Welcome to Short Fiction Friday! Every Friday, Black Forest Basilisks will be shining a spotlight on a new short story, novelette, or flash fic in addition to our regular posts. These stories will usually be available for free online, but occasionally stories from published anthologies will also be featured.
This story is available online for free at: Uncanny Magazine – Click through to read!
My Country Is a Ghost is a finalist in the 2021 Nebula Awards. Read more reviews of Nebula Finalists here.
When Niovi tried to smuggle her mother’s ghost into the new country, she found herself being passed from one security officer to another, detailing her mother’s place and date of death over and over again.
“Are you carrying a ghost with you, ma’am?” asked the woman in the security vest. Her nametag read Stella. Her lips were pressed in a tight line as she pointed at the ghost during the screening, tucked inside a necklace. She took away Niovi’s necklace and left only her phone.
One of the things I like best about speculative fiction is that it allows an author to use magic to physically represent an abstract concept. Eugenia Triantafyllou does this beautifully. Too often, we take for granted the way our community reinforces our self of self and cultural identity. The people around us remind us of who we are: how we cook, what we value, the way we act. When we are displaced from our home, that external reminder isn’t there any more. We feel adrift, lacking an anchor. In My Country Is a Ghost, Niovi experiences this first-hand in a very real way when the ever-present ghost of her mother is taken from her at customs.
She has to navigate a brand new world without the guidance of her culture – her ghost, her mother. There’s no longer someone there to pat her on the back when she does well or to rattle the pots when she uses mint instead of basil. Certainly, there are other ghosts in her new home… but they don’t have the same cultural memory. They come from a different heritage, and they can’t remind her of who she is.
Fortunately, even when we’ve lost our personal touchstones, there are ways to rebuild community through shared memory. It may not be the same as being steeped in your family and community, but it’s enough.
About the Author
Eugenia Triantafyllou is a Greek author and artist with a flair for dark things. She currently lives in Athens with a boy and a dog. She is a graduate of Clarion West Writers Workshop. Her short fiction has appeared in Uncanny, Apex, Strange Horizons and other venues.
Find her on Twitter @foxesandroses