8 August 2007 | Vol. 7, No. 2
The summer I was ten we had a terrible heat wave. You could hear the transformers exploding on the other side of the tracks. Old people were dying in their sleep. Everyone was afraid the weed men wouldn't come and we would all be devoured by weeds. I had more faith. Nothing stoked the fire of a weed man's soul like a battle with the elements. I'll never forget the time I saw a weed man working in a thunderstorm, water up to his ankles, lightning felling trees a hundred yards away, and the weed man oblivious to all but the weeds.
The weed men did eventually come that summer, as they always came, by empty boxcar. Ours appeared in the last week of June, and not a moment too soon, for the weeds in our backyard were already taller than me. I saw him trundling down our street—a weed man's walk was unmistakable, a kind of ape-like waddle, his back hunched, his arms rowing the air, his head bobbing side to side with the beat of his music—and I ran into the house shouting, Weed man! Weed man!
"All right, Elba," Mother said. "Settle down."
Mother, like most people in the war years, held weed men in suspicion. She discouraged me from talking to them and never, under any circumstance, would she allow one into the house. Much of this was Papa's doing. He hated weed men. I don't know why. He never would have hired them if he'd known a better way to kill weeds. Papa was not alone in this respect. The general feeling in those days about men who could not or would not fight for their country was that they were not men at all. But the golden days of weed men had been drawing to a close long before the war, a time when mothers could leave their children alone with a weed man and know with certainty that angels would not make better minders. A rash of shocking murders and a series of army recruitment posters depicting a weed man hunched over a weed abutting the boot of a tall, handsome soldier had tarnished the weed man's image beyond repair. Powerful new chemicals and weeding tools, unintended fruits of the war, would eventually erase weed men entirely from the pages of history, forgotten by all but those like myself for whom summer could never be summer without a weed man in the yard.
"I'll make the lemonade!" I squealed and dashed for the kitchen.
"Day, ma'am," I heard a gentle voice say. "You wouldn't have any use for a good old-fashioned weed man, would you?"
I peeked around the kitchen doorway. The weed man was standing on our porch, a respectable distance from the screen door. He looked tiny beside Mother. He was on the old side for a weed man, a crop of white chest hairs sprouting from his overalls. On his head he wore a strange yellow hat made of straw. This hat had no crown, and the weed man's bald, sunburned pate loomed above the brim like the planet Saturn. He kept rubbing his chin with his weed-stained fingers, as if unsure. I was afraid he wasn't going to take the job. At one point he looked up and caught me watching him. I spun around into the kitchen and stood there with my back to the wall, heart pounding.
At last I heard the weed man accept Mother's terms. I smiled and finished stirring the lemonade and set the pitcher on the windowsill to soak up some summer.
That first day, as was the custom, the weed man took his time getting acquainted with the weeds. Our back yard, a quarter-acre lot surrounded by a rust-colored, pine plank fence, was nothing but dirt and weeds. At one time Papa had dreamed of planting crops back there and selling to the local grocers whatever we didn't eat, but as with most of Papa's get-rich-quick schemes, nothing ever came of it. The deathcamases and milkweeds were the tallest weeds by far, towering above all the stubborn little foragers—the dandelions and skunkweeds and dogbanes and scores of others whose names I have long since forgotten. Judging by previous years, there were probably more than a thousand individual weeds in our backyard that summer.
All day long, without a break, without so much as a sip of water, the weed man mapped his passages, the routes he would follow when the weeding proper began. I watched him from the porch swing with complete absorption. Careful to avoid treading on the stems, the weed man walked among the weeds, stopping often to digest what he observed. He squatted down and sniffed the leaves and stems and empty seedpods. When a smell confused him he moved to a different part of the yard and sniffed again until he was sure of the identity of the weed. He went down on his fingers and toes (never his knees) and scurried about like a crab, assaying the soil with his raw senses. He picked up a small snake and forced its mouth open and looked down its throat. He studied the flight patterns of ladybugs and aphids. He tore off leaves and chewed them and looked up at the sky thoughtfully.
By the time the weed man finally emerged from the weeds, a giant yellow moon was climbing the branches of our big walnut tree. He hobbled over to the porch and set one foot on the second step and rested a forearm on the raised leg and took a long gander at me. I was sitting sideways to him, my feet not quite touching the ground, the swing swaying gently.
"So you want to be a weed man, do you?" he said. His jaw moved in a little circle, as if he were chewing, or just savoring, some tiny morsel. Two jewels of sweat dangled from the tips of his long, gray sideburns. His eyes, sad and wise, were the grayish-green color of lake sludge.
"I'm not supposed to talk to you," I said.
The weed man chuckled. More a croak than a laugh. He braced his hands against his lower back and made his bones crunch.
"You'd make a passable weed man, I expect," he said, as if he couldn't see what I was. "Plenty of weed in you."
"What's that supposed to mean?" I said.
"Just what it sounds like."
"It sounds like nonsense."
"That's all right," the weed man said and smiled. "There's lots of things a man takes as nonsense until he sees them in himself."
"I ain't no man," I said.
"No sir," he said. "I guess you're not." He took a piece of hard green candy from his overalls pocket and held it out to me. When he saw that I wasn't about to accept candy from a stranger he set it on the railing.
"Tell your mama I'll be back before sun-up tomorrow morning, and the three days following," he said and walked away, his Jew's harp twanging softly as he went.
I took the candy and sucked it for a while then spit it out into the dirt. It tasted like a sugared onion. A few minutes later I went down and picked it up and tossed it over the fence. It might have hurt his feelings in the morning. The first cricket of evening let out a wary chirp.
Mother ran the fountain at Rexall that summer, making burgers and milkshakes for the old-timers. She wasn't known there for her charm. It was her first job. Papa had left the previous winter, leaving Mother to raise me by herself. She'd lost weight. Lines had come into her face, mostly around her mouth. All her dresses had gone baggy on her. After supper I'd rub her skinny feet like she used to do for Papa after work. Evenings were quiet without him and Josephine around. Gone was the thwack of leather against flesh. The slamming doors. The shattering glass. It was exactly what Mother and I had wanted for so long, peace and quiet, and it was awful. It was too hot to close the windows, and there was nothing but the radio to drown out the hypnotic vibrations of the night bugs. The screens were alive with thousands of tiny legs and eyeballs, searching for ingress to the light. The house itself made strange thumps and sighs like an old wooden ship at sea. We'd listen to the radio and play a board game. It chokes me up to think of those times. Mother all to myself in that big empty house. The ratty old sofa. My whole life ahead of me. She used to give me a sip of her warm beer.
"Mama," I said. "Did you have weed men when you were a girl?"
We were sitting on the living room floor—it was coolest there—playing a game of Scrabble. Scrabble wasn't invented until after the war, but there it is, on the floor between us, in my memory. The Nelson Bladgett Trio was on the radio, playing "Moon for Two."
"I don't want you bothering that weed man, do you hear?" Mother said.
"Yes ma'am," I said and waited a while before I spoke again. "But did you?"
"Yes," she said. "And they were just as dumb as they are today. Of course they did more than pull weeds. They scraped the crud off your shoes and beat your drapes and burnt your garbage. Whatever you needed them to do. It wasn't all this mumbo jumbo with weeds. God only knows what goes on out in them camps at night. Living like a bunch of gypsies in this day and age."
"Living like what?" I said.
"Are you going to make a word or not?"
I added an S and an H to her ARK then said, as if only curious:
"Has there ever been a woman weed man before?"
"A woman weed man?" Mother gagged. "A weed woman?"
"Yes!" I said with delight. "A weed woman."
"What civilized woman would waste her life pulling weeds? With her bare hands! Gads. I've never heard anything so silly."
"No. Now leave off the weed men and let's finish this game. I have to work tomorrow."
I awoke in the middle of the night and stood on my bed, staring through the screen at the moonlit weeds. Deep, dark blue, the weeds seemed noble out there alone in the night. I got down and went out to the back porch. The smell of the weeds was strong, a sharp green stink ripe with foreboding. As if they sensed their fate and were calling out for help. I walked down to the weeds and grabbed a stem, delicately so as not to prick myself, and held it for a while, trying to see in my mind the web of roots below. I felt a strong urge to pull it, but I resisted. I stayed there for a long time, holding the weed, wondering if what the weed man had said about me was true.
By the time I awoke the next morning, the weed man was already hard at work. I got dressed and went out to the porch to watch him through Papa's binoculars. He was way out by the back fence. All I could see was the hump of his back above the weed-tops. Every now and then I'd catch a glimpse of his pulling hand down near the ground, but that was all. He was still finding his rhythm. As anyone knows who has ever tried to pull a weed, if you don't pull just right you might as well not pull at all. Knowing how hard or soft to pull, at what angle from plumb, with what amount of mid-pull adjustment to ensure that every last fiber of root is unearthed, is a skill of the highest order. I hesitate to call it an art—that term is so abused these days—but there really was an element of performance in the weed man's craft. There was a moment after he grasped a stem and before he pulled, a pause in the otherwise seamless flow of step and grasp and pull, when he seemed to be listening to something deep inside the earth. A secret only he could hear.
It was late in the day when I called out to him.
"Hey, weed man. Don't you want something to drink? We got some lemonade, I made it myself."
The weed man straightened up as much as he could and looked at the sky, as if pondering something deeper than whether or not to quench his thirst with lemonade. With his big yellow hat on he looked like a human sunflower.
"Well bring it on out, why don't you?" he said.
I set the binoculars down and looked out across the weeds at the tiny figure, not much bigger than a weed himself.
"Out there?" I said. "In the weeds?"
Nothing angered a weed man more than someone clodding around in his weeds. If a weed got broken off too low, not even a master could get enough purchase on it to pull up the roots. The weed would grow back, the weed man lose his pay.
"Are you going to get me that lemonade, or aren't you?"
I rushed inside and chipped some ice off the block and poured the lemonade over it into a big tumbler, then I went back out and stood at the verge of the weeds.
"You sure you don't want to come over and get it yourself?" I said. But the weed man had returned to his work, deaf to the world once more.
I took a deep breath and waded into the sea of weeds. I'd never been in the weeds when they were this tall. I liked the feel of their roughness against my skin, and the overpowering smell of green made me feel like a little animal. Dusk was fast approaching and it was hard to see where I was stepping. Please don't let me break a weed, I muttered over and over all the way to the weed man, hours it seemed.
The weed man was standing in a circular clearing of his own design, a soft quilt of wilting weeds spread over the ground. There was a wonderful calm in there, as in the eye of a storm. After my grueling journey I wanted to lie down in the weeds and go to sleep.
I handed the weed man his lemonade. His arms and shoulders were slick with sweat and flecks of weed. He took off his hat and ran the frosty tumbler across his forehead. He drank the lemonade in a few noisy gulps and handed the tumbler back to me.
"You best get on my shoulders," he said, "or you'll be all night getting back."
He bent down for me and waited.
"Well, come on," he said when after a while I still hadn't moved. "I don't bite."
Touching a weed man was strictly forbidden. If Mother came home and saw me on a weed man's shoulders, I'd be grounded for life. But he was right. If I didn't let him take me back, I'd be out there all night. I should have thought of that before venturing out into the weeds. I hopped up on him. He stood up, and the world went down. Up there on the weed man's shoulders I felt as light as a dandelion seed floating on the wind. From my perch I could see into the neighbors' back yards and all around the neighborhood. I could see Mrs. Gunther walking her poodle. She always shaved it bald for the summer. I pressed my finger against the weed man's sunburned head. A little white circle stayed there glowing like a ghost moon. The weed man clutched my ankles with his coarse palms, and we rolled as one through the weeds, back to the porch.
"My Papa's dead," I said after he set me down. I was trying to impress him.
"Mine is, too, I expect," he said.
I wanted to do something for him, but I couldn't think what so I stood there, gaping at him. He touched his hat and thanked me for the lemonade and returned to his weeds, leaving me there all alone.
"Jack Grealash said someone stole one of his turkeys last night," Mother said while she started supper. She was tired as always after work, and cranky. "He's pretty sure a weed man did it."
"Why are they always blaming weed men for stealing stuff?" I said. "They've never caught one yet with anything that wasn't his."
"There were bare footprints all around the coop."
"That's the oldest trick in the book. Duke Sputak told me himself he stole a man's boots off his front porch once and did it barefoot so they'd think a weed man did it."
Mother eased a piece of raw liver into the sizzling skillet. "That doesn't mean every weed man's an angel of God, does it?"
"What have they ever done to you?"
Mother ignored the question, and by the way she flipped the liver I knew it was best not to ask again.
The weed man and all his fellow weed men around town carried on working while the fatherless families of Junction sat down to supper. No weed man was ever invited into a home for supper, at least none I ever heard of. He wouldn't have accepted anyway. Weed men only ate once a day, late at night, back in their camp. You never saw a weed man in town after dark; they knew it was only asking for trouble, from the law and the lawless alike.
After supper Mother and I went out and sat on the back porch and watched the sun set on the weed man, still hard at work. Sunsets always made Mother nostalgic.
"I wish your sister would come around more often," she said. "The city's not so far away."
Josephine worked as a typist in the city and seldom came home for any reason other than to borrow money from Mother. After Papa left, Mother thought Josephine would start coming around again, but Josephine belonged in the city. She could do whatever she wanted there, and no one would gossip about her.
Mother put her arm around me and kissed the top of my head.
"Thank God I still have you," she said.
"I'm not going anywhere."
Finished for the day, the weed man came through the weeds and stopped near the porch.
"Ladies," he said and touched his hat. He winked at me then left by the side gate.
I thought about that wink all the rest of the night. To my mind it was the weed man's way of acknowledging the moment we'd shared out in the weeds—a moment, I was beginning to see, that had changed something in me. It would have broken Mother's heart to know what I'd decided out there in the weeds. She had higher hopes for me. She was convinced that one day I would be the first woman something-or-other in the county. Tax assessor or lawyer or maybe even mayor. Certainly not the first woman weed man!
I couldn't sleep. All I could think about was the clearing in the weeds. So still. A little patch of heaven. Me and the weed man all alone in it.
At dawn I heard the gate creak open. I stood on my bed and watched him walk out into the weeds. The pink light of the sunrise on him, his sad little shuffle, the pathetic hat, everything about him moved me to pity. The next two hours, waiting for Mother to leave, were agony. Watching the walls slowly change from blue to gray to white, I remembered how Josephine had described being in love for the first time. Like someone had reached in and pulled out her heart and was holding it in his hand, still pumping, and she couldn't do a thing about it. But a weed man? I thought. An old, bald weed man with a silly hat?
At last the front screen slammed shut. I got up and dressed and went out to the porch. He was close enough to the porch now that I could hear the sound of the weeds being pulled, a quiet, tearing sound, like a cow grazing.
"Hey, weed man," I called to him.
He carried on working.
"I know you can hear me," I said. He made no response. I felt hurt.
"I want to learn how to pull a weed," I said.
I let him pull three more weeds before I spoke again.
"It's because I'm a girl, isn't it? That's why you won't teach me."
The weed man didn't answer. I waited some more. Then I got up and went over to the verge of the weeds and grabbed a fat milkweed up high and snapped the top off. That got his attention. He stood straight up and glared at me, his eyes and mouth tight as a line. The thick white juice dripped out of the broken stem onto my bare foot.
"You pull that weed, little missy, and you'll be sorry you did."
"How come?" I said, playing dumb.
"You know darn well why."
"Because I won't get the roots? And it'll grow back?"
"Now you wouldn't want that, would you?"
I looked up at the sky, doing what I thought was a good impersonation of the weed man seeking advice from above. Then I reached lower on the weed and prepared to pull.
All you could see was his hat and his head, rushing through the weeds.
"Now get away from that weed before you get hurt," he said and gave me a shove. "You think you can just sally up and pull a weed without thinking about it none? It was a month of lessons on buried mops before the man who learnt me how to pull a weed let me get my hands on a real one. And I wasn't no bandy-legged little girl. A weed's got to already been pulled by the time you pull it. You understand?"
The weed man looked at the broken stem of the milkweed and shook his head like a man whose favorite dog had just been shot. I felt bad about what I'd done, but I would have done it again to get what I wanted. And a lesson I got. What did I know about the life of a weed? What did I know about needing to kill everything that grew around me? What did I know about being a nuisance? About picking a spot and holding on for dear life? About drying up and blowing away and leaving deadly seeds on everything I touched? "You got to be a weed to pull a weed," he said.
I pretended to understand. I liked the grave sound of his voice, the way his eyes squinted like a lizard's when he talked, the way he reached down and grasped the stem of the milkweed I'd broken and held it and listened to the secret only he could hear.
"Teach me how to pull a weed," I said. Never before had I heard such quiet conviction in my voice.
"Come here," he said.
He put me in the weeding stance, left leg forward, knees bent just enough for the fingertips to brush the ground at a straight hang. He grabbed my head and turned it to the left. I held that position while he walked around me making grunts of disapproval.
"What do you hear?" he said.
"Not with your ears," he said. "Your fingers. Listen with your fingers."
I tried but heard nothing. My legs and back began to ache, but I bravely held the stance. When at last I could take it no more I said, "I heard it! I heard it!"
The weed man spat. He wasn't fooled for a second. "Maybe I was wrong about you," he said. "Maybe you don't got much weed in you after all."
"I do too!" I shouted, fighting back tears of shame. "And no ugly old weed man can tell me I don't."
The weed man smiled sadly and turned around and shuffled back out into his weeds. I stormed into the house and looked for something to break. Finding nothing Mother wouldn't miss I settled for screaming into my pillow a few times and having a good sob.
The next day I didn't make a peep. He was using both hands now, one after the other, sometimes both at once. Dead and dying weeds lay scattered by the hundreds across the yard. By the end of the day, all that remained was a small patch of dogbanes near the porch. I went down and stood in the dirt near the weed man.
"I'm sorry for what I said," I said.
"Forget about it," he said without looking at me. "You're right not to listen to a ugly old weed man."
"You're not ugly," I said and swiveled my bare foot side to side in the warm dirt. A little gush of air full of unspoken feelings passed through his nose.
"Isn't there some way I don't have to wait so long before I get to pull a weed?" I said.
"You're persistent, aren't you?" he said.
"I aim to make something of myself," I said.
The weed man looked up at the sky. I didn't know why he kept looking up there. There wasn't anything up there but that same old blue.
"I'll tell you what," he said. Then he leaned over and whispered in my ear.
I waited until Mother was asleep before I pushed the screen off my bedroom window and climbed out. I rode my bike down Hickory, turned south on Nickle, keeping all the while to the shadows of the mulberry trees. I stepped down at the railroad tracks and caught my breath. I could hear the bullfrogs croaking away at the tank. It was pitch black out there. Not a single bulb burning. I got back on my bike and pedaled my heart out until I passed the junkyard and the crazy German Shepherd, then I was coasting down the road inside the tall grasses of the prairie. Miles away the prairie was burning. I left my bike in the browse at the mouth of the old ox-track that led to the river. The crickets went quiet where I passed. The dark hulks of the willows loomed ahead, blotting out the galaxies. I worked my way along the bank until I came to the little beaver dam. The window of the pump shack on the other side of the river was aglow, and I could hear their music, faintly, beneath the crickets. I lost my footing halfway across and stepped into the water. My right shoe made a squishing noise as I stole up to the shack.
I could see nothing through the newspapers pasted to the window. The music was clear and loud now, shrill harmonicas and kazoos and the clanks of spoons on jugs. I listened for a while, my heart aglow. Then I knocked.
The music stopped, followed by what sounded like someone wading through a river of empty tin cans. A weed man with two thumbs on one hand opened the door. He seemed to be expecting me.
"We have a guest," he turned and said to the weed men within.
There were eight or nine of them in there, sprawled out on apple crates and burlap sacks, their instruments silent in their hands. The single-room shack was lit by a kerosene lantern set in the middle of the dirt floor, radiating a dim, tawny light. Thick cobwebs speckled with dead flies hung from the low rafters. The floor was strewn with empty tin cans, their lids bent and mangled as if pried open with pocket knives. The air was thick with the smell of sweat and weeds and sweet baked beans. My weed man was reclining on an overturned gasoline pump near the window. He seemed bigger among his own.
"You tell anyone you were coming?" he said.
"I said I wouldn't," I said. I stepped in, and someone closed the door behind me.
The weed men were all gawking at me, but I didn't feel unwelcome.
"She wants to be a weed man," my weed man announced. "Come all the way out here tonight to learn how."
"Is that right?" one of the weed men said and spat a stream of green onto the floor and wiped his chin with the back of his hand. He had a toe-shaped head and ears like melted wax.
"Yes, it is," I said.
"But you ain't got the build for it," another weed man said. His arms were so long that his wrists were resting on his ankles. "Your portions is all wrong."
"My portions are just right, thank you."
The weed men laughed.
"Your mama know you aim to be a weed man?" said another. His feet were propped up on a crate, and even in that dusky light I could see the green stains around the insides of his toes.
"She doesn't need to know," I said. "At least until I'm older."
"What about your papa?"
"He's dead," I said. This playful banter went on for quite some time, them asking me why I wanted to be a weed man, me saying all kinds of things to make them like me. Then all the weed men went quiet. I could hear the river flowing outside, steady and reassuring.
"Well," my weed man said. He stood up and hobbled over to me. Until now he had been watching and listening from his gas pump with an expression of kingly benevolence. He rested his hands on my shoulders and leaned over and looked me in the eyes.
"You tell me now if you've changed your mind," he said.
"I want to be a weed man," I said.
He looked in my eyes a little longer, then he straightened up and sighed. "I wish you didn't."
"I want to be a weed man," I said. "And don't ask me again."
Without another word he opened the fly of his overalls, and out flopped a piece of flesh shriveled as a turkey's wattle.
"What'd you do that for?" I said.
"Grab hold of it," he said.
"You want to learn how to pull a weed, or don't you?"
"Sure I do," I said, "but what's that got to do with it?"
"It's got everything to do with it."
The weed man clamped his Jew's harp between his teeth and plucked it once with his middle finger. I looked around at all the weed men looking at me. Their eyes said: Go on now, all of us had to do it at one time or another. I closed my eyes and reached out.
It didn't feel like any weed I knew of. It grew in my hand. The twangs of the Jew's harp came faster, now joined by the steady clink of spoon on jug, of hoarse kazoo, of squealing harmonica. I tugged like he told me to. After a while, when nothing much seemed to be happening, I opened my eyes and looked up at the weed man. He had a strange expression on his face. As if he were trying to remember where he'd put something. I closed my eyes and saw Papa, on the day he left us, that same expression on his face. He looked so stiff in that dark green uniform, his shiny black shoes, his pointy hat. He picked me up and told me to take good care of Mama. He knew he was going to die over there. Mother knew it too, but she didn't let on. I remember him walking away, and thinking to myself, that isn't Papa. That's someone else's father. When the news came that he'd been killed, I didn't feel anything, even as his coffin was being lowered into the ground. I didn't feel anything. Until that moment in the pump shack, the weed man's thing in my hand, that thunderous racket all around me. Then, just like Josephine said, I felt a hand reach through my chest and rip out my heart.
All at once the music stopped. The weed man oozed. I took my hand away, afraid I'd broken something.
"You did all right," the weed man said, patting my head. His face was covered with sweat. He took a little black seed out of his pocket and handed it to me. "Now I want you to take this seed home with you tonight and dig a little hole in your back yard and bury it there. You give it a couple weeks to grow, then you go up and grab it real low, just like you did tonight, and I give you my word, she'll come up, roots and all, like you been pulling weeds all your life. That's the day you call yourself an honest-to-goodness weed man."
All the weed men came over and shook my hand and told me it was an honor to have met me, but all I could think of was getting back home.
I ran right through the river and down the old ox-track to my bike and raced all the way home. I was afraid Mother's light might be on, a sure sign that she'd discovered my absence. It wasn't. I went out and found a spot near the back fence. I made a little hole and dropped the seed in. Then I covered it with dirt and went to bed.
When I awoke the next morning the weed man was nowhere to be seen. I waited for him on the porch swing. I wanted to cry. I'd never heard of a weed man not finishing a job. Around noon I started pulling the weeds myself. I made a mess of it. There were stems sticking up everywhere. I tried to kick dirt over them but it was no use. I was a fool to think Mother wouldn't notice.
"Didn't I tell you not to go near them weeds?!"
She was furious.
"Don't you lie to me, Elba May Duncan. Look at your hands! Where is that weed man? Why didn't he finish the job?"
"He did. He did. I promise. I just helped him a little."
Mother went inside and came back out with Papa's belt dangling from her fist. She gave me a good hiding. Her first and last. I howled. So did she. We sobbed together for a long time, me and Mama. I wanted so bad to tell her the secret of the weed men, but I couldn't. I'd given him my word. I eventually did tell her, much later, when she was dying. She didn't want to hear it.
That weed never did come up. I waited all summer for it, but it never came.
About the author:
James Terry has published or has stories forthcoming in Fourteen Hills, the Dublin Review, the South Dakota Review, the Georgia Review, Juked, Dark Sky Magazine, Pindeldyboz, Failbetter, and the Barcelona Review.