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The Last Word

Henry's most attentive critic lies in a crypt beneath the library, brooding in the darkness.

When he was young he would read to her - essays he had spent half the night writing, short stories dense with detail and poems hazy with desire. Sometimes his mother would laugh and wave him away. More often she would snatch the loose sheets and cluck: "there's no 's' in 'matricide'," "hyenas do not roar" or "my heart is on the left." Then she would show him. She'd pull a book off the shelf and her finger would find the passage she was looking for. Or she'd hold his hand against her so he could feel the pulsing in her chest.

"Accuracy, Henry," she would chide as he squirmed. "Sharpen each phrase. Make every word count."

There is no pulsing now. Each night he takes his pages down, reads them aloud, and waits. He learned his lessons well. And because he sharpened his instruments, aimed carefully, and made each blow count, she has nothing to say.

Story by:

Lucas Volt

23 May 2016