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After Skinny

Issue 42 by Maya Furukawa

The phone was vibrating, short spurts of three vibrations at a time accompanying Simple Plan’s “I Won’t Be There.” Kira reached blindly for her phone, face still pressed into her pillow, and succeeded only in knocking it off of her desk.
“Shit.” Kira groaned, lifting herself up from the bed just enough to feel around on the ground. Her fingers finally wrapped around the phone and she collapsed back onto bed, swiping right to answer the phone. “Hello.” Her voice came out scratchy, so she cleared her throat and repeated her “Hello” in the same monotone.
“Honey, you have to get up,” her mom chirped. “It’s after ten. If you were public schooled, you’d be three hours late already.”

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The Hunchback of the Flatiron

Issue 42 by Tracy Daugherty

It didn’t look like a New York kitchen. It reminded Bern of a Cold War California ranch house, a long, slender space showcasing massive appliances (an old electric Kenmore sheathed in bacon grease), linoleum tile floor and Formica countertops, blind storage corners and a sink cabinet as big as a washtub. Tentatively, he tested the stiff buttons on the soap-encrusted old dishwasher.
Just a week ago, he’d rented this small apartment on Perry Street. The bulky kitchen overwhelmed the rest of the place (actually, a single open area partitioned by bamboo screens); poorly ventilated, it disseminated years of liver and onions, garlic, and black-eyed peas throughout the apartment; and the too-big window above the kitchen sink overlooked a grimy brick wall next door.

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Another Kind of Kindness

Issue 42 by Neil Randall

It was no secret that I hadn’t seen or spoken to my father for many years prior to his passing. A fact which fascinated a great number of people – literary aficionados, academics, biographers and journalists. You don’t achieve that level of professional success without your personal life coming under intense scrutiny. In that respect, I cannot even begin to recount the number of interviews I have declined over the last decade. But my desire to tell my story now has nothing to do with appeasement, or of trying to set the record straight. Nor will it be sensationalised nonsense penned purely for financial gain. I want to write about my father to try and understand our complex relationship and work out exactly how I feel about him today.

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Peach Baskets

Issue 41 by Larry Sherman Rogers

One morning, when I was unhappy with my old man, a U.S. Army drill instructor, who often brought his instructional (bullying) tactics home, I followed a little path through morning dew to a tin-can town where a bale of terrapins idled in sunlight beside a brook that did not babble. I liked it there and decided to stay forever, but later that day I was found by a search party led by the drill sergeant himself. The local paper called it a rescue but the leader of that search party and I knew better.

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The Deceitful Doves

Issue 41 by Peter Prizel

The quintessential immigrant during the late 1800s and early 1900s usually tried to assimilate into American culture to a degree. If they did not, they were often destitute, which almost certainly led to their children’s assimilating. Harry Houdini was one of these children. Born in Budapest, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the son of a rabbi, Harry moved far away from his father’s rabbinical world of thought. Houdini was much happier hopping trains from metropolis to metropolis, performing his magic tricks rather than pursuing his studies and taking an interest in ancestral traditions

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Star-Crossed

Issue 41 by Carolyn Flynn

That night after the opera in Barcelona, I think that was when. I suppose I’ll never really know. I was there with Rob, our last night before he went to Paris on the train. Walking out of the opera at the Liceu, my heart was bursting, too wild and too big for the crowded streets pouring into La Rambla. I still ached with Aida’s torn loyalty. The voice of the enslaved Nubian princess trembled near the back of my throat. I still wanted to understand why people fall in love and lose all reason.

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Dream of the Shadows Darkly

Issue 40 by Lysabella Barrett

In the nighttime when most things are sleeping, the Fae murk about freely. Masking their true visage with glamour spells, humans often see them as fireflies, glittering and twinkling in shadowy areas at dusk. In the daytime they pretend to be hummingbirds, chipmunks, or dragonflies. It is through this deception they spy and when night falls, they steal away with your most fanciful dreams, your lover’s breath, and sleeping babies. You should never seek them out, call on them, or make any deals with them whatsoever.

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War Heroes

Issue 40 by Nick Gallup

Mamma owned a small grocery store on the corner of Keller and Howard. Howard was the main street and paved with asphalt. Kellar was just a side street and paved with crushed oyster shells. The smell lasted for about a year, gradually fading away. Or maybe we’d just grown used to it.

Kellar was all white folks until the railroad tracks; then it was all blacks until Division Street. After Division Street, it became white again. Division Street was aptly named.

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Doors

Issue 40 by Chapin Cimino

The door was locked. Or rather, Amelia’s key no longer worked. He must have changed the locks on her. It was dark and the porch light, though on, was dim. She could barely see. Yet it was clear that her key—the same one she’d always used—was powerless.
“Charles?” she called, stepping back down the front steps, so she could see up to the second story where dim light was visible in the otherwise dark old house. It was his room. Outside on this March night in Rocky Mountain, Colorado, Amelia was cold and starting to get impatient.

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Acqua Alta

Issue 39 by Sara Baker

Dear Suzanne,

How delighted I am, after all these years, to have reconnected. Thanks to you, that is. I—Luddite that I am—have only been vaguely aware of social media, consigning it, until now, to that circle of hell designated for all the mindless chatter that masquerades as communication these days.

The world has changed much since our happy days in Cambridge.

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Lookout Mountain

Issue 39 by M. F. Robinson

It was the third Sunday in September in the year of our lord eighteen hundred and sixty-three when Private Ephraim Prometheus Boone lost his left foot. His body had been found in the dim evening lying on the battlefield beside an injured dirt-coated bullmastiff that his company had named Abe and a wounded Confederate who was called Asher, and they each grunted and whimpered in the back of an ambulance wagon rolling twelve miles over dirt and gravel in the dark. The wagon parked outside the First Presbyterian Church made of brick where the wounded were carried inside to the pews serving as hospital cots for a haunted congregation exceeding one hundred men chanting and moaning demented hymns written by the Underworld.

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Shibboleth

Issue 39 by Mekiya Walters

I’d been hard at work eliminating redundancies in the latest antidepressant survey when my phone started buzzing, Zoë’s name on the screen. Laptop and binders all across the kitchen table, dirty dishes piling up, half-drunk bottle of cab on the counter, even though I don’t drink, not while I’m working, not usually. But this week wasn’t usually. The disappearances had me on edge, for one thing—at first just background noise, but then I heard a name on the radio, someone I used to know in grad school, and it had started seeming very real and very wrong.

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Cadenza

Issue 38 by Paul Allison

Introduction
Jack’s piano instructor had high hopes for him. “It’s a matter choosing the right material,” she said. Mrs. Metzer was a thin, angular woman in her fifties. In her music studio, a giant gable of wood and glass, a row of autographed publicity photos lined a shelf that ran along the entire wall of windows. Many of these photographs were from regionally acclaimed musicians, mostly pianists, along with some world-renowned conductors, cellists, and violinists.

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Get A Life

Issue 38 by Dan Woessner

As he lay dying, Bug Boy remembered the first spider, the Argiope Aurantia, curled up against the glass of the Ragu jar that his father pulled from the freezer. Of course, no one called him Bug Boy then, and he didn’t have his thick-framed glasses with the coke-bottle lenses. Both the name and the glasses were years away on that summer day with the sun’s rays beaming through the clear panes of his family’s patio doors. He was only Todd Olden then. Not Bug Boy. Not a delinquent. Not a dropout. Not a user. Not a murderer.

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You’ve Got to Get A Life

Issue 38 by Pamela Stutch

A blast of humid air swarmed Mallory’s head as he bent over his pedalboard. Sweat dripped down his neck, saturating the collar of his black T-shirt. The temperature inside the club was at least a hundred. The club staff had yet to turn on large fans on each side of the stage, around the seating area, and by the bar. The air conditioning was broken. Two weeks of ninety plus degree days had overpowered it, the manager told him. So unusual for Portsmouth, New Hampshire, in June. The repair crew was on their way; with any luck they would be able to fix the problem before the show, but there were no guarantees. It was just Mallory’s bad luck to be there on this particular day.

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The Prophet of Vultures and Beasts

Issue 37 by Andreas Hasselbom

Daniel remembered fishing with his father just four months earlier at a small lake near the Czech border. It had been a tradition for years, but Daniel knew now that it couldn´t continue. His father had never been a patient man, but he possessed a strong attention to detail, which only grew stronger over the years. Making sure the fishing pole had no scratches, ensuring that the line wasn´t about to wear out. And worms, always a full box of writhing earthworms.

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Scales

Issue 37 by Joti Bilkhu

“Four bronzes,” I say before the man can even ask.
He lifts up a large striped fish off my makeshift table, inspects it and asks, “You gut and clean this, boy?”
I nod once.
“It’s well done. You been doing this long?”
“My father says I could gut a fish before I could walk.”

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Before We Were The Land’s?

Issue 37 by James Brewer

He was no longer alive; and for his oldest child, recollections of the words that had been spoken (and the thoughts that had been thought) at the funeral a few years before were becoming less distinct as they became more distant. As the anniversary of his father’s passing neared, Lee was once again regretting that he had more or less “squandered” the few opportunities for memorable communication that had presented themselves during the last year or so of his father’s life –

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