“Wallamelon” by Nisi Shawl
(Originally published in Aeon #3.)
The boys ran ahead of her as she walked, and circled back again like little dogs. Kevin urged her onto the path that cut across the vacant lot beside his house. Mercy was standing on a pile of rubble half the way through, her straight hair shining in the noonday sun like a long, black mirror. She was pointing down at something Oneida couldn’t see from the path, something small, something so wonderful it made sad Mercy smile.
“Wallamelons,” Kevin explained as they left the path. “Grown all by they selves; ain’t nobody coulda put em there.”
“Watermelons,” Oneida corrected him automatically.
The plant grew out from under a concrete slab. At first all she could see was its broad leaves, like green hearts with scalloped edges. Mercy pushed these aside to reveal the real treasure: four fat globes, dark and light stripes swelling in their middles and vanishing into one another at either end. They were watermelons, all right. Each one was a little larger than Oneida’s fist.
“It’s a sign,” said Mercy, her voice soft as a baby’s breath. “A sign from the Blue Lady.”
Nisi Shawl’s Filter House, in which “Wallamelon” was collected, co-won the James Tiptree, Jr. Award. Her acclaimed alternate history/steampunk novel Everfair was a 2016 Tor publication and a Nebula finalist. She has been selected as Guest of Honor for WisCon in 2011, for the Science Fiction Research Association’s convention in 2014, and for Austin’s Armadillocon in 2017.
Shawl co-edited Strange Matings: Science Fiction, Feminism, African American Voices, and Octavia E. Butler; and Stories for Chip: A Tribute to Samuel R. Delany. Since its inception she has been Reviews Editor for feminist literary quarterly Cascadia Subduction Zone. She’s the coauthor of Writing the Other: A Practical Approach; and teaches the workshop it’s based on. Shawl is a founder of and board member for the Carl Brandon Society, a nonprofit supporting the presence of people of color in the fantastic genres; she also serves on Clarion West’s board of directors. She lives in Seattle, taking daily walks with her mother June and her cat Minnie at the pace of an entitled feline. She can be found online at nisishawl.com.
About the Narrator:
Stephanie Morris is a professional fangirl by day and the lone library assistant staffing a college circulation desk at night. She has narrated short stories for PseudoPod, PodCastle, EscapePod, Cast of Wonders, and Starship Sofa, guest-blogged on subjects ranging from book recommendations to zombie turkeys, and performed Shakespeare in a handful of weird churches. Until she suppresses her inner perfectionist enough to create a website, you can find her on Twitter at @smaliamorris.