portion of the artwork for Kevin Spaide's stories

Kevin Spaide’s Comments

A couple of years ago, I secretly wrote 42 stories about two women living in a house with no electricity in some lost, failed region of America. I was visiting my parents at the time. The narrator, whose name I still don’t know, almost never leaves her house and hasn’t been to town in years. She refuses to speak to anyone except Cara, who lives with her. Her face is scarred. Children live in the woods out back. The river keeps flooding. The winters are terrible.

When I got home, I wrote three or four more stories and then started revising the stories I’d already written, making them shorter and shorter until they couldn’t get any shorter. This went on for around a year. The stories got so short and strange. I shuddered at the thought of how long they had once been. Eventually they started to pull together and form something larger than themselves, which was a relief because, as usual, I had no idea what I was doing. And then my hard drive crashed a week before Madrid went into lockdown, and it turned out I’d only backed up the first draft of each story, erasing that year of making them short and strange, except for story 38 which was just gone. I have no memory whatsoever of story 38. Maybe if I went to South America and took ayahuasca, story 38 might come back to me …

In the week before lockdown, when many people became obsessed with toilet paper, I got some computer guy to install a new hard drive for me. I couldn’t believe how small and expensive it was. He said he couldn’t salvage anything from the old hard drive and advised me to drill two holes in it, demonstrating how to do this with an imaginary drill, before disposing of it at the recycling center. He said that hackers often came out of the night and scaled the fence around the recycling center and hopped inside the dumpster full of broken electronic equipment searching for hard drives without holes drilled through them so they could steal your identity. I imagined some hacker stealing my identity. Good luck with that, I thought.

Instead of tossing my ruined hard drive into the dumpster I gave it to this friend of my wife who happens to be a necromancer for dead computer files. All those stories were still in there somewhere, trapped, and it made me uneasy—though I thought that the narrator, whatever her name is, might like being cut off from the rest of the world. She would not want to be found. But my wife’s friend had once fallen out of a seventh-story window and seemed fine, so I thought if anyone could find her it was him. He’s still working on it, but the narrator is still hiding from him. Cara probably has a knife in her hand, waiting in her chair.

Eventually, I just went ahead and rewrote the stories, making them shorter and shorter, turning them into completely different stories. If my wife’s friend ever manages to find the originals, I don’t know what I’ll do with double versions of 42 stories. (Well, 41. I didn’t rewrite story 38.) I’ll probably have to fuse them together somehow, which sounds like the most excruciating way of assembling a collection of short stories. Why can’t anything ever be easy?

In the meantime, I’m grateful to Ellen Parker for allowing these three very short stories into FRiGG. Thanks for setting them free!

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FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 57 | Spring/Summer 2021