Charles Wall subtly weaves the themes of loss, love, and renewal in “Anchors.” A father and son who have lost a wife and mother, respectively, teeter on losing each other but it is the model ship – a memory displayed on a wooden shelf – that offers their moment of renewal.
Helen Wurthmann puts the spotlight on two siblings – and in turn, on us – in her story “Speaking Politely.” It’s Christmas and siblings Moe and Halo are on a grocery run, for wine and other festive items, and to get Halo out of the house before she picks another fight. It is during their time together on this seemingly benign errand that much is revealed about their relationship, Moe’s past, and our manufactured limits on compassion.
In “Wrong Number,” Jamie Grove explores the oft whispered topic of aging. Marilyn is alone and scared, having been taken to a hospital for reasons she cannot remember. Her aging body betrays her resolute spirit and she reaches out to Father Jones for solace, leaving a message. But she has dialed the wrong number and instead leaves a desperate message on Kirby’s voicemail. Kirby’s initial disregard for the caller wears at her and she eventually decides to visit, with fateful consequences.
Tyler Pesek is a self-proclaimed fan of Star Wars so it seems fitting that he would create “The Storm Trooper,” a Star Wars fan fiction story. The story begins when a solitary man discovers a lone helmet in a humble shelter and, with a touch, he enters a trance and sees the story of clone soldier 017. But below the surface of the storytelling is an intriguing and thoughtful examination of the fine line between being human and being AI.
The setting for Vanessa Christie’s short story “Midnight Ride” is San Diego and the action centers on finding a serial killer who is targeting cyclists. But frankly, you will have to read it to find out more. Built into the intrigue and action of the story is also a slow revelation of characters. As with her novel excerpt Strangers You Know, Christie does not disappoint.