View Post

Adrift and at Risk: Guide

by Yusuf DeLorenzo

What did I, Ettore, know of Algiers when I was swept to sea in the year 1788? What could I know? I was barely more than a boy living in a hammock strung nightly from hooks in a kitchen at a seaside bordello.

My mother died giving birth to me at that bordello, the House of Beautiful Swallows, so she never told me the stories of the ruthless Barbary pirates, the brothers Barbarossa, Dragut, Mezzo Morto, and all the others. But Josephina did, the kindly old lady at the House whose promise to my mother on her deathbed was to raise me as her own. I loved her, I loved the stories she told me, and I loved the pirates.

read more...

View Post

Brigida: Chapter One

by Kate Spitzmiller

Marcus did not come home. None of them did.

Five thousand men. The entire Ninth Legion. Gone.

There were rumors. Rumors that the tribes of Caledonia had annihilated them; devoured their lines like the ancient giant Cacus, who consumed live human flesh and displayed human heads on nails outside his cave on the Palatine Hill.

I did not believe in monsters, only in gods and men. And I knew that the Romans had displeased the gods of Britannia, had spilt the blood of the tribes upon her dark, rich soil for generations. The Selgovae, the Parisi, the Carvetii. And the Brigante.

read more...

View Post

Unfollowers: Chapter One

by Leigh Ann Ruggiero

Barb Eklund didn’t choose where she was born. She knew no one could. But her birthplace, instead of being something she was passingly grateful for, became a regret lodged between her ribs like the pain of a torn intercostal. Her parents brought her from Maryland to rural Ethiopia when she was four. Barb didn’t understand what she was leaving behind when she boarded the plane: her stuffed cat Oscar, the season of winter, or the red bike with training wheels she rode when winter was in abeyance.

read more...

View Post

The Makings of Willa Mae: Chapter Four

by Jordan Clark

It had been a typical day for Willa Mae. She kept herself underneath the black walnut trees, out of the beaming summer sun, picking at the bugs as they crawled past her. She bent down and watch as they scrambled over one another in haste. Every once and awhile, she’d stick her thumb down and squash the ones causing trouble to the others. Her teeth would grind as she did it, her finger digging into the dirt to sink those bugs deeper and deeper. “Go on,” Willa Mae would say to the rest of the herd. “They ain’t gon’ bother anyone now.”

read more...

View Post

Numbered Days

by Diane Botnick

1942. A baby girl is born inside a war. From one unfriendly womb to another she goes. It’s like living in a fishbowl: the view is panoramic but the glass won’t give. So it’s she who must. Learning this takes time.
It happens in winter, this birth, this unlikely, uncelebrated event. A winter that so efficiently brands her with its cold, she is never not cold again. So cold that of all the things she might wish to do over, chief among them is to have been born in summer.
It happens in Auschwitz, this birth.

read more...

View Post

carlos montoya

by John Paul Jaramillo

Summary: The titular character is faced with a reversal of fortune in almost every way: he loses a steady job, faces illness and disability, fails in his new marriage, and is betrayed by his closest compadre. He must confront his years of terrible parenting decisions and broken family ties after he is compelled to leave the green valley of San Luis, living as an outcast in the “steel city” of Huerfano, Colorado.

read more...

View Post

Something Bigger

by Brian Howlett

My mother and her sisters have been waiting for their Aunt Del to pass on for at least ten years now. “It’s no way for someone to live,” Mom would tsk-tsk upon returning from a visit to “the home.” Funny we call it “a home” when it sounds like it’s anything but. I have never met Aunt Del, so when I offered to accompany Mom to the funeral service, she was surprised. She certainly didn’t need my support.

read more...

View Post

Birth of a Cosmic Being: Chapter One

by Sarah Ann Jennings

It was dusk when I awoke in this body for the first time.

I was on a screened porch watching the light fade from the clouds with an old friend I hadn’t seen in a while. We sat on wooden chairs carved by his grandfather and looked out over the back of his land. It was shadowed fields of greenery at this point, and a few dark spots that could have been cows or bushes depending on whether they moved or not. Over the canopy of trees farther back, a smoky gray blue of fading light traced the tops of the leaves, and I could easily picture the crescent moon rising behind us.

read more...

View Post

Don’t Hang Your Soul On That: Chapter Two

by Robert Hilles

He doesn’t notice the change in weather until dark clouds balloon overhead. It’s too late to take cover so he drops his scythe and arches his back to the warm downpour. When the rain shifts sideways, Ed straightens and widens his stance to keep from losing balance. His robe soaks through and droops heavily but the rain is a welcome reprieve from the steady throttle of afternoon heat.

read more...

View Post

I Am Not Brad Pitt: Chapter One

by Ross Dreiblatt

Even though I’m not actually guilty, I know many of you think that I got what I deserved. You probably think people like me get by on their looks and coast through life without breaking a sweat. Well, in my case, coast through someone else’s life. I know for a fact, from the “fan mail” I get here, that there are lots of you out there that think I’m just a crazy man spinning a conspiracy theory. I’m used to that kind of judgement, it doesn’t bother me.

read more...

View Post

Sugar and Dust: Chapter One

by Ella Kerr

This is what I knew of tragedy: run as far and as fast as you possibly can. The plane touched down on red African dust exactly five months and two weeks after the death of my mother. My shoulders were sore from hunching under the weight of her loss, and my legs burned with the fire of the restless. My heart slowed down the longer I stayed on that plane.

read more...

View Post

The Wedding Bell: Chapter One

by Roxana Arama

First century CE. Rome is marching. Cities and temples are falling. In a fictitious kingdom by the Black Sea named Dhawosia, Princess Andrada, sole heir to the throne, wants to help her father unite his infighting chieftains against the growing Roman threat. But when she fails the trials they demanded of her, her father marries her off to a neighboring king

read more...

View Post

Personal Time: Chapter One

by J. M. Jones

This morning, someone shit on our lawn. Not something, as I’ll tell my wife. But someone. I’m sure of it. I’d gone to pull the car out of the garage, and when I stepped from the driver’s side, I saw it near the hedges, a brown smear. It might have been a dog. That was my first thought. But then I spotted the soiled paper towel tangled in the branches and thought, Son of a bitch, and turned to get the hose to wash it into the lawn, spread it out, dilute it. A couple flies darted off when I hit it with the spray, but they returned, taking up trace amounts I couldn’t clean off. As for the towel, I went inside for a pair of plastic gloves to pick it up. Then I took it to the trashcan, folded the band of latex over it, and dropped the whole thing in.

read more...

View Post

Don’t Hang Your Soul On That: Chapter One

by Robert Hilles

By the time she selects a third papaya, he’s already certain that it’s no coincidence that she’s across the street from him right now. Even from here, he feels an instant connection. This means that they have known each other in a past life. His father has said that: The full influence of karma is only understood through dedicated, daily meditation.

He ignores those words and watches as she hands a papaya to the vendor who wraps it in newspaper and hands it back to her. She lowers it into a wicker basket and then turns slightly away from Tuum to pay. With her back to him, he notices that her skirt nearly touches the ground. She wears flat sandals and her hair is gathered in a single knot at the back.

read more...

View Post

All in My Blood: Chapter One

by Melissa Allison

I tugged on my red hoodie, unable to stop myself from sticking my tongue out at Phoenix when she gave me a look. She might think it was cliché that a Flannery wore red, but I just liked spiting her. Besides I wasn’t the one that had put red in her hair — and my choice had nothing to do with spilled blood, like she claimed. I doubted her hair was red because it was drenched in blood from battle. It would totally have been in a splatter pattern if that was the case and not happen in one night to just her.

read more...

View Post

Land of the Free: Part Two

by Peter Hoppock

A young man, unsure of his Welsh ancestry—confused by his parent’s evasiveness, and his grandmother’s refusal to share anything personal about her reasons for coming to America—visits Wales and discovers the deceits that formed the foundations of his life. Read Land of the Free: Part 2.


The sun was setting as they rode back up the entrance road to the farmhouse. Douglas breathed in the pungency of the newly turned soil as if it were a harbinger of what was to come. There was now a small sports car parked behind the Toyota; the crate, minus one of its sides, sat empty between the house and the corrugated shed. Emrys greeted them at the front door, holding it open. Squinting against the raw light, and before inviting them in, he gestured with one arm towards the sky behind Gwen and Douglas. The dogs barked, again and again, out of sight.

read more...

View Post

Root That Mountain Down: Chapter One

by Evan Balkan

It’s an unspeakable smell. The smell of death. The ripping open of animal to let out the demons, loosing the jumble of organ and bone and tissue and exposing it to open air where microbe and maggot and mosquito can do their work.
Black piles of waste swarming with insects fill clearings in the woods, just beyond the demarcated perimeter where decrepit buildings totter in the heat. Two scraggly roosters barely muster up the energy to chase each other in languid circles amidst food wrappers and beer cans. Muddy men wearing flip-flops cradle tattered playing cards and AK-47s.
A voice booms from inside the long, flat building: “Hey! Hey! Hey!” over and over like a wicked hymn. A shirtless man emerges. Stretching from his right shoulder to his belly button is a long purple scar. The belly button protrudes like a tiny appendage. His arms are outstretched, and unlike the other men, he has a nice potbelly.

read more...

View Post

Land of the Free

by Peter Hoppock

For the first 20 years of Douglas Williams’ life, his grandmother Mary had been tightlipped about her past—what had brought her to America, what and who she had left behind. During the last week of his last semester of college, Douglas’ father Llewelyn Williams Jr., fearing a downturn in Mary’s health, insisted Douglas join the family at the nursing home that had housed her for the last five years. That evening, after a short visit from a priest during which she insisted she was healthy as ever, she asked about Douglas’ upcoming Army service and if he still expected to be stationed in Europe for a time. When Douglas answered yes, she made this request of him: Please look up my brother-in-law Joseph, who might or might not still be living in Wales. She gave Douglas a photograph of her long-dead husband Llewelyn Williams Sr., noting that she had none of Joseph, but that the two brothers, born a few years apart in age, shared enough features for the photo to be useful. Promise you will do this for me, she insisted. Douglas kissed her on the forehead and promised he would. Mary’s request took everyone by surprise, especially Douglas’ father, himself equally tightlipped about his origins—as if it were a family obligation to bury the past.

read more...