The Early Ones

Like all monsters, we don’t belong, but our problem is time and not space. We got here too early. We have always had this sense of wrongful, unseemly arrival. We arrived before community, before there was language to describe us, before the “Other” box on the census, before the war.

We are the hiss in the woodshed, the curious stench. But to see us run on the great plain at dawn is to see the landscape returned to itself, beyond plastic and smog, returned to its archaic splendor, the panoply of acacia shadows, the thousand and one varieties of blue. We run. Sometimes we are fleeing and sometimes dancing. Once my brother was shot in the leg. We spent the night shivering in the branches of a tree. The next day, I remember, there was a festival in the town, everyone hanging their family names like lighted wreaths.

My brother leaned on me heavily, limping down the empty street. Sweet desolation of the hour when the lights come on. We peered into all the houses where, deep in the wintry windows, our reflections glimmered, crowned with electric candles.


Sofia Samatar & Del Samatar

Sofia Samatar is the author of the novels A Stranger in Olondria and The Winged Histories, and the short story collection, Tender. Her work has received the William L. Crawford Award, the John W. Campbell Award, the British Fantasy Award, and the World Fantasy Award.

Del Samatar holds a BA in Fine Arts from Rutgers University. He lives in New Jersey, where he is pursuing a career as a tattoo artist.

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