A Short Story by Betsy James: The Good Neighbor

Good Neighbors by Betsy James with permission.

We were leaning on the fence of the bull’s pasture—me, and Dres, and Yebbe who lives upladder from my place—and my uncle Yanle was bleeding the bull. The bull was young and big, he spent his days harking and pawing and hooking left and right. My uncle was a little, bald, bleak man, yet the bull stood for him patient as a heifer while he nicked a leg vein and filled a clay jar with blood.

The blood was for me. Tomorrow I was turning twelve, and my uncles would make me a man. I wouldn’t live at home any more but in the Holds with the other men, I’d have my own good neighbor, and Dres and Yebbe would still be just kids.

But until tomorrow we were all kids. My eldest sister had given me Suka to mind, so we wouldn’t go into the bull’s pasture and pretend not to be afraid while Uncle bled him. We had to stay on the village side of the fence with Suka crowing and dribbling and trying to crawl into the pasture herself.

I held on to the back of her shift. “No, no.”

Continue reading “A Short Story by Betsy James: The Good Neighbor”

Betsy James Reads From Her Novel Roadsouls

We are excited to have Betsy read a selection from her new novel Roadsouls. Not only do we love it, so does Asimov’s. Check out the stellar review here.

To thank Betsy for sharing with us today, consider purchasing her book here.

Or feel free to toss a couple of coins into her tip jar.

Continue reading “Betsy James Reads From Her Novel Roadsouls”

Alma Alexander’s The Code of Forgetting

Art by Ciencias Españolas.

She was tall, and green-eyed, and red-haired, and fair; her limbs were long, and her fingers slim and tapered; she had a secret birthmark on her left hip, the one small blemish that had to mar absolute perfection lest it prove too be too much for her imperfect world to hold. All these things that were written in her DNA, passed down from ancestors like legacies, a memory written in code of four letters: A C G T. On those four letters rested everything that she was, or could become.

She was fiercely intelligent, and had a laugh that turned heads in the street with its infectious joy. She had a low, dark singing voice, the kind that fits well with slow jazz in smoky bars; she liked the taste of chocolate and of habanero peppers; she could roll her tongue into a tube; she had a talent for playing the guitar. All these things were written in her DNA, passed down from ancestors and then changed to suit her own self, the same four letters – A C G T. On those four letters trembled the foundations of a human soul.

Continue reading “Alma Alexander’s The Code of Forgetting”

A Short Story by Betsy James: Sweeping The Hearthstone

He Shone Like Gold by Betsy James with permission.

My real mam got me when she shouldn’t have. I never knew her. She was young, they said, and of cruel family, with nobody to back her up and make the lad stand and be daddy. She put me in a basket and left me by the highway for the Roadsouls, when they passed in their painted caravans. The Roadsouls took me up, and I traveled with them till the spring I turned sixteen. Then Neely Sheeker, who runs a roadhouse near Carmony, needed a girl and hired me off the Souls.

I was happy to go. I’d come to womanhood late, and I was beginning to quarrel with those who raised me. I’m a homebody; I was sick of traveling about, and I had my cat, Suli. Traveling’s hard on a cat. I was ready to dig in a garden and see the same thing out a window twice. I wanted to find out what it’s like to live in a house built on the ground.

Continue reading “A Short Story by Betsy James: Sweeping The Hearthstone”