Until Forgiveness Comes

First published at Strange Horizons, Reprinted in In the Shadow of the Towers

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Originally published in Issue 17 and republished in the 20th Anniversary Special Issue highlighting editors’ favorite fiction and poetry.

The ceremony started at exactly six o’clock this morning when the clerics of Anpu, Iset, Seker, and Nebet-het stood at the four corners to create the sanctified square. Inside New Central Terminal, families and participants listened to the invocations and chants on loudspeakers while frankincense-infused smoke hovered over the still and silent mourners. Once the square was established, Sadana Manu, under-cleric of Iset, gave the sign for mourners to station themselves near the main blast sites for their glimpses of loved ones long gone.

In the twelve years since Red Seteshday, the clerics have perfected the haitai ritual to the point where participants know the script by heart and no longer need much direction on where to go and when. Still, Sadana manages a rotating roster of family members and survivors, reminding them of the correct verses to chant while invoking the highlights of that tragic day. Every year she stands on the memorial dais at the center of the Main Concourse, marking the time for prayers and the time for reading the names of the dead. Even if she weren’t an officiant, Sadana says she would find some way to participate.

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Praise for Until Forgiveness Comes

“Whenever I think about collective memory and how we wield it, I always think of K. Tempest Bradford’s story, ‘Until Forgiveness Comes.’ The events of 9/11 inform this story, but it is only a layer. The intensity and beauty of the world created in such a short span of words, the myriad experiences of grief and its many retreating circles, witnessing personal stories as entertainment and flagellation, and most of all, the desperate need and human wont to turn memory into archive into mythology—these are what make this story timeless, even as it evokes a very specific time.”
—Vanessa Rose Phin, Strange Horizons

“I love the sense of the deeply worked-out alternate history, especially in such a brief space. I especially love that even though it’s very clearly a 9/11 story, it’s not only a 9/11 story; the alternate history adds both distance and resonance, makes the story more universal while situating itself firmly in an alternate specificity.”
Jed Hartman

“…a complex and striking piece, weighing the desires of the survivors and families of the dead in honoring and remembering their loved ones against the wider implications of keeping the wound the attack represents open. A fabulous read!”
—Charles Payseur, Quick Sip Reviews

In The Shadow Of The Towers

Until Forgiveness Comes was reprinted in:

In the Shadow of the Towers edited by Douglas Lain
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