King Lane and the DevilSeth Foster
A little time before I’d see my sweet wife Ellamae at death’s door, trapped in our burning house surrounded by leaping flames and black smoke, this bluesman they call Ol’ Boy walked into Joogee’s wielding a guitar. Joogee’s is a small juke joint way back in the woods. It’s just an old shack. Bullet holes here and there. Blood stains smeared across the floor. The smell of liquor oozing from the walls. You’d miss it if you didn’t know where to find it. But Joogee’s got the best damn blues in all of Mississippi. Read more.
Trotsky in MexicoSandro Piedrahita
I now see everything through the prism of my own destruction. As I lie here in the hospital room without my recently amputated leg, I realize that my life will also be amputated in a similar macabre manner. The past and the future are forever riven asunder by a simple and irrefutable fact: my body is now incomplete, and my soul is soon to follow. I write because the circumstances require my sincerity even if it pains you. Read more.
Orion’s ArmJ.M. Platts-Fanning
A slash ripped open the night sky, like a great sleeping black eye had blinked open. A gust of wind blew out and rippled around the globe, then as if the black hole was inhaling, the wind blew backwards off the earth sucking anything not grounded into the tear in space.
Colossal lenticular fingers appeared on the top and bottom of the void lifting the eye open wider. Out stepped garnished Mycelia, illuminated by brilliant quasar beams. Read more.
Benny was at the window again, watching the new family across the street crawling around the property like wild animals. Not literally crawling. Just… everywhere. He looked on, annoyed, as an indeterminate number of children occupied themselves with balls, bats, jump ropes, skateboards, trikes and bikes, and even small cars. One was Pepto Bismol pink and branded after the ever-popular Barbie, and a red one was painted in a fire engine theme. Horrible. Read more.
Black MoonRuth Langner
A good deal happened after the fire devoured half the mountainside. People whose homes were now ash and rubble fought with their insurance companies over replacement or hired lawyers to litigate on their behalf. I had my own ideas about how these professionals operated: quietly evaluating how much each house was worth, talking in four-syllable words they thought their client wouldn’t understand, which they mostly didn’t, and throwing in some Latin. Read more.
Outside, Snow FellBen Raterman
The city sat like a Mughal emperor waiting for his palanquin. That’s how Mather described it later.
Outside, snow fell among the tall buildings, covering the street without regard for the cabs and delivery trucks crawling through the slush, creating disappearing black ribbons among the advancing white. The temperature dropped. The slush froze. The traffic followed. Read more.
Crimson EmbersRuth Langner
Years pass and the path of one’s life can look as simple and straight as a draftsman’s ruler. A sudden movement and the pencil is jarred away leaving a dark streak across the paper. Even if one tries to erase the mark, there will always be a faint memory of the event. Read more.
Mr. Lincoln’s MoneyWilliam Brasse
I reckon I’d been in line a full hour when I got close enough to see the recruiting officer, and damn if it wasn’t the same lieutenant as in Elizabethtown three days ago. It surprised me that one recruiter would cover so large a territory. Of course, I didn’t really know how recruitment was done, and since Washington had only recently issued quotas to the states, probably no one else did either. Read more.
Semiprecious MemoriesKatherine Orfinger
In the five years Jason and I have been together, never once has he said, “I love you.” Still, I know that he does love me even if he won’t say it in those words. It’s just not how he grew up, and he’d rather lovingly stroke my hair as I’m falling asleep, he’d rather surprise me with my favorite iced coffee… Read more.
Her Prime Conjecture1Carsten ten Brink
‘Lasagne. It’s already in the oven, Mom,’ Cissy said. ‘And then I have a lot of papers to mark tonight.’ One and a half lies in that answer, but they were only white lies.
‘Don’t eat too much of it, honey,’ her mother said. ‘I know how rich your lasagne is. You can freeze the rest.’
‘Your father had a good week. The Chess Team reached the Third Round.’ Read more.
A Widow’s MindMolly Seale
Lorrie Blue has been widowed for five years. She is bathed in sadness—a trigger to a relentless, dark hole, a vacuum of emptiness that won’t, can’t leave her. She is freshly arrived in Austin, Texas, where she will deliver a paper on a panel on the work of an obscure Russian poet, an émigré who writes in English, not Russian. She’s hoping simply being here in this city where she met her husband twenty-five years ago in the mid-seventies will somehow diminish the emptiness, fill the vacuum. Read more.
it is what your life isAmy Jones Sedivy
The girl stood on top of the railing. I watched in wonder – how could the girl balance? Still, that was not the real question. The real question was if the girl would jump. The ocean rolled with winds from a far-off storm, and while someone could conceivably jump from the pier into the water and live, someone else with an intent to die could probably succeed. Read more.
The screen door slammed behind him. Ray watched through the smudged glass as Gordon stomped across the back porch and the patchy yard. The grass they had spent so much of the spring planting and watering had yet to reveal itself. Gordon disappeared inside the rust-colored barn seated at the lip of the yard. Read more.
Standing at the great man’s door, I hesitated. I was intimidated—who wouldn’t be, faced with the prospect of interviewing a living legend, a reclusive one at that? Also, there was the question of my journalistic skills, depending as they did on one undergrad course. But Edith Anne, the kind editor at the Shawnee Springs News, had taken my measure… Read more.
Green FlashWilliam Cass
My wife, Jenny, and I were sitting with our friend, Stan, on the roof-top deck of the beach house she and I had rented in San Diego. We were there for a month to get out of the long, wet Seattle winter; Stan had just come down to visit for Presidents’ Day weekend Read more.
Lavender, Frankincense, and AmberMalcolm Glass
Elinor listened to the comforting sound of the car door latch sealing her in. Carpenter’s tools hung neatly arranged along the side wall, and shelves beside her held plastic bins marked “Robert’s Trophies.” His clay-clogged boots sat at the foot of the steps leading to the kitchen. Read more.
Who doesn’t have an insurance nowadays? Yet, how many people can say I know what I’m doing? Even for Dr. Chu, a rehab doctor with twenty-five years of clinical experience, insurance is still her blind spot. She isn’t alone… Read more.
All AloneSeth Foster
On the coldest day in decades, the cloudless sky ocean blue, I was alone, and heartbroken, outside the station on the New York bound platform, in a barrage of minus three degree wind gusts, instead of inside basking in the warmth of the waiting area. Moments ago, a carving wind, slicing through my layers, cut me to the bone. Read more.
Owning ScarsDavid H. Weinberger
Bright pink border surrounding a jagged white line right in the middle of her left knee. I cannot help but stare. I never noticed this scar before. Is it new? Looks a bit faded so must be old but no memory of how it got there. Maybe some accident as a kid, something that happened without me. Maybe a fall on some rocks like the ones right here, lichen covered boulders on Mount Timpanogos summit. Read more.
Los Espantos de ParralChristiane Williams-Vigil
Paquita felt the sharp twisting pain in her abdomen and leaned forward on the steering to move into a more comfortable position. She glanced in the rearview mirror catching her baby sister, Sylvia, gazing back. Sylvia’s brow rose, silently inquiring an update.
“I’m fine,” Paquita mumbled, rubbing her side. Her curly, light-brown hair stuck to the sides of her cheeks, pasted with humidity. Read more.
The Private War of Lieutenant Colonel Rodrigo HuamánSandro Piedrahita
Lieutenant Colonel Rodrigo Huamán’s first encounter with the Shining Path guerrillas was a lot more complicated than he had ever anticipated when he was being trained to become a soldier for Perú. A policeman had made a desperate call to the military headquarters at Huanta. More than seventy rebels had attacked the police station in the town of Guindas, crying out, “Viva Mao! Viva Presidente Gonzalo! Viva Comrade Carlos!” Read more.
Milton pulled his worn, blue bathrobe tight over his chest. He didn’t want one of those young nurse’s aides to see the way his flesh hung over his old bones. Even he thought it was disgusting, and it was his body.
Wheeling his chair up to the TV, Milton grabbed the remote off the Velcro strip that was stuck to the cabinet in hopes that everyone using it would be kind enough to stick it back. Read more.
Orange BlossomsRuth Langner
—Top of happiness, my dear friend. Your delightful story has been like honey on my heart. It has given me much pleasure to hear it. Please, please. It’s true. Allah-u akbar, God is Great. It wasn’t often I had the honour of the company of one with a rare provenance such as yours. In fact, you were the most beautiful red chair I had ever seen. Read more.
A Letter from AbroadReyna Marder Gentin
The letter arrived on a Tuesday afternoon, although it almost didn’t. It had snowed over the weekend, and Mel hadn’t shoveled the pathway or put out salt. When the doorbell rang, he was surprised to see the mailman.
“You gotta clear your path, Mr. Hanson. I almost killed myself. It isn’t right. Next time I’ll leave the mail at the bottom of the driveway and I don’t care if you report me.” Read more.