Stories We Love: “Nephilim”
By Lee Thomas
Most stories we read, hear, even tell — we forget. A scant few haunt us across years. The best ones never leave.
I still remember the first time I read One Story issue #141 on the F train. Early November in New York, when wet, bare branches foreshadow winter. It begins:
Freda weighed eighteen pounds when she was born. Her feet were each six inches long. At ten, she was taller than her father. Five feet eleven and one-half inches standing in her socks. I can’t keep you in shoes, her mother would say, and they went to Woolworth’s for men’s cloth slippers. Her mother cut them open up front to leave room for Freda’s toes. She’d stitch flowers in the fabric to pretty up the seams, forget-me-nots and daisies and yellow bushel roses.
It wasn’t imagining a giantess for a daughter that seared “Nephilim” on my mind, but the love story at its raw, ragged heart.
Freda loves a little boy named Teddy. Their relationship – like Freda’s skeleton – grows over the course of L. Annette Binder’s story. I know what you’re thinking – sentimental! weirdness that plays on the reader! – that isn’t it at all. It’s a story so old it predates writing: I’m a monster, who will love me? And we hold our breath for the answer, every single time.
- Read an interview with L. Annette Binder on One-Story, where you can also order a copy of “Nephilim.”
- Oh, bliss: Sarabande Books will publish L. Annette Binder’s debut collection, Rise, in August 2012.