On International Women’s Day, several of the best writers in SF/F today reveal new stories inspired by the phrase “Nevertheless, she persisted”, raising their voice in response to a phrase originally meant to silence.
The stories publish on Tor.com all throughout the day of March 8th. They are collected here.
She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.
They told us about the dangers of giving blood, broke it down bit by bit, but Mary said we had to. She wanted a shot for a better job, which meant online access and taxis to the uppers for interviews, and I wanted to know I wouldn’t get caught pregnant if some fool down on the lowers thought I looked a good brood mare. So we went to the Rejuve Center, her all pretty in her newest dress, me in overalls and scuffed-out shoes, and we said we’d give as much as the law let and then a little more, if they’d pay out for it.
Mary looked so pretty, in that flowered dress, with them ribbons in her hair. She looked like what they always said springtime looked like, back before the sunlight got too dear and only richies got to have any.
They checked us for diseases, parasites, just this side of everything. Quickest, cheapest way to get a clean bill, giving blood. They make sure you’re squeaky, and even if you never see your results, once they jab that needle in your arm, you know you’re good.
They put Mary, pretty Mary, with her pretty dress and her pretty O- blood, in a room, and they put me in a different one, said some sharp words about how we couldn’t really be sisters, not with my AB+; how she wasn’t only worth more, but if I didn’t let them take the max, they might report us for illicit activities.
Of course I said yes. We were there to give the max already. They didn’t have to threaten. All they had to do was pay.
So the machine pulled and blood went and then I went, too, and when I woke up the world was spinning and an alarm was screaming and Mary, pretty Mary, Mary who looked like springtime, was being carried out with a sheet up over her face. I wasn’t supposed to see that. I don’t believe anyone was supposed to see that.
They gave me the check for what they took out of me, but not for what they took out of her, because they knew we weren’t sisters, and there wasn’t any other legal thing we could have been to one another. They gave me two hundred and fifty dollars and they took Mary. The last springtime in the world, and they drained her dry and kept what they took out of her, and they wouldn’t even pay her back.
Two hundred and fifty buys a lousy IUD and a lot of cheap beer. It doesn’t bring back the springtime. But…
Somewhere on the uppers there’s a richie with Mary flowing in their veins. I don’t have much, but I have this knife, and I have my pride, and they never paid for what they took.
One day, I’ll find a way up there, and I’ll bring what’s left of Mary home.
Seanan McGuire is the author of the October Daye urban fantasy series, the InCryptid series, and several other works, both standalone and in trilogies. She also writes darker fiction as Mira Grant. Seanan lives in a creaky old farmhouse in Northern California, which she shares with her cats, a vast collection of creepy dolls, and horror movies, and sufficient books to qualify her as a fire hazard. She was the winner of the 2010 John W Campbell Award for Best New Writer, and in 2013 she became the first person ever to appear five times on the same Hugo ballot.