Editorial: It’s Complicated

A few years ago, my son’s kindergarten teacher sent home a message about Valentine’s Day, celebrated here in the States each February 14. For their class party, each student could each bring a set number of cards or treats–one for each classmate. They could sign their own name, but they weren’t supposed to put a specific recipient’s name on each card. Each Valentine would be handed out by the teacher at random.

Dear reader, I was appalled.

Picking out who’d receive each card, with their brightly colored cartoon characters and perforated edges, was half the fun of Valentine’s Day! And the other half was seeing which ones your classmates picked out specifically for you! How many hours had I spent through my own elementary school years sorting out who to give the “best” cards to so that my best friend who loved cats would know that I thought she was “PURR-FECT” and the one who liked Star Wars would know that “Yoda greatest!”? Which cards were banal enough to give to those kids that I didn’t get along so well with? (You know, the ones that just said, “Happy Valentine’s Day.”) And, most importantly, which card to give to that one special person, which, if they read it really carefully might give them a hint that I liked them but was vague enough that I could deny it if necessary?

You can’t just hand out Valentines at random!

People–and our relationships with them–are far more complicated than that.

Our issue this month is all about those complicated relationships. Those people you can’t just hand a random Valentine’s Day card to. The ones that defy being put into a box of candy-hearts, where no Hallmark card is going to be a good fit. The ones that keep us up at night and make us cry tears of joy mixed with sorrow. The ones that stick with us. That linger.

“The Vanishing Bride” by William Jones tells about an ex who just can’t seem to let go–a situation complicated all the more by the fact that he’s a powerful sorcerer.

In “Vixen” by Hannah Whiteoak, a new, fledgling relationship is complicated by a lingering past one.

“Sunflowers” by Maura Yzmore introduces us to a friendship full of bittersweet compassion.

And this month’s reprint story, “A Silhouette Against Armageddon” by John Wiswell, pulls us deep into the earth, to witness a relationship that extends beyond the grave.