Letter From The Editor - Issue 56 - April 2017

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Issue 22
Stories
Love, Cayce
by Marie Brennan
Exodus Tides
by Aliette de Bodard
Exiles of Eden
by Brad R. Torgersen
The Long Way Home
by G. Norman Lippert
Tales for the Young and Unafraid
The Bus Stop
by David Lubar
InterGalactic Medicine Show Interviews

Writing Fantasy

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-   -   -   -   P   r   e   v   i   e   w   -   -   -   -

The Long Way Home
    by G. Norman Lippert

3rd Place - Best Interior Art - 2011

The Long Way Home
Artwork by Nick Greenwood

Henry Spalding walked along the bumpy sidewalk of Beech Avenue thinking that it was amazing just how fast ten years could go by. Jake, his son, had been a baby when Henry's ex-wife, Stephanie, had moved them to the rusty little town of Buena Vista, Virginia, and Henry had followed, abandoning his manager's job at Blake Construction and taking what he'd expected to be a temporary shift as an assembly operator at the local Dana plant. Now, a decade later, Henry was still working the same shift, and Jake was nearly eleven years old. The wildly impetuous kid that had once trotted along hand in hand with his father had grown into an increasingly sulky young man. Henry tried not to think about it. He had learned as a child how not to think about things: it was how he got through life.

The evening sun painted long tree shapes across the road as he turned onto Twenty-Third Street. The houses here were small and weathered, with dormers crowding their sagging roofs and tree roots pushing humps up beneath the sidewalk, reminding Henry of his childhood home of Clyde, Ohio. Of course, Clyde had been neater, with its immaculate old Town Hall and busy Main Street. By comparison, Buena Vista's half-empty downtown was a grungy ghost town. There wasn't even a decent bar, like the old Eagles Lodge back home on Main Street, or its lesser counterpart, the Clyde Piper. Henry didn't mind that. Lately, he preferred to do his drinking alone. He approached the house, his work shoes clumping on the wooden front steps.

"Jake," Stephanie's voice hollered from inside. "Your father's here. Don't forget to put Sig on his leash."

She met him at the screen door just as he reached for the handle.

"He'll be around in a minute," she said through the screen. "He's out back with some friends." Henry saw the boxes behind her, stacked in the front room with handwritten notations on them: KITCHEN, J's BEDROOM, DEN.

"You need a hand with any of those, Steph?" Henry asked quietly, nodding toward the boxes.

"No. Greg's done a great job helping us get everything together. He's here now, finishing the upstairs bedrooms."

No wonder Steph wasn't inviting him in. "You sure? I can carry some boxes to the truck."

"We're not carrying them," Steph sighed impatiently. "The movers are coming on Monday. All we have to do is have it all packed, and we're almost done. Thanks."

Henry hated talking to her through the screen door. "Are you sure? I could at least bring down the head boards and dressers --"

"Henry, stop," Stephanie interrupted curtly. "I know this is how you show you care, by doing little jobs, but really, Greg and I have it handled. Just take your walk with Jake and Sig and try to get back before the mosquitoes get too bad."

Greg and I. Henry hated the way she said it. There had been other men in her life since him, of course, but Greg was the one that made it all real. In less than a week they'd be gone, moved out of Buena Vista, and taking Jake with them. They were going to California, where Greg had gotten some big computer job. Henry tried to be glad for them. He was glad that Steph would finally have the security she'd always wanted, even if it wasn't him who'd be providing it. What he was really unhappy about was that, this time, he couldn't follow them. He had moved to Buena Vista to be near his son, and now they were leaving him here, like an unwanted dog.

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