Prohibited Comfort


     A woman in a red sweater stopped in the middle of the sidewalk and started to cry.  One second, she was like everyone else, carefully expressionless and plugged in to her headphones, then she burst into noisy tears.  People didn’t do that.  Michael’s steps faltered.  He wanted to stop, to reach out to her.  People didn’t do that anymore either. 

     His girlfriend tugged his arm.  Michael took a step toward the crying woman; his eyes met hers.  They were blue, like the sky people no longer looked at, like his mother’s eyes, the day she was taken away.  His girlfriend tugged his arm again.  Michael took another step toward the woman, and his girlfriend let him go. 

     Michael touched the crying woman’s shoulder, and she threw herself into his arms.  Hot tears soaked through his shirt.  He stroked her hair. 

     When the thought police came, they took both of them. 


About Jamie

Jamie Lackey lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and their cats. She has over 160 short fiction credits, and has appeared in Daily Science Fiction, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and Escape Pod. She has a novella and two short story collections available from Air and Nothingness Press. In addition to writing, she spends her time reading, playing tabletop RPGs, baking, and hiking. You can find her online at

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