It’s been a while since I reached into my giant stack of rejection (and a few acceptance) letters, so I decided it was about time to visit random.org and have it pick me a character to represent the name of the agent, magazine, or publisher who had rejected (or maybe accepted) a submission. When it came back with a Z, I pretty much knew that it was going to have to be a rejection from Francis Ford Coppola’s magazine Zoetrope, as I couldn’t think of any other venue starting with that letter to which I had ever submitted. Although I did find a letter in the “Z” section from one of my cousins, who had read my story “The Short Route” and sent me back a note that it should be expanded into a novel, a movie, or both. (Maybe someday, Susan!) But of course I couldn’t use a letter from a cousin for a Random Rejection, and so, Zoetrope it is!
“Silkscreen” appeared in 2001 in the Canadian magazine Storyteller. (I’ve had a number of stories published in Canadian magazines, most notably Storyteller and Challenging Destiny.) “Silkscreen” is another story where the ending was changed. In the original version, the main character ultimately commits suicide. To find out what happens in the revised version, read on.
Amelia came home late from work and they were waiting, as they always were, on the bench in the foyer. From left to right: Nicholas, as young and handsome as his pictures in their wedding album; Fran, her round, bright-eyed face straight out of her school photo; and Gordon, the baby, smiling the same idiot grin that he’d worn throughout his first birthday party.
“You all waited up for me?” Amelia said as she hung her coat on a peg by the door. “That was sweet.” She hugged each of them in turn, then gathered them all up in her arms and carried them into the kitchen. She arranged them on the counter to watch her make dinner (nothing fancy, just baked beans and a hot dog) and then watch her eat it. “Not much of a feast, I know,” she told them, “but if you were having some, I’d cook something better.” Their faces were smiling, as they always were; they knew she wouldn’t make them eat beans every day.
After dinner and a glance at the television, it was bedtime. Amelia brought the three of them with her, placing the children on the shelf beside the dresser. Nick accompanied her into the bathroom, where she brushed her teeth and changed into her flannel bedclothes. Then it was back into the other room, the warm nightshirt swishing around her ankles. She told them good night and settled into bed, clutching Nick like a child would a teddy bear.
“Good night,” she whispered, into where his ear would be, if it were really him.
And so it went, night after night.