Conjunctions:34 American Fiction: States of the Art

Four Dark Tales
The following is one of four Joyce Carol Oates fables published in Conjunctions:34.
The Revelation

There was a man our exact age who, early one morning, some time before his usual hour of waking, opened his eyes so quickly and unguardedly that he saw the web in which he lay: a fine, gossamer structure, beautifully symmetrical, the strands translucent as though yet seeming strong, unbreakable as steel; the longitudinal strands just perceptibly thicker than the latitudinal, and fewer in number. Instinctively his eyes shut tight; for it was too early to wake from sleep, and the revelation was too early in his life; and when at last he opened his eyes, an hour later, in eagerness and dread, he saw that whatever it had been in which he’d imagined he had lain in the sweet passivity of sleep had vanished, as if it had never been.

Joyce Carol Oates is currently Visiting Distinguished Professor in the College of Arts and Sciences at Rutgers University, New Brunswick. She is the author, most recently, of the novel Breathe and the story collection The (Other) You (both Ecco), which includes several stories that originally appeared in Conjunctions. She is the 2019 recipient of the Jerusalem Prize.