If you loved our April Book of the Month, Wither by Lauren DeStefano, then chances are you can’t wait until the second book in this trilogy comes out. Sadly, you’ve still got about another year to wait. Fortunately, we’ve found the perfect solution to tide you over until then … Lauren’s short stories!
Yes, on her website, Lauren has posted two of her original short stories for you to read — for free! At any time!
Here are the first few paragraphs of each story to get you interested. If you like what you read, be sure to hop on over to Lauren’s website to read the rest of them!
We don’t have nights here.The word eludes me sometimes, along with the names of those small, living things that would sing to us as we watched the sun melting over the Adirondacks. I keep the image of those faraway purple mountains, and the trees, for an instant at dusk, bursting into red and yellow fire. A trick of the eye. A flaw in our human perception.But it takes effort to remember. It helps when I focus in on you, holding your mug with two hands and squinting at the day’s last light. For you, time is passing. And when it’s quiet enough, I think you’re listening for the sound of me in the rustling leaves. And I want to call for you, but I have no voice. I want to touch your cheek, but I’ve no limbs. I don’t even have time. After I died, it became just a series of moments that play over and over, like pages of a favorite book. The afternoon you dropped a lilac into the open grave (it hit my casket and I felt its echo), you were thinking of I-91 and I was in that thought. I was speeding by you in the left lane, and we looked at each other through our windows, holding our steering wheels, and we were rocking out to Beat It. There before us was the road, and it could have taken us anywhere. Somewhere inside of you, in a place I couldn’t see until I became a figment in your memories, you thought we couldn’t die until we’d taken all of the exits.You saw life as all these sentences we would finish.
“The World Over” by Lauren DeStefano:
The world ended. From way up high we watched the ashes writhe, and all those dying bodies looked like shooting stars. You said it would be coming for us, too—death, like a big black wave. We held hands. We waited.But morning came. We woke beneath that searing sun, and there was no place to find shade (all the trees had shriveled into themselves and dissolved). So we lay on our backs and shielded our eyes and spoke in poetry, and soon we had forgotten coherent sentences. We lost the knowledge of languages, traded for the erratic, maddened cadence of artists. We painted with our fingers in the air, and the clouds began mimicking us. We drew mermaids in the sky.You said, ‘I loved you once, but loving you was a coalmine. All those dark spaces. All those dangerous turns. I thought you’d collapse and kill us both.’I laughed, said, ‘There should be a canary that stops singing when love is too dangerous.’You said, ‘Then they would stop being songbirds.’
For the comments: What do you think of Lauren’s short stories? Which one is your favorite & why?
“Exit” completely blew me away. I was full on crying by the end. She writes SO WELL. I feel everything as if they were my own emotions. I liked “The World Over” as well for its subtle apocalyptic nature, but it couldn’t match the emotion and realism of “Exit.” Hands down my favorite of the two.