FICTION: Amazing by Erin Fitzgerald
Your story takes place in a recent but extinct era, in which people’s lives aren’t complicated by handheld telecommunication or in-depth classification of mental health issues.
There are two characters in your story who do not conform to the others’ standards. Thanks to the lack of handheld telecommunication and mental health support services, these characters are easy for the others to identify and shun.
Your story is set in Mayberry. It’s set in Gowanus. It’s set in Croatia. It’s set in Hogsmeade, which you have made a point of calling something else. Your story’s key scenes are in a town square. There are also scenes at a dive bar, and in a farmer’s field where the height of the corn hides the action from supporting characters. This is where some of the fucking happens. The rest happens on a beat-up mattress in a dingy apartment. All of the fucking is unhappy fucking. Your story also has scenes at a church. No one is bored at the church, except for the two shunned characters.
Your story’s language is rich in a style that is illuminating or florid, depending on how you tip it in the light. Your story has sentences that look like run-on sentences but aren’t, and sentences that don’t look like run-on sentences but are. Your story has one phrase in a foreign language that is moderately easy to Google. It has Roman numerals, from I to XIV.
Your story has direct references to alcohol, probably rye, maybe bourbon, but no amaretto. Your story has indirect references to meth, molly, LSD, or heroin. It has no references to acetaminophen, lisinopril, paroxetine, or bisacodyl. Your story has no guns because those affect tension and pacing. It has a broken bottle and a filthy steak knife.
Your story is told in present tense until the first supernatural or magical element appears. Then it needed to be edited into past tense, and that brought a fog of knowing weariness to all of its characters.
Your story had angels who made clever observations, but had no wings. Your story’s ghosts ice skated, they walked down halls, they wept. All without sound, because they never spoke to you.
There was an eleven year old girl in your story. She did not learn anything about herself until an adult did not meet her expectations. That was when you realized why your story had a cornfield, a church, a broken bottle, an angel, a ghost, and rye.
It took longer for you to make the connection than it should have. But that realization will happen more quickly for the next story. You know it will, and so does everyone who reads it.
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Erin Fitzgerald is Online Editor at Barrelhouse, and an associate editor atSmokeLong Quarterly. Her stories have appeared in fine publications such asSalt Hill and PANK, and in the anthology Gigantic Worlds. She lives in Connecticut, and on Twitter as @gnomeloaf.