Issue 23 / March 2019
"She turned out to be a lousy weather predictor. I shivered that evening in a heavy coat, as I sat on the front porch steps and listened to the game on my transistor. I felt her presence underneath me, but I was afraid to go down there. My bravery from the morning had disappeared in the cold dark night."
- The Hideaway by Russ Lydzinski

Issue 23

The Hideaway

Russ Lydzinski

I recognized Heidi from the stamp-sized photograph in the obituary despite the years, and even though her last name was different. How could I not? I’d sketched that face so many times, not only while we were together but for many years after. My surprise was that she’d returned to Pittsburgh. Often, I’d seen her face in a mall or a restaurant, only to be mistaken. Now, I wondered if at least once it had been her. Seventy years young, died of cancer, survived by two children and an aquarium of fish.

Issue 23

Queen of Henna

Phyllis Koppel

It's hard to be the Queen of Henna in Canada. The frigid climate is unforgiving for a tree meant to grow in temperate climates, yet here I am, in my dingy East Toronto apartment, proudly watering a henna tree I've raised from seed. She is the lone survivor of many. I look out the window at grey skies and sunless days (my henna's death squad), and instead of feeling angry, I feel like a million dollars.

Issue 23

Departure Delayed

Peter Oppenheim

I had been avoiding him for weeks, the delivery boy. I caught word of the summons he was charged to convey to me, and I was not overjoyed at the prospect. I had only a few days before our next embarkation, and if I could evade the summons, I might escape its fate . . . at least for one more voyage. Yet, he pursued . . . no! He stalked me—everywhere!

Issue 23

Song for Circe

Dom Fonce

Oh, Anna Marie,
the Ohio grass was green
the trees were
green has died
in your winter
lightning strikes fork on
your temple tremors these
Shawshank cornerstones fall to dirt
shakes and groans in thirsting throats

Issue 23

Flesh Tones

William Schillaci

When I caught up with Jhonelle, she was steering the wheelchair, trailing the girl and the man through the 15th Century, Northern Europe. The man had an angry grip on the girl’s wrist, pulling her along. She kept up with him with neither resistance nor any apparent interest, mechanically advancing her legs, the rest of her limp and lifeless. On the seat of the wheelchair were the remains of the girl’s artist’s pad, the pages with her drawings ripped from the spine, some torn to pieces. When I saw this, her work destroyed, I uttered some kind of cry and began to charge them. Jhonelle grabbed the tail of my jacket to hold me back.

Issue 23

What Would Olivia Do

Elizabeth Markley

When people spoke about Eugene, Oregon, they most often referred to it as a college town, though Monica preferred not to think of her home this way. The phrase conjured up images of dive bars and sleazy frat houses, and these were not at all welcome in Monica’s world. The neighborhood where she lived, fifteen miles to the east of Eugene, was indistinguishable from the outskirts of any mid-sized city. It was suburbia with a touch of rustic, and overall a very agreeable place to live.

Issue 23

The Army Nestled in Our Shadows

Paul Smit

The year is 2047. Steven Herselman and Paul Artin were trailblazers. At least that’s how they’d like to be remembered. They both worked for Intelli Design, the company responsible for the ID-ME. The ID-ME is an international identification device that is still being made today. Once users have a registered ID-ME they are able to discard their old paper passports. Those attempting to travel on the old system encounter significant resistance when clearing border controls, to the extent that paper passport holders now account for only 4% of international travel.

Issue 23

Confections

Cheryl Sim

“Madam?”
The voice belongs to the counter person in one of Kolkata’s trendy sweet shops. With its chic white subway-tiled walls, and its offerings handwritten on blackboards decorated with pastel swirls and paisleys, we could be in any pastry shop in any hipster neighborhood anywhere in the world. Only when a man sporting a basket of dried fish on his head scurries past the glass storefront does Kolkata – Calcutta – come back into view.

Issue 23

A Glimpse Inward

Lina Girgis

All her life, she had been looking for a mind to grasp her unspeakable thoughts and a soul to embrace her inexpressible feelings—rather than merely a heart to love her or an eye to covet her, let alone a body to use her own. She contemplated this old wish—always hiding in her head, refusing to lose hope, yet clinging to very little of it—while making coffee in the early morning.

Issue 23

At the Edge of the Dry Land

Norbert Kovacs

The two-story white house that embodied the front of the Last Out Hotel was inching ever closer to ruin. Its wooden siding was worn and broken, and the house’s color, once a sleek white, was fading fast after decades of buffeting by the desert wind and dust. The dark roof had dulled under the strong sun and its shingles had peeled upward, tired.

Issue 23

“I Want a Good Death,” “So, I Want to Start a Concentration Camp” and “The Flag, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and Saint Rita”

Francisco Lopez

It is a funny thing to turn thirty-four
It takes me no more than ten minutes
Of staring at yellowing maple leaves To restore the thought that even my maple trees will die
And then, it hits me:
I want a death with all of the proper documentation
It is true, even if it may not be the case in certain parts of
Pakistan and India

Issue 23

Quimby House

Ryan Scott Oliver

Willa heard screaming.
You did what!? I thought we was just gonna take care o’ her!
She woke. Her eyes unopened, a pair of voices played angry music into Willa’s ears, somewhere off. A second voice replied, And we will take care of her — forever! Despite the first voice’s bellowing, the second one pressed, unbothered. In good humor, even. She opened her eyes.

Issue 23

Aging With Grace

Susan Berg

My name is Grace. I’m fifty-one years old, standing here in the mobile home I’ve been living in for the past seven years. It’s a wreck. My stuff is strewn all over the place and most of the mess I created myself. The rest was done by an unknown bastard who broke into my place looking for—what? Cash? Jewelry? Priceless art? Who would expect to find anything of value to fence in a crummy old single-wide trailer with a rusty metal roof, a rotting front door, and a dingy yellow fiberglass tub with a huge crack that is evolving into a hole.

Issue 23

Generation I

John Etcheverry

Tashkent, Uzbekistan
I pressed the back of my hand to the smudged glass of the meat case. Warm. “If you don’t refrigerate this lamb it goes bad.” I’ve been arguing this with butchers at this market every week for the past year and a half.
“What can I offer you, brother?” The meat cutter stepped forward wiping his palms across his apron, the new blood and grease mingling with the old. His Russian is broken but more certain than my shaky grasp of the Uzbek language, which I abuse daily in my work on the visa line at the American embassy.

Issue 23

I Was Nineteen

Tammy Peacy

I worked at a pet shop. My boss was forty-two. That’s what he told me. Besides owning the shop, he was also a cop or a DEA agent or maybe in the CIA. I couldn’t then be certain about his stories. He had a cellphone in a time when no one had a cellphone. He might have been married or in the middle of a divorce. He complained of a woman he called his daughter’s mother. He did have a daughter, seven years old, and I know this because he brought her in one day, I think to show off.

Issue 23

A Tale of Two Wallets

Steve Kowalski

I found a wallet on a sidewalk in the Miracle Mile area of Los Angeles. I might have missed it if it wasn’t white, beautiful white leather reflecting the glow of a distant streetlight. I looked up and down the boulevard. Although lined with multi-story apartment buildings, it was completely empty and eerily quiet. It felt as if the entire city stopped what it was doing to watch my next move.

Issue 23

Almond Joy

Cristina Chopalli

I see her as I drive into the grocery store’s parking lot.
Hungry. No food. Please help.
A woman balances atop the lot’s concrete curb, biceps taut, a handwritten sign held above her head.
A toddler rides the woman’s hip. His fingers curl into the sweaty T-shirt across her breasts.
I slow my car.

Issue 23

Lake Effect: 1963

Stuart Terman

The driveways on Verona, the street next to ours, were all snowbound, and I walked up to a home whose drive looked in need of a good shoveling. I rang the front doorbell, and Boubi, recognizing me as the paper boy, gave me a thumbs up to clear out her drive. She was a widow, her children were grown, gone with these chores now on her frail shoulders.