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The Dark Issue 56: The Dark, #56

The Dark Issue 56: The Dark, #56

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The Dark Issue 56: The Dark, #56

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Lançado em:
Dec 27, 2019


Each month The Dark brings you the best in dark fantasy and horror! Selected by award-winning editors Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Sean Wallace and published by Prime Books, this issue includes two all-new stories and two reprints:

"Mother Love" by Clara Madrigano"No Good Deed" by Angela Slatter (reprint)"Forwarded" by Steve Rasnic Tem"The Man at Table Nine" by Ray Cluley (reprint)

Lançado em:
Dec 27, 2019

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The Dark Issue 56 - Clara Madrigano


Issue 56 • January 2020

Mother Love by Clara Madrigano

No Good Deed by Angela Slatter

Forwarded by Steve Rasnic Tem

The Man at Table Nine by Ray Cluley

Cover Art: Zombie Walking by grandfailure

ISSN 2332-4392.

Edited by Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Sean Wallace.

Cover design by Garry Nurrish.

Copyright © 2020 by Prime Books.


Mother Love

by Clara Madrigano

Here’s my mother’s story: picture two snakes fighting on the desert. No one is there to see it; nobody will care about the eventual outcome. Both snakes will bite and maybe poison each other and they’ll end up their lives like that, fangs sunk into each other’s body, both the meal the other wanted. Now, picture this: my mother is one of the snakes, and I am the other. My mother was hungry enough to bite, and I was the prey she longed for the most. People have first memories of their childhood, fond memories, but all I had was this first truth, before any memory could settle in: my mother had a hunger she couldn’t control.

My mother wasn’t my birth mother. Her sister was. But her sister was young when she gave birth to me, and my mother was already married, had enough money to provide for a child and then convinced her sister to give me up. Her sister, Shirley; my birth mother, my aunt—I never met her. She died when I was no more than a baby. OD. No one ever spoke of her. My grandmother was long dead by then and there was no one else to remember Shirley, no one except for my mother. Once, my mother told me about the day she decided she’d have me, by any means necessary. She went to visit Shirley and found her sister living in a shack that could barely hold itself together, wood as rot as Shirley’s decayed teeth; the place stank, dirty dishes everywhere, moldy food left on the floor, dog shit, raccoon shit, maybe even human shit. Shirley was skinny and bruised, but round with me, a tiny monster bathed in amniotic fluids, indifferent to either life or death. And then, staring at Shirley, my mother felt hungry; I suppose that’s how it went, although she never used the word: hungry. She merely said she had to save me, so she took Shirley’s hands and told her she could raise the baby; she would give Shirley money. She’d give her whatever she needed, if only Shirley would let her have the baby. Shirley said she couldn’t live with that awful thing she had inside of her. She didn’t mean me. She meant her past, her present: herself.

Shir and I . . . we had a difficult upbringing, baby, my mother would say, hoping it would be enough of an explanation. I didn’t know much about my late grandmother, except for what my mother said: my grandmother flourished when inflicting pain on others, and so her daughters grew up paying that price, the price of pain and scratches, of bites and screaming. My mother was stronger, though; stronger than Shirley was, or so she said. And then she’d pinch me if she caught me saying Shirley was my mother. Shirley wasn’t my mother: she was.

I don’t know why my mother wanted a child. It wasn’t about love, she never wanted to be loved or to love back, she never said I love you, those tricky little words; love simply wasn’t there, not on her tongue, not on her lips. She just wanted a baby, a need so primal that nothing could stop her. My mother’s life revolved around these primal needs; to hurt, to have, to hold. A hold over my father, what he did and where he went, and an even more absolute hold over me. For how can a child be anything without a mother? A child is dependable; a child can be bent to the will of that higher power, the adult, the Goddess. Nobody questions a mother’s authority, and so it’s easy to exert control and not be judged by it. It was her idea of parenting; this wanting, this possession of the other.

Exhibit A: a picture taken many years ago, which I now have in my hands. I was around seven years old. We were at the public pool, and I was wearing a newly bought bikini my mother had chosen for me. I hated the bikini; I hated the pink color and the tiny hearts on the fabric, like little dots of blood. My hair is painfully short in that picture, and my eyes are almost shut; the sun was right over my face and I was angry. My mother, however, hands behind my back, smiles and smiles, her blond hair iron-curled, her red lipstick on. She wasn’t wet, like I was. She wouldn’t have dared to dive in the pool. She was perfect and composed, posing for the camera, whereas I had my arms crossed over my chest. Looking at this picture again, I can remember how cold my wet body felt, goose bumps taking over my skin, despite being summer. I remember her fingernails digging in my soft flesh, as if to keep my quiet, by her side. Just a few days earlier, she had bought me the new bikini, and I had thrown a tantrum. I didn’t want the bikini. I wanted nothing that could please my mother. She didn’t argue or hit me, but she went fetch her big, silver scissors and made me sit over the bed. She told me not to move. She told me she could cut my cheeks if I moved, as accidents are prone to happen to unruly girls, and so I froze and she chopped my hair, the only part of myself I cared about at that young age. My mother thought that was a fitting punishment.

Her mother did that to her, you know, my father would tell me, once I was an adult and it was all over. Whenever Yvonne did something your grandmother didn’t approve, she would cut her hair—and she would keep it. I have no fucking idea why.

My mother kept my hair as well. She

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