She is the best, Hananh tells the reader. Her name is Gwenneth. Among her sensitivities are the ability to “overhear a conversation between spirits in a gurgling brook or overturn those rare rocks with djinn correspondence carved on the bottom.”
Hananh herself is sensitive. She knows the acacias have been talking about her, but she can no longer hear them. She’s recently gone deaf and called Gwenneth to seek a remedy or at least a reason for that. Hananh brings her mesquite honey and crackers.
Gwenneth eventually leaves the property in her search and takes to the desert, walking down a dry riverbed lined with acacias. Hananh brings her water.
The dialogue is sparse in this little story, but the imagery is rich. The reader sees the desert bluffs and feels the dry desert air. The reader never feels left out of the action. We know Hananh well, follow her on her journey to hear what she can no longer hear, to see what lies under the next stone. Perhaps.
I found the ending unexpected (nice), but still not quite satisfying. Maybe I’m dull, and there’s something I didn’t get, but for me, a “huh?” remained hanging in the air.
All said and done, I enjoyed this tale, even with its don’t-quite-get-it ending.
Title: “It Will Be Under the Next Stone”
Author: Jennifer Linnaea
First published: Daily Science Fiction, August 6, 2018
According to her author’s blurb, Jennifer Linnaea works at a library, studies Japanese, and practices Aikido. Her fiction has appeared recently in Strange Horizons and Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet. Her favorite topics are aliens and language, and the novel she’s currently working on involves both of those. She lives in Eugene, Oregon.
The story can be read here.