by Idan Cohen
The romance of the sun and moon, said my grandfather when once he fell to drink too deep, reached apotheosis upon a cold night of spring a thousand and five years ago. He continued; The romance of the moon and sun, he said (my grandfather, being drunk) began before the world was born and when it reached it’s final climax it was something to see.
Here my grandfather, being drunk, and a respectable scientist who had published many papers in Nature, looked up into the sky as though he could see before him the light explosion the bright orgasmic energy flush the dual creation. And he said; They had children, you know (the sun and moon), and then they split up. Broke it off. Kaput. How weird is that? he said. And; Damnit, I’ve finished the bottle.
On another occasion, when he was not drunk, my grandfather took me to the woods; and it does not really matter what woods they were, and however much I asked, my grandfather would not tell me where the woods had come from, since we lived on the coast. And in the woods we lay down, and I said; Didn’t you bring the tents? And he said; Shut up for a second, so I did. Then my grandfather looked to the sides, as though checking to see if anyone was eavesdropping. Then he looked up, and then up a little bit more. Look, kid, he said, can you keep a secret?
I nodded, sort of excited, sort of scared, confused a lot, a regular state at that age. So my grandfather looked up worriedly at the sky again, then motioned me closer to him. He whispered; d’ya know the story about the sun and moon I told you? About their children?
I nodded. He whispered; Well, guess what. The brats of the celestial heavens? That’s us. I blinked, and whispered back, not really knowing why we’re whispering; What, you mean like, people?
And he whispered, gaspingly, no! Not people; us. Me. Your mom. You. Your cousin Tom. And I didn’t know how to take this, so I stood staring at my grandfather from so close I could see the wrinkles in his nose, the pores of his skin. And he knelt staring at me. Look, he said, it’s important that you know.
A year later, my grandfather, who was a respectable scientist and a good family man, died of cancer. That sort of thing happened to grandfathers a lot. So I thought, maybe he went back to the sky. That’d be nice. It’s all a great metaphor, really.
But then, one day, the sky exploded and the stars collapsed and the sun and the moon settled their differences and got back together, you remember that day. And the whole family, well, we started getting Christmas cards made of stellar matter.
By Katherine Sparrow
Everybody underestimated Jacob Apple. He’d launched spells from the chaos camp for the last three years, and though he was by far the strongest witch in the world, so what?
He’d made Germany turn pink, and mice talked now. Every year on April tenth people in Chicago danced all day long. His spells had strength, but no substance. Everyone said Jacob didn’t know his why. Without a why, a witch is just a prankster.
But what if we’d known that the previous year Jacob had traveled to Senegal and met up with animists who drove off his bad spirits and bathed him in ram’s blood? What if we’d known that he’d gone under the hill in Leeds, drank the wine, and lived a thousand years in one night? And what if we’d heard that he had fallen in love with the sly Sally Sugar, but she didn’t love him back? Well, even if we knew all that, no one cared that much about Jacob. Hard to imagine, I know.
He arrived at chaos camp and everyone thought he was the same punk kid as last year, though he entered the misty Norwegian field, full of fault lines and meridians, wearing mirror cloth and laughing hysterically.
He set up an army tent in the middle of the thousands of witches who’d come to try their spells. No one was allowed in, except for his minions who carried plates piled high with mutton and lingonberries. Before long, strange screams came from that tent, punctuated by an unsettling silence.
When his beloved Sally Sugar tried her spell, the mere sound of her voice made his screams rise and pierce the atmosphere. He distracted her, she faltered, and instead of curing asthma, a cloud of aerosolized salmonella rose up from her chicken sandwich and took to the sky. It’s still roaming today, somewhere over Russia.
And Jacob’s screaming only grew worse. Witches moved their tents away, until Jacob’s camp sat in the middle of a bare circle, two hundred yards wide.
Then, on the morning of June 17th, Jacob emerged from his tent. He wore soiled mirror cloth, and green sunglasses that looked cut off the bottom of a couple of wine bottles. He walked around his tent and raised his hands. He began to mumble an exotic love spell, full of shimmied hips and exclamation marks.
He paused and spoke in a whispered yell that wouldn’t disrupt his spell. “No more heartache. Today, I free love, and all of us shall love deeply and madly, without borders!” He looked toward Sally Sugar, and then resumed his muttering and wild-man dancing.
Twenty kids vomited.
Sally Sugar yelled, “This is not as impressive as curing asthma!”
Jacob howled and grabbed his flute. He honked out the last of his spell, and a wind blew through chaos camp — hot and cold, bothersome and comforting. Kids fell toward each other, eyes bright with adoration and lust.
“This doesn’t make the world any better,” Sally yelled. Her heart was made of hate and salmonella, so the love had no room to wiggle in. She tramped across the empty grass toward Jacob. His minions saw her coming and wanted to thwart her, but grew distracted by the groping of their fellow minions.
And so, when Sally stood twenty feet away and aimed her skipping rock, nothing stopped her from side-arming it at Jacob’s head. It hit his cheek, and broke his glasses, and struck his temple, and shifted his magic, knocking it up and away. As it flew away from him he made a mistake. He reached for it and made the Jacob Mistake.
The Jacob Miracle. Which I love, which we all love, despite its problems.
All states fell. All industry stopped. World birth rates approached zero, except for the lucky few of his inner cabal, because we all fell in love with Jacob Apple on that day. We all want him and adore him, and can’t seem to focus on anything else.
For example, I had meant to make a list of things I must do to survive, because I get confused as I walk along the long march that we are all on, as we search for Jacob. But instead, I wrote a Jacob story. Everything is a Jacob story now, and nothing else matters.