Arielle Walker's Reviews > A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers

A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers by Alyssa Wong
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it was amazing
bookshelves: fantasy-unusual, gorgeous-writing, short-stories-and-novellas, want-to-own, bipoc, queer
Read 2 times. Last read December 28, 2018.

If I could knit you a crown of potential futures like the daisies you braided together for me when we were young, I would.

I read this too fast, found it beautiful, but missed... something.

Read it again instantly (it's short enough).

The day my sister ended the world, the sky opened up in rain for the first time in years, flooding the desert wash behind our house. The snakes drowned in their holes and the javelinas stampeded downstream, but the water overtook them, and the air filled with their screaming as they were swept away.

I'd had a few Tor shorts by Alyssa Wong sitting on my To Read shelf for months- years, even - waiting for me to have the patience to read a single short story on an actual screen. I'm a page and print and scent-of-paper-book person, no apologies. Except that pedantic-ness nearly stopped me stumbling across this thunder-shock of a tale, which would have been a travesty.
Melanie was better at everything than I was, the stormy bit and the talking bit both. She could split the horizon in two if she wanted, opening it at the seams as deftly as a tailor, and make the lightning curl catlike at her wrist and purr for her. She could do that with people too; Mel glowed, soft, luminescent. It was hard to look away from her, and so easy to disappear into her shadow.

The story is slippery to grasp, at first, with prose that feels like almost too much, too beautiful on a first read, easy to skim over. To skim over, and then be pulled back into. (I started again). The second time through, the heartbreaking everything is clear. The twists and turns of the story, the ripples and shockwaves out into (maybe) other universes, other pasts and presents, the inevitability and (maybe) not inevitability of the endings.
“Why did you come back?” were the last words she said to me before she went up in flames, taking the rest of the universe with her.

It's the kind of short story that begs a longer and a longer telling. Is Wong working on a novel? Novella, even? Novellette?
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Reading Progress

October 10, 2017 – Started Reading
October 10, 2017 – Shelved
October 10, 2017 – Shelved as: fantasy-unusual
October 10, 2017 – Shelved as: gorgeous-writing
October 10, 2017 – Shelved as: short-stories-and-novellas
October 10, 2017 – Shelved as: want-to-own
October 10, 2017 – Finished Reading
December 28, 2018 – Started Reading
December 28, 2018 – Finished Reading
January 24, 2019 – Shelved as: bipoc
January 24, 2019 – Shelved as: queer

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