How They Were Found Part 12

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X, tattooed on my chest, above my heart.

X, that calls out to he who will commit this deed, to she who might end all that I am.

X, that marks the spot.

X, that will come to be.

X, which could stand for absolutely anything.

Y, the shape of an autopsy scar zippering the chest of a loved one.

Y, the sound of the question I cannot answer.

Y, the sound of the only question worth asking.

You, reading this.

You. Yes, you.

You, you, and you. You may not know yet, or maybe you always have, have felt the fist of the deed clenched in your heart for years. Please, do not wait any longer. I am tired of the fear, tired of the anticipation, tired of the day after day after day.

Zero, as brother.

Zero, as father.

Zero, as identity.

Zero, as memory.

Zero, as mother.

Zero, as name.

Zero, as self.

Zero, as silence.

Zero, as sister.

Zero: What will remain.


Thank you to the editors who first published these stories, including Ken Baumann, Sean Bishop, Laurie Cedilnik, Scott Garson, Roxane Gay, Aja Gabel, Sam Ligon, Steven J. McDermott, Bradford Morrow, Otto Penzler, M. Bartley Spiegel, and Beth Staples. A special thanks to Amanda Raczkowski, Joseph Reed, and Molly Gaudry for publishing my first two chapbooks, both of which are represented here in some form.

Thank you to the members of my various writing groups who served as the first readers and editors for these stories, including Aaron Burch, Blake Butler, Ryan Call, Elizabeth Ellen, Barry Graham, Sean Kilpatrick, Josh Maday, and Jeff Vande Zande.

Thank you to the many other writers who inspired and encouraged me, including Gary Amdahl, Suzanne Burns, Kim Chinquee, Dennis Cooper, Matthew Derby, Kitty Dubin, Brian Evenson, Tod Goldberg, Amelia Gray, Lily Hoang, Dave Housley, Laird Hunt, Charles Jensen, Michael Kimball, Norman Lock, Kyle Minor, Benjamin Percy, Jim Ruland, J.A. Tyler, Deb Olin Unferth, and William Walsh.

Thank you to my professors at Bowling Green State University, especially Michael Czyzniejewski and Wendell Mayo. Thanks also to the talented and inspiring friends I shared my years there with, especially Callista Buchen, Joe Celizic, Nikkita Cohoon, Dustin Hoffman, Brandon Jennings, Stephanie Marker, Catherine Templeton, Anne Valente, and Jacqueline Vogtman.

Thank you to Steven Gillis and Dan Wickett, for letting me work beside them at Dzanc Books. Thanks also to Tyler Gobble, Liana Imam, Matthew Olzmann, Marie Schutt, Steven Seighman, and everyone else who works with me on The Collagist and Best of the Web.

Thank you to Peter Cole, for his long belief in these pages.

Thank you to my friends and family, especially my brothers Nick and Luke, my sisters Liz and Katie, and my parents Ken and Michele.

Thank you to everyone else I have neglected to thank in this too-small space: Your contributions and friendship have not gone forgotten or unappreciated.

Most importantly: Thank you to my wife Jessica, without whose constant love and support and friendship the making of these words would not have been possible.


Matt Bell's fiction has appeared in Conjunctions, Hayden's Ferry Review, Willow Springs, Unsaid, and American Short Fiction, and has been selected for inclusion in Best American Mystery Stories 2010 and Best American Fantasy 2. He is also the editor of The Collagist and can be found online at


How They Were Found Part 12

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How They Were Found Part 12 summary

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