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Samantha Murray has appeared in Escape Pod, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Daily Science Fiction, Flash Fiction Online, and elsewhere. This is her first appearance in Galaxy’s Edge.

BRAGGING RITES
by
Samantha Murray

It was Tuesday and it was raining out and it was Carla's father's funeral. Carla sat up the back with her ankles crossed, and wished her gray dress didn't itch quite so much, and wished that she hadn't come.

She probably wouldn't have come if Paula hadn't pushed her. "Go," Paula had said. "Go. This can't be something you regret." Carla was in the habit of listening to Paula, who was usually right. Usually. And Paula had been all stern and forceful and Carla had loved her for the adamant little crease in her brow.

The only funeral Carla had been to before this was Aunt Janine's. Aunt Janine had regaled the mourners with the prizes she had won for her orchids, all nineteen awards, and the details of each, and who'd had to make do with runner up. She'd spent quite a lot of time describing how she'd perfected the art of making scones. She told everyone how she'd been quite the stunner in her youth with her hair up.

Carla scratched at her dress under her arm and shifted on her seat. Apart from a few murmurs the amassed crowd were growing silent, waiting.

Paula had said that she'd heard of one funeral where the deceased woman had shown up with nothing to say. That she'd sat there, and blinked for a while, then disappeared. But Carla didn't think her father would be the sort to . . .

There. A light at the front of the room, subdued as though it was being pulled back in on itself, but there. And then Carla saw that the light was actually a man and that the man was her father.

He looked young. Or rather, he didn't look any older than he had when she'd last seen him, which was twenty years ago.

He was handsome too, looking not at the crowd in front of him but up and out somewhere far away, his skin burnished with the glowing.

"I was always a clever lad," began her father, his voice rich with the timbre it'd had when he'd been living, "I knew how to find my feet no matter what life threw at me." He told tales of his childhood, painting himself as the lovable rogue who always won in the end. Clara could remember some of those stories.

Paula had been to more than her share of funerals. "They're making a narrative of their life," she'd said when Carla had asked her about it, asked why they left so much out. "They don't want to cast themselves as the villain, no matter what they've done. This is how they want to be remembered."

Clara's father wanted to be remembered, apparently, for his prowess on the cricket field, for his success in business; closing deals through the charisma of his personality alone, for the way the ladies had pursued him.

They probably had. He had cheated on Clara's mother after all.

Paula was wrong, thought Clara, I shouldn't have come. Yet she couldn't take her eyes from his face. Had his eyes always been that blue or was it the glow behind them?

Her father told the truth, Clara knew that was one thing the dead all did. They didn't lie. But his truth was not her truth.

In the pauses in her father's story Clara read her own subtext.

Her father told of his sense of adventure and discoveries; his absence.

His jokes and escapades; his harshness.

Being life of the party; his drinking.

The things her father didn't say fell like stones, sinking down into the river of her past without a splash.

Her father was quieter now, and harder to see. People were starting to fidget, ready to leave.

"I had a family once," said Clara's father, his voice only a murmur in the fading light. His outline blurred into the background, but by the tilt of his head he could have been looking straight at Clara. The dead couldn't see you, everyone said. Not properly.

He didn't say anything else for a long time, and Clara wasn't sure she could still see him, although she kept her gaze fixed on the spot where his eyes had been. The people to the side of her stood up and made their way out.

"I wish I'd done better," Clara's father said.

And Clara sat alone, right at the back as everyone else left, sitting still, very still, and thinking of her father, and one of his truths.

Copyright © 2017 by Samantha Murray

 

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

HOME

The Editor's Word

FICTION
BRAGGING RITES
by Samantha Murray

THE TRAGEDY OF THE DEAD
IS THAT THEY CANNOT CRY

by Sunil Patel

THE LOYAL ORDER OF BEASTS
by Kay Kenyon
YOU CAN ALWAYS
CHANGE THE PAST
by George Nikolopoulos
IT TAKES A SPECIAL-
SPECIAL PERSON

by Andrea G. Stewart

LOCKED ROOM
by Kevin J. Anderson

GOLF TO THE DEATH
by Alex Shvartsman

MY MONSTER CAN BEAT
UP YOUR MONSTER
by Brennan Harvey
THE OBSERVER
by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
YOUR GRIEF IS
IMPORTANT TO US
by Yaroslav Barsukov
DO NOT CALL ME BENTO
by Tina Gower

IN THE GROUP
by Robert Silverberg

INTERVIEW
Mike Resnick
by Joy Ward

SERIALIZATION
Double Star (Part 2)
Heinlein's First Hugo Winner
by Robert A. Heinlein

COLUMNS
From the Heart's Basement
by Barry N. Malzberg
Science Column
by Gregory Benford
Recommended Books
by Bill Fawcett & Jody Lynn Nye

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright © Arc Manor LLC 2017. All Rights Reserved. Galaxy's Edge is an online magazine published every two months (January, March, May, July, September, November) by Phoenix Pick, the Science Fiction and Fantasy imprint of Arc Manor Publishers.