A Quiet Afternoon 2 is self-described as a peaceful break from a stressful world. It doesn't want to leave you lost in a chainsaw maze, instead A Quiet Afternoon 2 wants to take your hand on a long ramble through the woods. Its stories are still escapist, but there is no hurtful urgency, no ticking clock. Laura DeHaan states it best in the Foreword, centering the anthology's goal to curate 27 stories that allow readers to draw full breaths where "[t]he smallest act of rebellion against that which oppresses, frightens and seeks to defeat us: that indrawn breath. The smallest show of triumph in that accomplishment: the exhale."
At Apparition Lit, we were craving that kind of exhale after a busy August and September when we were dealing with submissions, editing, and general life messiness. Autumn was the perfect time to curl up and indulge in some low-stakes fantasy with high-quality prose.
The Pollinators by Tiffany Morris
The Pollinators by Tiffany Morris begins, “Orange velvet sunset stained the glass of the aviary …” If that’s not a perfect first line, I don’t know what is. I was enchanted immediately and enjoyed every moment, first line to last. Morris invites us into this world at sunset and, at the story’s end, leaves us in bright sunlight to ponder and reflect. Structurally, it’s a lovely, satisfying way to make a very short story feel complete.
Without touching on too many details (because, dear reader, you should have the pleasure of this immersive read without me pointing out all the cool stuff ahead of time), I came away with a strong sense of the world, rich in complexity and potential conflict, full of environmental and social implications.
True to the publication in which it appears, The Pollinators is a quiet story, and thanks to Morris’s captivating prose and worldbuilding talents, we have reason to suspect a very unquiet world surrounds it.
Knitting Through the Apocalypse by Elizabeth Hirst
As someone with impossible expectations for my craftwork, I was 100% Team Arinn the moment she discovered the knitted copy of Treasure Island in the first scene. The simple act of opening her closet gave me the same joy elicited when I stepped into a Michaels or yarn shop. Arinn is (de)motivated by the loss of the nearby Craft Co-op. It wounds her and it is keenly felt in the prose: "Arinn’s problem, like many magical people floating about in this world, was that she loved things with no monetary value and too much worth to be counted. Magic occurs when Arinn sleeps and she uses this new power to effect change immediately, despite the reservations that crafting wasn't a useful skill. This story is a warm homemade sweater of a hug for those of us with paint on ours sleeves.
Remembering Simulacra by Gabrielle Bleu
The internal emotional life of inanimate objects hits one of the very softest of soft spots in my heart. Gabrielle Bleu’s story Remembering Simulacra does a brilliant job of blending nostalgia, personal relationships, and longing of amusement park dinosaur statues in a way that taps that soft spot. She mingles color and twilight to expertly, somehow, capture both the experience of the gentle monuments, and the visitors who love them, even as their heyday is fading (which again, is true for both statue and visitor). I love this gentle little story and all the beauty of the universe packed into it. I’m grateful for the detailed world that Gabrielle has created and that somewhere out there, these concrete behemoths are watching the skies, protecting us from danger, and enjoying the stars and the dawn.
The Many Kidnappings of Princess Zania by Meia Holland
“The Many Kidnappings of Princess Zania” by Meia Holland is an immediate delight. I dare you to try reading this story without once cracking a smile.
Princess Zania takes a few kidnappings to catch onto the story within the story, but I found it extremely pleasing when she did. Mei Holland has a true knack for short, witty sentences, and the structure of this piece works hand-in-hand with that. No spoilers, but my favorite part was how Princess Zania ultimately ended the kidnappings.
It can be difficult to convey a layered story with so few words, but Meia Holland managed it skillfully. “The Many Kidnappings of Princess Zania” is a perfect addition to the thoughtful and warm stories that make up the A Quiet Afternoon canon.
We absolutely love seeing new anthologies from small presses! If you are an Apparition Lit alum with a publication from a small press, send it along! We always would love to shout your praises.
In full transparency, the speculative publishing world is small and A Quiet Afternoon 2 includes several authors that Apparition Lit has previously worked with, including: Laura DeHaan, Aimee Ogden, Tamoha Sengupta (our beloved Slush Reader!), Tiffany Morris, Xan van Rooyen, and Jessica Cho.
You can purchase A Quiet Afternoon 2 through Payhip and other retailers, check out Grace&Victory.