Miles Rausch writes for people and computers. Since he began writing seriously, in 2013, his inventive, intriguing, delightful work has appeared in Skullmore and Speculative66. He calls himself “a source code alchemist, a scientist and artist,” who enjoys “writing of all kinds, functional or fictional.” Rausch dreamt, as a child, of life as a paleontologist. Still a dinosaur-lover, Miles’ favorite novel remains Jurassic Park. “One thing Crichton does beautifully is weave stories around hard science. There’s so much inspiration in physics, chemistry, biology and mathematics. Crichton managed to wrap that inspiration in great storytelling. Jurassic Park is a great example.”
Miles’ poetry and short stories first appeared in his college literary magazine. After earning Bachelor’s degrees in Computer Science and Mathematics, he became a professional web developer. Today, Miles unwinds by exercising, playing with his kids, reading, and (with his spouse) watching TV “in a really serious, connoisseur kind of way.” Not only a submitter, winner, blog writer, judge, and team leader for Mash Stories, Miles maintains a personal writing website, which is “more programming than Hemingway ever did!”
Excerpt from his Winning Novel:
No Story to Tell
Jane was in the living room. The TV was dark. The room was quiet. The creme-colored phone sat on the small table along Jane’s left side and the sheet of paper with Rose’s number was next to it. Jane took a deep breath, then she picked up the phone and tapped in the numbers. She listened to the rings and caught herself counting them. It went to voicemail.
Jane cleared her throat. “Hello, Rose. It’s your mom. Give me a call when you have a chance. Some time today.” Then she hung up.
Jane felt a lump in her throat dissolve, a small relief. She set the paper aside and sighed. She was about to wake the television when the phone rang. The lump returned. Jane picked up the receiver.
Jane’s stomach twisted to hear her eldest daughter’s husky soprano. Rose had worn her voice away with smoking and drinking and screaming, but there was still music in it.
“It’s been a while, mom.”
Jane tried to clear her throat again, but it refused her.
“How are you?”
“I’m… I’m good. Well, no. I’m concerned. I saw Lily’s message, and I’ve been thinking about it. But before the message I was good. How are you?”
“Oh… just finishing some things up.”
“Am I one of those things?”
“I wondered if you’d call.”
“Well, dear, the phone certainly works both ways.”
The air chilled a bit.
“Cool. Awesome. What are we? Five minutes in?”
Jane sat in ice. She wanted to hang up. She was very tired, and there was still so much left.
“I needed a mom.”
“I was your mom,” Jane retorted, a little hurt.
“No, you were my judge,” Rose said. Her words were stone.
“Every phone call was a lecture ticking clock toward-“
“Rose, your lifestyle-“
“It’s not a lifestyle, mom. It’s my life!”
“-not aligned with what God-“
“Where the hell was God when dad died, huh?”
Jane stiffened. She took controlled breaths.
“I guess God was too busy judging me for the way he made me.”
Breaths in. Breaths out.
“Thanks for the talk, mom,” Rose said. Her words were blades.
“Rose,” Jane said at last. “I love you.”
Rose strangled her laugh.
Jane felt her eyes welling up. The living room was swimming in emotions.
“I’m not sorry for what I said, but I’m sorry for how it made you feel.”
There were tears in Rose’s voice. And poison.
“Thanks, mom. That means a lot. You know, I needed you. I miss you.”
Jane was crying.
“I miss you, too, Rose.”
Tears dropped to the blanket draped across her knees and left dark discolored ovals.
“I just wanted you to love me.”
“Oh, sweetheart, I do love you. Why do you think I worked so hard to save you?”
“Right… Well, this isn’t the big love fest that I thought it would be but whatever. It’s not your style. I’ll just have a good scream into my pillow tonight and be done with it.”
Jane’s eyes cleared a little. She could make out shapes in the room again.
“Yeah, mom?” Rose sniffed.
“It’s my fault you never got that bike.”
“What? What bike?”
“You wanted a bike for your tenth birthday. I convinced your father to get you a doll instead. I didn’t think you’d actually use the bike. You… you were heartbroken for ages. You talked about it all the time. I’m really sorry.”
“Thank you. That is a much better apology.”
Jane sighed, deeply.
“I’m very tired, dear.”
“You need your rest. I’m sure you have more important things to do. Thank you for calling.”
“Thank you for answering.”
“I love you, mom.”
“I love you, too, Rose.”
Jane’s mouth formed the words, but she said nothing. The handset slid down her chest and thudded into her lap. She tried to raise her arm to place it back on the side table. Her arm didn’t work. Her body didn’t work. Very much against her wishes, the vignette of sleep encroached upon her, and Jane fell fast asleep.