Mother Box and Other Tales
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In language that is both barb and bauble, bitter and unbearably sweet, Sarah Blackman spins the threads of stories where everything is probable and nothing is constant. The stories in Mother Box, and Other Tales occur in an in-between world of outlandish possibility that has become irrefutable reality: a woman gives birth to seven babies and realizes at one of their weddings that they were foxes all along; a girl with irritating social quirks has been raised literally by cardboard boxes; a young woman throws a dinner party only to have her elaborate dessert upstaged by one of the guests who, as it turns out, is the moon. Love between mothers and children is a puzzling thrum that sounds at the very edge of hearing; a muted pulse that, nevertheless, beats and beats and beats.
In these tales, the prosaic details of everyday life—a half-eaten sandwich, an unopened pack of letters on a table—take on fevered significance as the characters blunder into revelations that occlude even as they unfold.
column taped to the bottom of the drawer. She found her bones aesthetically pleasing and, as they became more assertive, she felt as if she was wearing herself—her wrist like a bracelet, her collarbone molded on her chest like a band of sculpted silver and somewhere beneath the jeweled pendant of her heart. Yet, when the weight came back, as surely it would, she thought that too could be a sort of assertion. Her rear, for example, mounded like the graceful back of a Queen Anne's sofa, the meat of
could be removed at will rather than amputated. Ollie had to shave them off to fit on his real helmet. “There can be no room between the skull and the helmet, except for padding,” he told Penny. She thought later she must have found him dashing saying that, holding his helmet under one arm while the evening sun drowned in the whiteness of his head and neck. The rest of Ollie was bronzed from hours of drills on the base, then weekends at home with her in the garden. There was something menacing
“I marched right over to her,” Dannie said, halting the procession to adjust the stroller's sun-shade against the slanting light. “I let her know what was going on right in front of her, but which she had refused to recognize due to her own sufferings, which were apparent, but that are nevertheless a part of being alive.” Dannie loved this part of the story. She replayed it in her mind some nights while trying to fall asleep against the hum of the baby monitor, the neighbor-up-the-street's husky
without finding expression. It had been such a non-descript day, so expected. Mary noticed the ghost's shadow huddled around her knees with the same watery meagerness as Mary's own. The sun was almost directly overhead. It beat along Mary's part and made her hair feel hot and crisp. I should wear a hat, Mary thought, and noticed, with some satisfaction, that her prediction about the ghost's breasts had been correct. The ghost wore a marmalade tank top and a pair of cropped linen trousers. There
and appeared to have an endless supply of gauzy scarves which she would tie around the base of her ponytail in order to create a sort of pennant effect, Mary supposed, though they hung limp and passive, doing nothing to mark either changing weather or shifts in the ghosts frequently mercurial moods. The ghost continued not to drink, but she did smoke at an alarming rate. She would often pinch out the end of a half-smoked cigarette and leave it balanced on the edge of an end table or propped