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Stories We Love: "Nephilim"

hands of time

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.

  • Oh, bliss: Sarabande Books will publish L. Annette Binder’s debut collection, Rise, in August 2012.

Join the Discussion

  • Celeste

    This issue of One Story has (I’m ashamed to admit) been sitting on my filing cabinet with other deserving journals and books, growing dusty as it waits to be read. No longer! I’m cracking it open right now!

  • Lee Thomas

    Oh, you’re in for a treat. That sort of treat that might break your heart, of course. That’s the great thing about back issues of journals – they just sit there patiently, waiting to knock your socks off when you least expect it.

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