“When First He Laid Eyes” first appeared in Fireside, February 2016. Sometimes what is scariest in the world is what we normalize. This story is for the women who have lived this reality.
“Eyes That See Everything” is a Pseudopod original.
“Standard Procedure” first appeared in the anthology For Mortal Things Unsung.
“Us, Here” is a PseudoPod original. “A while ago I ran a roleplaying event, tabletop style, that explored a character’s dysphoria and body-anxiety through this kind of “meatscape” environment, basically exaggerating and inflating all of the points of greatest unease, making the internal external. I’d been thinking of incorporating that idea into a more discrete story for a while, and this seemed like a great time to do that”.
“Nothin’ ever seems to turn out right/I don’t wanna grow up”
When First He Laid Eyes
by Rachael K. Jones
A girl’s first stalker is always a cause for celebration. She will phone her mother with the big news and spill the story in a tangle of words, voice raw with emotion.
Her mother’s heart will swell at her daughter’s achievement. Every mother hopes for this day. A stalker means beauty. A stalker means desire. It is always a compliment for a girl to become a man’s intended. Her mother will fuss over the details: How did they meet? What was he like? When will they see each other again?
These are hard questions for a girl. If her stalker is a proper stalker, if he observes his social graces, his intended cannot pinpoint the enchanted instant when he first chose her, the moment their lives entangled. She thinks it might have been on a dark thirty run at Cape Canaveral, when the humid Southern air pressed hot and moist around her like a stranger’s breath. She remembers red Mars, hazy through the Spanish moss on the oaks. She fancied she could run there if she continued down the trail through the park, past the beach, and on into the Everglades, into an alien world. Her stalker must have spotted her on that route as he walked home from the bar that sold half-price beer to men in uniform. She probably waved to him, because a girl is friendly to everyone. A girl always smiles. A girl ignores the dread in her stomach when a man’s gaze impales her like a needle rammed through a butterfly’s thorax. (Continue Reading…)