|Rachel Swirsky holds an MFA in fiction from the Iowa Writers Workshop, and she graduated from Clarion West in 2005. Her short fiction has been nominated for the Hugo, Locus, World Fantasy and Sturgeon Awards. She’s twice won the Nebula Award: for her 2010 novella, “The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers Beneath the Queen’s Window” and her 2014 short story, “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love.”
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That morning, there was a white rose on my windowsill, and my heart cracked.
How? I wondered, and chastised myself for wondering. There couldn’t be another message until tomorrow. I wondered anyway. Throughout the day, as I patched uniforms for the occupying armsmen, and baked bread to bring my neighbor with the broken leg, and scrubbed every floorboard in the house, I wondered: how?
Quick? Painful? Bloody? Horrible? Unlucky? Slow?
How had my brother died?
Terra stands alone in the middle of the room, staring at nothing. She moves sometimes like someone dreaming, but never reacts.
My poor sister, locked in her own world.
It began with Shoko finding feathers in her bed. It was her third year of high school. She’d just turned seventeen.
She was falling in love, and her wings were coming in.
One: My lipstick.
The shade is Heart’s Blood.
Morbid, if you ask me.