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Story-notes for "Implicate Order"

In 2016, my wife and I took a short vacation in Nantucket. I'd never been to the island and we were looking for a quick getaway during one of my school vacation weeks. As I joked with friends afterwards, Nantucket was 'fine.' Everything about it was fine. The food was fine. The weather was fine. The views from its beaches were obviously fine. It did feel a bit like a Martha Stewart Theme Park but that's what I expected going there and wasn't much disappointed to find that confirmed. 

"Denise" by Zhang Jingna (2010)
There was, however, one moment that stuck with me. After renting a car, Lauren and I took a tour around as much of the island as we could. We reached the extreme western edge of Nantucket and pulled over to take in this wide stretch of marshy lake called Long Pond. While there I noticed a scrap of black trash bag caught in some reeds, flapping in this solemn, almost beckoning way. And that was it. I had the beginnings of a story. 

Read "Implicate Order:"

At the beginning I knew the story had something to do with ghosts and the people who seek them out. To be clear, I'm not a big believer in ghosts as actual phenomena to be studied and pursued. I do like the idea of ghosts as an idea, however, an ancient metaphor for the past and its scars.

I wrote this story towards the end of that summer in about three days and spent the rest of that year and the winter of 2017 tinkering with it. I've had some stories that went through truly radical transformations during revision but "Implicate Order," wasn't one of them. This story seemed to know what it was about from the beginning and mostly I felt my job as a writer was simply making its pieces fit together with the minimum of visible seams.

The ideas of the story — hidden malevolent ecosystems and the human guards that stand ready to defend against them — came from some reading on parasitic wasps and other pleasant aspects of the microscopic world. I didn't write the story as any manifesto about the world or our place in it, but this sense of being prey, of being hunted, is certainly one I feel familiar with. I guess that explains my strong personal connection to the story and my wish to find it as good a home as possible. Lamplight was extremely generous to choose this story and place it along side truly staggering works from KL Pereira, Sarah Read, Haleh Agar, and Noelle Henneman. The most I can hope is that you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. To paraphrase Charles Dickens, may this tale haunt you pleasantly.


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