Most of my stories were published in magazines and are difficult to find in print. To the rescue comes the wonderful new website devoted to short fiction reprints, Curious Fictions! My first story on the site, "Rosita's Baby," originally won first place in the Writers of the Future contest and was selected as the Curious Fictions Featured Story of the Week. New fiction will be appearing on a regular basis. You can read the stories for free and, if you wish, set up an account and offer a tip--or, if you wish to be notified about new offerings, you can subscribe. If you like the story, it would be very helpful if you would like it on the Curious Fictions website. You have my thanks!
Originally published in Century Magazine and newly posted on Curious Fictions...
The child seems to come from the distant past. Electrical appliances are new to her; she speaks a lost language. Her hands move compulsively. Who is she and what is the tragedy that haunts her?
"She was like Nancy at the same age. When you got close enough, you saw the differences: the face heart-shaped instead of oval, the figure more petite, although just as early-developed. At a distance you saw only the similarities, the big brown eyes, the straight, pale hair, shoulder-length, the strong little chin, the casual, graceful stance.
Jules was looking left down the highway, getting ready to pull out into traffic, so it was Kate who spotted her first. She thought her heart would stop at the sight of Nancy, alive again and fourteen. Nancy standing casual as you please at the highway's edge, wearing cut-offs and a red plaid shirt and sneakers, too lightly dressed for the last week of January no matter how you cut it, even a south Georgia January.
"Don't turn yet, Jules," Kate said. "Look to your right."
Jules looked. He swore softly under his breath. "She's gone, Kate," he said. "Let her go."
The child had bruises on her arms. There was a fearful look on her face. Kate rolled down her window. "Do you need a ride, honey?"
The girl walked up to Kate's window. She was shivering and on the verge of tears. There was a nasty bruise at the edge of her scalp, and the pupils of her eyes were different sizes.
"She's hurt." Kate opened her car door. "Where are your parents, honey?"
The child answered, but not in English. Kate shook her head, not understanding. The child's lower lip quivered. Tears spilled out of her eyes and down her cheeks. Kate climbed out of the car--it was difficult with the arthritis in her knees--and took the child's hands in her own. "It's all right, honey," she said gently. "We'll take care of you. You'll be all right."
There were cars waiting behind them now. Someone honked. "We have to get going," Jules said.
"She's concussed, Jules," Kate said. "Look at her, will you? Just look at her."
Jules looked. "I think," he said, "we'd better take her to the hospital."
Jules' face had closed off, the way it did when he wanted to hide his feelings. Kate wondered if he was thinking of Nancy. If he was thinking what she was thinking: What if when Nancy had needed help strangers hadn't turned her away? Would she still be alive?"
"Five families had come to the hills for survival practice on the weekend the world ended. Five families, their voices disappearing from the radio one by one."
Roger and his parents hide in the hills as a virus reshapes humankind into something more alien. But when he meets Rosita, an infected survivor and her baby, all his assumptions change.