Apex: March 2013
Nominated for the Nebula Award: Short Story
I think my heart just broke.
The story opens with some whimsy, or, what seems like whismy at the time. It seems sweet, if in a slightly twisted sort of way.
If you were a dinosaur, my love, then you would be a T-Rex. You’d be a small one, only five feet, ten inches, the same height as human-you. You’d be fragile-boned and you’d walk with as delicate and polite a gait as you could manage on massive talons. Your eyes would gaze gently from beneath your bony brow-ridge.
If you were a T-Rex, then I would become a zookeeper so that I could spend all my time with you. I’d bring you raw chickens and live goats. I’d watch the gore shining on your teeth. I’d make my bed on the floor of your cage, in the moist dirt, cushioned by leaves. When you couldn’t sleep, I’d sing you lullabies.
Most paragraphs flow from the ending of the one before it. The next one begins with "If I sang you lullabies." The construction of the story is how Swirsky builds expectation and has the reader wondering how one thing will flow to the next, where she's going with this very short story. And it builds, with little heartaches that we're not sure what to do with until the story turns, hard, and we know that these little heartaches are built from one very large heartache at the heart of it.
And oh, how the heart aches.
There is wonder and beauty and pain and I cannot recommend this story highly enough. I've read through it three times now, twice in quick succession, and there is a hollowness inside my chest where Swirsky bored a hole and then scraped the sides.