Majnun Ben-David

My Own Work: A County Without Weather

I’m happy to report that a very short story of mine, “A County Without Weather,” has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. It was nominated by Twelve Winters Press and Ted Morrissey, who kindly published it in their excellent anthology [Ex]tinguished & [Ex]tinct: An Anthology of Things that No Longer [Ex]ist, edited by John McCarthy.

My story is below, or click
here to get it in various formats, but I’d really encourage you to check out the anthology and its mix of short fiction and poetry (just $6 for the e-reader version). It centers on a compelling theme, and McCarthy and colleagues interpreted “extinguished and extinct” in broad terms, going beyond the ecological in directions you might not anticipate, but will likely enjoy. McCarthy discusses his vision for the anthology here.

Oh, and about the
Pushcart Prize nomination ... well over a thousand writers get nominated for it every year. Every independent press gets to nominate six pieces (short stories or poetry) they’ve published, plus Pushcart guest editors can also nominate work. So actually winning a Pushcart Prize or getting a Special Mention? A very big deal, as that’s one of the most prestigious honors around for short fiction, non-fiction, and poetry (and thus the annual Pushcart Prize volume makes for great reading). Simply being nominated? It’s kind of a big deal to me personally, especially as I’m a relatively new writer and this was the first piece of mine that’s even been eligible for a Pushcart. But in broader terms, it’s not an exclusive honor. So while I very much appreciate it, I wouldn’t want to overstate it either, as pointed out in this rant here (but see the comments section there for some thoughtful dissenting views).

Without further ado, here’s my (very short) story ...

A County Without Weather
By Majnun Ben-David

He was the only one who remembered when the county still had weather, he told himself with the satisfied certainty found only in the very young, very old, or very drunk. He possessed one of those attributes and was en route to adding a second as he leaned back in his chair, whiskey bottle in hand, and surveyed with approval the uniform green blur of his lawn. Lack of weather had been a blessing for the grass, no more browning summer heat or killing winter snows, no excuse now for having anything less than a solid carpet of bluegrass or, if you were that sort, fescue.

He remembered how it had been. The August heat like a rooftop sniper, people darting from a patch of shade into the redoubt of an air-conditioned store, nobody lingering in the open. The autumn leaves a quilt of colors, slick underfoot in the mist. The winter snow clogging the streets, a cold torpor slowing everything from the town firetruck to the small muscles in your hand.

The hell anybody here knew about that now. No seasons, no rain, no wind, no temperature. Thermometer mercury stayed in the bulb. Digital sensors blinked horizontal lines. His nephew, the one half-sensible member of his quarrelsome progeny,
had checked the internet for him only to report that the county weather records were missing. Information no longer available, it said.

The weather hadn’t gone away all at once, he remembered that. In the beginning people talked about it, greetings mixed with comments about the not-so-hot summer or hardly cold winter. The first megastore had just come in and it still stocked seasonal items, the plastic kiddie pools of summer and rickety sleds of winter. By the time the second megastore sprouted --- out on Milt’s old field, made the lucky bastard rich --- it was the same merchandise year-round, or so one of his idiot son-in-laws told him.

Soon there was nothing you could say about the weather because there wasn’t any. Instead you made small talk about the stores, the sales, and the boom. And what a boom it was, the big stores coming in, then their distribution centers, all on account, according to a fellow at the legion bar, of the county having a high uniformity rating. The stores, that’s where the jobs were now. Outdoor work, like his forty years as an agricultural inspector, was dinosaur extinct.

To hell with all that, he thought for no real reason other than a fondness for the phrase. To hell with all that, he repeated, this time aloud. Then more whiskey.

A passing jogger found him the next morning in the yard, a lone sprinkler raining water down on his slack body and splashing off his black winter jacket, his thick hat and earmuffs askew, the lawn around him slick and muddy, his grin lopsided and toothless as he stared up blankly at the water pelleting down from the sky.


Disclaimer: As with most anthologies of literary fiction, I was paid in copies. As such, the links to purchase the volume included above do not make me any money, either directly via royalties or indirectly via any kind of referral fees. This is an entirely non-commercial website. Links are included because I think they might be of interest to you, not because they will make me any money.

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