Special Contest Feature: Lisa Nohner

Lisa Nohner’s moving story about the love between a parent and child, “Daughter Electric,” was named a semi-finalist in the 2014 Psychopomp Magazine Short Fiction Contest. We’re very pleased to be able to feature it now on our website. Below is a little teaser from the opening paragraphs. If you like what you see, just follow the link to load the full version.

All you had to do was keep an eye on her. Bare minimum: keep her safe. For Chrissakes, that was what they were paying you for. Her safety was your only responsibility. All the other stuff— the stories you read to her, the movies you took her to, the games you played—those were extras. No matter how many times you let her stay up late, or took her to the playground, or forked over sixty bucks for a stable to house her plastic ponies, none of those things can make up for this moment.
          This failure.
          “Ma’am?” Near the swing-set, a man with a large black dog is shouting. “Ma’am, I’m calling the police!”
          “Don’t! It’s okay, it’s alright!” The sleeves of your jacket are steeped in oily lake water, and the planks of the dock dig into your stomach and ribs. AnnaBella is face down, sinking fast. All you see are her lovely golden curls, rising from the nape of her neck. Oh God, the card. The fucking card.
          When you wrench her from the water, she is so much heavier than you ever remembered. As you throw her over your shoulder, steam rises from her body. Her little limbs lock and twitch, lock and twitch.
          “Miss, please. Let me help, I’m CPR Certified!” A middle-aged blonde woman is on your heels, following you to the parking lot. She reaches out to grab your coat. You shake her off, hurrying to your SUV. AnnaBella weighs a thousand pounds. Your freezing arms are aching. The Silver Lake geese clear your path, hissing as they move.
          Sirens whine in the distance. When you finally reach the car, you punch in the code to unlock the doors. As you deposit AnnaBella, flinching and shuddering into the backseat, it seems a blessing that you cannot see her face.
          “Miss?” The blonde woman is peering over your shoulder into the vehicle. She is slight and tan, the platinum of her hair betrayed by the sight of dark roots. Diamonds flash in her earlobes. Probably she works at the Mayo Clinic. Clearly she thinks this is her problem. “Miss, just wait for the ambulance to arrive. Your daughter needs medical attention.”
          “She’s not my daughter,” you spit.
          But as you burn out of the parking lot, missing the arrival of the ambulance by mere seconds, it occurs to you that you have lied.
          Your brain feels full of broken glass. The stretch of Highway 52 from Rochester to Minneapolis could not move any more slowly on a Thursday afternoon. Twice, you’ve pulled over to ensure AnnaBella (AB, as you sometimes call her) is fully covered by the fleece blanket in your backseat. It’s too bad you left the phone charger at home, because you’d love to call Jake right now. Or Tech Support. They’d know what to do . . . Continue Reading