Letter From The Editor - Issue 60 - December 2017

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Issue 60
Stories
Dry Run
by Kurt Pankau
The Stowaway
by Stephen L. Moss
Mercy at Eltshan-time
by Stewart C Baker
Primum Non Nocere
by Caleb Williams
IGMS Audio
Primum Non Nocere
Read by Stuart Jaffe
InterGalactic Medicine Show Interviews
Vintage Fiction
Charity
by Julie E. Czerneda
Bonus Material
To Guard Against the Dark
by Julie E. Czerneda

Writing Fantasy

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

If I Breathe, You Will Break
    by Sofie Bird

If I Breathe, You Will Break
Artwork by Scott Altmann

I can see it, finally, cradled against his chest: the gossamer outline of my brother Jasper's glass hand. The flesh of his arm ends at his wrist with a neat tuck of skin, and glass continues the curve of his palm, sweeping uninterrupted into the curl of his three remaining fingers.

He won't let the nurses near him. I walk him from the hospital ward to reception, and he hunches forward to shield it, his other hand guarding against stray strands of my hair. The ghostly shape barely obscures the blue weave of his jumper. Something silver-fluid pulses though.

I can't bring myself to say anything. So Jas, about that time where we all thought you cut your own hand off and had you committed? Yeah, sorry about that. We chat about my newly-ex boyfriend and the funding cuts to my research while the hospital staff finish the paperwork, and I try not to stare.

"There's not much we can do," the doctor says. "Phantom limb syndrome is common with amputees. We've given him something for the pain, but--"

Jasper snorts beside me. I glance down at the ghost-like shape at his chest, see the joke. It's not even a good joke. Three months of this, and he can still laugh.

The doctor's voice turns sour and scolding; he slaps the papers on the desk for me to sign. "As you can see, he's calmer, now."

I bite back my reply until I know what to do with it, and sign. My brother has an invisible hand. The doctors don't know shit.

As we wait at the taxi rank, I blurt, "Why don't you paint it? At least then, people would see."

He says, "Paint doesn't take," before he's even really heard my question, and grabs my arm as I reach for the taxi door. I squeeze my muscles still to keep any part of me from jostling him. "You see it," he demands. "Rue, tell me you really see it."

I nod.

His face ripples between emotions, tugging his mouth in different directions and straining the skin at his eyes to keep the tears in check. I cup my hand at the nape of his neck and bend his head down to press against my forehead, the way he used to when he was so much smaller than me. I see what you see. We are our own private universe again, like we were as kids exploring alien planets in our back yard. The only ones who understand.

The glass is more and more defined each time I look, on the way home. The creases of his knuckles and palm are etched in ghostly silver, and his triangle of moles is now embossed. The jagged stumps of his thumb and index finger wink in the afternoon sun, like crystal-cut facets. I wince at the memory, my father's sneer still vivid, but Jas laughs at a song on the radio. His misheard lyrics make the taxi-driver blush. He's irreverent as always, and I can't help but grin.

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