Rachel Swirsky

Rachel Swirsky holds an MFA in fiction from the Iowa Writers Workshop and graduated from Clarion West in 2005. Her short fiction has been published in a number of magazines and anthologies, including Tor.com, Clarkesworld, and Subterranean Magazine, and been nominated for a number of awards, including the Hugo Award, the Locus Award, and the World Fantasy Award. In 2010, her novella The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers Beneath the Queen’s Window won the Nebula Award. As a kid, she watched too much Fairy Tale Theatre and memorized the score to Sondheim’s Into the Woods.
Wake Up, I Miss You

Wake Up, I Miss You

The beetle-eyed man yanks me up a spiral staircase. The stairs wind up and up, getting narrower and narrower like a spindle until they’re as narrow as our feet.
The railing splinters. Rotting steps drop away under us.
We jump over the broken railing, paddling through empty air until we crash onto a huge, floating platform that’s part of a library. It shakes with the impact. Bookcases knock each other down like dominoes.
“The Queen is coming,” says a voice above me.

All That Fairy Tale Crap

I was supposed to go to the ball, but I spent the night licking out my stepsister instead.

Bethesda moaned and rustled mulberry silk high up her thighs. “There, there, no, faster, come on, faster, please…”

The friendly mice put out their eyes and ran out in trios to join a different fairy tale.

Abomination Rises on Filthy Wings

My cock is throbbing so I pull it out.

My wife lolls in front of the TV, spread out on the sofa, eyes glazed and mouth open, illuminated by flickering light. Her empty–eyed stare is so vacuous that it looks like she could have died there, stuffing her brain with the shopping channel.


Jacob’s wife is always screaming: Cheat! Scoundrel! Layabout! Scrooge!
Jacob takes solace in the mausoleum. Girls there are quiet.


New Year’s celebrations crashed through the streets of Whitcry in a din of masks and swirling petticoats. Pottery smashed against cobbles, women’s shouts echoed from garrets, men groaned and fought and pissed.