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2015 Story 136

136. KATYA & PETRA by Kerry Cullen, from Superstition Review.  Full disclaimer: I've known Kerry since she was a kid, and so I'm really proud every time I see Kerry Cullen's name in print. It helps that she's a really great writer. This short but chilling piece centers on two very young sisters (six and four) who must survive a ritual trip into a dangerous forest. The tone of the story feels very much like an Eastern European fairy tale, even though the traditional elements (creatures in the woods, etc) are all off-screen, implied rather than implicit. The story is told in first person by the mother of the girls (their father's name is Peter, a hunter of some reknown, which adds to the Eastern European, "Peter and the Wolf" feel), and there's a sparseness to her language as she relates the story that speaks to expectant grieving combined with the inability to break from tradition that makes some people strong and others weak. I can't repeat the word "chilling" enough. Chilling, moving, and damn fine work.

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