’t want to slow her down, did I? Cas was going to win this thing if I had anything to do with it. I flapped along, falling further and further behind. If I just stopped here for a breather, I could pick them up on their way back… Let’s just say it’s not how well you ran, it’s that you finished the race. I did make it all the way, Cas doing beautifully out front, and myself enjoying a comfy seat on the second horse’s hind end. The poor guy, for the life of him, could not figure out why everything had suddenly slowed down after Oxford. Everything was going beautifully—Cas was riding better than I had ever seen her in all the long afternoons I had known her. I was licking my fingers after my last pie, already savouring the victory and the celebrations to follow, when up ahead something went wrong. Cas’ horse faltered a little, maybe catching a rabbit hollow in the ground, but I was too far away to be sure. The first few paces were awkward, but then the horse really seemed to be struggling. I dropped the pies without another thought and flew as fast as I could. Maybe I could carry a bit of the weight? Maybe I could— But Cas had already won by the time I caught up. The horse collapsed just after the finish line. Chest heaving, foam covering its mouth and neck, it was clear that it hadn’t tripped. In my haste, I had failed to notice that it was giving everything in its body for Cas. The poor thing wouldn’t get up again. Cas was in a heap on top of the horse, tears running down her cheeks. I’d never seen her get that sad about anything before and I realised I’d been focusing on all the wrong things. That the horse had done more for Cas than I ever had. She was a solid kid, but the thing she loved most was this halfdead quadruped that was bound to expire any day. If only I hadn’t been such a lazy good-for-nothing. Father helped Cas to her feet, tucking her braided hair back into her riding jacket, to collect her trophy and prize money. “Well you’re going to have to do a bit better, aren’t you,” that voice that rumbled like thunder, smooth as a fast-running river, shook me to my very fat core. I slumped where I sat, letting the pie fall onto the ground for the ants. They covered the pie almost instantly, happy in a way only a creature that small and simple can be. It’s a bit of a shame that people weren’t as easy to please as ants. I’d do a much better job if that were the case.


SALTY TEA AND THE SEA Alex McCarron Dad’s girlfriend sprinkled salt on everything she ate, including ice cream and potato chips. She used to make Rona mugs of tea loaded with both sugar and salt, the sludge collecting like a syrup at the bottom. She—her name was Becky—said that the salt made the sugar sweeter. She was Dad’s age, maybe even older; her sense of taste probably wasn’t one hundred percent anymore. Rona dumped the tea into the sink, but never when Becky could see it. After Becky left, Rona kept making her tea the exact same way, spooning in the sugar and salt, sipping it, gagging, and tossing it down the drain. According to Dad, Becky left all her old habits behind for them to shrug into, like they were old coats or cast-off sweaters. It was exactly the kind of thing Dad—who spent every evening banging on Rona’s old laptop, sending out story after story to magazines that never replied back—would say. Rona didn’t believe him. It wasn’t a habit. She just wanted to remember. ••• She came home from class on Friday and Greg was sitting in the kitchen with a jar of peanut butter to his left and a jar of cookie butter to his right. He had a spoon in each. “Dad told me Becky’s gone.” “Yep.” “What, did she just swim away?” “Pretty much.” Rona dropped her backpack by the coat rack and they sat for a minute, listening to Dad typing in the living room. His latest project was a memoir, or a short story memoir, or a memoir that was actually supposed to be a short story. Rona couldn’t remember which; she just remembered that she’d made him swear to change all their names. All the addresses, too. “She was nice,” Greg muttered (he’d only met Becky twice in his life). “Want some?” He pushed the jar of peanut butter towards her. Someone had left the windows open, and the salt air made the back of Rona’s throat prickle. “You could have come back before,” she said. Greg and Rona were ten years apart. When she was six he’d taken her to the boardwalk and bought her a huge tub of dune fries. He let her eat until she puked, and then they spread their towel on the sand and lay down side until she could get up and go home. When she was ten he’d moved out, just a week before Becky moved in.


SALTY TEA AND THE SEA • 21

He’d never heard that story. Rona got up and began to search for the tea kettle. Dad never put it back in the same place. She eventually found it on top of the fridge, which meant she had to ask Greg to get it down for her. When it was finally filled and on the stove she sat down again. “She came for me first,” she said. “I bet Dad didn’t tell you that.” Greg shrugged. “He didn’t tell me anything about her.” How typical. She didn’t know why she’d even expected him to—Dad loved being mysterious about just about everything, including grocery shopping, and he and Greg never got along at the best of times. Not that Rona was feeling especially warm and fuzzy towards him now, either. “So you want me to tell you,” she said. Greg ran his finger around the rim of the cookie butter jar. “Sure,” he said. “If you want.” ••• She came out of the water and at first Rona had thought she was a swimmer, but she wasn’t. She wasn’t wearing a bathing suit, or anything except an old coat, dripping and flapping around her legs like wet laundry. Rona should have been scared—and maybe she was—but she didn’t run. They sat side by side on the sand while the woman scrunched her hair to get the seawater out. After a minute she turned to Rona and said. “I’m Becky.” “I’m Rona.” “Good to meet you.” “You too.” Just like that. Later Rona would wonder why her name wasn’t Marianna or Ondine, and why she hadn’t risen up out of a cloud of sea foam. Why she wasn’t like one of Dad’s stories. Then she’d be glad that Becky wasn’t like one of Dad’s stories. And even later she’d realize that Becky was just like one of his stories, in the end. But right then she asked her, “Why did you come?” Becky smiled. “You called me.” Then she asked if Rona knew of any good places to stay. She ended up living in the shed at the bottom of their yard, and Dad moved his writing to the living room. She packed Rona’s lunches and filled her school thermos with tea. She got a job at the crab shack. She assimilated. When Rona was thirteen and she got her period, Becky sent Dad out of the house and they lay side by side on the king bed, watching soap operas and eating ice cream (salted caramel). When they fought—and they fought a lot, especially after Rona began getting periods—Becky’s eyes would darken


22 • KITH ISSUE 03

to murky green and she’d say, “You called me out of the water, but I can go back whenever I want.” After a while Rona learned to yell back, “So go ahead! Leave!” Becky never did. She called herself Dad’s girlfriend but she wasn’t really. They never slept together, never went on dates. She was Rona’s mother so she had to be Dad’s girlfriend. She picked out his outfits and nagged him into applying for a better job. She also nagged Rona until she applied to college, nagged her to pick the best classes, nagged her to study for her finals. And whenever it got to be too much, she went to the kitchen and made herself tea. Her coat was always hung up on the coat rack, dried out and smelling like rubber and salt. After a while, Rona stopped looking at it. After a while she thought Becky had too. ••• “How did you call her?” “What?” The tea kettle was whistling. Greg got up before Rona could and switched off the heat. “You said she said that you called her out of the water. How did you do that?” She didn’t want to tell him. “I don’t know. I was lonely.” “After I left?” “When else?” she snapped. Greg had moved into an apartment two towns away and got a job fixing vending machines. He’d called her maybe once a month. He and Dad almost never talked. Greg had always been closer to their mother. Rona didn’t remember her, hardly had any photos of her. She did have a smeared recipe card for baked ziti, which Becky had only made once. Dad hadn’t liked it. She’d been reading a lot of books that summer. Fairy tales and folktales, mostly, and all of them about beautiful, otherworldly women coming out of a cave or a lake or the ocean to marry a mortal man. She’d tried to imagine her own mother as someone like that, but couldn’t. “I was lonely,” Rona repeated. “And I guess I just wanted her badly enough.” ••• Becky got sick for the first time during Christmas break. She spent New Year on the couch while Rona and Dad tried to make punch and ended up ordering extra-large sodas and lobster rolls from the crab shack. He went to bed before midnight while Rona and Becky stayed up, waiting for the ball to drop.


SALTY TEA AND THE SEA • 23

Becky was old but she’d never looked it before. Her skin dried and cracked and her eyes dulled. She went days without washing her hair and spent most of her time by the open window, listening to the sea. Rona tried to taker her outside. She tried to drive her to the library, the hair salon. She bought a bucket of shells at the gift shop and decorated the shed with them. She hung an old fishing net she’d found in an antique shop over Becky’s bed and they lay there side by side, the window cracked open so they could hear the waves. Rona bought a bucket of dune fries and told her about the time she’d puked on the beach. Becky smiled. “You should call him,” she said, meaning Greg. They’d only met twice but she liked him, and he’d seemed to like her, as much he liked anybody. “He never comes over.” “We’ll have him over once you feel better,” Rona told her. “You don’t want to wait that long,” Becky said. It was Dad who’d seen it, long before Rona did. He’d cornered her in the kitchen just as she was trying to leave for class. “She needs to go back,” he said. “You need to let her go back.” “She’d tell me,” Rona said. “If she had to go back she’d tell me.” She felt sick suddenly, dizzy as if they whole room had tilted off its axis. Dad shook his head. “She loves you.” He poured himself a mug of tea and repeated, “You need to let her go.” ••• Rona had green jasmine tea, two spoonfuls of sugar, one spoonful of salt. Greg had instant coffee. They walked through the yard, past the shed and out onto the beach. Clouds covered the moon. The ocean was black and the sand was blue. Rona squelched into a tangle of seaweed, somehow slimy and gritty at the same time. It smelled like Becky’s coat. “You should wear shoes,” Greg said. He was barefoot too. “She came out right there,” Rona pointed, wondering how she could remember the exact spot, when it was sand and waves and more sand. “And that’s where we sat down and started talking.” She sipped her tea. It tasted like sea water and sugar syrup. She took another sip and spat it out into the waves. “Did Dad ask you to come?” Greg nodded. Sand rushed out from under her feet. When she was younger, that had felt like the whole world was sliding away, leaving her alone. “Thanks.”


24 • KITH ISSUE 03

Greg shrugged. Then he asked, “Do you think she’ll come back?” Rona’s stomach twisted. “Maybe.” It was too loud; the waves drowned her voice. “I hope so.” ••• She’d stood in the waves, the old coat wrapped around her, and told Rona that she didn’t have to go. “You do,” Rona told her. “You know you do. I’ll be fine.” Becky was crying. Or maybe she hadn’t been, maybe only Rona had been crying. They’d walked out together, hands linked, until the waves rose up under them and Rona’s feet left the ground. The sea was all around them and suddenly it seemed like miles from shore. Becky squeezed her hand. Rona let go. She saw liquid, animal eyes and felt something brush against her, heavy and smooth. She ducked underwater, but it was too murky, too cold, and the salt stung her eyes. She tread water for more what must have been an hour. Then she turned around and swam home. ••• When they got back Dad was in the kitchen drinking the leftover tea. He smiled at them both and said, “I finally got one.” Greg glanced at Rona. “Got what?” “An acceptance letter. For one of my stories. The memoir one. I mean, it’s more autobiographical than a straight memoir…” “Is Becky in it?” He cleared his throat uneasily. “She is. I changed all the names, like you asked.” For the first time in years, Rona felt like hugging him. “That’s great, Dad.” “You can read it before it comes out, if you want.” He took a sip of his tea, grimaced, and reached for the salt jar. “Do you think she’d like that? Being in a story?” Rona poured her mug into the sink. “I know she would.”


Kith Issue 03: Second Breakfast  

We believe that food has its own brand of magic. Kith Issue 03: Second Breakfast is both a second start for our magazine and an homage to...

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