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Six-Gun Snow White, Page 9

Catherynne M. Valente

  Snow White sees a taxidermied horse float down Beech Street and she knows it’s Charming. There’s a piece of glass in her nipple, poking out like a drop of milk that never fell. Right over her heart.

  Snow White gets a social security card. She gets a job building houses out in California. Picks oranges. Doesn’t talk about herself. Never did. If you press her she’ll say she lost everything in the flood and she supposes that’s true. She goes to see the castle by the sea and it’s a museum now. Pictures on the wall: the Mr. Buttons. Miss Enger. Mr. H.

  Mrs. H.

  The pictures are black and white and Snow White finds no answers there or any comfort either. They just look like dead people and that’s what they are. Her room is labeled: guest quarters and she supposes that’s true, too. Up in the hills, the boardwalk is not open to visitors. Under construction. Renewal efforts funded by a grant from the state. Excellent example of turn-of-the-century follies.

  In the forest Snow White sees a red fox. He looks at her for a long time. She tosses him an apple. Little fellow sniffs but he knows better. Good boy. Good boy.

  Snow White likes the open sky. It’s the same as it ever was. Fire and cold. Long empty spaces between the stars, stars like towns getting their grips into a big black country. Oh-Be-Joyful. Haul-Off. Blue Coffin. There’s red up there like rubies in a mine.

  Snow White gets a doctorate in physics though it takes her about fifteen years. She sleeps with a couple of lab partners but it’s pretty uninspiring stuff. She meets a history professor. He walks with an odd wobble. His students make fun of the way he talks—but they make fun of her drawl, too. Snow White does not think much of students. She waves at the professor when she passes by his classroom. Waves through the little glass window. He puts up his hand to hers. Snow White decides to take him to dinner. Find out his story. When she has time. There’s so much to do.

  The telescopes open up to the sky like gardenias at a wedding.

  Whoever’s left standing has won.

  Snow White discovers a new pulsar out in the Horsehead Nebula. She listens to it through machines that reflect her face.

  Thump, thump, thump.

  Talking mirrors on every wall.

  Thump, thump, thump.

  Snow White’s pulsar shakes the night sky like iron shoes dancing.

  Table of Contents

  Six-Gun Snow White

  Part One

  Part Two

  Part Three

  Part Four

  Part Five

  Part Six