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Grace

by Tahseen Béa

Once upon a time a young woman named Grace dreamed an impossible dream. She dreamed of a big love that would enter her life and transform her. She never spoke of it to anyone but nurtured it and waited until someone worthy of her love would enter her life. She was certain she had a gift of loving that nobody else had. Sure everyone loves, she thought, but not like her. When it was her turn to love, she would love with the tenderness of a girl and a fierceness of a woman. She would offer love as passion and as patience, as an ideal and as a living embodiment of that ideal.

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How to Win at Losing

by Marrie Stone

Take a selfie. Consider the pros and cons of removing your shirt. Remind yourself that it’s a rare man who, at forty-eight and no stranger to Big Gulps and barbeque ribs, should ever remove his shirt. Instead, stand in front of your canary yellow Corvette and raise your cell phone camera high on its stick. Higher. Lean on the hood. Button your shirt. Higher. Make a mental note to buy a bigger shirt.

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Daffodil Road

by AS Renard

A SHIVER pricks his spine. It is a soft tingle, just enough to rouse him from the depths. Face down in a pool of drivel, the young lothario is unsure of his place in the world. This reluctance is palpable as he drinks in the blackness like a homemade amer, slowly swishing the gloom this way and that across his tongue to best capture its flavor. The acrid tone confirms his suspicions — here is a realm detached from the sovereignty of his dreams. Not Eden, but Gethsemane, where dangers are many and miracles few.

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Hooked and Hanging

by Marina Hatsopoulos

Even in the dark, I spotted Stefano’s loose stance on the platform as my train from Rome pulled into the station. The guys I was used to spending my days with—engineers, lawyers, investors and other entrepreneurs—had more skills than him, for sure, but they didn’t look like that. I’d never mentioned it to John, but then again, why would I?

I jumped off the train and stood on tiptoes to reach around Stefano’s neck. He brushed my curls away from my face and looked at me, as if at a painting, up and down.

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Names of the Dead

by David Bontumasi

They gave me a pencil and a single sheet of paper and they told me to write slowly and clearly, so that I wouldn’t miss a thing. I looked first at the angular man with the protruding chin standing above me and then the round dark-haired woman who stood slightly behind him. I thought it odd that they were the same height and their skin the same color: a lifeless, milky pink. Their faces blended together to make one misshapen head. One of them smelled like potatoes, though it may have been both of them. It made my temples throb.

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Limfill

by Siu Siu Sik

About three months ago, if you had had the opportunity to visit Lucy, you would surely have seen me, wrapped in a white plastic bag, sitting on the floor and leaning against the side of a shoe rack against the wall right beside the door to the outside. Certainly, you would have been able to tell, by experience or by instinct, that I was not supposed to be deserted there, indeterminately, in that unsightly condition.

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Parking Lot

by Timothy Ryan

Pulling into the long-term parking lot at Dulles, Cindy trolls past metal wheeled containers lined up like colorful storage facilities in the hold of a military transport, finding a spot in the Blue Lot, Row H, Number 58. She estimates forty meters to the bus shelter.

Gazing up through the windshield. Jet contrails across the blue overhead as sharp as scars. Meandering, fading, they bleed into the sky like an accelerated version of the human body healing and forgetting.

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death, at work

by Nicholas Eveneshen

“Well then, Andrew, ought we to start with the basics? Please, take a seat.”
I had never met Bill from Fleet Safety before, but his presence disturbed me. The main office door to our left was closed, the thin light at the bottom barely visible. Bill had spread out his documents on the table before us and now sat with his hands folded, expectant. Steam rose out of the cup beside him. His suit was as black as the coffee he drank.

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Tidy Hair on a Boat

by Simon Lowe

“I’m chock full of cancer,” said Mrs Winston, sat in Patty’s salon.
“I’m sorry to hear that Mrs Winston.”
“Agony it is.”
“Some cancers aren’t so bad though, are they, these days?”
“Who told you that?”
Trey had a friend. People said she was going to die. Trey visited her friend after work and sat on a bean bag, consoling her with optimistic words and cups of tea. The cancer had a name similar to Trey’s maths teacher, Mr Hodgkins. The cancer came and went. Her friend recovered. Trey felt she had been misled.

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Peninsula

by John Herbert

They were both shocked when the letter arrived, the stationery matt and generous, unlike the crabbed hand it bore. The pages, when Róisín opened it, gave off the stale reek of cigarette smoke.
‘Who’s it from?’ Sheila asked rubbing her hair with a towel.
‘Only Guillame Le – fecking – Quennec,’ Róisín said with a grin. ‘Says he’d love to come and read at Peninsula next month from his new book.’

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Flight

by Wendy Tatlonghari Burg

So that was it; her sister was dying. Riza received the call this morning from her niece in D.C. She was expected to go to Manila. Her daughter Melanie was already there, sleeping on a cot in the hospital room. Riza shut her eyes tight and rubbed her forehead with her fingers. She searched her mind for a reason to stay. What could she tell them?

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Sisters

by Linda Butler

Janie was dead. For real this time.
Connie rounded the familiar curve at Hooper Hill Road, pulled over to let an impatient driver pass, and used the moment to once again check her rear-view mirror. They said she’d get used to it but she hadn’t.

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Audible

by John Bersin

At the end of an appropriate period of polite applause, Ryne Blades touched the knot of his tie, adjusted the microphone, and put on his reading glasses. He paused briefly to look out over the assembled freshmen in the campus theater. This was his biggest speech of the year.

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Controlled Burn

by Julie Sellers

The ranchers in the Flint Hills called it a controlled burn, insinuating that with sufficient intention they could master the elements. But Rebecca knew better—an unexpected change of the wind, a jumped fireguard, the barest instant of carelessness, and the ravenous pasture fires set in the region each spring could reduce such smugness to nothing but ashes. Her earliest memory was of fire; her earliest loss was to fire; fire had forged her, for better or worse, into the person she was.

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Space Elephants and Giraffes

by Tim Ryan

HANNA was cold. The fine red hair on her arms stood on end. Goosebumps. The unicorn on her shirt pranced on its tiny patch of grass with every gust of wind. Dark clouds had rolled in above her. Rain was coming, she could smell it. She wanted to be down from this metal arch. When she had finally climbed all the way to the top, each blue rung cold on her hands, except where the paint was chipped – still cold, just not blue, she realized an important part of the climb was unconsidered: getting back down.

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The Crash

by Gregory Voss Jr.

The jetliner, a bone-white Airbus A320 with a fat, blue-brand logo, hobbled over the neighborhood, wings waggling under the lemon sun. There was smoke, a lot of it, coming from the right-wing engine, and the dark contrail was an evil pencil mark crossing the cloudless mountain sky. Neighbors, alerted by a sudden cacophony, ran out onto their front porches and stared at death looming overhead. Children playing on front lawns dropped their balls and bikes and ran for the arms of their parents.
But Nick just stared at the inbound jet. He didn’t move, even as the nose looked to bore directly into his eighty-pound frame.

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The 9th

by Roberta Levine

An ice cream parlor with wrought iron chairs and tables had recently opened at Northland, an open-air mall located just across the border from Detroit. Sylvia, a widow in her sixties, had read about the place and told her younger sister Lottie about it. They’d decided to go there after Lottie’s first appointment with Dr. B. Since then, if only for the cheer of the red and white striped walls, the two had stopped in even if Lottie could only swallow a few sips of her float.

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The Hunters

by Anna Kaye-Rogers

Her prey was close; she could feel it. Ochre Number 8 had been sold out in the greater Tri-State area her past two weekend shopping runs, but there had been a restock, she was sure of it. The lanyard-wearing woman behind the counter had told her there was a truck every two weeks. It was time.

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