Red Chair DiaryRuth Langner
—I was homeless once.
Whether or not you choose to believe me, I once occupied a special place in a posh mansion situated in the western part of the city or what might be called the wealthiest part of the city. The property was surrounded by a low rock wall covered in ivy and bordered with pink rhododendrons and fragrant gardenias… Read more.
Required FieldsMark Wagstaff
First, you don’t know the politics. Boundaries are hazy. Clusters of desks, all kinds of work getting done. Nobody knows how much use or annoyance you’ll be. I had no plan, no schedule. I had fields to interrogate, with dry-throated alarm at how the Next Page links jumped up in tens. The data, my domain. Read more.
The Wrong RoadRyan Krause
He came to my office at 10 a.m. on January 30, two weeks to the day after the shooting. He made his appointment without referral, and I couldn’t help but assume he had chosen me because we happened to have the same name.
At 9:55, having answered emails for two hours and polished off my second cup of coffee… Read more.
Teethmarks protrude, even now, from the skirting boards of his childhood home. Gnawed memories and pitfalls of what once was, yet persists now only in peripheral reaches, dusty nooks and edges. He’s learnt to resist the urge, or the medication has straight-laced him to perform as wider society deems fit… Read more.
Duck & Cover SeasonLarry Thacker
I was looking at the guitar amps in the Cumberland Street Pawn when Janie Sizemore crashed her car into the front of the shop. She’d struck two American Pekin ducks waddling through the main intersection. She’d tried swerving to miss them but ended up running them over anyway and hopping the curb and smashing the pawn shop’s only front window. Read more.
The VoicelessAshley Goodwin
Tommy looked in all directions before confirming they were completely alone on their hidden path in the woods. They had never done something so risky in public before. They knew getting caught for Public Display of Affection would have consequences. But due to his mother’s recent shift change, he couldn’t hide his relationship behind closed doors anymore. Regardless, they were sixteen, in love, and couldn’t fathom being separated. Read more.
Umbrellas on WaterLisa 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.
Purple Becomes DeirdreStephen 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.
Missing PiecesStephen 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.
Sold in SaigonAnthony 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.
The Scoutmaster’s UltimatumCameron 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.
Two Sides of a CardElizabeth 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.
The VisitLisa 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.
Hello Darkness, My Ole FriendKabir 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.
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.
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.
Where The Errand LeadsThomas 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.
The English Teacher in the TrailerThomas 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.
7 SecondsPatty 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.
Fallen Woman: A Short Story in FlashCarmen 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.
A Modest ProposalStephen 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.
The Carpenter and the PoetStan 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.
Be There NowTimothy 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.
The Wrong Kind of LoveJan 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.