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Six Sleep Stories

Issue 47 by Diane Forman

My former mother-in-law complained of insomnia. Incessantly. She had a small army of pill bottles lined up on the kitchen counter: Tylenol PM. Tramadol. Valium. Klonopin. Sleep aids. Little helpers.

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Canned

Issue 47 by Elizabeth Powers

When I wake up in the morning, the snow has stopped falling, but outside my window I see a big mound of the stuff in the driveway. I rub my eyes and sigh, realizing that the mound of snow is actually a car and that I’m going to have to dig it out fast if I don’t want to be late to work. I throw on my khakis and dark green shirt, Harold’s Grocery sewn on the left breast pocket in yellow, loopy script, and then stare back at the car just for an instant to contemplate the freezing temperature of creamed corn.

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Code Red

Issue 47 by Andrew MacQuarrie

It sounded like a creaky door. Or a lazily deflating balloon. Or a territorial humpback moaning out its claim to the waters of the North Pacific.
What it didn’t sound like was lungs. At least not healthy, normal lungs.
Mai Fitzgerald closed her eyes and adjusted her grip on the stethoscope. It was all there—the prolonged expiratory phase, the diffuse high-pitched wheezing, the hoarse… junkiness classic for chronic bronchitis. She imagined the patient’s breath, hot and frantic, scrambling to make it through her tight, scarred airways.

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The Missing Years

Issue 47 by Suzanne E. Korges

There are empty spaces in my photo album, gaps in time that float like apparitions in their possibility. Just out of reach, hazy and transparent, like smoke from a Cuban cigar that was there and then, suddenly, gone. I turn the pages, searching for the missing years, but find no trace.

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At the Edge of a Long Lone Land

Issue 47 by Ben Woestenburg

I used to watch her walk the Coast Path every morning through my grandad’s old spyglass. Sometimes, she’d stand rooted to one place, looking out past Pordenack Point at one of the small fishing boats, or a merchant ship, and I could picture her in my imagination as a young Penelope searching for her Ulysses. It struck me at times that perhaps she was looking for a piece of herself out there—that maybe she’d given away a piece of her heart, or perhaps misplaced it.

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Hidden Hurt in the Dirt

Issue 47 by Suzanne Eaton

Red-rock shelves that looked like they were sliced away and neatly tiered by an enormous X-Acto knife in an ambitious, yet unsteady hand stood before me. The wall of rusty-red stretched between me and a creek I thought I could hear rushing by on the other side.

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Where Boys Play Baseball

Issue 47 by Thomas Weedman

All the cars are gone except for two. Fearing he’s been left behind or got the day wrong, the leggy Catholic-school boy with blue eyes and string-cheese hair limps up to the dirt lot in tattered Chuck Taylors and a sweaty panic. It’s Wednesday, August 13, 1975, and a hundred degrees.

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Unpacking Mother

Issue 47 by Margaret Sayers

Brigitte could not remember a time before the suitcase flanked the front door on the right, opposite the coat closet to the left. Just like the faded floral wallpaper, the yellowed silhouettes of the stair-step Schmidt sisters, and the frosted glass sconces in the foyer, no one even seemed to notice the weathered hard-shell Samsonite anymore.

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Jude

Issue 47 by Lydia Landrum

I always hated driving. More than that, I always hated the backseat, and I always hated riding shotgun, even. I hated it back when I was a little girl in the backseat of my daddy’s Ford Super Deluxe. I don’t know why, really, maybe it’s because someone always lights up a cigarette and chokes up everyone in the car, or maybe it’s the way I get carsick if the windows ain’t up. I don’t know, I just don’t like it.

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Living Memories

Issue 47 by Jamila Minnicks Gleason

“Start that over, Tiny Bit,” says Grandmama as she waves an unsnapped green bean at my laptop. “And turn it up for me.”
My finger is still hovering over the touchpad when a wave of crisp, staccato horns crests and crashes from the speakers, receding into violins cascading
down,
down,
into a churning drumroll before that voice smooths the way and invites us to meander a piece down a lazy river.

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Under the Microscope

Issue 47 by Joanell Serra

Deep down, I will always be the pastor’s daughter. While Inspector Corrick has come to Keystone School as a private investigator, my roiling stomach imagines he is a messenger from God, a toad-like minion in the army of St. Peter. Is he here to decide whether there has been a crime committed, and if so, my part in it, or to ascertain whether there has been a moral failure?

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