This is the part of my 100 Short Stories in 2014 challenge. I have now read 1/3 of the stories I need to read this year to hit my goal of 100 short stories this year. I really like the challenge, it is by no means too many stories for me to manage.
A mother and a daughter, Alice, is wandering through the landscape of a broken world. A civilisation has fallen, toppled by off-world intruders (I think). The story is about the interactions between the mother and the daughter more than anything else. As so many Clarkesworld stories, this a story about human interaction and about loose.
There was a strong eerie mood in the story. Like something bad would happen any second now, but the climax was never obvious. It is a subtle story like a movie relaying on the unspoken word. It is also a story that focuses heavily on sensory input. How the forest feel, smells looks. How the water feels, smells, the cold, the taste.
I woke in the darkness. My mother was leaning over me.
“We have to leave,” she said. Her breath was warm on my face.
The scent of dried flowers and wood-smoke drifted after her. She had spent the night by the fire, singing for a young mother and her sickly child. The child had not survived. Few did, in winter. Its skin was veined with rust-dark lines, its eyes hot with fever. There was nothing my mother could do but ease its pain. It would not be wise for us to linger.
I enjoyed the story, but it didn’t make me want to rave about it or seek out the author’s other work like some stories do – quite possibly because it was such a subtle story and all I had been reading for weeks had been very action oriented. It is almost a novelette and it feels like something that is part of a much bigger piece of worldbuilding.
I also have to comment on the amazing cover by Peter Mohrbacher (deviantart & tumblr), that somehow seems to fit Water in Springtime perfectly even though I am pretty sure it wasn’t made for that story in particular. But both the story and the cover is so very Clarkesworld.
Published: April 1st 2014 by Clarkesworld
Read: April 22 to 23, 2014
Length: 7278 words, short story
Format: Free online fiction, podcast
The author: Female, white, USA
The protagonist: Alice, female, child, able-bodied.