“Broken Clouds” by Rachel Swirsky
(Originally published in When the Villain Comes Home.)
Alex walked home through light rain that was almost soundless as it silvered the sidewalk. The whole world seemed colorless: overcast sky, grey drizzle, endless cement.
The empty, grasping ache in her abdomen gnawed at her, not just because of the pain but because of the frisson of loss that accompanied it. She was like a glass with the water poured out, a vacant vessel.
Would it ever stop? Did anyone ever recover from having the magic torn out of their flesh?
Her house came into view as she turned the corner, its dilapidated single story dwarfed by the apartment buildings on either side. It always seemed to be cowering, as if the neighboring giants might decide at any moment to crush it into oblivion. Its faded wood siding was the same grayed-out blue as the rainy sky. Battered shutters held tight against wind and water.
Rain had swollen the doorframe. Alex grunted as she put her weight into tugging it open. Hinges screeched. Slanting rain pooled inside the threshold.
Rachel Swirsky met her husband in 2003 when he began teaching her about the wondrous evolution of life on earth. Ten years later, she wrote a short story about dinosaurs and won the Nebula Award. “Broken Clouds” was written for the anthology When the Villain Comes Home, the sequel to an earlier one called When the Hero Comes Home. She says of the story: “I wanted to play with some of the traditional urban fantasy stuff, like Charles de Lint and Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere.” You can find her online at rachelswirsky.com and patreon.com/rachelswirsky.
About the Narrator:
Ashley Storrie is a Scottish stand-up comedian, podcaster, and radio presenter. She’s currently performing at the Fringe Festival, and will be there until the 28th of August at The Free Sisters. Follow her on Twitter via @ashleystorrie.