"Demon" was the first story I wrote for the Bordertown anthologies and in many ways remains my favorite; perhaps because it is so heavily invested in the martial arts, which I still practice. I admire Laura because she is both tough and tender, born in Bordertown with all its fantastic riches as well as its dark grubby corners. But it's her town, and she knows how to not only survive here, but thrive.
...."Sensei looked around for a suitable opponent. His eyes rested on another student. He knew by the way she sat, fidgeting with her gi, straightening the front, that she was avoiding his gaze. Inwardly he sighed, wishing she had more confidence in her ability. Sometimes you pull your students, coaxing them where they don't want to go, and sometimes you push. Time was for a push. "Laura," he called, and turned his back so he wouldn't see the stricken expression that flashed across her face.
Laura scrambled to her feet, her stomach cold and her mouth dry. Shit! she screamed to herself. Shit, shit! Why'd it have to be her? And why'd it have to be Keno? It wasn't the sparring that scared her, it was him. Huh. She gave a snort. Everyone in the dojo was afraid of him. He was the meanest fucking elf she knew. But there was no refusing in workout. She stepped into the opening and faced Keno, her hands opening and closing in small fists..." Read more > > >
"Sara" (published as "Alison Gross") was a long look at what it meant to grow up in Bordertown, especially in a violent family. Teens from the World were arriving in B-town to escape their troubles from their own families. B-town kids couldn't run away, but had to deal the troubles at home. I think at some point in our young lives we are faced with resolving the contradictions of our parents' lives -- as a means to discovering and freeing ourselves from our parents' conflicts.
"Thursday night. Sara took a deep drag off her cigarette and then laid it down on the edge of a tin ashtray. She held the smoke in her throat, let it settle in her chest, and then exhaled slowly through her nose. Wreathed in blue smoke, she closed her eyes, relishing the heavy smell and pleasant burn of tobacco. She opened her eyes again and leaned into the mirror to finish her makeup. Her brown eyes appeared larger from the generous amounts of kohl drawn on the lids, and black mascara stretched the lashes impossibly long and stiff. The full lips were painted a bright coral that stood out against her olive skin. Fairy dust brushed on her cheeks and forehead shimmered as she tossed back long black curly hair...."