A trip to the traveling carnival with two toddlers and a mobility-challenged parent isn't most people's definition of fun, but it's closer than Valerie Wade usually gets. A few hours kicking sawdust and revisiting favorite childhood memories, that's all she asks.
It's her annual treat, a visit back in time to the carefree years before she learned that her blood carries a potential death sentence, before life beat her down and broke her spirit. It's the one place where she can forget about secrets, debts and obligations for a few hours and remember what hope feels like.
Everything changes that night, under the bright lights and the striped awnings. The monsters and freaks aren't in the sideshow tents. They're walking the aisles, and before the carnival is done, Valerie will be taking her place among them.
©2015 K. M. Herkes (P)2016 K. M. Herkes
This is the first of Rough Passages series of stories. They tell the stories of people who mutate/develop powers later in life, not born with them. The characters are richly drawn, and the stories inherently human. This story, in particular, impressed me enough to submit it for a Hugo nomination.
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