"How Can We Ever Be Better?" by Star Spider
Issue #12 / November 2014
Illustrated by David Curtis
KINDLE EDITION ($0.99)
STAR SPIDER is a writer from Canada where she lives with her awesome husband Ben Badger. Star is in the process of seeking publication for her novels while she writes and frolics on the beach. Her work can be found in Gone Lawn, Aperion Review, Klipspringer Magazine, Close to the Bone, Black Treacle, ExFic and Grim Corps.
"He blew into town on the breeze, light as a feather, his dangling limbs thin as twigs. We watched as he passed through the streets of our town in the thick golden twilight, face obscured in the shadow of a black-rimmed hat. We whispered behind our hands, eyes narrow with a cold curiosity, sheltered as we were. He took up residence in that husk of an abandoned cottage, the one by the old cannery. Its thatching was spotty as a bald man, walls black as sin, windows slowly closing eyes. He went on in and vanished like a magic trick as the sun extinguished itself in a stuttering haze over the softly sloping hills beyond. We talked that night till the stars blazed bright and then dark again. Our words weren’t wise but worried, our hands knitting our scarves and sweaters into tighter and tighter knots until they wouldn’t come undone no matter how hard we pulled. Our rocking chairs made fissures into the floor, deep abyssal chasms, and our words slapped the windows like rain, so hard our children hid under their blankets for fear of lightning. Visiting strangers was unheard of in our town. It wasn’t heard of and it wasn’t wanted, no.
Come morning, the cottage was gleaming as though it had always stood so proud, as though its roof had never sagged or its walls had never met a lick of flame. We crowded and gawked, the butter un-churned, eggs un-gathered, harvest un-reaped or sowed. Our children faltered on the dirt road to school, bare feet anchored to the ground, lively limbs still as sleep. That breeze still blew, the one that brought the man to town, that traitorous wind now pushing a small wooden sign to and fro over the doorway of that obscenely proud cottage:
Word Lessons - Free
We hummed and hawed, how dare that man! We knew our words as well as anyone from any town from here to Timbuktu. Our children were clever, we were well spoken, we knew what we liked, and we knew what we wanted. We sputtered and sighed and turned our backs on that cottage and that man and the breeze that had brought him along. It was easy at first because he didn’t make a move, didn’t leave or shop or stroll. But then one morning, as we went about our business, we spotted a sign in his window: