Short Story

Featured image for “Umbrellas on Water”

Umbrellas on Water
by Lisa Voorhees

After her dad died, Aveline swore to herself she wouldn’t let his novel go unfinished. It had taken two weeks for the brain fog to wear off and another two after that before she’d recovered from the shock of losing him to do anything, but even now, six months later, she struggled to get any real work done. Her progress through his notes was slow to the point of agony. Read more.

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Purple Becomes Deirdre
by Stephen Newton

The year she turned fifty, there were two men in Deirdre’s life: Tom and Diego. Tom was an organic farmer she met at the Open-Air Market, where he sold honey, eggs and produce on Saturday mornings. In the photograph on her refrigerator door, Tom beams at Deirdre over a mound of sweet corn. He is ruggedly handsome with a shy farm boy smile that never failed to make her feel weak. Read more.

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Missing Pieces
by Stephen Coates

My uncle was there. He was angry.
“Look at yourself,” he said, punctuating his words with his finger. “Pathetic. Grown man, fooling around with kids’ stuff. House looks like a bomb site. You’ll never get a woman in a dump like this, boy.”
I sat squarely in the straight-backed chair, feet planted, shoulders pressed against the wooden slats. Chin up, eyes front, not moving a muscle. Read more.

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Sold in Saigon
by Anthony Nguyen

Adorned with snaring water lilies, her blood-red dress dripped down to her ankles, conservatively hiding her nearly porcelain-white skin; the only skin revealed were her perfectly slender hands and her bisected head—she had no nose, no eyes, no ears, no brain, and no consciousness.
Although her head ended right below her eyes, like the top half was sliced off clean, she still stood taller than all the Vietnamese women in the shop. Read more.

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The Scoutmaster’s Ultimatum
by Cameron Vanderwerf

Mom and Dad brought me to Camp Bramble because they said I was too sad. They said I could come home when I stopped being sad. That was when I knew that I might never see them or home again.
I was eleven years old and couldn’t remember not being sad. Although I couldn’t have given you an explanation as to why. Maybe I just wasn’t satisfied with any answers that people had given me over the last decade. Read more.

Featured image for “Hello Darkness, My Ole Friend”

Hello Darkness, My Ole Friend
by Kabir Mansata

Kamal Singh Deo was born into an aristocratic family but had lost the bulk of his inheritance gambling in the seedy poker dens behind New Market in Calcutta. His day began with Jhontu, his butler, cooking a lavish breakfast consisting of an Irish coffee, a freshly squeezed orange juice, a masala omelette, two slices of buttered sourdough and oodles of crispy bacon. After breakfast, Kamal would take a long, hot bath and dress in one of his many hand-tailored Brooks Brothers suits. He would then set off to work in an off-white, vintage Mercedes Benz and looked much like a British sahib whilst smoking tobacco from a wooden pipe sitting in the back seat of the chauffeur-driven car. Read more.

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Graceland
by Peter Hoppock

On the 15th of August, 2040, with the summary order papers issued by the Cemetery Reclamation and Transformation Committee, and two empty tin coffee containers stuffed in his backpack (two, because the directions had not indicated what type or size container to bring for the ashes), forty-two-year-old Greg Sawicki approached the corner of Clark and Irving Park and the entrance to Graceland Cemetery, final resting place of some of Chicago’s most famous politicians, mob bosses, architects, painters and writers. Read more.

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DrEaMs
by Seth Foster

I do not want Azúcar to die. The ambulance backs into the yard behind the three-story apartment building in East New York. It’s night. The swirling blue and red lights pound my eyeballs. NYPD officers march around the backyard with bright flashlights. Broken glass and trash appear and disappear under the searching beams. The swirling lights make me dizzy. I do not want Azúcar to die. Read more.

Featured image for “Where The Errand Leads”

Where The Errand Leads
by Thomas Weedman

Lost in the rhythm of slow hoe strokes and Hail Marys, the boy works and prays in the barren apple field alone at dusk. He’s humming the chaplet, sacred as a church hymn, even a motet. It’s cooling some, a welcome change after feeling he’d die from the throbbing mountain heat. And other maladies suffered in a motel and other places. Still, blunt wind sways adust pines on the horizon veiling the last light. Read more.

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Two Sides of a Card
by Elizabeth Liang

A black, speeding phaeton overtook them. Four black stallions raced down the Ringstrasse, their black plumes billowing like smoke. The driver held his hat as he passed the promenade where whispers filled the space in his aftermath. “Cousin, who is that?” “Why Mary, that is the Crown Prince himself.” “He drives his own carriage?” “Always,” said Frederic, peering down at the laced hand of Mary. Read more.

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The Visit
by Lisa Voorhees

Nita Walsh’s parents had promised her a weekend trip to the Pocono Mountains for her seventeenth birthday. Her parents were normally super thrifty, but just this once, she’d been able to convince them to splurge. Less than two hours after they’d left home in Piscataway, New Jersey, and headed west, a storm battered the roof of their dilapidated station wagon. The wipers beat a furious rhythm against the pelting rain as it poured down the windows in transparent sheets. Read more.

Featured image for “The English Teacher in the Trailer”

The English Teacher in the Trailer
by Thomas Ray

Paul McNary sat in a booth at Jamie Burgers talking to the manager Brenda Carter. He stopped by to see her every weekday after he got off work. At that time of day, after the lunch crowd and before the supper crowd, they usually had the dining area to themselves. This particular day she had brought up the subject of them breaking it off because Brenda’s daughter disapproved of him. Brenda did this once or twice a month, and he would have to cajole her out of the idea. Read more.

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7 Seconds
by Patty Somlo

His first name was Mohammed but everyone who knew the lanky African with the irrepressible smile called him Mo. The nickname fit the man who seemed more a whirlwind of energy or a beam of fierce light than a serious grown-up. Three blocks away from the flat he shared with his girlfriend, Katherine, Mo was tossing pasta in a large silver pan, over a high flame in the open kitchen of Tomato. The second syllable of the brightly lit bistro’s name was pronounced mah. When describing diners’ reaction to the fare in its ads, the Market Street restaurant played on the pronunciation. Ahhhh. Read more.

Featured image for “Fallen Woman: A Short Story in Flash”

Fallen Woman: A Short Story in Flash
by Carmen Price

The pedestrian crosswalk was clearly marked, no ambiguities, not for Selah, not for him. Selah waved goodbye to the patient behind her – a ten-year-old girl she’d been treating for three years – and only noticed the truck in the middle of the road as it dawned on her, fast and slow all at once, that the driver wasn’t going to stop. He hadn’t been paying attention. Read more.

Featured image for “A Modest Proposal”

A Modest Proposal
by Stephen Weiss

The sun had yet to reach its zenith in the cobalt-blue Iowa sky when they circled the cloverleaf onto I-80 West. Tess checked their progress on her iPhone Maps function and tried to decipher their final destination. She followed the interstate westward and saw Iowa City appear on the screen along with an icon for the University of Iowa.
“Looks like we’re heading into Hawkeye country,” Tess said.
“Yep.” Read more.

Featured image for “The Carpenter and the Poet”

The Carpenter and the Poet
by Stan Dryer

The carpenter was the one who found the “Lovers Poem.” He was a big man who was fifty-six years old, shaved every morning and wore overalls and a light-blue work shirt. His thoughts were generally of levels, plumb bobs and squares and how he could best restore someone’s old house to its original beauty and purpose. Read more.

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Be There Now
by Timothy Ryan

“Door’s open!” Russell yells.
“When’s it not?” Geoff and Sarah push on into his foyer, absorbing the faint sound of an intricate minor key wailing. They navigate past the huge brass Sri Lankan oil lamp standing front and center topped with a crowing rooster. After hanging her coat on a hook, Sarah turns and stares the rooster in the eye.
Cool, Sarah thinks. Ragnarok. Wrong culture, I know. Read more.

Featured image for “The Wrong Kind of Love”

The Wrong Kind of Love
by Jan Little

The latest Time magazine with a photo of her ex-boyfriend Howard on the cover as person of the year lay crumpled in the trashcan. The article gave him mixed reviews in the superman category. Reporters said he throws super tantrums when people don’t like the way he fixes their problems. As a result, fewer police departments now ask for his help in catching criminals. Read more.

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The Hour He Lost
by Melissa Flores Anderson

Arturo pulled a clunky wooden wagon along the creek. Its wheels bounced on every rock and ridge. He went out early in the morning before the sun moved high overhead and the temperatures heated to the 90s. The wildflowers from spring had withered, replaced by yellowed grass that stood almost as tall Arturo, which is to say almost as tall as a man of small stature. Read more.

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On Love
by Glenn Verdi

Martin sat at a small patio table at the craft brewery. A pinkish sunburn on his bald spot and the slight build of an introvert were his most striking features. His friend Gabe sat across from him trying to attract the attention of the waitress. Gabe, with his large shock of white hair and broad shoulders twice the size of Martin’s, was not used to being ignored. Read more.

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Chronic Good Weather
by Madeleine Belden

The feel of the rope wakes me. Coiled above my breasts, underneath, and pinning my hips against the kitchen chair. Arms pulled behind my back; wrists tied together. The rope smells like motor oil. I have no right to be surprised by my husband. I’ve watched enough Law and Order episodes to know that behavior escalates. I feel as though I’ve been drugged. Read more.

Featured image for “The Comforting Words Package”

The Comforting Words Package
by Diane McTigue

Evelyn skims the morning’s featured obituaries. Pure white-bread fare. Only one phrase grabs her attention: “in his kind and gentle way.” It’s simple but disarming, and it stirs a pang of empathy in her gut. She jots it down. Evelyn shakes her head at the grainy photos. When she reaches an advanced age, she’ll have a professional headshot taken just for this purpose. Read more.

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Views
by Aleksandra Appleton

Twilight on the coast always suggests the presence of a colossal beast in the slow inhale-exhale sound of the waves and the lingering humidity of the air. Marcella felt its breath each time the automatic doors opened and closed. She had stopped looking up from the reception desk expecting to meet the source. Her focus was on her screen, where she cycled through real estate listings in the neighborhood next door… Read more.

Featured image for “Spiritual Barter”

Spiritual Barter
by Kabir Mansata

Raja Rampaul was born on Lord Krishna’s birthday. When his mother Eela was pregnant with him, she had this recurring dream of a blue-skinned baby appearing on her bed, holding the Earth in his right palm, while rolling his head back and having a good laugh. It was as if the baby was the only creature in the world who knew the secrets of the universe. Read more.