Read

The Revisit

Issue 43 by Salvatore Sodano

Thomas leans his head against the fuselage and looks down through the Lexan window. The homes remind him of a town model his father had once made in their attic when he was a young boy. The streets, like small veins, separate the cluster of suburban Floridian homes. Their peaked roofs are all two-toned from the sunset. He imagines his house, empty and distant, buried beneath the cover of an elevated train in South Queens, and how the sun will peak from behind the steel columns for that brief moment outside his kitchen window, and how he won’t be there to see it.

read more...

Read

The Rules of Improv

Issue 43 by Julie Benesh

Lainie emerged from her shock, lying on her side in the driveway surrounded by a black wreath of cleft-chinned superheroes in boots and helmets. She noted the gravel in her hair before wincing at the tenderness of two small broken bones in her left hand, various bruised ribs, and shrapnel-inflicted gash above her ankle.
It was a mistake any mortal could make, exploding her gas grill by forgetting to open the lid before turning on the gas.

read more...

Read

Passing

Issue 43 by Lucina Stone

Here it was, the opportunity of a lifetime to finally have everything that I wanted. No more of the desperate longing to look like the images I saw on Instagram. My self-doubt would be gone, replaced by an inner confidence that only I would know about. I had done everything possible on my own to pass and fit into what society deemed presentable but had always come up short. This long- awaited advantage would even things out for me and save me years of wasted time and money. So when it was my turn to order, I didn’t berate myself.

read more...

Read

The Final Chapter

Issue 43 by Henriette Rostrup

Towards the end of spring, when the air is still cold and bites at your cheeks, and a thick blanket of mist covers the ground, a large black truck approaches a small Danish town. When it reaches the town limit, it stops and a man jumps out. He’s in his forties, wearing a creased, high-end suit that looks as though he has slept in it. His hair, dark and sprinkled with gray, stands up from the back of his head like on a baby heavy with sleep. He runs his hands through it as he squints at the bright morning sun, which is beginning to penetrate the clouds. Then he waves at the truck driver, shuts the door, and turns to face the town.

read more...

Read

The Leather Satchel

Issue 43 by Jaime Balboa

Muriel decided to catalog the desiccated remains herself. Her heart raced. Her fingers tingled. Electric lanterns placed every few feet illuminated the cave. Layers of dust and the neglect of time conspired to make it all but unrecognizable. Was it female or male? From when? She studied it, looking for signs. So much anticipation. So much hanging in the balance. Her doctoral students and undergraduates gathered, hushed and eager. The small team of researchers, on the twenty-ninth day of a thirty-five-day dig, had made little progress until Guillermo, a first-timer, found what looked to be a canvas jacket from the First Common Era baked into the wall of the dry Nevada desert cave.

read more...

Read

For Whom the Hands Clap

Issue 43 by Fiona Murphy McCormack

The ventilator whirred mechanically, patients’ chests rising as the oxygen pumped through their lungs. Donna stood by the man she had seen intubated hours beforehand. His breath at times steadying momentarily was a forced gasping rattle. She wondered who he was.
A middle-aged man with greying hairs amongst patchy brown. Quite possibly handsome, aside from the current predicament. His youthful face now drained from the sensation of drowning. He was in the throes of acute respiratory distress syndrome, as a result of the virus. Watching him, Donna’s own breath belaboured beneath her mask.

read more...

Read

Dormant

Issue 42 by Joanne Saunders

At the entrance of the yurt, Larry pulls a large group of keys from his pocket; one key for the door of the yurt, one to the gate above the entrance of the lava cave, one for the lightbox, one for Tom’s mansion, one for his car, and one for his bike lock. He’s always loved the perfect circle of the yurt. There are no hidden corners, no set-aside spaces, everything can be taken in, in one sweeping look…

read more...

Read

Exegesis

Issue 42 by Thomas Weedman

Jimmy is proud to have lettered in basketball. But he has come to think of his Saint Ambrose high-school varsity jacket as a private and public symbol of his life. It is a sort of Scarlet Letter of taint and shame for being sexually abused as a child and a bold blue A rating from the Health Department like at the zoo food stand where he works for appearing safe and clean.

read more...

Read

Juneteenth, 1963

Issue 42 by Rick Forbess

Big Tiny and Polly owned a neighborhood grocery store with two Conoco pumps out front and rarely more than three customers at a time inside. No TV or radio played in the background, no beer or cigarettes sold, and they didn’t bother with a cash register. A narrow counter ran from the front window almost to the back door, two aisles opened perpendicular to the counter, and shelves lined the walls. Other than a well-stocked cold drink box and an old Hotpoint refrigerator filled with dairy products, that was it. I worked as the store’s only employee in the summer of 1963, when I was thirteen and secretly held Cassius Clay as my hero.

read more...

Read

What To Keep

Issue 42 by Peter Hoppock

One hot summer day twenty years ago, the day after my father died, my brother and I placed a few sheets of four-foot by eight-foot plywood in the center of the attic at my parent’s house, the same house I live in now with my wife Anne and our three boys, the house we are selling. Putting the boards in was hard work that required twisting and bending and lifting, and it strained our muscles. Dust motes and pink asbestos particles clung to our sweaty skin, and splinters pierced our fingers; I enjoyed the work, more from the pleasure of my brother’s company than the job’s inherent value or purpose.

read more...

Read

Orphans

Issue 42 by H.C. Gildfind

Afternoon. A mist of not-quite-rain. Stacking wood by the side of the shack. River Gum, bought in to mix with the bush wood. Admire its deep desert-red, its dense solidity, its promise that winter has its comforts too: this is the only wood that knows how to burn hot and slow and all the way through to the morning.

read more...

Read

Panning for Gold

Issue 42 by Sarah Jiang

I was born in the winter of 1982. A week later, my father transported me and my mother from the town hospital back home on a wooden horse cart. The unrelenting snowflakes oscillated from the dreary sky and soon smothered the blanket under which my mother cuddled her infant daughter. Many years later my mother confided, or complained, that my father grudgingly hauled the cart choosing broken road and stones for the wheels to roll over to declare his vexation at having another girl.

read more...

Read

Faith in Life

Issue 41 by Michael Hetherton

We stayed close to a lone biker, tailgaiting him on the drive into Sturgis. His Harley floated around the long curves of shining blacktop, and up and down the slopes. The rocky pine-covered Black Hills were clear of clouds, the sky breaking open blue after an earlier rain. We were the only SUV in the long, long, procession of rumbling motorcycles, and we did not talk, transfixed by the constant, fast moving parade.

read more...

Read

Saving Up to Die

Issue 41 by Steve Bunk

Jia arrives on the arm of Horst and I look away but they’ve noticed me, so I look back and lift my chin. It’s the usual assortment at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club, including a few Chinese like Jia and an overrepresentation of Australians like Bruce Colley next to me at the bar. Colley is in Hong Kong on business for his family, which owns a media empire based in Sydney. He’s higher up now than when I first met him a few years ago.

read more...

Read

A Musical Interlude

Issue 41 by Michelle Toon

I met her at the beginning of the end. My time in the country was winding down, and I wanted to explore all options before leaving; I had danced, and so I wanted to sing. My dream was to play the piano and sing simultaneously in an effortless concert—my favorite songs brought to life—but it seemed to make sense to do one first, especially since I believed myself not to be naturally gifted in these areas.

read more...

Read

Beggars in Space-Time

Issue 41 by Lauretta Salvini

A refrain from a dance rock song soothes my ears as I regain consciousness. Headache pulses between my temples and all my joints are sore. My left knee hurts. I slide my hand down my leg and touch, through a rip in my jeans, the mushy softness of a wound. My breathing gets faster, as random flashes of myself cycling along an urban roadway blast in my mind like a display of fireworks. No room enough to stretch my limbs. The surface under my body has the roughness of wood.

read more...

Read

Electric Cars

Issue 41 by Christine Marra

September 1933
“Ollie, have you seen what their car spits out into the air?” Gertie asked, hands on her hips. “The smoke, Ollie! Every time that damn Model T cranks up it sends columns of smoke up just like Fourth of July fireworks. Every day, Ollie, every day. How can that possibly not be dangerous?”
Ollie sighed and took Gertie’s hands. “It’s not good for us, Gertie, I know it’s not. And you know it’s not. But nobody else sees it.”

read more...

Read

Triptych

Issue 41 by Alpheus Williams

Earth’s songs have dimmed over the world, ousted by noises of our own making but she sings here.
Now has finished the ‘Knock ‘em down time’ that comes after the monsoon season when the strong winds flatten tall spear grass of the savannah woodlands. Heavy rains have abated, floodwaters drain towards rivers, creeks and billabongs. The woodland savannah begins to dry.

read more...