Issue 11 / March 2018


Short Story Issue 11

Freedom

Jessica Manchester

Dr. Levine, the psychiatrist, seems perfectly comfortable with long stretches of silence. Long stretches of silence are the story of my life. This is my third visit with the doctor. Mom is mad at him because he doesn’t prescribe anything for me. She wants me fixed. My mind needs mending in her opinion. He’s asked me why I’m here. I don’t answer. Looking out the window I watch a squirrel climbing up an oak tree. He loses his balance, landing on the lawn below where all the acorns are anyway but he ignores them and jumps right back onto the trunk and tries again. Stretching out to reach a limb he falls onto the grass once again. The acorns are right there. What is he really after, I wonder. I just want to hear the truth. That’s what I’m after. I think about the day I told my mom I know the truth.

Short Story Issue 11

The Keeper of the Keys

Jessica Simpkiss

Torn clouds scuttled across the sky with the beginnings of the moon’s light dancing behind them as they chased their own broken shadows. The yellow glow and low hum of the city street lamps fluttered and shook, not quite sure if it was their time to shine in the waning daylight. The air had turned cool in the evenings, keeping the large crowds of lookie loos inside the bars or coffee shops up the street from the bridge, only giving them reason to venture out for necessity instead of pleasure walks. The faint sound of moving water purred underneath him, as he sat on a bench near the end of the bridge, waiting and watching out of the corner of his eye. Without fail, he always managed to find one.

Short Story Issue 11

Tip

Jamie Witherby

Captain Haines sheds his rain-pressed coat and hat in the entryway of the railcar diner. Laughter from 3 a.m. troublemakers, snores from booth-ridden sleepwalkers, snaps from slow-moving line cooks cut through the smoke-festooned air in the same whirling loops.
Dark-haired, gum-popping Dina points her pen at the large central booth with only two place settings. Haines nods as he retires his trench and cap on the sharp wall hook over a bouquet of tired umbrellas.

Short Story Issue 11

The Girl with the White Bicycle

Celia Hameury

When I first met the girl with the white bicycle, it was early spring. The tulips were only just beginning to bloom. I had often seen her, riding that overly large bicycle which had been painted entirely white, from the frame to the tires.
Then one morning, as I sat alone in the garden, she rode up to the front gate, in a plain white summer dress, and dismounted. She came to stand in front of me and stuck out her hand.

Short Story Issue 11

Closure

Kabir Mansata

At the time, I lived on the 31st floor of a modern apartment complex for middle-income households. I loved the large grounds and being a fitness freak, the easy access to a pool and a gymnasium. I loved having a shopping mall and a multiplex cinema a stone’s throw away.
It was 4 am and I exited my Uber, teary-eyed, inebriated and nauseous. I had just ended things with Dee, the love of my life. It had been the most amazing relationship for eight years. We were two hippies who floated through life like synchronized swimmers too lazy to collect their gold medals at the Olympics.

Short Story Issue 11

A Very Fine Time

Daniel Bartkowiak

They were sitting alone on the white sand. Everyone else had gone to bed. The night was cool and calm and the waves collapsed peacefully on the shore. The rods were still standing in the sand with their lines in the water. It was said to be bad luck to take them out after sundown. “Why’s the sand white?” asked Marjorie. “I don’t know,” said Nick. “Why is anything the way it is.”

Novel Excerpts / Novella Issue 11

Root That Mountain Down: Chapter 1

Evan Balkan

It’s an unspeakable smell. The smell of death. The ripping open of animal to let out the demons, loosing the jumble of organ and bone and tissue and exposing it to open air where microbe and maggot and mosquito can do their work. Black piles of waste swarming with insects fill clearings in the woods, just beyond the demarcated perimeter where decrepit buildings totter in the heat. Two scraggly roosters barely muster up the energy to chase each other in languid circles amidst food wrappers and beer cans. Muddy men wearing flip-flops cradle tattered playing cards and AK-47s. A voice booms from inside the long, flat building: “Hey! Hey! Hey!” over and over like a wicked hymn. A shirtless man emerges. Stretching from his right shoulder to his belly button is a long purple scar. The belly button protrudes like a tiny appendage. His arms are outstretched, and unlike the other men, he has a nice potbelly.

Novel Excerpts / Novella Issue 11

Land of the Free

Peter Hoppock

For the first 20 years of Douglas Williams’ life, his grandmother Mary had been tightlipped about her past—what had brought her to America, what and who she had left behind. During the last week of his last semester of college, Douglas’ father Llewelyn Williams Jr., fearing a downturn in Mary’s health, insisted Douglas join the family at the nursing home that had housed her for the last five years. That evening, after a short visit from a priest during which she insisted she was healthy as ever, she asked about Douglas’ upcoming Army service and if he still expected to be stationed in Europe for a time. When Douglas answered yes, she made this request of him: Please look up my brother-in-law Joseph, who might or might not still be living in Wales. She gave Douglas a photograph of her long-dead husband Llewelyn Williams Sr., noting that she had none of Joseph, but that the two brothers, born a few years apart in age, shared enough features for the photo to be useful. Promise you will do this for me, she insisted. Douglas kissed her on the forehead and promised he would. Mary’s request took everyone by surprise, especially Douglas’ father, himself equally tightlipped about his origins—as if it were a family obligation to bury the past.

Novel Excerpts / Novella Issue 11

The Message

Richard Friedman

Thanksgiving Day, November 27, 2025 “Mr. Bookman, time for dinner!” Simon Bookman roused, groggily, and studied the nurse. He didn’t recognize the nurse that took care of him for the last two years. Josephine Lucas rolled Mr. Bookman in his wheelchair to the dining room for today’s feast consisting of a dry piece of turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, and a little cup of vanilla flavored ice cream. If Simon Bookman could remember the old days, he’d recall the smell of baked apples wafting up the staircase and hypnotizing his three boys, Winston, seventeen, Sebastian, fourteen, and Wellington, age ten, respectively, dropped in the lap of Simon and his wife Margaret after Simon’s brother and sister-in-law died in 2000, courtesy of a drunk driver. The older boys retreated into the safety net of their deceased father’s transportation company. Wellington chose the sciences and graduated from Stanford, and celebrated his thirty-fifth birthday, a shared celebration with his beloved uncle.