Letter From The Editor - Issue 55 - February 2017

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Issue 53
Stories
Not on the Gallows
by Harry Turtledove
The Fairy Godfather
by Tim McDaniel
Carry On, Torus
by Gregor Hartmann
Turncrowe
by Michael Meyerhofer
It Becomes You
by Laura-Marie Steele
Why Death is Silent
by William Fischer
IGMS Audio
InterGalactic Medicine Show Interviews
Vintage Fiction
The Toll
by Chuck Wendig

Writing Fantasy

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

It Becomes You
    by Laura-Marie Steele

It Becomes You
Artwork by Andres Mossa

I hadn't seen Thomas in almost a year. As I sat propped up by pillows, struggling against the muscle tremors that would soon rob me of the ability to speak and swallow, memories vanished like scenery outside a speeding car window. I needed to remember, to tell the truth.

Mum was sitting beside me. She'd been talking about her next door neighbour's grandchildren and other things that didn't interest me, so I'd stopped listening. Then she started crying. I realised Thomas had infiltrated my thoughts and that she must have been talking about him.

"Please, Archie, before it's too late. Tell me where he is." Mum's hand touched mine.

I didn't answer. Despite speech therapy twice a week, speaking was a chore, and we had discussed this the last time I saw her. How long ago had that been? A year, two?

"You know what I mean by 'too late' don't you?" she said, as if I didn't know I was dying.

I changed the subject. "Are you staying in town?"

"A bed and breakfast right on the seafront."

"It's cheap around here." Margate used to be famous for its invigorating air, but the days were long gone since Londoners arrived in droves, swarming over the beach to take their turns in the sea. Now it was a shabby town, with beautiful buildings buried beneath flaking paint. The care home wasn't the best. It was a Victorian town house with high ceilings and everything a dusty grey that wouldn't wash off.

She tilted her head, trying to catch the meaning of my loosely formed words. "I was surprised to find you in a place like this. Dad provided money for your healthcare needs, separate to what he left you in trust. If you need money. . . "

"It's fine."

"But there are better places. I thought maybe you would consider coming home with me."

"No."

"I spoke to Carly the other day. She was concerned about you. She told me where you were." She smoothed out the bed sheet with both hands, avoiding my eye.

"We're not together anymore. Don't bring her."

"I would never do something like that without asking you first."

I stared at her and then laughed. I hadn't laughed in a while. It sounded more like an engine puttering to a stop and hurt my chest. Mum turned to the window, which overlooked the back garden.

"It's early for daffodils." She got up, walked to the window and opened it. "Don't they have air conditioning? It's so stuffy in here. You should at least have a room with electric windows, so you can open them from bed."

"It's fine."

"Carly told me about the argument the night you and Thomas disappeared. She explained everything, poor girl. I should have realised how much strain he would put on your marriage. If you had let me take care of him. . . "

A tremor wriggled through my face, shaking my head on the pillow. Maybe she saw that as indecision, because she took a deep breath and said, "Don't be ashamed to change your mind now. After all, your dad worked hard to--"

"Don't."

Maybe she realised she went too far in mentioning Dad, because she started rattling off information about her neighbours again. I didn't know why I'd agreed to see her, maybe a mixture of guilt and hope that she might be different, maybe because she was a last link to a past I feared forgetting. I couldn't let that happen. Not yet.

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