Long Short Story

Baptism of Blood

Sandro F. Piedrahita

Death appeared in the town of Markowa in March of 1942, and Aleksander and Julia both saw her at the same time. From a distance, she looked like a beautiful woman, a lovely Aryan maiden, but the closer she came to them the uglier and uglier she became.

The Feminine Brigades of Saint Joan of Arc

Sandro F. Piedrahita

The two Cristeros were sitting at the Abajeño Cantina in central Guadalajara after having spent several months in the mountains of Jalisco waging war against the military forces of the anticlerical President Plutarco Elías Calles.

The Ecstasies of Adalenie Santaliz

Sandro F. Piedrahita

Now that she is gone – meningitis in a Brazilian convent – perhaps it will be easier to put everything into perspective. Perhaps now I can figure out what I never fully understood while she was alive.


Derek La Shot

“Crazy weather we’ve been having,” an old woman said as she creaked her way forward to a row of chairs in the pharmacy, something in her knees snapping softly as she sighed and sat into the chair next to a man in early middle age, looking reflectively at his cell phone. The man called “Cuch,” which was short for Cuchullin (his Irish mother had a thing for ancient epics), had saggy, red eyes like he’d been crying. Was this why she was making small talk? Normally the man would have dismissed trivial attempts to occupy time while waiting for a prescription with a clipped yep, but today something compelled him to reach out.

A Workplace

Quin Yen

“A workplace is like a family, a home,” Megan says aloud as she faces her computer. She is thinking about the eight hours that people spend together at work, which is more than the time they spend awake at home.
It makes sense. Some even say it’s like an arranged marriage. Like it or not, you have to work with people, unrelated to you, hour after hour, day after day, and year after year.
Megan has worked in the Rehab Department for almost thirty-eight years. That is a long time.

Bobtail Five

Mark Wagstaff

Snow, but not yet. Clouds built across the sky, ahead of a raw east wind like smoke from encroaching fires. Pavements and walls, brick and stone, scornful of fragile bodies. He moved quickly, thinking a day ahead when streets would freeze, when snow would lay and, bound with anxiety, each careless step invited damage.
He walked opposite to the way home. South across Euston Road, by the spot where the hospital Christmas tree stood just a week ago. A few decorations still pinned in the emergency room. A half-deflated balloon. He cut through the muffled crowd at Warren Street station. Cut across their flow, fixed straight ahead, walking fast to make people falter. A small pleasure.

Priestess, Traitor, Enemy, Saint

Sandro F. Piedrahita

Comrade Juana understood Comrade Bárbara’s belief that Sister Rosemarie McKillop, the diminutive nun from Perth, Australia, posed a great threat to the success of the Shining Path. Like many priests and nuns, like many human rights organizations, like the democratic left, Sister Rosemarie offered the destitute masses of Perú an alternative to the armed struggle. She preached that the marginalized campesinos could achieve justice through peaceful methods and even distributed food to the poor from “imperialist” charitable organizations like Caritas. Such conduct had to be quashed, for such groups were inimical to the revolution.

River Soot

K. Meera

I had wanted a dog. Preferably a small one, with a spot over its eye so I could’ve called it “Spot” without anyone questioning the name. Then, when I finally went to middle school in the fall, I’d have secured my place in the classroom. Now, though, I would settle for a dog that had no spots on it at all, as long as it was a dog. I looked down at the bag in my hand, the water-filled plastic straining with the weight of its contents, like Jimmy’s mom’s belly before she went to the hospital so she could have the baby that was growing inside her. Jimmy says he preferred her big belly because his brother cried too much, and I’d agreed with him, but that was before.

Five Interviews

David Martin Anderson

When did I begin to feel so miserably old? Ah, yes. It was exactly one year, three months, and fifteen days ago. It started when I turned eighty years of age, and every muscle and body joint ignited in excruciating pain. It was the moment rheumatoid arthritis began our one-sided courtship. “What won’t hurt today, Satan?” I shout at the top of my lungs each and every morning, defiantly shaking my fist at the devil’s netherworld.

The Stone Keeper

Ben Raterman

When the night sky exploded, the dark interiors of houses shone bright as day. And those that faced the street across from the park felt their homes tremble. Fierce chords of destruction echoed, and the neighborhood awoke with fright and stared at horror.
Caitlin sat up. Intermittent flashes lit the walls. Sounds: falling bricks, breaking glass, muted screams, explosions. She went to the window. Fires, as if dragons had entered her world, she thought, come to destroy her home.


Priscilla Thompson

It was the perfect day—until the fat neighbor ruined it. Emily had just returned from a thirteen-mile jog and was sitting in her rocking chair by the window, thinking about what she might—or might not—eat. She imagined placing a chicken breast on a bed of lettuce with cherry tomatoes and perhaps a slice of the avocado lying on the window sill, so perfectly ripe from the sun. Or, perhaps not. She could let the avocado shrivel and darken, turning to mush on the inside. I don’t need to eat it, she thought. Then the doorbell rang. Less than a minute later, again. Each time, cracking the silence like an egg.


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.

Not If, When

Beth Weeks

I 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 concentrated fruit juices and cans of condensed soup, under fluorescent lights that tricked me into believing I should be awake anyway.

Flesh and Ghost

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.

The Rubicon

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.

Just Be Nice

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.

Aquarium Life

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.

Don’t Want to Go to Heaven; Just Want to Go Home

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.


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.

A Week and A Day

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.


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.

The Language of Birds

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.

A Slow Fever: The Nearly True Story of Typhoid Mary

Catherine Hammond

October 1906
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.

I Am In Your Sway

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.