Novel Excerpts

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Time Has Come
by Julie May

Jessie woke up from a dead slumber and reached for the alarm clock — 10:30. She would be late for class again. She sat up and looked at the empty space beside her in the queen-sized bed. She lay back, relieved to be alone. Before she could gather her thoughts about anything, the pungent smell of hashish invaded her nostrils.
She rolled over and buried her head in the pillow. The idea of going into the kitchen sickened her. Eating breakfast shrouded by another cloud of smoke revolted her. The idea of a conversation with Gary was even less appetizing. Read more.

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What Can Never Be Known
by Katherine Joshi

My mother insisted she left the necklace by accident. In a rush, while packing. She left it sitting on the dresser in her hotel room and it must have still been sitting there when she left. She must have been in such a hurry to leave, so fearful of missing her flight, that she forgot to put it back on, that it remained in India while she returned to the United States.
“I thought I was going to miss my flight,” she told us, breathless, as we all sat around my parents’ kitchen table. It was late May, one month before her death. Read more.

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A Cypress Tree Has No Shadow
by Kevin Gerard Neill

IN a still, dark room smelling of disinfectant that stung his nose, the dazed, terrified boy lay silently crying. He was on his back atop a thin mattress, in a bed or trolley, his wrists and ankles secured with straps so tight he could barely move. His mouth was taped shut. He knew nothing about where he was or how he had gotten here. The last thing he recalled, the last normal thing, was going to the market with his father to buy grapes. After that, father and son walked to an apartment not far from the market to visit a man the boy did not know. They had tea and sweet biscuits, a treat for the child, who did not see his father often. He felt sleepy after drinking his tea. And then the boy awakened here, alone. Read more.

Featured image for “The Price of Sunshine: “Mahmi and Me””

The Price of Sunshine: “Mahmi and Me”
by Susan Wan Dolling

Mahmi has always felt to me part tame and part wild, part mother, part child. There is something vague about her I have yet to pin down. When people outside the family were about, she appeared like a grown woman, observing social etiquette, behaving as she was expected to behave, but she was somehow more fluid, more vulnerable, more changeable when we were by ourselves, just the two of us. Read more.

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Gone To Ground
by Morgan Hatch

The sun had just appeared over the rim of the mountains. The air was crisp and smelled of mesquite. Carlos got out of his truck and rode the boom lift thirty feet up to the viaduct. Six lengths of rail had been craned in yesterday, now neatly stacked on a set of four-by-fours. A final course of rebar had been laid lattice fashion on top of the first pour, and Carlos worked his way through the iron grid to check the ties that secured each rod. Read more.

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All That is Under the Sun
by Joaquin Bernal

“Mr Seixas, as you are well aware, you are charged on an indictment containing nine counts. These charges allege you are everything from a brutal slaver to a terrorist. What do you say in your defence?” The accused did not stir and in his sunken eyes caressed by the deep unflinching creases in his darkened skin, one could see the dying flames wrought within him… Read more.

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by Miguel Guerrero Becerra

The first time I took someone’s life I did so with a whisper.
I was just a child back then. Mamma owned a small pocket-size revolver that she had bought at a discount from a gypsy who was passing through one rainy afternoon, but I wasn’t allowed anywhere near it; therefore, all I had at my disposal to rid the world from the man who had tormented me to the very core of my bones… Read more.

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The Healer’s Stone
by Mary Paliescheskey

Nadia Kowalski snuggles closer to her husband, Josef, wrapping the wool blanket tight around them as her breath fogs the cold air. Traveling with all their possessions piled high on their cart has gotten harder as fall moves to winter, but now that a few months have passed with no pursuit from the authorities, they can use the better roads. Nadia watches the mules pull them through the puddles left by the rain. The slow movement and rhythmic clanking of the pots and pans lulls her to sleep. Read more.

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City of Colour
by C. H. Weihmann

Standing centre stage, I look out at the faces of farmers with straw-coloured hair and bland bovine eyes, eyes that have never seen the ocean. Only the yellow wheat fields that stretch horizon-wide and whispering. That’s the closest thing they have: the dry, dull wheat fields pretending at ocean depth, and the vast, unending sky. There is no underwater here. There is no freedom. There is no escape. Read more.

Featured image for “The Price of Sunshine: “Returning””

The Price of Sunshine: “Returning”
by Susan Wan Dolling

In 1990, I was invited to participate in a delegation of “U.S. writers and publishers” to visit China. Ever since I left Hong Kong all those years ago, I have often felt half in and half out of every place I have lived, not entirely belonging anywhere. On this trip, my role was particularly tricky, as the Chinese treated me as one of the visiting Americans, while the Americans saw me as Chinese. Read more.

Featured image for “Sheila On Earth: What Happened”

Sheila On Earth: What Happened
by Dan Yonah Johnson

Welsh Cemetery, Radnor Ohio, Thursday, May 7, 1970
It was a bad week in Ohio. First, there was the massacre at Kent State. And then another local boy came home dead from ‘Nam. It was too much. It was now very difficult for fifteen-year-old Sheila Lloyd and Julia Watkins to remember their happier grade-school days…when they would get in trouble together for silly pranks along with their buddy Jake Jones—younger brother of the dead soldier. Read more.

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In Their Ruin: Inquisitor
by Joyce Goldenstern

The first evil thing that Samuel Stone remembered doing in his life happened when he was nine years old. He burned a martyr at the stake.
Of Gladys’s three sons, Samuel was the one who listened most intently to Gladys’s stories and asked the most questions. He was a practical child who carefully counted his allowance coins, but also a child who appreciated metaphors. Read more.

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The Year Coffee Was Illegal: Bad Brew
by Susan Hudson

June 1992
Scottsdale, Arizona
“So glad you could make it, Bill.” Al Church greeted his old friend, Surgeon General Dr. Bill Johnston.
“Well, under the circumstances, I think it’s better that I come to see you than the other way around. Can’t be too careful in D.C.”
“True. We both have enemies there.” Read more.

Featured image for “Her Own Devices: Chapter 9”

Her Own Devices: Chapter 9
by Geoffrey Dutton

For fifteen minutes Anna sat on the concrete wall, fingers interlocked, rhythmically rubbing her thumbs, until the curly headed man emerged onto the taverna’s patio. He was as thin as she had remembered, but taller, with that stooped bearing tall men fall into from peering down at the world. After briefly stabbing and stroking his phone, he put it in a back pocket, glanced in her direction, and sauntered down the sidewalk. Sensing he still hadn’t recognized her emboldened Anna to get up and warily trail after him. Read more.

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Indigo Lace
by Noelle Nori

The rest of March was not kind. The wind screamed off the harbor and whipped Nell’s hair from under its pinned hat as she walked to work each day. It seemed an endless series of gray days. She wrote to Mrs. Reilly, but with each day that passed without a reply, her hopes of a response grew dimmer. Read more.

Featured image for “The Hunter Was Late for the Circus”

The Hunter Was Late for the Circus
by Orleans Saltos

The Hunter avoided public venues, well-traveled roads, and any place where officers might be present. He didn’t want any more incarcerations, DNA tests, or looks of disgust from self-entitled bureaucrats. Running into anyone who would detain him, even if only temporarily, would delay his intended mission. His immediate goal was to track down the circus that had recently entertained the residents of a small Peacelands town near the border. Read more.

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Out Stealing Water
by Roxanne Doty

A dozen empty paint buckets rattle in the truck bed as Emily and her two uncles, Dwight and Jay, head west on Van Buren to the ragged edges of downtown Phoenix. Dwight drives, and Jay dangles his arm out the passenger window, his palm spread wide to catch the wind, his feet tapping on the floorboard. Read more.

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Blood Harmony
by MoAde M. J.

Under low light, Zilla’s fingerpads brushed the floor feeling for that telltale groove. When she found it, she took hold firmly and cracked the floorboard away. It had been done many times. It would look the same after.
Here, in a shallow dug hole underneath the cabin floorboards, the wooden box came delicately as if it were made of the dirt around it, as if it crumbled. Read more.

Featured image for “A Burst of Ginger on the Tongue”

A Burst of Ginger on the Tongue
by Gloria Klaiman

Jacob’s death had left her disoriented about time and place, as if she were inhabiting two worlds at once, like a child standing on a schoolyard map of the world, one foot in China and the other in Africa. But normal chronologies no longer interested her anyway. She once had the notion that her life would move forward on a continuum toward a fixed point in the future. Read more.

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Deliver Me: A Pocho’s Accidental Guide to College, Love, and Pizza Delivery
by Tomas Baiza

Giangrande getting on me for my lack of ambition still stings. Even here, with what I am about to do, I can’t completely pry it out of my head.
The weather is uncommonly pleasant for mid-November. Crissy Field is bustling with people playing frisbee, walking their dogs, enjoying picnics in their sweaters, some even wading into the cold water of San Francisco Bay with their pant legs rolled up. Read more.

Featured image for “Sleep of Bronze: An Iliad”

Sleep of Bronze: An Iliad
by Dawid Juraszek

What if it was a god?
Shivering, I look down. Parched earth. Withered vegetation. My own bruised feet. I feel the might of the heat on the back of my neck. The stream, its life-giving waters too close to bear, might just as well be flowing beyond the horizon. What’s below is hard as stone, what’s above is just as heavy. Me, I am petrified. Read more.

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by Meredith Spitzmiller

As dawn breaks, sunlight creeps into the mostly deserted parking lot of a decrepit convenience store. Abandoned items and trash litter the pockmarked asphalt. An exhausted young woman sits in the front seat of a filthy Chevy, so dirty, it’s hard to tell what color the car used to be. Kate slowly peels back the wrapper of a candy bar but does not consume a bite. Read more.

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Nursing Intuition: How to Trust Your Gut, Save Your Sanity and Survive Your Nursing Career
by Jenn Johnson

It was the height of the pandemic; our visits to the emergency room had declined significantly, but the acuity had gone up as people had put off coming into the hospital unless they were really very ill. This was the case as someone rang the call bell in room four, and I was the only one available to answer it. Read more.

Featured image for “The Snitch: Javan”

The Snitch: Javan
by M.D. Semel

Some say that Rikers Island is the largest penal colony in the world, and that contention is difficult to confirm or refute. The New York City jail complex may hold more prisoners than the gulags of the Soviet Union, but perhaps less than the re-education camps of the People’s Republic of China. Nobody has tried to count all the bodies. Read more.