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Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet No. 22
by Gavin J. Grant, Kelly Link

Category: Fantasy/Mainstream Hugo Award Nominee, Locus Poll Award Nominee
Description: Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet is a twice-yearly zine of eclectic fiction, poetry, comics, etc. No. 22 features amazing stories from Carol Emshwiller, Maureen F. McHugh, David J. Schwartz, Charlie Anders, and others. Aunt Gwenda weighs in with some writing tips, and Abby Denson's comic reveals the secrets of snake-slaying. Will the blind camera find aquatic love? Will the children of Winter undo their mother's great work? Where has Satan been tending bar these days? All this and more within.
eBook Publisher: Small Beer Press, 2008 US
eBookwise Release Date: May 2008


4 Reader Ratings:
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Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [217 KB]
Words: 37657
Reading time: 107-150 min.

"Tiny but celebrated."--The Washington Post

"Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet never fails to hook me."--New Pages

"LCRW is one of my favorite literary magazines."--Jessa Crispin, Bookslut

"If this is the 21st century zine, the form can be taken off the endangered list."--Rick Klaw, Austin Chronicle

Love Might Be Too Strong a Word

Charlie Anders

Here's how I remember it:

A touch shocked me. I was reaching for a flash-seared bog-oyster, and then a fingertip, softer than I'd ever felt, brushed my knuckle. The softness startled me so much, it took me a moment to realize the hand had seven fingers, three more than mine.

Be held a striped cloth in ber other hand. I came up with the correct pronoun by instinct, even before my mind took in the fact that a pilot was touching my hand. Holy shit, a pilot!

I turned. Be smiled at me, mouth impossibly small, eyes panoramic and limpid. So beautiful I wanted to choke. "You dropped this," be said. My bandana looked so foreign in ber fingers, I almost didn't recognize it.

And then be tied it around my neck, so gently I couldn't help shivering. Those fingers!

And then, it opened. Just a tiny dilation, but I almost had to lean against the cafeteria table. Everyone in the universe was watching. I knew, without reaching around, that there was a teeny wet spot on the small of my back.

Until that moment, I'd barely ever thought about my harnt, the little hole just above my tailbone. It was just there. It had never opened on its own, much less gotten wet. And nobody had ever touched it, of course. And now, somehow it knew.

My harnt closed again, but it didn't make as tight a seal as before. Or at least it felt restless. It was going to bother me. Right now, it was all I could think about.

The pilot had finished tying my bandana, but kept looking at me. "You're so lovely," be said to me. "What's your name?"

"Mab." I managed to avoid stammering. "Short for Mabirelle."

Be smiled. "I'm Dot." And then be bowed and left me to face the stares of my fellow dailys.

* * * *

Here's how they tell it:

Ah love, mystery confounding! Oh lovers, your sighs the dark matter that limns our course. Who can understand the ways of love: ever cruel, ever bountiful? Not the boides, not the breeders, not even the spirers with their countless eyes and base-27 calculations!

Dot lo Manaret, honored third-level pilot of the City, known for ber gallantry and aplomb, was never word-lost. Until the day be wandered down to the daily canteen and ber eyes fell on the surpassing loveliness of Mabirelle, most radiant of all the dailys. In that instant, Dot's heart fell into Mabirelle's pocket, and Dot's eyes, which had encompassed interstellar space, now had one vista only. Lost was Dot, lost forever, to the love of Mabirelle!

A chasm wider than the Inner Axis separated these two lovers, one from the highest dar, the other from the lowest. Pity poor Dot and Mabirelle, their love against all society's norms, their furtive meetings stolen from the moments between their far-separate undertakings. Theirs must be a fleeting happiness, but how bright the afterimage!

Love, why do you torment us so? Why must we pine, so far from our Cluster and from our new homeworld? Is happiness a mere whisper on the edge of daydreams? Why, love, why? But love, as ever, disdains to answer. Our tears must be question and answer both!

* * * *

Love! Love is all they ever talk about, and I've avoided it like the unshielded areas where the outringers work. The stupid, stupid courtship, the crappy poetry, the singing, the dreamliminals ... they consume our lives when we're not working, and usually even when we are. It's a miracle the City hasn't spun off course into an oort cloud long ago.

But really, it's true. The City runs on love. It keeps us sane, more or less. Unlike the dark matter that flows into our massive converters, it's an infinitely renewable fuel. As to whether it pollutes, you probably already have your own opinions about that.

Right after the bandanna incident, my sibs started treating me differently. "Mab, I heard be kissed you! That darling little mouth!" "Mab, isn't be beautiful? Oh, of course be's beautiful!" Sometimes they teased: "Mab's going to be a pilot's mate! Mab, what's your secret? Did you steal a holo-shield?" I know for a fact that a few of the other dailys have been with pilots, but furtively, in dark song-booths or under laundry decks.

One daily even tried to sneak me a bubble of some noxious substance. I was supposed to squirt it onto my harnt to make it more pleasant to Dot when be manned me. As if I would ever let that happen.

Because we clean the entire City, handle the waste units and supply the food, dailys go everywhere. The lower middle dars, the boides and the outringers romance us sometimes. The upper middle dars, occasionally. But no pilot had ever romanced a daily, as far as any of us remembered. Until now.

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