I was recently in Mexico City to direct a movie and had the unique opportunity to shoot on 16-mm film. When I received the first camera test, I was struck by the composition on the screen. There before me, slowly flickering into view, were five radiating circles. What I was actually looking at was a focus chart: a series of high-contrast graphics used to determine proper focus in a camera and lens system. What I saw, though, was something completely different . . .
“Look at us on the beach.”
“Yes,” said his sister, Victoria. Morris’s sister. He was the first and most important, the antecedent. They weren’t on the beach yet, they were walking through a scrubby forest on the way there. Another brother they didn’t speak to was far away, nameless for our purposes.
“Have we ever been on the . . .
Who knew that old-ass Headass was capable of even greater feats of headassery? Our little crew had become accustomed long ago to his foolishness, the imbecilic way he walked around Bed-Stuy with his lips swelled up, duh-duh, all the various look-at-me antics. We were bored with him, he was dull, the five of us paid him no mind. He might as well have been a fire hydrant. It had ceased to affect us when he interrupted our hangs in the park by barking out one of his . . .
Ida had not foreseen the need to take time off when she accepted the job with Dr. Ditmus, and she wondered now how best to present her request. Dr. Ditmus was not a difficult employer, but she was an employer nevertheless. Of course, emergencies arose, but the kind of emergencies that would force Ida to turn away from her duties would be catastrophic, affecting her family; still, such things could happen—she knocked on a kitchen cabinet door and then . . .
As a special online supplement to the Winter 2022/2023 issue, the editors present the prizewinning story from the 2022 Zoetrope: All-Story Short Fiction Competition, as judged by Ling Ma.
She lay motionless on a tray in the tube of the machine, stripped of the clothes she had arrived in, stripped of her jewelry (the ring that was her mother’s), a cage over her face, a cloth folded over her eyes, listening to the banging of the magnets . . .