Weeper, by Rosalind Goldsmith

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Damn. Couldn’t do it. Tried, but the tears wouldn’t come. I stood there in front of the microphone like a damn idiot. Couldn’t squeeze out one drop. Thing is, if I don’t watch out, they’ll fire me – and then I’ll really have something to cry about.

The supervisor at CryCry is ok though. He knows these things happen sometimes and he’s smart, Josh. He always has a standby waiting in the wings just in case. When I choked, Violet – round little spider-eyes Violet – came wobblejogging out onto the stage, grabbed the mic and took over. I departed, stage right, depressed but not depressed enough, I guess.

They love Violet at CryCry. She doesn’t just cry – she howls, and the mascara bleeds down her face and the eyeliner too, and she just does these complete body sobs, which gets everybody going. They all start weeping at the same time – all of them sitting at their little tables, sobbing, hugging each other, tears falling into their drinks so much that they can’t drink them anymore, there’s too much salt water in there.

After this last humiliating blunder – just standing there like a stump – I started to worry. What am I going to do if I lose this job – there are no jobs out there – and besides, this one is great. I like the other girls – most of them, anyway – and Josh is ok – if he doesn’t fire me. I could go and work for another crybar, even an upclass deal like Lachrymost, that’s true, but what if I can’t cry there either?   

It’s a problem. The things that used to make me cry – my mother’s illness, what’s going on in the world – the droughts, floods, body-bending winds, the extinguished ones, the war, the suicide societies springing up everywhere – there really is more than enough to cry about when you think of it – but all of this stuff doesn’t do it for me anymore. It does not make me cry.  It’s just vapor trying to get through a wall, and I’m a solid block of wurtzite, just like them out there in the audience watching me. I can see all their blank carved out faces and I know they can’t cry – that’s why they pay so much to get into our club. They’re all trying to be alive, trying to feel something, and instead of me inspiring them to cry with my own artful weeping, I’m becoming like them. I don’t know how Violet does it, I really don’t.

Got so worried about it, two days ago I thought I better do something new – think of something fresh to get the tears flowing again. Couldn’t think of anything. I even stooped so low as to ask Violet how she does it.

“You know what I do?” she simpered in that whiny ever-so tearful voice of hers, “I think of my boyfriend, and if that doesn’t work, I think of plasma.”


“Yes, that really gets me going.” And she winked her freaky fake winky black spider eye at me.

Obviously, she was lying. Or maybe she wasn’t, which is worse. Plasma would do nothing for me.

So I just thought and thought, and I didn’t do anything for days – I went on temp leave from CryCry – didn’t wash, didn’t eat, wandered round thinking, “Jesus, look at all these people – so glum, forlorn and forsaken, look at this shit basin of a city, look at all the people begging on the streets –  no homes, soaking wet, and hungry kids mewling beside them – this new war that just started – little tinies getting poisoned and burned up and killed, and renters burning up in buildings. Jesus, isn’t that enough? What is wrong with me?” And I berated myself hard with this kind of vinegar and acid scolding, but nothing worked.

As I was wandering, I got to a Dollar Dreams and walked in – not to buy anything – just to look around. I saw all the bright stuff in there, shimmery in the overhead lights – tall plastic flowers in pink, yellow and mauve, little greenish garden gnomes with high pointy hats, the chemical-drenched toys, like spongey animal puzzles, and models of the extinguished ones and the lead jewellery and the fake grass door mats that say, “The grass is greener here”; the candles that smell like poison in a septic tank, and plastic plates and spoons and forks and knives and glasses and bowls of every size.

And then it hit me. This stuff. What it really was. And all of a sudden, I started bawling, loud, and I couldn’t stop. I cried until the security guard came over to me and asked if I was ok. And he made me cry even more. Because even though he was a security guard, first order, with the usual get-up – the helmet with the visor, the blue armor, the twelve-gauge at his hip – he was so nice to ask if I was alright, and then I thought: “Jesus, why do they need a first order security guard in a Dollar Dreams store? Are they going to arrest someone for taking a candy bar?” If a person is so desperate they have to steal a lead-laced chocolate bar from Dollar Dreams, then they should be allowed to eat that chocolate bar. By the time I left I was howling fit to be cuffed, and the poor security guard was at a dead loss as to what to do with me.

And now, here’s the thing: I’m going back to work tonight and I’m going to be ok. They will dim the lights to that amber yellow, I’ll hold the mic in front of me, and the tears will flow like old sweet wine because I’ll be thinking of Dollar Dreams – of all the stuff in there which is a chemical-contaminated crap stand-in for anything real that ever was. Yeah. I’ll be thinking of all the unreal stuff in this noxious world – everything that has faked us, scraped us out from the inside and turned us into blocks of wurtzite. I’ll keep that little plastic garden gnome front and centre in my mind, and I will be weeping fountains, gushing torrents of salt tears, and Violet will be green with envy.

And all those good people in the club, they will be silent for the first moment. Then, out of the dark, I’ll hear the first heart-breaking sob, the first sniffle, the first boo hoo, and then – all of them in that audience will begin to sob and weep and cry real salt tears into their drinks, and they will know they got their money’s worth from me and from CryCry. And I will sob along with them, and my heart – my real true heart – will break along with theirs, and it will be a thing of beauty. I know it.

Rosalind lives in Toronto. She tutors literacy to adults. She has written radio plays for CBC Radio Drama and a play for the Blyth Theatre Festival and has also translated and adapted short stories by the Uruguayan writer, Felisberto Hernández, for CBC Radio. Her short stories have appeared in journals in the UK, the USA and Canada, including Litro, Orca, Filling Station, Fairlight Books, Chiron Review, Stand, the Lincoln Review, the Bryant Literary Review, Fiction International and the Masters Review.

more stories here

Also look out for:

Madalena Dalezou’s Master Craftsman’s Apology, a twisted fantasy tale of revenge and regret
Lyndsey Croal’s – Space for One, a sci-fi tale about hard choices and living with the consequences.
Holley Cornetto’s The Orchard of Dreams, a wistful fantasy.
Y.M. Resnik’s Magic is Like a Box of Chocolates, all about how tough life is for trainee magical heroes and the difficult choices they have to make.
Robert Bagnall’s I Was Just Doing What You Asked, a salutary tale about being all wiffly waffly when there are robots around.

Or over a hundred other free flash fiction stories.

Wyldblood 13

Wyldblood 13 is available now
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Nine great new short stories and two drabbles in a fine new collection from Wyldblood. These stories cover death (and its aftermath), identity (and its pitfalls) choices (and their consequences) and much more. We have aliens with time travel machines and buildings that want you to stay just a little bit longer – like, forever. Thought provoking fantasy and science fiction available in print and digital formats.

From the Depths

Our latest anthology is packed with tales of the murky deep. We’ve got fifteen stories stuffed with selkies and sea monsters, pirates and meremaids, intrigue, adventure and more. Available in print and digitally.

ISBN 978-1-914417-15-3

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