"Continue to be who and how you are, to astonish a mean world with your acts of kindness."
A Man Named BinaryMichael Hall
Outside the funeral home wet, heavy snowflakes fell on an approaching incandescent Christmas while Binary stood before an open coffin with the echo of his father’s desperate screams reverberating in his head. “Ones and Zeros! Ones and Zeros!” Binary rubbed his face with his thick, moist hands dreading the onslaught of well-wishers and empathizers. He already missed the comfort of his house; the safe, familiar walls, the cushy easy chair sitting before a glowing television, and the absence of unfamiliar people expressing uncomfortable emotions.
Honeybun and the Greatest FriendParis Hickman
Once upon a time there was a great forest that stretched for miles and miles along a tranquil river. The river was wide and long, and the azure water glimmered like crystals. If the river was followed deep enough into the wood, there could be found a small cottage tucked beneath the bosom of a mountain. The cottage was covered in countless flowers, and berries, and all sorts of vined things that grew out and up from a large garden. Inside the cottage there lived a little girl and her mother. This little girl was the sweetest, most docile child one could encounter. She had large eyes the color of umber and dark curly hair that shone reddish-brown in the springtime sun.
When the cold, white morning of her fiftieth birthday arrived, Beatrice couldn’t lift her head. The chimes of her good morning, programmed into the phone she kept beside her, just in case, circled through their simple melody three times and then stopped. From outside her bedroom door came the cries of the cat, hungry again, its staccato screeches demanding attention. Sunlight fell like shards of glass on the floor, too bright this April morning, reflecting the snow that should not have fallen, here, in Atlanta, where last week was springtime.
The Wicked Flee Where None PursuethCamara Fairweather
Apart from the usuals who wandered in and out to sift through old records the shop was unusually quiet. Marcel, the sales clerk, was leaning back on the brick wall behind the register, rolling a joint between his fingers. He took the fixings, rolled, licked, and twisted, then placed the cigarette in his mouth. The rose-colored tip glowed gold as his thumb stroked the wheel of the lighter, before browning, and turning black. He stared out the display window as he smoked. The evening sky was a pure, uninterrupted pink...
Wings of ChangeErin Casey
Corina settled back into the grimy seat and tucked white buds into her ears. Chicago flashed past her in snatches of skyscrapers, cars, bridges, and billboards promoting Krazy Kaplans’ fireworks. More would come as they drew closer to the fourth of July. She drummed her fingers on her knee to the beat of her mixed playlist. It was supposed to help her feel more empowered and energetic. Normally it did, but not today. Today was a bad day, and the familiar torn poster clinging to the metro train wall across from her didn’t help.
Involuntary MemoryJoseph Costa
The floor creaked in the hall outside my bedroom at 3:20 in the morning, and shortly after that, the doorknob quietly turned. I had a Louisville slugger in my hands and a hundred-pound dog snoring next to my bed. On the other side of the door was Mike Harper, a childhood friend who had suffered a mental breakdown, thought mobsters were after him, was carrying a large knife and pining away for Adeline, a woman he hadn’t seen in a dozen years.
Just a Regular GirlSusan Breall
Over the past three years Queenie Reginald Smith had been arrested more times than she cared to admit. Recently she even managed to get herself arrested on Sixth and Howard Streets at four o’clock in the morning by trying to solicit an undercover cop she saw leaning against the entrance to The Tip Top Donut Shop. After she was taken to Juvenile Hall, Queenie assumed that Judge Williamson would release her from custody the way all judges did, given her youth and the prevailing view that her kind of crime did not warrant custody time. Judge Williamson, however, was not like all other judges.
Jumping on SunbeamsAaron Como
He could not see anything, nor was there any sound. He knew he was moving forward and could feel the soft squish of the ground underneath his feet. Because of the void he did not know if his path was narrow or if he walked in an expanse. He held his arms out in front of him and then waved them in the air at his sides but felt nothing. He felt like he was walking in the right direction yet was not sure if the next step he took would plunge him over the precipice and into the abyss. He was not sure that he would have minded that but didn’t think that was what was going to happen.
The Letter WriterE. Merrill Brouder
After he awoke, he did not remember his name for many days. By then, the mess of line that had tangled around his ankle had peeled away. He’d also found the transom of his boat, The Aloha, broken over a sandbar and stretched and twisted and torn like chewing gum. Now he remembered her, a lovely little schooner with a cream-colored deck over a small one-man cabin. The atoll, too, was small. It was so small one could see its east coast from its westernmost point.
Happy BirthdayFatima Ijaz
Rummaging through the evening’s profile and its many lit sunsets – on the pavement, in the shadows, in the alleys, on the shore – Iqra had a keen sensation of what it felt like to be in love. She felt the dual nature of reality – one, in which she existed with him, and the other in which she was part of the ordinary world – come in close contact when she realized that she had not answered either his phone, or the work-meet. Lost in the contemplation of nature she had let time slip by and the announcement it made on her life was evocative, fulfilling. She realized that both Tahir and Usman would be upset with her. She had missed birthday calls, engrossed in the setting sun.
I Enjoy Teaching Nineteenth Century NovelsAlina Stefanescu
I enjoy teaching 19th century novels for three years at a small private college before a student steps forward to query the bias in my curriculum. He is a serious, hardworking student with perfect attendance. He portends an earnestness for which I am not prepared. It is the unreported thunderstorms, the torrential rains presaged by quiet, windless skies, which cause the most damage.
My DearestCharlotte Burnett
My Dearest Sometimes I think they did it deliberately, these nations, started this war just to separate you and me. Sometimes I think they all did, these strange cowards who’ll follow me into battle. That’s unfair, after all I don’t know them – for all my bitter mind knows they could have their own Dearest waiting for them at home, pouring over the letters they write, waiting for that next train to bring them home.
Two BuddhasKenneth Kapp
Gerald is sitting in a wingchair in the lobby, waiting. His walker’s in easy reach of his right hand. Periodically his head drops to his chest and he wakes up startled. Tom comes to a stop in front of him and coughs gently into his hand. “Sorry I’m late, heavy traffic.” “No problem, Tom. I like being alone with my thoughts.” “Is that the good news or the bad news?” “You tell me. I’m trying to be philosophical. Like my doc tells me, ‘a day at a time.’”
Dancing On GravesKelly Ann Gonzales
It wasn’t that we particularly enjoyed Lolo Genesis’s death. It was more like a sigh of relief because the guy was kind of a dick. Buena and I were not purposefully attempting to live out an irreverent, dark comedy by playing music and dancing on his grave. We were raised with standards. The inherited musical and creative types by nature. Call it genetics.
Making the PingAdrian Plau
The first time he came to our house I was six or seven. My sister and I were playing on the carpet in the living room. Mom told us to be quiet and he sat down heavily on the couch. She served him a glass of water and we watched him drink it. His flannel shirt made crisp little tearing sounds against the cushion covers. Mom made those herself out of yarn from the hobby store.