|Art by Laura Sava|
“The Only Way Out Lies Farther In” by David Tallerman (4820 words)
No Spoilers: Laurie is a young girl when the story opens on a family vacation to a place that has a labyrinth. And after some sort of argument that has prompted her father to want to leave, he’s convinced to detour into the labyrinth. And in traveling twisting hedges and paths, something...changes. Something that can’t really be defined, but it’s something that comes to define a lot of Laurie’s life, and how she reacts to the changes that happen to what she’s known. To what she expected. she moves through life in something of a wandering, and the piece explores the effect this has on her and on those around her. It’s a strange story that’s more lightly dark than a lot of what the publication puts out, but does look at a person whose life is shaped by an early trauma, an early darkness that never really shakes itself from her life until much, much later. Haunted, yearning, and almost numb, the piece creates a captivating mood and leads the reader through its twisting routes to the center of the character and, perhaps, back out again.
Keywords: Labyrinths, Family, Falseness, Divorce, Strife
Review: This is a strange story and I love the sort of numb feeling of it, the sense that Laurie has passed through something and into a wholly different world where...nothing matters quite so much. And that it takes her a while to realize that’s because she hasn’t pushed back out from the labyrinth she got lost in. That she’s been inside this entire time, ignorant to that, or at least complacent because facing the beast in the labyrinth isn’t exactly something anyone wants to do. But the piece does a wonderful job of showing how Laurie is essentially wandering through her life, turning and turning but never exactly invested in it. Because if she gets invested, she can be hurt. Because dealing with the hurts of childhood are difficult. And yet that’s the path that she’s on, that she takes us all on as readers. The entire story is a labyrinth of its own, the paths not as obvious as walls or hedges, but still a maze that we’re all traveling through until we reach the real center. Which is a journey inward. Into to Laurie’s fears and insecurities and hurt, and into our own reading. We follow her down and then make the turn toward the exit, but the real point isn’t getting out, but facing what’s at the heart of the labyrinth. And it’s that which Laurie is able to do, in order to really begin to make connections and invest in her life and the people in it. And it’s a beautiful read!
“Sea-Crowned” by H. Pueyo (3443 words)
No Spoilers: Martim and Jamim are orphans of a genocide that has left the people beneath the seas dead. Or at least that’s what they’re taught when they’re brought to land and brought up because Martim can pass for “normal” human. Jamim is hidden away, told that they can never go out, but they and Martim start a relationship that slowly blossoms as they grow, and matures when they move out of their childhood home and into a place on their own. Martim’s desires and Jamim’s though, do not exactly meet up, and when they cross tragedy seems poised to descend with brutal swiftness. It’s a wrenching story of isolation and loneliness and suppression, where the characters must deny themselves in order to try and gain an acceptance that they will never achieve. Because the people they might seek acceptance from are the same that joyfully tortured and murdered their people.
Keywords: Seas, Eyes, Betrayal, Love, Bigotry, CW- Genocide, CW- Abuse
Review: This story has such a pervasive and wrenching tragedy to it, a weight that comes from the ways that Martim and Jamim fit together and yet are forced apart. Forced by the hatred that is at the heart of the people who took them in, who brought them up. The story is a brilliant exploration of toxic systems. Systems that Jamim is able to recognize and reject because they have distance from it. Because they aren’t allowed into it, because of how they look, because of what they remind everyone of. The death that these humans authored and now seek to erase. It’s something that infects Martim, as well, for all that these humans think of him as almost human. For all that he thinks of himself as almost human. There is no great distance for him. In fact, it’s the lack of distance that becomes his largest pain. Because he’s _so close_ and yet. And yet he’s not there. He’s not able to fully become human. And a part of him doesn’t want to. A part of him wants to be with Jamim, to have a life that will allow him to be fully free of the expectations of humans. But that small distance is maddening, is unbearable. And where Jamim can rejct it all, Martim becomes obsessed with closing a gap that cannot be closed. And in his pursuit of that he dooms them both. Dooms Jamim to a fate of death and darkness and himself to even further isolation and misery. And it’s just a sad story, but one beautifully told and very much worth spending some time with. Go check it out!