by Derek La Shot
Sheriff H.W. Walsh bore a faraway look as he stood on the platform behind the gallows and waited for his unofficially adopted son, James Singleton, to die.
The whole scene was oddly dysfunctional, and eerie inefficiency and clumsiness hung about the whole affair like a latrine stench. As if anything that could go wrong had a malicious inclination to do so. The executioner tossed the thick hemp-threaded rope over the oak gallows beam creaking a few times in the wind above them. Read more.
Not If, When
by Beth Weeks
Photo by Kemal Alkan on UnsplashI first met Caleb Allen at the twenty-four-hour Kroger where he stocked shelves third shift. He was only twenty-one and had failed out of college the year before because he found it beneath him and told me “the services rendered were not worth the costs incurred.” I was an insomniac, and near nightly went to Kroger at three in the morning to meander among the Read more.
Flesh and Ghost
by Adam Cheshire
Ghosts have terrible memories. Turns out that the physical body is integral to particular recollections. Mass, matter, moving through space, imprinting on the world; being imprinted upon. Art has helped me bridge that gap (of not having a body); allowed me an entry point. Music, movies—literature especially—flesh things out. The imaginative world anchors me. Still. There’s always something a little slant to my impressions of the past. My young moments among the living. Read more.
by Mark Williams
Spring semester, my senior year of college, I won Jenny Muller in a game of Trivial Pursuit. The winning question was, What Native American tribe assisted the Corps of Discovery through the winter of 1804–1805? I couldn’t believe my luck. With the question or the prize. Read more.
Just Be Nice
by Aisha West
I was still stoned when I got back home that Saturday – the first Saturday we had a family dinner planned since I’d gotten my license the previous year. We, well, my mom planned this dinner to welcome my dad back from his first tour of duty as a trucker. I was late. And my mom told me so. Read more.
by Troy Ernest Hill
I score my first soccer goal ever. It’s only practice, but still. Coach claps and shouts, “Way to go, Henry!” A couple of teammates jog by in these knee-high, stretchy blue socks we have to wear, saying, “Good job, Gollum,” and “Finally,” and kind of laughing.
My parents made me play because they said I spend too much time on my aquarium. I made it like how the ocean was before, with colored reefs and glowing fish and huge whales. Read more.
Don’t Want to Go to Heaven; Just Want to Go Home
by Jamey Gallagher
Inside the airport, Trina sat in a white rocking chair that had been set up on the side of the ramp, looking out at the tarmac, a coffee in one hand, a Danish with bright red jam and stripes of white icing in the other, her carry-on bag at her feet. Behind her was the hubbub of the terminal, arrivals and departures, announcements calling out flight numbers, transport carts carrying the elderly here and there, a young man wearing a slick blue suit and a pilot’s hat trying to convince passersby to sign up for a special program. Read more.
by Sonja Srinivasan
The conversion was an unlikely story.
For over two decades, Professor Philippe Halston had been the rock star at Rudyard University’s history department who brought in grants, acclaim, students, and visiting lecturers from afar, an expert on the Enlightenment and pre-Industrial Revolution secular European thinking. He lived an immaculate life with an immaculate house and an immaculate career untainted by failure. Read more.
A Week and A Day
by Cathy Robertson
Charlie was scared, all right. More frightened than they could ever remember being. The razor-shaved hairs on the back of Charlie’s neck stood straight out as the deafening scream of terror rent through the darkness once again. What the hell could make this horrendous noise that tore at their flesh and flipped the heart into a mass of quivering gel? This, they decided, had to be stopped. “Aiyeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!” Charlie’s eardrums reverberated in their head. Their blood ran cold, and Charlie wanted to scream back in response. Read more.
by Meital Sharon
“Good morning, Dinah, It’s Wednesday”, I greet myself aloud daily. Gad has greeted me every morning since we got married and moved in together fifty-two years ago. The alarm clock would go off at six forty, and Gad would snooze it, and still asleep, would say: Good morning, Dinahdin. Then he would rearrange his pillows, put a hand on my hip and go back to sleep. Since he passed away, I started saying this to myself. Read more.
The Language of Birds
by Catherine Puckett
Renata stares at the electric knifefish and eel exhibit at the New Orleans Aquarium. She thinks that if she knew there would be passion in heaven and that heaven existed, the whole thing would be easier to bear. Marital dissatisfaction, she suspects, is one of the great underlying reasons for belief in an afterlife. She grips four-year-old Noah’s hand so he can’t wander away again. Noah is quick and curious, like she was as a child, and because he is like her, she already hurts for him. Read more.
I Am In Your Sway
by Kelsey Myers
“It’s a malady particular to artists,” Arachne said to her father one day, as he was watching her work.
That morning, he had made her a gift of sea-blue yarn that was said to have been touched by the gods themselves, or, at least, by a demigod, or, at least, by one of the Oceanids; the seller had been vague about the specifics, but assured Idmon that the material was, in some way, divine. It looked divine, different from the yarn that Arachne usually used, which was single-color and made of cotton. This yarn shimmered the way the sea shimmered when the sun shone on its surface: hues of algae green, river blue, and flashes of gold. Read more.
The Red-Headed Dragon
by Henry Weese
“Stop complaining,” said Julie, looking over her shoulder at her husband as she stacked dishes and coffee cups on a folding utility table against the garage wall. “We’re lucky to get anything at all.”
“I’m not complaining,” said Tom, searching for a place on the concrete garage floor to set the box he was carrying. “It just seems unfair. Your mom and aunt get the house, your uncle gets the money in the bank, your sister gets the new car, and we get—”
“Put the box there,” said Julie, pointing.
Tom dropped the box. It clanged—more goddamn pots and pans. Read more.
A Slow Fever: The Nearly True Story of Typhoid Mary
by Catherine Hammond
Another family with kids. What I wouldn’t have given to work for an old maid with no children. Just me and her and a bright, clean kitchen. But I was happy. I was cooking.
Portia, who had recently turned six, darted into the kitchen and ran around the oak table. Tristan rushed in behind her.
“Give it back.” His voice was high and whiny.
“It’s the last one.” She held a crumpled scone over her head.
“Stop that,” I said.
They peered up at me. I was a big woman, and I could scare little kids. Portia’s hand fell to her side. Read more.
by David Kirby Fields
The first time he did it, it was a joke, really. An attempt to amuse himself during his otherwise soul-crushing nine to five.
“Per our recent conversation.”
“Circling back regarding the matter discussed below.”
“I just want to make sure I’m clear on next steps.”
“See attached.” He wrote scores of emails every day. One hundred plus leading up to various milestones. Milestones. The term alone. Read more.
What Do You Call an Elephant?
by Judith Ford
“Ma’am? Could you tell me one more time how you discovered the box?” The young policeman leaning in the doorway of Ruth’s living room looked up from the small, brown notebook he’d been writing in.
Ruth clenched her hands together in her lap to stop their shaking. After she’d called 911, she’d vomited into the kitchen sink, her teenage daughter, Grace, pacing behind her, saying over and over again, “I don’t know how that got there, Mom! I promise. I don’t know.”
“My daughter says it isn’t hers. Why would anyone bury a baby in my garden?” Ruth shuddered. Read more.
by Carol Campbell
I’ve always been able to see faces in things. Yes, of course in clouds, like the ones that trail into my view from the bay window, the purple and pink sea horses and scoop-necked swans swimming across a windy sky while I listlessly watch the UPS truck trying to get down the driveway. But I sometimes freak out my friends when I describe the green man in the woods or the child’s face in the dark, green holly leaves. Layla says I should go back to school to get my art degree, implying that cutting hair isn’t artistic enough. Read more.
Samson & Julia
by TeresaAnn Fico
Samson’s obsession with Julia Child began three weeks after his father’s funeral. He was watching TV late one Saturday night, numbly flipping through channels with the volume high enough that the couple living upstairs would surely complain yet again. The couch he was lying on was lived in, soft in the way that only comes from consistent use. Between the couch and the television set was a wooden coffee table, covered in a collage of water rings across the surface. An almost empty glass of water and an untouched plate of crackers sat on the edge of the table nearest Sam. Read more.
by John Schafer
He tightened the half-inch screw into the wooden floor of the truck. It held the false front in place. The last two screws would wait on the Chinamen. He reached up and grabbed one of the wooden slates that ran the length of the Penske’s interior wall and pulled himself up; it bowed, but with a boost from his legs he was vertical before it gave. He walked back to the end of the truck and stepped onto the lift gate. He peered back in. No way you could tell. They would have to get in and they never did. Read more.
by Andreea Sepi
When I sold the first piece of land, I didn’t even tell my old man. I forged his signature on the papers.
My older sister Maria had left the village ages ago, she had a husband and a two-bedroom apartment in town, with hot running water, she wanted for nothing, so I was sure my mother would cover for me. In fact, I was sure I’d have her blessing by default, after all, that lot had been part of her dowry and she was nowhere as obsessed with land as my old man. Read more.
Sir Galahad’s Pasta and Cocktail Lounge
by Roger Logan
Jason had thought about putting New York City as his location in the online dating profile. It would almost be justifiable, since he was always thinking about moving to the city now that he was divorced. There was, Jason felt, something pathetic about a single guy in his thirties living in the suburbs, especially in a town with a ridiculous name like Valhalla and he imagined any interesting woman would probably feel the same way. At least there was a big cemetery in Valhalla, so the name wasn’t completely inappropriate. Read more.
An Invisible Death
by Lisa Voorhees
At ten o’clock on a Sunday morning in late January, the clock on the mantel chimes. I glance up from my record-keeping to stare out the paned window at the falling rain. The skies are a leaden gray, the tops of the trees swaying in the wind.
Nasty weather to be out in.
Grateful for a crackling fire in the hearth and my wool vest, I dip a pen in the inkwell and continue crafting a detailed summary of my last patient’s condition. Read more.
by William Cass
It was just before 9:00 a.m. Ryan had been sitting in his car at the curb for ten minutes after pulling up in front of the house he’d been looking for. His shoulders were still slumped. The place was about what he’d expected, a ramshackle little bungalow surrounded by a dried-out lawn and a low fence badly in need of paint that was missing pickets on each side. An empty bird bath perched in a bed of dying roses in one corner, a few late blooms wilting through their tarnished foliage. Where the front walk met the sidewalk, a crooked mailbox dangled partway open like a stifled yawn. Read more.
The Key to Catastrophe Management
by Mary Lannon
I’ve finally figured it out, I mean, about the weather and all: how important it is to me, to you, to everyone, to our well-being. For a long time, I thought it was Charlie who figured it out first. But before that—Charlie and I—we were in the same boat. Neither of us knew of our complete and utter ignorance. No, neither of us had any respect at all for the weather that last semester of senior year when we first met searching—in what can only be understood as a mockery of our ultimate fate—for a meteorology class. Read more.