I’m so grateful that Apparition Lit took the chance (hah!) on me guest editing this issue. The guidance, taste, and wisdom of the Apparition editorial team was a joy to experience and I hope that together, we have done justice to the voice and vision of this magazine.
Ask ten people what the word ‘chance’ means and you’ll get ten different answers. “Good,” we said in our pre-submission meeting. “That’s a good thing.” Chance means something different to every person; our individual definition probably hews most closely to the role we feel that chance has played in our lives. And we wanted to see individual definitions, see the full range of chance as opportunity, as calculated (or uncalculated!) risk-taking, as hope, randomness, coincidence, openings, odds.
As I looked at the stories that came in, I found myself thinking about their connections to the upheaval and turmoil of the last year. Randomness can feel comforting when terrible things happen that we feel we’ve done nothing to ‘deserve.’ “It could have happened to anyone” relieves our sense of guilt and responsibility. It can also feel oppressive when we feel that the terrible thing could not have been avoided no matter what we did. Lotteries regularly change lives and ruin them. The gambles we make and take can feel weighted, fraught, unfair. Risks can pay off handsomely for us and our loved ones, or they can close doors forever. We take a chance on every decision we make (including the decision to not make a decision).
And speaking as someone raised by immigrant parents to avoid surprises, to seek out security by (frankly) trying to control every aspect of my surroundings, it felt breathtakingly freeing to move out of that atmosphere, and into one where I could take risks and try to create my own opportunities.
In ‘Bride, Knife, Flaming Horse,’ the one thing that some South Asian parents absolutely do not want to leave to chance is their children’s matrimonial arrangements (and we know how that works out!). In ‘Queen Minnie’s Last Ride,’ we watch breathlessly as a chance is taken to become free of an impossibly dangerous gun. Unasked-for, certainly. Undeserved? Maybe! In ‘The Swamp Exchange,’ we see how the randomness of family (“You don’t choose who you’re related to!”) comes to a head when, on someone’s big day, a choice has to be made that’s been put off for years. Finally, in ‘Watcher, Worker,’ we hope and fret along with the characters in a tightly circumscribed world struggling to create their own chances out of a seemingly immovable structure of surveillance and informers.
To me, these stories embody the full range of chance that we hoped to see for this issue; they are fearless, unexpected, a little off the beaten path. I hope that readers will appreciate them as much as I, and the rest of the editorial team, did; and I hope that everyone will take away something different from the role played by chance in each story!
Apparition Literary Magazine is funded by our patrons, the editors, and by your kind donations. If you’d like to support us, you can follow us on Facebook or Twitter and please consider donating and/or subscribing via Patreon. For 2020, we’re pleased to announce that we’ve increased our pay rate for short stories to $0.03 per word and poetry to $30 flat rate.
Thank you for reading
Rebecca Bennett, Amy Henry Robinson, Tacoma Tomilson, and Clarke Doty