Most nights, Morgan lies awake thinking about cutting off her sister’s finger. The extra one on Angela’s left hand, the one she calls her angel finger. It could be said these thoughts make Morgan a bad person. Sinning in…
I’m so delighted you’re here. I wrote this story in an online Barrelhouse workshop early in the pandemic, and my thought process went something like:
Well, I have to write something. I definitely shouldn’t write about the pandemic just yet. I definitely shouldn’t write about colds or death or handwashing. I could write about hands, though. I should read some Kelly Link; that always helps. I should write something funny. I should write something scary. I should write about growing up as a PK (that is, a preacher’s kid); that’s kind of both funny and scary, right? I should write something short. I should write something with an animal who doesn’t die. I should write about mean girls. I should write about vampires (no, don’t write about vampires, give that up already, Kate). I should write about someone who means well but keeps messing up. I should write about compassion. I should write about gentleness amidst a whirl of pain and confusion.
Eventually this led to rereading Kelly Link’s “Water Off a Black Dog’s Back,” in which there are more than a few missing and artificial limbs. “All right,” I wrote to my diary-self, “let’s start with the moment before a body part goes missing.” That’ll be fun.
Let’s start with a feeling of great indecision; there’s nice tension there, Hamletish. Let’s start with someone who can’t sleep—I can’t sleep, either, so it seems only fair. Let’s think about things being unfair. Morgan, her name is Morgan. Like Morgana, but not. She isn’t a witch, after all, just witchily misunderstood. She isn’t mean, but she has a mean streak, the kind that makes a person a bit irresistible.
All right. Morgan’s lying awake thinking about cutting off her sister’s—has to be small, has to be possible—finger. Which one? The special one, of course. And it’s special because—ah yes, because it’s number eleven. Because it, like Morgan (at least, according to Morgan), doesn’t quite seem to fit, doesn’t quite seem to belong.
Okay, let’s do this. Let’s turn out the light, tuck the girls in, and see what happens.
And here it is, here’s what happens: “The Angel Finger.”
Generous Reader, I’ve come to think of you as a sort of lighthouse for stories, the act of reading a beacon beaming out through tumultuous darkness, shining on stories for a time, giving them hope and energy. If you haven’t already, I’d be grateful if you spared some of this light for dear Morgan. She’s a lonely girl. She could use a bit of hope.
K.C. MEAD-BREWER lives in Ithaca, NY. Her fiction appears in Electric Literature’s Recommended Reading, Joyland Magazine, Strange Horizons, and elsewhere. She is a graduate of Tin House’s 2018 Winter Workshop for Short Fiction and of the 2018 Clarion Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers’ Workshop. For more information, visit kcmeadbrewer.com and follow her @meadwriter.