The Unsettling: Stories
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A lonely man saving library books from an outbreak of mold listens to a coworker’s tale about a blind woman and imbues it with his own sense of romance; a woman drives a Gold Firebird through the desert with a television playing "Rockford Files" reruns on the passenger seat; and a girl returns to her childhood home to spy on its new inhabitants, not realizing they are aware of her surveillance; a Poe-obsessed medical examiner constructs ornate scenes in an attempt to provoke hope in the forgotten lives of a dark and desperate city.
Told through Rock’s imaginative and wholly original voice, these are haunted tales about fascination, transformation, and the relationship between the two.
eyes, and she didn’t seem to see him. Her eyebrows had always been tweezed into a narrow arch; now they were returning, thickening. She stood there, barefoot on the concrete porch, the toenails of her left foot painted red. All the words on the list in Marco’s hand tilted, and some stretched off the edge of the paper, cut short. Others were written right on top of each other; he struggled to untangle them. When he returned from the store, he offered to put the things away for her, and she said
his place after everything happened. Derek will know me, even if I look different, even if my hands and feet are rougher than back when we’d drive up one of the canyons, when we’d hike a little way off the road. He had a portable hammock that folded up tight to fit in his pocket, and he’d tie the fancy knots he knew, string it up between trees. We’d lie there, pressed together side by side—shoulder to shoulder, hip to hip—staring up through the branches at the constellations neither of us could
is writing in a notebook; another measures everything with a tape, takes photographs. Shattered glass crunches under Randall’s feet as he walks close to the yellow car, looking in as he passes. A broken cassette player rests in the back seat, black tape strewn and tangled everywhere, the upholstery all torn with foam showing through. Someone is talking about the jaws of life. A ripped map rests on the front seat, orange Cheetos everywhere. Empty soda cans spill out from under the front of the
today,” he said. “That’s how I recognized you.” “I had them in the dream?” A car passed, spraying them both with slush; they did not move out of the way. “You didn’t really do anything,” Edward said. “Except that, when I was in the room, you appeared in the window, looking in, just kind of floating there, watching me, with those flowers in your hand.” “Floating?” she said. “What was I watching you do?” “Exactly what I was doing, just now. There weren’t any lights in the room, so I had to use
took a sip. In that dim light, the skin of his face almost appeared to be one color. I ladled out some cider for myself, sniffed it, then set it aside. The show was about to begin. The people on the straw bales shifted closer together, crowded; some of them were young children, brought by their parents. A woman wearing a gingham dress—a girl, really, with cropped, red hair—picked up an accordion. Next to her, a heavy, dark-haired woman in corduroy overalls strapped on an electric bass. The