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Closer by Simon Pilbrow

He had been deeply in love, but love had stretched and thinned and wandered in three years. She wasnít as into him, either. And that gave him panic attacks as he questioned his mortality, his relevance. Three years ago she climbed on him in the back of a taxi heading home. With real animal aggression, she didnít give him a choice. Those were sublime days. They passed in a beautiful, unhealthy, sleazy fog. / After years, love had become such a routine, logical ordeal that he had had to get out: the claustrophobia or its rational equivalent, was unbearable. Three weeks of cowardice and self-abuse, and he ended it, and the worst thing was that she looked so surprised despite the way he had acted. He felt abysmal for months...

added 12.12.14

London, Here I Come by Troy Johnson

I had been accepted to Oxford University after writing and winning an essay contest entitled, America and Britain-brother countries. In my essay I had wrote how America had gained its independence, yet there was still a connection between the two countries. We are sometimes brother countries. The university would pay my flight, room, board and tuition. I had never visited England, but I was as excited as one could be. I knew Bill Clinton and several others Americans had attended Oxford. Before I left my friends told me not to act American. / “What?” I asked. “Act American?” / They told me that whenever Americans visited other countries, they could be spotted right off the bat. “How is that?” / “Because Americans are always talking loud and walking fast...

added 12.05.14

Big Thanksgiving Snow by Donal Mahoney

…At eighty Mrs. Day is legally blind with one good leg. She has a staff of her own to help her walk to stores and then back to her little house. The staff is at least a foot taller than she is. It was a gift from a now dead neighbor who was handy with tools and liked to carve and whittle. Mrs. Day needs that staff this Thanksgiving Day as she makes her way through drifts of snow, an unusual amount for this first big winter holiday. / With nothing in the fridge except old bread and prunes, Mrs. Day hopes to find a diner open. Even Jack in the Box is closed for Thanksgiving so there will be no coffee with a Breakfast Jack to go but Mrs. Day has time today to find one place that is open...

added 11.27.14

contributing writers : 12.2013 - 11.2014

peruse our short story archives here

Anything Goes by Oleg Razumovsky
One day I sat with Natasha near her house, eating cakes. Her parents hated me. They thought that I was a useless scum. Even her Father, a pathetic drunk, despised me. But Natasha sorta loved me and sometimes brought some food from home. Even booze, on occasion. She was a kind girl. / Just the day before we had got shitfaced drunk. After we had finished two bottles of vodka at my place, we decided to go somewhere. I don’t remember exactly where and it is not very important. Maybe to Van Gogh, who had invited us to visit him last weekend. When we went out it was already getting dark. When drunk, Natasha rushes straight forward like a tank, and does not see anything in front of her... (added 04.18.14)

Back to Bad Homburg, Again by Addie Soaraki
Like, for sure. Got my gutter crown on and I’m pitching rocks from the bank of the crick, drinking cheap beer, a full quart of rot-gut, malt liquor really, and that’s about all there is. For me, at least. / Did I say the park’s gone dark? It’s amazing when you’re sitting in the cool evening of the fall, your back against a tree, maybe an oak or a sumac—how the heck am I supposed to know? I’m not a botanist and biology is not an interest here, man—so satisfied with the iPod and swell of warmth in the stomach that you’re out of Swisher Sweets and it isn’t even 7:30. / All the benches are broken. Gang-bangers. You know, fourteen-year-olds out for the thrill of empires nobody even knows exist except the gangs, the rival gangs, and the other gangs, and then the gangs outside the other gangs, a concentric circle of military activity right under my damned nose... (added 02.28.14)

Bad Dreams by Joe Malone
Todd Smith woke to find a raccoon biting his chin. / "I was at camp, dreaming that my mom wanted me to shave. Christ, I've only got about four hairs." / Aaron Goldberg woke to discover that all his teeth had fallen out. / "I've had the same dream a hundred times. Out come the teeth. My therapist told me I was worried about losing my job, or maybe I was keeping a secret from someone. Turns out, she didn't know bubkes about gum disease." / Arvis Portlander was taken into custody at Microphonics, Inc., his place of work, nude in his cubicle. / "It was a lot more fun in my dream," he said. / Matty Logan, seventh grader, came down to breakfast on a Wednesday-morning school day. / "My mom was in tears. I asked her what was wrong. She told me she had had a dream...(added 07.25.14)

Bars by Carl Kavadlo
...And so, there are bars for the daring of the night. / Then I left too. / And that’s what you see. The wild cherry cocktail sticks inviting adventure. Bars give you relief from the ordinary humdrum. / In front of the club, I lit a Marlboro cigarette. “A band named Pacific Radio Fire…” I inhaled, exhaled twice. “And who thought people under 25 read Richard Brautigan again in 2014?” I took another drag, staring at headlights, considering the possibility of Bukowski’s transmigration. I was pretty drunk, and maybe the whole thing happened, or maybe it didn’t happen at all. / Then I flipped the cig high in the air watching the yellow, glowing arc spin... (added 01.11.14)

Because of You by Mike Fiorito
Making a big entrance, Uncle Tutti arrived late at my high school graduation party, like a Hollywood star. He wore a smart black suit, buttoned near the collar and black and white Domino shoes. / “My godson,” said Uncle Tutti, pinching my cheek with the thick fingers of one hand and slyly handing me an envelope with the other. / “Now, I’m going to sing you a song,” he said. / Tutti pulled away from me, his periwinkle blue eyes sparkling like precious stones polished by the Mediterranean. / Now with his back to us, Tutti began speaking to the musicians, giving instructions. Tutti adjusted his suit, giving his white-gold pinky ring a twist, making sure the sapphire stone faced forward. / He turned around, looked toward me, and said, “This is for you, kid. I love you.”... (added 03.21.14)

Bestial by Owen J Traylor
Kevin finished reading aloud from the dog-eared book of quotations on the table in front of him, and took a mouthful from his pint of bitter. He looked across at his drinking partner Ron, who as so often seemed lost for words. After a few moments’ silence Kevin continued: / “That’s what makes us different from animals, Ron,” said Kevin, as ever formulating his opinion as an incontrovertible fact. / “What’s that then, Kevin? Money? Animals don’t have money, do they?”asked Ron, his inability to follow Kevin’s line of thought (or anyone else’s for that matter) Kevin found both amusing and irritating by turns... (added 03.14.14)

Bondage Games by Vincent Vassilev
Oh yeah. They wanna make ravens out of all of us. Like, how many ravens can a guy see in Miami, Fla.? Don’t not ask me how, but I did see a raven. Kind of a square head, looked downtrodden, dusty, sickened, perhaps because of the heat. I thought about Edgar Allen Poe’s “Nevermore,” and even said it to the raven as I was leaving a book store. I had bought some books about history of the Kennedy assassination. Sitting there, juggling around in that plastic retail bag, the books were just waiting to be read. You know, like books do; they wait to to be read, not said. Oh yeah, I say that a lot. Oh yeah, like I’m the Kool-Aid Man. Oh yeah! / It was fricking hot out here in Daytona Beach, and yes, it was surprising to see a raven that had flown so far south... (added 04.11.14)

The Boy Who Laughed Too Much by Mel Waldman
No one really knew him. He was just a 20-year-old kid who sat in a corner and didn’t speak; another mental case and a mute. When he arrived, one of the psychiatric aides introduced him to me. I said hello and forgot about him immediately. / Then the rumors spread. I heard three of them. / First, the boy swallowed a bottle of pills and OD’d. They pumped his stomach in some ER, sent him to a psyche ward, and transferred him to us. / Second, the boy took LSD and had a bad trip. Which kind did he use? Well, again, I heard three different truths. He took sugar cubes or maybe Orange Sunshine acid or blotter paper LSD. Who knows? / Third, the kid witnessed some horrific event and went berserk... (added 08.08.14)

Cable TV Commitment Phobia by Diane Malk
I hung up the phone, mentally exhausted from the battle that had just ensued. I had just survived something worse than negotiating with a used car salesman. Talking to my cable TV provider. / After receiving the flyer advertising the new-to-me feature of On Demand, touting thousands of movies and channels at no extra cost, my interest was piqued. Weary of flipping through the 500-plus channels we already receive and rarely finding anything suitable for my viewing pleasure, it was only logical that I still craved more channel options. (I know what you’re thinking and I really do have a life.) / The woman who answered my call confirmed, that yes, I did qualify for the free receiver upgrade. So far, so good... (added 06.07.14)

Clown by Ron Riekki
The frat near Whittier decided to have a clown party. It was Good Friday and seemed like the thing to do. / Nine teenagers from the party decided to cram into a top-down convertible and drive home. It’s what clowns do. Pile into a car. But clowns usually don’t do that drunk on a major California highway. / The car hit a tree going seventy-miles-per-hour. None of the clowns had seatbelts on. Most of the clowns went through the front windshield. Or over the front windshield. Some hit the tree. Some went past the tree. / They landed in parking lot. They landed on grass. They landed on each other. / We arrived to find a pile of clowns... (added 05.23.14)

Clown Car by Steven Gowin
I drove the clown car (used to, anyway) before I quit the shows. / To be clear, I ain't talkin' about ass clown drivin'... racing like these young no class fools do. / No. What I say is that KiKi LeBlanc worked the circus. Never mind white face, never mind Bull Clown. My job was take the falls, act the dope, finish at the wrong end of the slapstick for the blow off. Auguste, the fool. / I know you gotta find out about that car. Can't wait. OK. First off, clowns don't come up no trap door and flood out. Think about it. You can't count on a trap door every venue, and we used a tent most of the time. Them roustabouts dig no tunnels. / My car was the real deal. Kept a little bitty Chevy, American brand, and painted it red white and blue with big white stars—patriotic clown shit, understand?... (added 12.27.13)

Cooder by Oliver Zarandi
The funeral was big. / Cooder sat at the back. He was dressed in a black suit. He hadn’t shaved. He fiddled with a puzzle. He twisted it left. He twisted it right. / He could not solve it. / He’d probably never solve it. / The person next to him told him to shush. Cooder slouched into his chair and scowled. He slouched so low. He was being swallowed by the chair. / His ass was too big to be swallowed entire. / The commotion in the church, it died down. Can you call the people in a funeral an audience? / It’s some entertainment, Cooder thought. / He sat up in his chair. His shoes were patent. A woman behind him laughed and said the gentleman in front looked cheap. / Cooder released a clap of wind from his asshole. / Choke on it... (added 04.25.14)

The Cosmic Cardinal Coastal Club by Neil Post
Golf on television. What’s up with that? Do you know anyone who plays golf? / Here it is, Sunday afternoon, and I have finished my chores, emptied the garbage, cleaned the sink, brushed-out the crapper, and now, when I’m ready to sit down on the couch, there it is: another dumb golf game. / I am not knocking golf. Sure, golf is a fine sport for middle-aged men who like knocking their balls around on grass, but if anyone wants to watch golf, all anyone has to do is go to a golf course and watch people play, like, golf. Get it? / Golf is way too slow for television, but for as long as this dude has lived, all I get is the old televised golf game from name your country club here... (added 05.09.14)

Crooked by Shawn Macrae
It happened after a night of drink and drugs, licking, sticking, sucking and fucking her way into friendship at a party. Jenny was speeding the streets trying to make it home before her father found her gone. He was always up with the first chirp of an early bird, and her time was quickly dwindling, as the fading moon foreshadowed the sun on the distant horizon. She was almost home when she saw the sirens flashing in her rear view. / Goddamnit! / Jenny knew the town was over populated with pigs on patrol, and there was nothing for them to do but break balls. That was the general consensus in all small towns. More often than one would think, it was an upstanding citizen who fell victim...(added 09.12.14)

The Drowner by Mike Lafontaine
After praying all night at the foot of his bed searching for answers to questions that never got answered he decided that today was the day he was finally going to kill himself. After an exhaustive search online of the many and varied ways he could shuffle off this mortal coil. / He decided on drowning. / The beach was preferable, although he ran the risk of the lifeguard mistaking him for a person who needed assistance. He could pick a spot with no lifeguards, but he decided against that. He wanted this to be a deeply personal experience not to be shared with anyone, and the fact that he could not control his environment and that a stranger might pass by and try to be a hero made the solution to his problem all that much easier. /He would drown at home... (added 08.22.14)

Editor by Rose Aiello Morales
I am not a morning person. / That being said, most weekdays I am up at five o'clock to make Alex breakfast. Somehow, the eggs are not broken, the scramble is light and fluffy, the bread is perfectly toasted, the myriad of pills Alex takes are all laid out in the right dosage. I lay the food and accouterments on the table, kiss my husband goodnight, and then go back to bed. The last half hour was obviously a dream. / I actually awaken at 9:00 am, a civilized hour for a civilized person. I shoo out the lucky kitty who gets to share my bed, make coffee, toast a bagel, and bring it to the computer to consume while I write. / Fog rolls in, fog rolls out. I check the pleas from friends to read their work, go to YouTube to watch some videos, chew my fingernails because there are no pencil erasers... (added 01.24.14)

Exploring Space and Time in Rappahannock County by Mike Lafontaine
Millie and I bunkered down against the cold months in Rappahannock County by sitting near the fireplace and reading books aloud to one another while watching old black and white films. / I had never felt peace like that before or since. I grew up in a household with an abusive father and an overbearing mother. My sisters were loud and my surroundings were ugly. We had no pets and when we welcomed in strays they usually died or ran away within a few weeks of living with us. / I realized at an early age I was being taught the wrong things so deeply ingrained was this belief that I disregarded everything my parents wanted for me. Faith. Servitude. Intolerance to others... (added 12.20.13)

Female Lovebird Available to a Home, Any Sort of Home, Doesn’t Even Have to be a Good Home by Diane Malk
They were a cute couple, those lovebirds. Sporting deep blue feathers and black heads; they were almost identical looking, except that the male was a bit plumper. They were known collectively as the Nummers. We never even bothered to assign them individual names. Sitting together side-by-side on their perch with their little birdie torsos touching is how they spent their days. / One morning I looked into their cage and discovered Mr. Nummer’s corpse lying on the bottom, motionless. Odd, he had been the more robust of the two. In the days that followed, it surprised us to see that his feathered widow was chirping so happily... (added 03.07.14)

Five Weekends by Carl Kavadlo
Tony was trying his thirteenth draft on this piece, 1234 words, into the top of the fifth double spaced page. It was a true story in Tony’s own life about how he almost got screwed, due to the follies and games that men play, out of a musical gig. The musical gigs were important to Tony as a livelihood and a passion. He had a beautiful voice and an extensive knowledge of popular and standard songs. The bossa novas, the Frank Sinatras, and so on, through the various rock and pop idioms. He doubled on guitar. It was one of those pieces where the parts couldn’t quite get put together, at least not in Tony’s mind. / Like most creative writing students at Touro College on the west side of Manhattan, this student did not bring in something new... (added 10.24.14)

For the Love of Snakes: Dr. Veenum and Dr. Wang by Louis Marvin
The letter said this project could change your life, so he sat in his University of Arizona-Herpetology Dept. office waiting for this Dr. Wang to appear before the United Nations. They were showing the general assembly on the cable news station, which was full to capacity, with folks standing on the sides. Protocol and safety were at their usual high standards, but today was a special day. / He looked over the letter. It called him their top choice, and one of only a very few even considered. He had already talked to the other two folks, and all agreed as to the enormity of the project. / She was sipping green tea with a little honey and lemon. Her notes, dog-eared and stained, had been gone over many, many times. She just wanted to go and deliver the good news... (added 10.18.14)

The Generosity and Versatility of Scatology by Jenean McBrearty
“Da-da, do-do, do-da-da.” / That’s some good shit, man. / You’re shittin’ me. / It ain’t worth a shit. / It’s all bull-shit. / She’s just talkin’ shit. / You don’t know shit from Shinola. / No shit, Sherlock. / Scared the shit out of me! / I don’t give a shit. / That’s some sorry-ass shit, all right. / “Here’s the thing. It sounds low-class. It’s street talk. You’d never hear the Queen say the word shit. Least not in public.” / Marty nodded his head, seriously pondering Freddie’s wisdom. “We’ll never hear the Queen say anything. Here’s another thing. All around the world, people are talkin’ shit and we never hear them either. You ever wonder what people are saying in places like Paraguay or Papua New Guinea?”... (added 03.28.14)

Here’s To Kissing Chimneys by Addie Soaraki
Yeah, sure. You’ve heard the old line: The young lady tells you, “I smell smoke,” and you know how it goes: Where there is smoke, most definitely, fire exists. / Did I mention fire exists? Pardon me, buddy, but after being locked in the so-called basement of life, lorded over, of course, by the Masters of All Time and All Space, you sometimes feel like heading South and starting a little lightning of your own. Don’t you? / And right: Nice guys always finish last, don’t they? Not exactly. Especially when life is a bar, and all the admirals and body language experts, the college boys who numb their instincts with alcohol and Singapore Slings, only to be force-fed someone else’s Thai food, you end-up being not so nice as you used to be, don’t you? / Been there. Done that... (added 06.27.14)

Hoot by Ron Riekki
Shirtless and covered in blood, I walked into the Hooters. / John Donne said, God is an angel in an angel, and a stone in a stone, and a straw in a straw. / God is a bloody, shirtless man in a Hooters in a bloody, shirtless man in a Hooters. / I’d fallen on glass. I was drunk. My sister worked there. I needed a ride to the hospital. / They said, Dumb-ass, wait outside. / I waited outside, bleeding. / I didn’t know she wasn’t working. It was her day off. / I went to the front window, smeared blood on my face, just to make the point. I kept standing there, staring in. I’m sure a customer complained, because the manager came out and told me to go away. / I said I needed a ride. / Layla came out. / She’s every ethnicity on the globe. She comes from every country… (added 10.10.14)

I Do Not Exist by Mel Waldman
I do not exist. I died yesterday. I can’t recall the exact date. It doesn’t matter. A year ago, 10, 50 years ago, 1 day, yesterday, it happened. A mad metamorphosis occurred. 1 hour, 1 second, 1 nanosecond ago. Puff! / I died. / “Oh no,” you say. “You’re still here. I see, hear, and smell you.” / “So what?” I say. / “But you’re alive,” you protest. / “Alive?” / “Yes.” / “What is life?” I ask. / “One infinite breath.” / “Infinite?” I say, looking quizzically at the other. / “Almost infinite,” you reply. “You breathe until you stop breathing,” you clarify. / “But what if you live for only 1 breath?” I say. / “That 1 breath seems eternal,” you say defiantly. / “I don’t believe you,” I protest. / “Too bad. Life is mysterious. Truth is fantastic. And you are alive.”... (added 02.07.14)

Independence Day by Oleg Razumovsky
On Independence Day we sat with a former translator Phil in the park near the bronze deer. Soviet soldiers brought it from Goering's hunting ground and gave it to civilian children. / Phil quit translating right after the last default, then worked as a guard and drank like a pig cheap counterfeit vodka called Freedom. / We sat, drank Freedom, and talked until we smelled an aroma of the expensive perfume. We raised our murky eyes from vodka on the bench and saw a group of officials led by the governor himself. They were passing us quickly by, looking at us disapprovingly. To celebrate, we began spontaneously throwing up in the most insolent manner, praising Freedom, the best among the cheap alcohol, but then it was too much of a good thing... (added 01.17.14)

Kathleen Malone, Genius Detective by Alyssa Black
"Esmeralda seems to really like you." / "She's a cat." / "Right, and a cat has no motivation to lie about how she feels about others. She’s very useful when trying to decipher the intentions of those who are in question." / "Does that mean I can leave now?" / "No, no, you won't get off that easy. Even if you're not directly involved, you might know about others who are of interest to me." / "And if I refuse to tell?" / She shot off quickly, with fear-inducing ferocity, "If you refuse to tell, than I will have no choice but to go back to the drawing board. Considering the time and space, and resources of this endeavor, your refusal to cooperate could ultimately result in his death." / "I chose to accept that risk. After all, it's every man for himself out there."... (added 06.20.14)

Killing Field by Tyler Malone
The way you can’t swallow, a thick throat, swollen with the need for a wet drop, that was their country. The hunter left his family to gather supper, a hog to slaughter. The kill would happen early, while the woman and children would pick cotton. The hunter would return with blood on his hands, food for bellies. With death, there’s life. / A grown woman and two girls receive kisses from the hunter, heavy with a rifle, ammunition brass, and a canteen of well water from the cool earth odorous with snakes and spiders. Oily, like worm bellies. As if it’s the taste of gold everyone seems to rush towards with cool veins and hot beating hearts, the hunter sips the well’s canteen but its goodness is blind to the eyes of the maker, washing out his wife and babies...
(added 07.18.14)

La La Love Ya by Alyssa Black
So, today I drove to work in a car with no heat on a day that was so cold people even started caring about the homeless. When I got to work, my boss was waiting for me, ready to nag for twenty-five minutes about something somebody else did but averted reasonable suspicions to me because they knew I would just take it. They were right. I went to the bathroom and cried for ten minutes and finished my shift. The world felt cruel and inconsiderate, and I questioned whether I even wanted to be a part of it. I wanted to curl up in a ball and tell everyone to leave me alone. / After work, I checked my phone. Matt had texted me. / He said, “hey watcha doin? text when you get off.” I did. / I said, “hey dude. day from hell but id love to see you.”... (added 11.07.14)

A Little Ghost Story (The Intruder) by Ralph Freda
Dear Frank, / How are you? I hope the journey was smooth for you. What is life in Okinawa like? / The day you left, I thought the clouds were falling on me and the sun had vanished. My lonely self consumed by the weight of emptiness. One time I thought I was going blind from the cascading tears blurring my vision. / Stevie Ray Vaughn's song “Bad to the Bone” and Billy idol's “Sweet sixteen” were playing in my ears non-stop. I am delighted you left them for me. / The day you left, Tita took the afternoon off work. She accompanied me and entertained my erratic moods. Another time, she drove me to the side entrance of the American Embassy. I felt strangely rooted, unable to move. I imagined you walking out the back gate to greet us. I waited in vain. I was being foolish... (added 07.04.14)

More Decaf, Please! by Ruth Z. Deming
…Willie lives with two other men in a group home in East Oak Lane, Philadelphia. It's literally a beautiful three-bedroom house with lovely paintings on the wall and comfy furniture. / We stomped the snow off our feet when we got inside and Shelly introduced me to Ron, the house manager. / We made ourselves at home. In the kitchen, I plugged in the Mr. Coffee Maker and consulting Ron and Shelly, made 10 cups of coffee, Dunkin’ Donuts Decaf. Shelly cut the cheesecake from Trader Joe's and some holiday apricot kuchen. / We all sat down to eat. The TV was on with a noisy football game. In group homes the TV is always on. I’ve visited half a dozen and they’re all the same. The house managers are very important people and have power over people's lives just like parents... (added 11.21.14)

The Mystery of Mister Hollywood Zero by Erica Merkow
Oh, roll me over, in the clover, red hot rover, white cliffs of Dover… / Yeah, man. Cry me a river, baby. You came alive once, once in a blue moon, Angie, and it hurt me so badly to see your frantic performances on the patio stage as you, demonstrating no talent at all, sought to rely on your physical beauty to somehow pull you through the darkening nightmare of your life. Your voice, hoarse from too many cigarettes, cigarettes given you by using malcontents who wanted a piece of you for their self-gratification; your poetry a litany of hurt; then you disappeared... (added 09.15.14)

Nothing If Not Critical by Oliver Zarandi
The problem is that there are three problems. / First problem is that Clyde can’t cry. Hasn’t cried in, what, a year? / Second problem, he has stopped moving. Literally. / Well, not quite literally. He goes to the shop to satiate thirst and hunger with cheap food—chocolate-covered matchsticks, milkshakes and matzos. But still, his movements are decreasing. / He stopped going to work, you know? / I said, Clyde, go to work and he said, what for and I said to put bread on the table. He said look, there’re, like, two loaves on the table, eat some, finish it and I’ll go cornershop and get another two loaves, maybe three, or maybe four? Would four please you? / He has mold in his armpits. What’s worse is that the house is falling apart and I can’t do it all myself, you know?... (added 09.26.14)

Objects and Illusions by Stephanie Bradbury
They had the kind of house that looked like no one lived in it. It was a beautiful three story brick home with a brilliantly polished wood staircase curving down the middle. Each piece of furniture in the living room was positioned too far apart from the others, as if to avoid confrontation. On the coffee table a photo album sat precisely in the center. The cover photo was of a boy and his Golden Retriever running on a black and white beach. I assumed it was the picture that came with the album. The rest of the book was empty. / There were too many mirrors in the house. I saw on a design show once how mirrors can be used to create an illusion of space... (added 04.04.14)

Oddly Mandible by Neil Rothstein
“Have we got anything to eat?” she asked, shattering the silence with her jagged crystal voice, “Have we got any fish? I want a fish,” she added, looking at me sidelong, not quite sure of her own motives. Her face was shadowed by the headrest. To me, she seemed like a horse underwater, not struggling but submitting to the environment. In the silence, I realized that she was expecting an answer. / Of course there isn’t any food. We have nothing! I thought for a moment and then shouted, “Obviously there isn’t any food,” somewhat astonished by her question. / She drummed her hands on the dashboard in a rare moment of animation and began to speak in an almost unbroken stream of words...(added 09.19.14)

Paper and Pearl by Corina Roche
On paper, everything had been done more or less correctly. Married her college boyfriend, they both had good jobs, their son, albeit skinny and spotted, was doing well in school. Money in the bank. Equity. / It was their thirtieth wedding anniversary and it was the year they were supposed to open the wine they bought on their honeymoon and saved for this occasion. It was a Spanish wine they had bought in Andalucia. While the memories of their Spanish romp were foggy, she remembered walls were all colorfully tiled. The staircase was narrow. In the cafe, they sold wine wholesale and she got the idea to purchase a bottle for this day. They didn’t declare it at customs, a small act of defiance... (added added 02.21.14)

Pitch for a Picture Book by Joseph Robert
“Hello, Trisha Donnelly, Mindful Child Publications, correct? Sorry I read your name tag there, well, in advance, thanks for a moment of your time, Trish. Can I call you Trish? Oh, sorry, no that’s better isn’t it, Mrs. Donnelly? Oh, of course! More business-like. Thank you. You see I have this fantastic idea for a children’s picture book that I honestly believe is an exciting property, one which I’m taking to you, Mrs. Donnelly, and to Mindful Child first, due to your fantastic reputation. Right! Here we go. The cover is of an adorable fairy wearing glasses who’s fluttering on her dragonfly wings in front of a giant carnation in full-bloom. First page: A sad girl in a nice room, a mountain of toys in the background—she’s doing homework in a notebook and frowning... (added added 05.02.14)

Riding a Broomstick by Johnna A. Hammerman
As a little girl I always puzzled over the idea that witches, like Elizabeth Montgomery in Bewitched rode broomsticks. Of course, I was young and a little too literal-minded to realize that a broom is not always a broom, and that there are many forms of “brooms,” kind of like the proverbial “womb broom.” / When I came of age I realized that the brooms witches ride are not exactly brooms, but, well, something entirely different, more along the lines of the “womb broom.” Imagine it: Fifteen-hundred-freaking-years of peasants frightened out of their wits by old men in dresses who were basically competing against Druid and pagan cultures: holy men, righteous men, men in dresses... (added 08.29.14)

Separation by Mike Fiorito
“Why did we separate?” my son Theo asks. He’s seven years old. / “We're not separated now, right? I'm with you tonight,” I say. “’Today is Monday and l will see you Wednesday, and Friday too.” / We’re drawing; we always talk when we draw. I can never get him to talk if I just ask him questions directly. I bought us each a drawing pad. I want him to do his own drawings. He often looks at my drawing and wants to draw in my book. But then I start drawing in his pad. If he likes what I’ve done, he’ll take over and make his own drawing. Beginning is hard. / “Where's your father?” he asks. / “My father died,” I tell him. / “Where'd he go?” / “I don’t know.”... (added 01.03.14)

Silver, Black, and Red by Chimera Loe
“Why did we separate?” my son Theo asks. He’s seven years old. / “We're not separated now, right? I'm with you tonight,” I say. “’Today is Monday and l will see you Wednesday, and Friday too.” / We’re drawing; we always talk when we draw. I can never get him to talk if I just ask him questions directly. I bought us each a drawing pad. I want him to do his own drawings. He often looks at my drawing and wants to draw in my book. But then I start drawing in his pad. If he likes what I’ve done, he’ll take over and make his own drawing. Beginning is hard. / “Where's your father?” he asks. / “My father died,” I tell him. / “Where'd he go?” / “I don’t know.”... (added 01.31.14)

Small Matters by Mike Fiorito
We got the call at 5 A.M. My father had woken from a coma after forty-eight hours and asked to see his family. / Before he had fallen into the coma, we had brought him home from the hospital. / “Take him home and make him comfortable; he doesn’t have long,” the doctor said. / We came home and ordered food. For my father, we ordered angel-haired pasta with shrimp. My mother, his wife for nearly 40 years, tried to help him sit up and eat, but he could barely lift the fork to his mouth. Eating was more of a gesture than a reality. / In three months, he turned bone white as the cancer tore through him. The doctors were right, despite my mother’s condemnation of medicine and all science...(added 10.31.14)

Staying Home by Mike Fiorito
"I dream about you a lot these days," I say to my dad. / "And for some reason I show you up in your dreams,” he responds, laughing. / It doesn't feel like I'm dreaming. His voice is clear. The wisps of his grey hair are fine and crisp. I see the individual strands layered on top of each other. I always forget that I’m dreaming until he reminds me. He seems so real. / "I think it's because I'm getting older that I dream more of you. Not to mention that stress makes me crazy.” / "You have no idea the stress I had, no idea about being in debt and watching my family suffer." His face looks sad and heavy. “A gambler can’t help himself.” / "I know, I think about it sometimes. I can't believe you were able to take it."... (added 06.13.14)

The Story About a Dog's Name by Roderick Richardson
One day a twenty-something white woman was walking down a sidewalk, in the suburbs, when she bumped into an elderly black man. She was startled because this man was walking the biggest Rottweiler anyone has ever seen. “What a big dog!” the white woman said. “What’s his name?” / The man then tied the dog to a tree and told him to sit, and the dog did just that. The man immediately asked the woman to walk a few yards away, and whispered, “His name is Nigga.” / “What? His name is Nuh—“ / “Hold on!” the man interrupted. “You can’t say that! I’ll explain... (added 11.14.14)

A Surprise to Many with Isolated Egos by Liam Bishop
But no one can know where he is if we do not ask. We came into it, blankly, without question and there is no way we would get answers. So, we didn’t ask. / The ship came and we boarded on while some showed hesitation and some did not. “What is your plan?” he asked. / “To get stinking drunk” I replied. He gave no reply and I did not search for one. The ship was crowded and the people were loud, very loud, I could hear guts rumbling, an extreme bowel movements, sighing, yawning. We were all too close. / Then, during the night on the ocean, we saw a bright light ahead of the ship, no shape, no sound, just waves and intense light that blinded us for the duration. Now, the yawning, sighing and bowel movements turned into gasps, jaws dropping and wide eyes... (added 02.14.14)

Two Assholes by Paul Smith
There are lots of ways to get fired. Take today, for example—a call from dispatch that I should attend a nine o-clock meeting. And it’s Friday. I’m not talking about reasons for getting canned—just the methodology, the setup, the protocol. But I’m observant, notice I didn’t say smart, just observant. I watched a year ago in dispatch when Bob S. got called to his nine o’clock meeting. So my antennae were in the up position. / I looked down Randall Road where my favorite laborer worked with the blade and end-loader getting the sub-grade ready for gravel. I would miss him. I told Al goodbye and headed for the office. / Getting called in from the field is one way, but there are others... (added 08.17.14)

Waiting All Day for the Mailman by Jim Meirose
I’m awake, I’m awake—I only look asleep because I am in the daily trance of waiting for the mailman; I’m sitting on the front couch with a cold coming on. But my mood is good—the mailman will come. She will— / When the mailman comes, it will just be wonderful! Who knows what she will bring what it can be what can it be what will it be— / Oh! Silly me! I dozed off—I peer out the window—still no mailman. I go to make a coffee in my Keurig machine to keep me awake—need to be awake, need to be, for the mailman—the machine does its job and I go back to the front couch, and set the coffee down on the coffee table how appropriate how appropriate— / I might be money, I always expect money this time of month... (added 07.10.14)

Warm Company by Oleg Razumovsky
In the morning I woke up knowing that I was absolutely broke, but it was necessary to have a drink. Very urgent. A matter of life and death. I got up, thanking God it was not necessary to dress because yesterday I fell asleep fully clothed. Outside it was very cold and my zipper was broken. I almost froze my balls off before I reached Dawn’s Tavern, where my buddies usually congregate. But fuck, it was empty. Everybody was still sleeping. What to do. I barely scraped some change for a small glass of beer, alone. I tried to talk the barmaid into giving me a drink on credit but she refused, the grated pussy, saying, “I once poured a guy a shot of vodka on credit, but he never gave me money back, since then I don't trust anybody for any reason.”... (added10.04.14)

Yellow Whiz, Cracking Concrete by Addie Soaraki
At least Joe did get to see Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon on cable. Sure. He was a movie buff from way back. And yes, while the Ang Lee cinematic display, an American-Chinese-Hong Kong-Taiwanese co-production, seemed vaguely entertaining with its goofy, Photoshop-eradicated tension cables that indeed allowed the chop-saki actors to swiftly glide from building to building in The Forbidden City of yore, that aspect of the entertainment seemed hokey to Joe, private and up-close film critic of solitude out there on the outskirts of Chicago. / Crimony. Joe’s excuse for an efficiency had dirty carpets of beige, tattered walls, some with fist indentions that indicated, at least to the critic, domestic abuse by past tenants... (added 05.16.14)

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