Plan BDiana McQuady
Joanna Gentry hadn’t been inside the building in over a decade, though throughout the first year following Patrick’s murder, she went to the parking lot daily. Coleman’s employees came by her Camry during those early months and stopped to speak, awkward conversations avoiding the mention of what had happened or even her presence there at all. Soon enough, they only waved. Read more.
Witnesses, or, Who Will Take Out The Trash?Michele Suzann
For a while I had friends who used phrases like “holding space,” and “I had to get really quiet in order to receive guidance,” and “it just is,” and “so I allowed him his feelings.” They’d say “I’m not religious, I’m spiritual,” in a way that implied persons who might claim membership in the former camp were clearly more benighted than those of the latter, but hey, “we each have our own path [mine just happens to be more evolved].” Read more.
Surface TensionNicholas LaMendola
I started with the globe, then zoomed in. I narrowed my focus over one city, over one neighborhood, onto one block, onto one man. That was a long time ago.
I’ve watched him for decades now. I watched him start small, and rise into himself. Now that you’re here, we’ll watch him together. He’s finally started to come together. He’s finally started to come apart. Read more.
Keepers of the LightBrittany van der Merwe
“Hurry.” She spoke softly, her demeanor quiet yet emphatic as she stared into the horizon. He slipped on his remaining boot and stood, joining her in the doorway, eyes squinting towards the focal point. A winter storm loomed portentously.
“Well, let’s get moving then.” Warm breath and a quiet fear chased his words and hung in the late October air for a fleeting moment before dissipating. Read more.
Happy PlaceDeya Bhattacharya
My first brush with the Happy Place could have happened one of two ways. It was either the email itself, sent en masse by them to a list that comprised what they presumed to be a target audience, or it was an advert that had popped up somewhere on a social feed and on which my scrolling thumb had rested long enough to count as a click. The laws of Internet probability dictate that some version of the latter led to the former… Read more.
The IslandBen Tufnell
Eva leans against the doorframe and watches Daniel as he works. As he passes her, carrying bags and boxes to the car, she also watches the street. With one hand she shields her eyes from the brightness and with the other she meditatively strokes her belly. It is a fine spring day but infused with a strange stillness, a peculiar quiet. The sky is clear and she notes again how odd it is to look up and not see a mesh of vapour trails above the city. Read more.
Balcony SceneBruce Meyer
Our town is laid out like a chessboard. Two powerful families who dominated the place for almost two centuries, the Cassavoys and the Farradays, have fought for control. First they fought over lumber rights. Then it was land. Then the battleground shifted to public opinion. Each had a newspaper of different political stripes. Each had a radio station playing different kinds of music. Read more.
When she approached me in the hotel lobby, I was reviewing my notes for the presentation I would be giving the next day. My laptop was open on the glass-topped coffee table and twenty-three PowerPoint slides alternated on the screen as I clicked through them repeatedly. I had given this presentation before, many times, but now I was nervous for some inexplicable reason. I was prepared, but on the other hand, I was skeptical of how my talk would be received. Read more.
The Tennessee hills are tattered green curtains longing for the first frost to replace the well-worn testament of summer with a golden raiment. Even the aggressive Kudzu crowding the edge of the highway seems tired of reaching, always reaching for tomorrow. We’ve been on the road for a long time now and the tiredness we carry has settled inside. Read more.
Means to an EndRachel Browning
I was hiding my lima beans under a flap of chicken skin when Dad told us the news.
I sensed that something was up when he arrived home from work later than usual, his face red and blotchy, an aroma of whiskey, cigarettes, and fryer oil drifting from the blazer he flung over the edge of the couch where I sat watching MTV. Read more.
The Garden of EdenWalter Weinschenk
A search for the Garden of Eden had been considered from time to time but the collective will to find it had never reached a sufficient level to justify the effort. There were some, however, who wished to proceed and there was no shortage of scientists, historians and theologians who entertained the possibility that the Garden, or what remained of it, existed somewhere in the world. Read more.
The CabinBarbi Calusdian
Laura bustled around the kitchen, lighting the candles, rearranging the silverware and checking on the roast in the oven. She and Tim were celebrating their third wedding anniversary and she wanted everything to be just right. He was running a little late; he should have been home a while ago. She placed his carefully wrapped present next to his plate and poured the wine. Read more.
What You KnowMary Vensel White
Jasper wasn’t the sort of man who liked to share his food, never had been. This did not sit well with women. They always wanted “just a bite” of this and “a taste” of that and sometimes, he knew, they wanted to share an entrée to stay on their diets even though afterwards, they’d order a rich dessert and he would go home hungry. But these are lessons you learn, especially over the course of a sixteen-year marriage. Read more.
Weigh Her Down, See How She MovesMargaret Spilman
Shadrach, Ohio, remembers my family. Remembers me. On the rare occasions when I come back to visit the museum that once was our house, more than one hand has found its way to my shoulder to pat comfort. It’s a rhythm I’ve known since I was five years old. Since the day my little sister Dorothy was born.
She wasn’t the first baby born with Mylar’s Syndrome, not by a long shot. Read more.
The ProdigyWalter and Margaret Munchheimer
I don’t recall exactly when it first occurred to me that I might be gifted at what I was doing. Others seemed to have noticed, and there were the occasional third-person references to potential—to a bright future. It all felt pretty normal to me, so I just kept doing what I was doing. The assignments quickly became more demanding, the challenges exhilarating and always thoroughly mastered. Read more.
The NotaryZephaniah Sole
Eyague Ortiz de Toledo stood in the fresh white sand and squinted from the beating sun. It was very hot in this new place, this new place that did not feel so new, and Eyague mused on the favor granted by the Providence he liked to call… well… he did not like to call it Dios as his compatriots blithely pronounced with the tension of spittle between their teeth. No, in his mind, quietly and to himself, Eyague preferred to call it El Verdadero. The True. Read more.
In high school I was friends with two girls, Ida Kowalchuk and Fiona Petrowsky. Ida and Fiona had known each other since elementary, and shortly after I entered their lives the three of us became thick as thieves. Wherever we went, whatever we did, it was always as a trio. But Ida and I shared something undeniably special. We clicked from the get-go, as they say, while Fiona—a quiet, diffident girl, boringly polite—slowly moved from center stage to the darkened corners of the background. Read more.
Water BabiesTara Giltner
The brisk steps of heeled boots beat rhythmically against the hum of engines and horns. Skyscrapers tower overhead, leaving little room for light other than the billboard screens of advertisements and PSAs. Her gaze remains fixed forward as she moves within with the mass of people who surround her. The street ends at Central Park. She turns right along the waist-high stone wall that borders the valley below. Glancing over, she sees winter finches flit about cement walkways and barren trees. Read more.
At the Edge of a Long Lone LandBen 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. Read more.
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. Read more.
Code RedAndrew 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. Read more.
The Brown ManFrank Haug
The Brown Man collapsed. Tan dust rose up in plumes from the desert ground. He sucked at the speckled air with stiff and halting gasps. All the muscles in his body were tired, especially his legs. He struggled to gather himself and get moving again. On this last trip he’d barely been able to get across the river. Years of wandering had left him thin and ragged and weak. Read more.
The Witch WindowRhiannon Catherwood
“Dad’s dead” are the first words of any substance that my sister has said to me in ten years. The phone call came at 5:34 A.M. It started with “hello” and “that is you, isn’t it Jimmy?” and “don’t hang up.” But we came pretty quickly to “Dad’s dead.” Those are the words that stuck. Read more.
He left her with six children, a few acres of poor farm clay, no money, and a house plain and sturdy. “You’ll have to send them away, Lettie,” the relatives told her. “There’s an orphanage over in Masonville. You can’t keep them.” They told her this when he was barely gone, his body cold but not yet in the ground. Read more.