blue bird fell

Hello, readers.

Here’s another excerpt1, from a story called ‘Annabelle’ or, perhaps, ‘Annabelle and The Attack of the Blue Box.’ Or something. This blue box has appeared in other stories I’ve written.

I wrote this particular story some two years ago while living in Ho Chi Minh City (or Saigon as some still say). The story needed some tending to, and so, this week I’m shaking it about and putting it back together.

In one bit of shaking, a dead bird fell out. That was sad. But also right, as sometimes sadness is.

I’m happy, in anycase, to have found the poor thing rather than it staying there, dead and unnoticed.

Annabelle shook the box again. Nothing. What was the point of discovering a strange box if there was nothing inside it? She pressed it closer to her ear and shook harder. Silence. Presuming it was probably impossible to guess what might be inside the box if the thing inside the box made no sound and possessed no weight–and refusing, still, to believe that a box like this might contain nothing–Annabelle held the box in front of her. She pushed down on the front clasp with her thumb until the thing released with a satisfying clunk. She raised the latch from of its locked position. A car drove by. Annabelle looked up. Staring at her, and her new, ridiculous glasses, and the unlatched box pressed against her chest, was Emilio Graves, Annabelle’s one and only one-time friend who had, very recently, confessed his undying love for her and succeeding in kissing her on the mouth. She could still taste his tongue–like peanut butter smeared across the bottom of a shoe. She frowned at the car, and at him, as hard as she could–the way her mom frowned at waiters that lingered too long near the table. Emilio looked out the passenger side window with a look like she was tearing the arms off one of his beloved action figures.

Annabelle waited until the car disappeared around the corner.

She turned back to the box, surprised to feel how right it felt, cradled so close to her heart, as though, if it were possible, the best thing would be to never open it, but to slide it under her skin and keep it there, warm and shut and safe.

Goosebumps covered her arms. The autumn air was cold, but not that cold. It was silly, Annabelle thought, to feel so connected to something so small, so strange. She held the box away from her and opened it slowly.

A whisper of smoke escaped. Maybe it was dust, or dried leaves. It smelled like rotten bananas.

Inside the box, there was nothing.

Absolutely nothing.

Or, at least, nothing that Annabelle could see, even after turning the box upside down and shaking it.

Annabelle did not generally curse much, beyond the occasional shit or crap, but, at this moment, she could not think of anything better to say than, Fuck you, box. She said this directly into the box.

A blue bird fell dead at her feet, a bright still thing among the fallen leaves.

Annabelle closed the box. She thought about throwing the box away. But, she did not. She was not sure why she did not except that she had been the one to find the box and so now it seemed to belong to her through some unspoken universal law about finding and owning. Besides, maybe she could put stuff in it. Maybe dumb stuff she didn’t want like Walgreens glasses. The dead bird didn’t mean anything.

Happy Thursday, readers.



  1. Note, this is part of a continuing series of blog posts that begins with this post on my participation in the Clarion Write-A-Thon. ↩︎

black hearts sated

Hello, readers.

From time to time, as part of the 2016 Clarion WRITE-A-THON, I will post excerpts here on the blog as well as on my write-a-thon profile.

Here’s something I wrote:

The woman’s gloves reminded me of home, the sunset sky over Tampa Bay. My parents had lived as modern day pirates. They took me out on the boat with them sometimes, into the salt-burned wind, their big old sailor’s coats billowing and their bright hair waxed and still. Every time they went over the side, my heart stopped. Every time. They were there, and then they were gone. It didn’t matter how often I saw them go over. Or how often they climbed back. They plunged down into the dark, leaving my terror behind, and then they returned, their black hearts sated by the delicious flush of finding what others had lost: jewels, bones, ships, airplanes.

So far, I’ve rewritten two stories1. And written various bits of several other various stories which may or may not end up all being one big story. Sometimes that happens. You never know.

In other news, Storyological continues to be amazing. This week, in THE ONLY BEAUTIFUL THING, we discussed stories by George Saunders and Alan Bennett.

A couple of weeks ago, in WEDNESDAY, FULL OF WOE 2, we discussed stories from Wole Talabi and Mairead Case.

I love this podcast. I hope you give it a try, if you haven’t yet. And if you have tried, I hope you’re enjoying it.

Happy whatever day it is where you’re reading this.


  1. One of these stories being from 2009, and one of these being from 2016. It’s spectacular how sometimes you don’t really figure a story out for seven years. Perhaps, I mean terrifying. It’s hard to tell with words. They keep changing. ↩︎
  2. Will I mention this episode every time I post on a Wednesday? Probably not. ↩︎

clarion write-a-thon 2016 edition

Hello, readers.

Right now, I’m taking part in this thing called the Clarion Write-A-Thon. It’s very similar to those sorts of marathons where you sponsor the walker/runner.

Except, in this case, you sponsor a writer.

The Clarion Write-A-Thon raises money in support of the Clarion Foundation which funds the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop and allows for scholarships to be awarded to future students.

Past students include: Kelly Link, Octavia Butler, Margo Lannagan, Ted Chiang, Alyssa Wong, and Isabel Yap, among many others.

Clarion helped me become a better writer and person. It changed my life. Among other things, it introduced me to my future Storyological co-host.

Of note. Some of you might remember a thing called The Red Volume, or The Orange Volume, both anthologies of short stories, put together by me and my Clarion classmates, and then released as a fundraiser for The Clarion Foundation.

My Clarion class will put out another anthology later this year, after the write-a-thon: The Yellow Volume.

If you want to sponsor me in the write-a-thon. Amazing.

Any donation ($1, $5, $whatever) will get you an e-book version of our anthology when we release it later this year.

If you’d like to wait for the anthology to be released (and for us, perhaps, to figure out some perks for donating at certain levels–such as for a PRINT EDITION), and donate/buy the anthology then (also for whatever you want, including for free). That’s cool.

I’ll post again when it’s available.

Happy Thursday, readers.