Preview of ‘Feeding is No Crime’

026cover-front-tinyLuna Station Quarterly’s issue 26 came out yesterday. If you needed one more reason to purchase a copy or read on our website, consider our featured story ‘Feeding is No Crime’ by Patricia Russo.

In an unnamed isolated old neighborhood full of old families and older traditions, a group of children uncover the punishment vault under the earth. A thousand years ago, the old emperors had ordered magicians to seal people of the neighborhood away: a whole family imprisoned for the crime of one individual. The imprisoned call out for food and it is up to the neighborhood to decide whether to reach out a hand or rebury the past.

The heart of Russo’s story lies with Zerna, a student in law school who returns to the neighborhood, and Fonell, her childhood friend and lover. It is a story that balances hope with the grotesque, and ultimately redefines what it means to be family.

Read an excerpt below:

“If, as it is stated in the Code of Padrel the Great, that eating is no crime, then it follows by corollary that neither is feeding a criminal offense.”

Six months of law school, and that was the way Zerna talked now? It rubbed Fonell the wrong way, like she was trying to show off. Come on, his friend Drau said. She’s learned some new words. What do you expect happens when you go to school? She’s still the same Zerna now that she’s always been.

She didn’t dress the same. Fonell didn’t figure scholarships covered trips to upmarket boutiques. A boyfriend?

A boyfriend would have given her jewelry, dumbass, Drau said. She probably got a job on campus and bought herself a couple of nice things. Big deal. Anyway, I don’t know why you’re getting your nutsack in a twist for. You two broke up before Zerna went away.

Fonell punched Drau in the arm. We were never together, asshole, he said. But she could’ve dressed down for a visit to the old neighborhood.

Especially when the visit was more in the nature of an emergency call.

“Is that all you have to say?” shouted someone who lived in the building behind which some kids had found the white strip in the dirt where the paving had been torn up and some earth removed to get to a sewage line that turned out not to be there. Of course they ran and told other kids, and a great swarm of youngsters had dug for hours, thinking they were going to find buried treasure, before some adult with a bit of brains had remembered what that shiny, white, plasticky-metallic-magical material had been used by the old emperors for, what they’d intended to seal up tight and forever.

A thousand years had passed since the time of the old emperors, and forever was apparently not as long as the emperors or their magicians had thought. The kids had managed not only to produce a truly impressive excavation, but also to break one edge of the white sealant and reveal the pit below it.

A thousand years, and the prisoners were still alive.

Check out the full story alongside the work of our seven other female contributors here.