Because I love you so much, I will not let the earth have your body. You are too good for it. Instead, I find new jars for your spine, multiple ones, vacuum-tight, and within them, I organize your vertebrae alphabetically and by length and seal them. I love you to pieces.
This fast fiction piece masterfully traverses the thin line between gross and engrossing. Either way, it is extreme, and therefore, it is love. The story portrays love in the exact way that love is experienced: it is picked apart, preserved, compared, seen everywhere. It is hauntingly intimate.
Liu’s style is minimalistic yet effortlessly poetic, attributing the beauty and sensuality of art to the fleeting economy of death. The story’s language takes care to embody every detail of the titular simulacrum without unravelling into pity or desperation – it is elegantly gross and vividly engrossing.
The extended metaphor of a skeletal body excellently retains this experience. The difficulty of loose vertebrae, the desperate need not to share a body with the earth, storing bones in jars in the hope that you can keep them forever, like memories. The motif of a canary crashed against a window beautifully carries the reminder that the bodies of our loved ones are out of our control, yet the fact that the bodies exist is reason enough to celebrate. While the story can be easily placed within the horror genre, it doesn’t rely on jump-scares, rising tensions or a climax; its subtly makes it all the more unexpected and thrilling.
Simulacrum doesn’t demand its reader’s attention. Rather, it lures the reader in until they can no longer look away. The author’s talent is an undeniable force to be reckoned with, making her writing both a pleasure and an excitement to read.
Bruna Gomes, Fiction Co-Editor