Escape Pod 702: Inheritance


By Elise Stephens

Carmen would have expected a gold necklace or tarnished antique, maybe some money or a secret family recipe card, but she’d never dreamed her grandmother would try to immortalize herself through an inheritance like this.

The attorney was holding a velvet-covered box in his open palms as he explained, “Maria Elena had these memory grafts discreetly extracted prior to her death. She chose not to inform the family beforehand. I believe she felt her memories could safely be left to the care of the third generation, that is, the three of you.”

Carmen was relieved to see that both her siblings were likewise surprised by the news.

Mr. Hoffman tapped the box with his thumbs. “As you may know, memory grafts are a practical-application variety of memory extraction. They’re a refined amalgamation of all memories and experiences related to specific fields or areas of expertise.”

“So there’s no real estate or stocks. It’s just her memories,” Mario said, eyebrows raised.

“She was never rich to begin with,” Daniela said. “Living in that tiny place after Grandpa died. Unless she was secretly saving up, how did she afford an extraction?”

Carmen shifted in her chair, praying she hadn’t bled through onto her seat and wishing for water so she could take her iron pill. Thus far, no one had noticed her sway when she walked, but much longer without food, and the dizziness would become obvious.

Mario squeezed Carmen’s hand, then Dani’s. “Could we see the graft tiles?” he said softly.

Mr. Hoffman set the box onto the glossy tabletop. “Your grandmother was a gifted woman. She’s bequeathed her skills in teaching, public speaking, psycho-social techniques, and gardening, to name a few. She hasn’t assigned the grafts, so the distribution will be your responsibility. You’ll have as much time as you need to yourselves. When your lunch arrives, they’ll knock before they enter.” He slid the box to Mario, who’d seated himself between Carmen and Daniela at the head of the table.

Through the open windows, a clear sky shone over Pioneer Square. The King Street Station clock face reflected on the table’s surface in an artificial moonrise.

When they were alone, Carmen said to Mario, “You were there when she died. Did she hint that this was coming?”

Carmen had bought the small potted tree the day after they returned from their honeymoon. She’d admired its oblong leaves, like flattened emerald canoes. Its braided woody stems were thought to bind together good fortune, giving it the nickname ‘money tree.’ Its tropical origins made the plant difficult to overwater, the nursery staff had assured her. She’d named it Shakira, because the name echoed its Latin, Pachira Aquatica, and because she’d always loved naming things.

Mario rubbed a finger along the box’s velvet lid. “Nope. No hints. She thought I was Grandpa for the last hour. Kept calling me ‘Tony.’ And then, she just decided it was time. She kissed my hand right here,” Mario tapped his left knuckles, “and said, ‘life, mi amor, can never truly be stopped.’ Then she closed her eyes and went to sleep. Didn’t know she was gone until a nurse told me.”

Dani shook her head slowly, chewing. Her gum’s cinnamon scent woke a mild nausea in Carmen.

“And she didn’t leave anything for Mom or Aunt Linda,” Dani murmured in horror. “We’ll never hear the end of this.”

Mario grimaced. “Nothing we can do about that now.”

“Let’s see what’s inside,” Dani said. “We don’t have to freak out. It’s just Grandma.”

Mario nodded and opened the lid. His fingers trembled at first, but grew steadier as he laid the tiles out.

Carmen thought over the media coverage she’d seen of memory grafts. Several renowned business and thought leaders had undergone extractions prior to their passing and sold their skillsets via auction.

It was a cutting-edge, fairly new procedure. The sort of thing that celebrities fought over on the covers of the gossip magazines, but nothing that Carmen would’ve imagined for herself. And why not be practical and just leave them money?

Dani squealed, gripping Mario’s shoulder. “Her conversation skills! She was so witty! And that one’s her dance moves!”

“She was supposedly quite the catch when Grandpa met her,” Mario said.

Carmen tried to imagine Grandma Lena dancing the merengue, hips swaying, black hair in a smooth coil, but she couldn’t reconcile it with the woman she’d known, who’d barked as often as she laughed and wielded a tongue as sharp as a stiletto heel.

The lunch arrived, and Carmen tore into her steak and kale salad. Her head cleared slightly.

“I met one of her old students during our Argentina trip,” Mario said, wiping sandwich crumbs from his mouth. “He said Grandma was super strict, but hilarious, too.” Mario picked up the tile etched with classroom experience, then glanced at Carmen. “Dani and I have our first picks. Your turn.”

It was like a game of dominoes. The tiles were even shaped like them. And weren’t the pieces sometimes called ‘bones’ in dominoes? Carmen shuddered.

She ignored Mario’s stare and watched Dani reapply her tomato-red lipstick. Finally, she said, “Doesn’t matter to me. This is weird and kind of creepy. Pick whatever you want. I’ll take what’s left.”

Before. The word was quarantined now, set behind glass; an innocent, luminous ideal. Before the blood, before the snot choking her throat, before the ultrasounds without a heartbeat. Before, when she and Richard went to IKEA and picked out decorations. A round green-and-yellow rug. Adhesive wall art with vines and monkeys. Colorful, tasteful, fluent in the language of hope. Richard wouldn’t buy any of the cribs. He had reasons why each wasn’t good enough. Carmen never thought to ask him why.

Mario had his lecture face on. “It’s all we have from her, Carmen.” He touched her arm gently. “There’s really nothing you want?”

She pulled away. “I don’t have the same warm fuzzies as you. Grandma and I argued more than we talked.”

You are too much alike, Carmen’s mother had always said.

What Carmen remembered was being criticized for the way she dressed and constantly being told to speak up. Later, she discovered her grandmother had been going deaf and hiding it.

“But you grew out of that,” Mario insisted.

Carmen shrugged. She was the awkward middle-child: Neither the smart, responsible Mario, nor the chubby, adorable baby Daniela. Some parts of childhood stayed frozen.

Dani was fingering a third tile.

Carmen said, “The graft transfers are permanent, and I’m not ready for that. So pick whatever you want.”

They left half an hour later. Mario chose Grandma Lena’s skills in teaching and public speaking. He’d employ them on his path toward a PhD in Mathematics where he currently struggled to keep his students awake during class.

“I might even learn to speak math in a way that they care about,” he’d half-joked.

Dani chose Lena’s psycho-social repertoire as well as her mastery of salsa and merengue. “Got a good feeling about my next date,” she’d said with a wink. Her current quest for a mate amongst the online dating world was well-known within the family.

Carmen gathered the two remaining tiles labeled cooking and gardening. The latter was laughably appropriate, as she had just her little tree, Shakira, as the sole houseplant she’d yet to kill in all three years of her marriage. Everything else had died in under six months.

Mr. Hoffman gave them contact information for the transfer center where Lena had banked her memory grafts. They could schedule the transfer at their leisure, all expenses covered.

Carmen wanted her siblings to leave first, to let her stagger out with dignity, but Mario was waiting for her. She rose slowly. It should have been slow enough, but black dots swarmed her vision. She tried to straighten, but the tunnel constricted until she finally knelt to avoid fainting.

“Carmen!” Mario was gripping her elbow, kneeling to peer at her face, checking her forehead with the back of his hand, just like their mother.

“Low iron,” she mumbled, clutching at him. “The anemia makes me light-headed.”

“When did…” Mario paused as realization dawned. “Were you…?”

She looked down, tears blurring her vision. “We miscarried again. Three days ago. Blood loss got me into the ER.”

His hand tightened around her arm. “Oh, God…not again.” He added hoarsely, “Lo siento.

Carmen’s throat closed. She forced it open with a cough. “I don’t want to talk about it. We’re here for Grandma today, not me.”

“We should have rescheduled. You’re not well.”

“And I won’t be well for a long time.” She met his eyes, tried to smooth her face, and managed a gentle tone, despite the bitterness in her throat. “Life stops for no one, okay?”

“At least lean on my arm while you walk to your car.”

“Fine…thank you.”

Sometimes, late at night, Carmen stood in the spare room and sang lullabies, rocking side-to-side with her arms around herself. She’d planned to sing lullabies here, so she did, if only to fill her own ears with a semblance of peace.

Mario and Dani must have made next-day appointments because Carmen received a group text from Dani just two days after meeting with Hoffman. Carmen was lying on the sofa, feet elevated, staring at her money tree beside the dark television screen while Richard washed the dinner dishes, when the text message chimed.

Dani: Grandma inheritance update: something happened when I got out of the shower today.

Mario: Wait… Is this a TMI text?

Dani: I was picking out my clothes and I heard this voice in my head saying, “you’re beautiful.”

Mario: Creepy.

Dani: If you were a woman, you’d be smiling with me instead of getting your snark on. Anyway, I started to believe it because it was in my head, like I was talking to myself, you know?

Mario: Well, since I’m not a woman…no.

Dani: Lightbulb: It’s her confidence, not her fashion sense that I needed! I can wear sweats and still look like a queen!

Mario: Sounds positive, but please don’t come to my dissertation defense in sweats.

Dani: It *is* positive, and shush, you, I’m reveling in my natural beauty right now.  So…I closed my online dating profile because I want some space. But…I feel like men are already looking at me differently. Is that weird?

Mario: Absolutely. But maybe it’s good, too. Now my turn.

Dani: I promise to listen much more politely than you just did. :p

Carmen left her phone on the couch and went to the bathroom to brush her teeth. A minute later, Richard appeared. He must have noticed her stiff body language. He was good at that.

She spat toothpaste, then said, “Mario and Dani are raving about their new memory grafts.”

“Is there something stopping you from going in for yours?” he asked gently.

She met his eyes in the mirror. “I have enough mental junk already.” She paused, tried to stop the rest of the words, failed. “I keep dreaming I feel the baby kicking.”

Richard took her hand and squeezed it.

“I can’t get out of bed before noon,” she said. “Folks from the office keep calling to check in.”

“They’re not supposed to do that,” he said. “Do you want me to tell your boss?”

She shook her head. “Someone’s bound to ask. I don’t want to give details and I don’t want to lie and say I’m getting better because maybe my body’s healing, but my mind’s worse because the shock’s wearing off and we’re not—we’re not…” she heaved for a moment over the sink.

Richard stroked her hair until she’d calmed enough to let him hold her. Chin on her head, he said, “I heard a song about a baby on the radio while I was driving to work yesterday. Had to pull over.”

She watched him remove his glasses and wipe the lenses on his shirt tail. Carmen silently chided herself for believing her husband couldn’t have felt the same depths of loss simply because he didn’t share the twinges and cramps and nights of blood.

Softly, he said, “Don’t you think something good could come from a memory graft? Even just as something else to focus on?”

She shook her head. “I don’t want her memories crowding me. I want to be alone.”

Lying in bed, Carmen read the rest of the text thread from her siblings.

Mario: My students paid attention today! One of them thanked me for a “super relevant” analogy.

Dani: Nice.

Mario: But here’s the freaky part—I have memories of former students who help me relate to my current ones…but I’ve *never met* those former students.

Dani: Wait, what??

Mario: I know!! They must be from Grandma’s classes. But suddenly I know them well.

Dani: Whoa. Honestly, tho, I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Mario: Yeah, she was a fabulous, talented lady. And sometimes scary as hell.

Dani: Right???

Mario: Hey Carmen, you out there? Are you a domestic goddess of the hearth and garden yet?

Dani: Maybe she’s asleep.

Carmen turned off her phone.

After losing the pregnancy for the second time around and entering another season of blood and drugs, Carmen would lay on the couch after victoriously dragging herself out of bed. She’d stare at Shakira, feeling the tree’s silent accusations of neglect. One morning, when Carmen rose to get a glass of water, she pushed Shakira into a shaded corner of the living room. As her final stroke of malice against the plant, she shoved the blue plastic watering can under her side of the bed.

Carmen found herself outside, walking hard and fast, silent earbuds inserted for conversation prevention.

An hour later, she halted in front of a small medical building on an elm-lined street. The transfer center. She recognized the picture from the business card. Despite telling Richard she wanted to be alone, Carmen also believed fiercely in fate. And her feet had led her here.

She hesitated several minutes, then cursed softly and dialed Richard.

“I’m gonna do it,” she said. “My gut’s telling me to. You know the grafts are permanent, right?”

“Even if you back out last-minute, I’ll support you,” he said. “And if you go through with it, I know you’ll show those memories who’s boss.” She could hear him smiling.

Carmen hung up and went inside.

Once she’d made it to eleven weeks, Richard had revealed his secret project: a handmade wooden crib. She didn’t have the heart to make him wait to assemble it. And then, at thirteen weeks, she’d woken up one morning inside a pool of red. She’d gone to the hospital for an emergency D&C surgery to staunch the blood loss. When she came back home, she stood in the doorway of the Baby Room and looked at the crib in pieces, broken down and stacked in piles by length. More than any of the horrible things she’d witnessed at the hospital, Carmen had wept hardest for the crib bones.

The transfer center’s recliner chair was a lot like the dentist’s, but with more operating lights and an arsenal of loaded syringes beside it. Carmen tried hard to avoid associations, but nevertheless the operating room conjured memories of a chamber in which she’d lain prostrate, listening to an ultrasound showing total absence of intrauterine life. A third failed pregnancy. Two years of trying to conceive with nothing, followed by three spontaneous abortions.

“A wipe offers a pure transfer,” the young assistant explained as Carmen rubbed her eyes on her sleeve. “Any of your own experiences in the category will be cleared out to make room for the graft. In a merge, we map the grafted memories to cluster with your existing memories, creating a blended experience.”

Let Grandma Lena take over completely or find a compromise.

“I think I want a merge.”

“Of course. Be aware that both versions will remain. You might, for instance, find yourself with two techniques for making a bed or hard-boiling an egg.”

“I’ve dealt with inner conflict before. I’m sure I’ll manage.”

After the procedure, Carmen sat in a quiet room drinking juice and waiting for her head to stop throbbing.

“You may find yourself searching for the new memories,” the doctor had explained, “but the mind doesn’t work like a reference library. We’ve added some volumes to the bookshelf, but your brain will take a few days to unpack it into a format that suits its networked processes. Grafts rouse by association. If it’s a memory about swimming, it may bubble up when you smell chlorine or saltwater. Be patient. Memories will likely surface when you aren’t expecting them. We can also refer you to several excellent therapists, should this be helpful during the transition period.”

Carmen turned off the television and rubbed her eyes. It was a bright Saturday afternoon, but her fatigue was thick as midnight. Two months after miscarriage number two and she was still good for nothing. She blinked. Something glittered at the base of Shakira’s pot. Sunlight on red-etched glass. It was one of the Pyrex measuring cups she used for cooking. Richard had taken the little tree under his wing. He’d watered it after she gave up.

The morning after she visited the transfer center, Carmen was squeezing fresh orange juice and stirring a sugar glaze in a saucepan on the stove when Richard greeted her with a kiss.

“Good morning, sunshine,” he said. “What’s that you’re humming?”

“Mi Buenos Aires Querido.” She blinked, then giggled nervously. “It was one of Grandma Lena’s favorites.”

She glanced back at the stove top and hissed. “I keep turning on the wrong burner, like I’m remembering the knob in a different place.” The precise truth of her words sank in. She shook it off and finished cooking Richard’s favorite breakfast. Later, she made a trip to Swanson’s nursery for some herb garden seeds.

By the week’s end, the tray of earth in the kitchen had burst into tiny rows of monocots and dicots.

She sometimes wished she could still call the second bedroom the Spare Room, but its name had shifted irrevocably. Now it was full of boxed-up dreams, like a metaphorical womb, like an altar to a shimmering joy that drifted always out of reach. It was the Baby Room, just without a namesake to challenge the empty lie.

Dani had arrived at the restaurant first. Carmen studied her sister from a distance before she approached. The siblings had agreed to get cocktails and swap Grandma Lena legacy stories.

Dani had cut her hair to a stylish bob. Her lip color had shifted from bright red to a subtle gold-brown. She was asking the server about the drink list, making lots of smiling eye-contact. As Carmen took a seat, Dani shot her a glowing smile.

“Hey! How’s it going?”

Carmen pushed aside the wine list. “Do they have raspberry lemonade?”

“Oh, get something exciting! It’s Mario’s treat!”

Carmen perused the cocktails, fighting bitter reminders that if she were pregnant, she could resist ordering alcohol with blithe authority. Despite Dani being younger, she still often managed to push Carmen around. Carmen finally ordered a lemon drop, then continued observing her sister.

Dani was more confident, less self-aware. They were discussing how their mother and aunt were slowly making peace with Lena’s inheritance when Mario appeared.

He wore red-framed eyeglasses and had replaced his worn beige blazer with a sharp, fitted one in charcoal gray. As he took his seat, Dani winked at him.

“Looking good, my man.”

Mario smiled apologetically. “I went shopping. To start looking like the teacher I want to be.” He dragged a hand down his face. “Dime la verdad, is it too much?”

Dani gave a soft cat-call and he blushed.

“You look very nice,” Carmen assured him. “Is the look fiancée approved?”

He nodded, blushing harder.

Carmen said, “Considering some of Grandma Lena’s truly outrageous get-ups, you should be grateful.”

“Well, yes, but the jury’s still out.” Mario plunked his phone onto the table. “A student posted this online. He secretly recorded it yesterday.”

In the video, Mario was striding, no, strutting, in front of a blackboard wearing a canary yellow tie. Suddenly he spun, calling on students with enthusiastic intensity. Carmen belatedly recalled that her brother hadn’t needed vision correction ever since his Lasik, but he was whipping his glasses on and off his nose for added emphasis.

When the video clip ended, Dani broke into applause.

Carmen smiled. “It’s kind of ridiculous, but the students seem to like your new flair.”

Grinning wider, Dani asked, “Have any co-eds painted ‘love you’ on their eyelids so they can blink it slowly at you?”

Mario ran a hand through his hair. “I’ve, uh, received extremely forward invitations from multiple young women.” He grimaced. “It’s not all flattery, though. Got into a shouting match with my department chair at a faculty meeting. I didn’t just get Grandma’s teaching skills, I got her temper. Apparently, they come as a set.”

Dani leaned forward. “I know, right? It’s a mixed bag. I didn’t even know I still owned a pair of high heels, but suddenly I was digging them out and wearing them!”

“Did you twist your ankle?” Carmen asked.

“Twice a freaking hour, yes!” Dani rolled her eyes. “I mean, I like how I feel about myself now, but some things I’d happily delete.” She pulled a pack of cigarettes from her purse.

“Wait.” Mario’s eyes narrowed. “When did you start?”

Dani stuck the cigarette between her teeth. “I didn’t. She did this her whole adult life. I’m just picking it up.”

Carmen snatched the cigarette and threw it on the ground. “You’ve got to have at least some self-control. And, habit or not, you can’t smoke in here.”

When Dani arched an eyebrow in challenge, Carmen’s skin prickled. She could still see Grandma Lena doing that.

“Okay, okay,” Mario said, redirecting. “Yeah, there’s positive outcomes. But there’s also side-effects, like any drug—though I’d say Grandma is more complex than pharmaceuticals.”

Dani snorted as she bent to retrieve the cigarette.

Mario said, “I’m a little haunted knowing that every time I say ‘yes’ to part of her, I’m saying ‘no’ to my own version.” After an awkward pause, he poked Carmen’s arm. “What’s it been like for you?”

She shrugged. “Well, I’ve started bringing home orphaned plants and repotting them. I offer unsolicited gardening advice to strangers. After I cooked Richard his favorite breakfast five days in a row, he finally told me that his favorite was still bacon, eggs, and an English muffin, not the medialunas and coffee with orange juice that I’d been serving. He thought it was so cute, he didn’t say anything, at first. Even when I kissed his bald spot.”

“Wait a minute,” Dani said, slowly, “Richard isn’t balding.”

Mario nodded. “She was cooking Grandpa Tony’s favorite breakfast. Carmen was kissing Grandpa’s bald spot.”

Carmen tried to smile, but she felt shivery. They were all changing. And they’d each had a dose of the real Lena: the mud mixed in with the treasure.

She didn’t mention that an hour before coming to the restaurant, she’d attacked Richard with a vicious, once-sided word-storm as soon as he returned from work. After a few minutes, Richard had raised his hands and said gently, “I don’t think this is Carmen speaking.”

Carmen rose to leave as soon as she’d finished her lemon drop, declining a second drink. Mario’s eyes had revealed that he was about to ask a prying question.

“How are—” he began.

“Please,” she begged him as she shouldered her purse. “No questions about my health.”

On the drive back, Carmen connected the pieces of her disappointed frustration. No matter how good she might become at cooking or gardening, neither would bring her closer to the one thing she wanted.

Mario’s career would excel, Dani would probably attract the mate she’d been pining for, and Carmen would go on rejecting the blood her body had briefly stockpiled for a baby’s nourishment. Memory grafts were not going to fix her womb.

She ran a red light and nearly hit a dog two blocks from home.

That night, Carmen had a nightmare in which she stood over an old-fashioned wood stove and pushed pacifiers, diapers, and tiny knit socks into its flaming mouth. She opened her eyes to certainty: Lena had harbored the same gnawing grief of lost children within herself, helpless to fill it.

Carmen knew with a growing conviction that she’d have to address Lena’s presence directly or risk her mind becoming a permanent battleground. She got out of bed and lit two of the tea light candles she kept on the window sill. The soft illumination made her feel purposeful. She settled herself on the sofa and shut her eyes, heartbeat quickening. As she saw it, she had three options:

A) Banish Lena’s memories to an isolated corner of herself, using them as tools only when she saw fit. B) Allow Lena to completely dominate the fields of her expertise, and let her own personal experiences in cooking and gardening diminish. Or C) Humbly welcome Lena into those parts of herself, but set firm boundaries, meeting together as equals.

Carmen opened her eyes. She and her grandmother were peers now. Age no longer mattered. They were just two souls learning to help and listen to one other. She shut her eyes again.

I don’t want to fight you. We did plenty of that when you were alive. But I need to keep a part of myself, too. She swallowed hard. We have to be a team.

It was slowly coming clear. The technician hadn’t fully explained the memory merge; it was an ongoing process, a gradual, tenuous mental reorg as Carmen assimilated the foreign pieces into herself.

That evening, she imagined she sat across the table from her grandmother and shared a silence filled with known longing and heartbreak. Carmen told Lena she would have named the baby Lily, if it had been a girl. Lena showed Carmen the lilac bush that marked the burial of her third pregnancy.

Carmen discovered small cottony-white clusters clinging to Shakira’s trunk. Mealy bugs. She remembered Lena cursing the critters. She fetched rubbing alcohol and Q-tips from the bathroom, then knelt before the plant and began to dab at the pests. Twice she caught herself whispering to the tree, “It’s going to be all right.”

Carmen woke at the first touch of dawn with her chest missing some of its hollow ache. For the first time, she didn’t have to stand under the shower for five extra minutes, trying to persuade herself to turn it off. Her feet led her to the Baby Room, and she knew what she had to do. Lena would lend her the strength.

As she glanced over her seedling’s progress, she felt mental clouds parting. The young plants were spreading their cheerful green leaves, pressing upward into the air, and insisting upon their own loveliness.

She returned to the Baby Room, a little braver. She wiped her nose, pulled a flattened cardboard box from the closet, and assembled it with strapping tape. She laid inside it all things related to a miniature human: a few storybooks from her childhood, the pieces of the disassembled crib, a box of Legos that Richard’s parents had delivered a month after their marriage for when the future little ones were “ready to build stuff.” She rolled up the green-and-yellow rug and pushed it deep into the closet.

With the blank slate before her, she dragged an armchair to stand under the window, then surrounded it with her adopted potted plants, encircling the chair with them like a cluster of ducklings. Carmen hurried to the kitchen to pop the medialunas into the oven, then brought in her money tree as the final touch. She bent over Shakira’s braided trunk and let her tears make a silent apology for her past abandonment. She set the little tree in the window sill where it presided over all, a tiny queen restored to the light.

Richard re-named the spare room The Jungle, with its multiplying pots of growing things. He dubbed the smaller kitchen version The Oasis. One night, she told him, “I asked my friend Salwa what the word Shakira means in Arabic. Know what she said?”

He waited for the answer.

“Thankfulness,” Carmen whispered.

He kissed her forehead, letting the silence speak, letting the picture of their imagined family grow a little darker. Finally, he said, “I’m still trying to figure out what you found in those plants. It’s almost like your long-lost calling.”

She laid her head on his shoulder and sighed. It couldn’t really be explained. She knew herself as both a garden and a grave now. The vitality of the plants had called to her as they exploded from seed to sprout to leafy stalk, then budded and bloomed, offering fragrance or fruit, but always offering something that expanded into the future.

She finally said, “Because life, mi amor, can never truly be stopped.”

About the Author

Elise Stephens

Elise Stephens

Elise Stephens’ storytelling is influenced by a lifelong love of theater and a childhood of globetrotting. Much of her work focuses on themes of family, memory, and finding hope after a devastating loss. She is a first-place winner of Writers of the Future (2019). Her fiction has appeared in Analog, Galaxy’s Edge, Escape Pod, and FIYAH, among others. Elise lives in a house with huge windows to supply the vast quantities of light she requires to stay happy. She’s currently seeking representation for her next science fiction novel. Find her at

Find more by Elise Stephens

Elise Stephens

About the Narrator

S. Kay Nash

S. Kay Nash is a writer, editor, and occasional narrator. Raised by a cabal of university professors, anthropologists, and irritated librarians, she holds two degrees as magical wards to protect her from being hauled back into the ivory tower. Her short fiction has appeared in several anthologies including Road Kill: Texas Horror by Texas writers, volume 2.

She lives in Texas with a Mad Scientist and a peaceful contingent of cats and dogs. You can find her on Twitter @Gnashchick.

Find more by S. Kay Nash