The Quiet Like a Homecoming by Cassandra Khaw, Lightspeed Magazine, 2018

The Quiet Like a Homecoming by Cassandra Khaw is a surreal piece about a creature like a selkie, which can shed its skin and become human. However, if its skin is stolen it cannot return to its original form/shape.

The piece is told in the epistolary form–a letter written by the woman who was once an animal, but became a human and married a man who then stole her original skin. In response the narrator and writer of the letter stalk the streets of Malmo, visiting the places where she has connections with this man. Every aspect of her being hates him for stealing and destroying her cloak that would let her become herself once again.

This piece is about the way women are perceived as objects or trophies for men who wish to bolster their own greatness, rather than sapient human beings. In the case of this story,  the narrator isn’t set apart from other people by her form, but one could posit this as a metaphor of how people perceive the “other” of different cultures.

While this is clearly a plot in the craft sense of the word, it is also colloquial. The descriptions set the tone of a whimsically dark work, a place of danger and broken hearts. A world in which people do terrible things to each other, until the other fights back. A sad look at the treatment of people by those who see themselves as superior. (B-)

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