Saturday, December 19, 2009

"The Horrid Glory of Its Wings", by Elizabeth Bear

You should read “The Horrid Glory of Its Wings”. It’s a new short story from Elizabeth Bear and, as one might expect, it is populated with the broken. As much as anything else, it is a conversation between Desiree and a harpy. Desiree is seventeen and has all sorts of things wrong with her.

I’ve also got lipodystrophy, which is a fancy doctor way of saying I’ve grown a fatty buffalo hump on my neck and over each shoulder blade from the antiretrovirals, and my butt and legs and cheeks are wasted like an old lady’s. My face looks like a dog’s muzzle, even though I still have all my teeth.
We never see Desiree in school, but we don’t have to. We already know. What we see is Desiree taking fifteen minutes before school to speak with the harpy who lives in the alley,

I think the harpy enjoys the company. Not that it needs it; I can’t imagine the harpy needing anything. But maybe . . . just maybe it likes me.

The harpy says, I want you.

I don’t know if I like the harpy. But I like being wanted.
This is a story filled with quiet pain, but not with a lick of pity. Bear doesn’t do pity.

What Bear does do is write damn good stories.

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