SEQUOIA NAGAMATSU is the author of the story collection, Where We Go When All We Were Is Gone (Black Lawrence Press), silver medal winner of the 2016 Foreword Reviews Indies Book of the Year Award, an Entropy Magazine Best Book of 2016, and a notable book at Buzzfeed. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in publications such as Conjunctions, ZYZZYVA, The Fairy Tale Review, Tin House online, Black Warrior Review, Willow Springs, Pleiades, Lightspeed Magazine, and One World: A Global Anthology of Short Stories, among others. Originally from Hawaii and the San Francisco Bay Area, he was educated at Grinnell College (BA Anthropology) and Southern Illinois University (MFA Creative Writing). He co-edits Psychopomp Magazine, an online quarterly dedicated to innovative prose, and teaches at St. Olaf College. He lives in the Twin Cities region of Minnesota with his wife, the writer Cole Nagamatsu, and their cat Kalahira. He is currently working on a second story collection and a novel.
This story also appears in Where We Go When All We Were Is Gone and is the basis for a novel-in-progress.
The creature began shaking so quickly that it seemed to disappear at times. Its once stone-like body, impenetrable and sculpted, transformed into a translucent jelly, ribbons of light dancing within, coalescing into organs, veins, bone. Its body shrank in size to that of a child, Kaede, her features becoming more and more apparent. And then another creature took hold of this new daughter and another took hold of that creature and so on, until a chain had been formed, and I realized that there would soon be seventeen of her.
“Let me tell you about a girl in a boat in the middle of an ocean. She has no oars, no sail, and the sea is calm. On a good day, she can see land, and there’s a glimmer of hope that she’ll make it, although she never will. Let me tell you about my daughter who was born without most of her brain.” I talk for longer than I imagined, as if I were teaching a class on Daisy. This is who she is. This is what she has. This is our life together. This is what the doctors say. And this is what I know to be true.”
“Before Yoshiko got sick, I never understood the fascination with robotic pets, but Hollywood fills the silences between me and Aki and gives us something to love together without having to say much. I shine my pen light into the head cavity, wipe out the circuity with a non-static cloth, and consider how many more robo-dogs like this I’ll see as they get older and their hardware and software fail them.”