Elizabeth Hellstern

Two Pieces

The Space Between: A Meditation

My brain works in spurts: There are two hemi­spheres and a space between. The space between is filled with synapses, junc­tions that jump from nerve impulse to an unknown land­ing space. The space between is the vul­ner­a­ble sweet spot of juicy pos­si­bil­ity. The space between is a chasm, and beau­ti­ful, but how we land is entirely up to us. Continue

Cari Scribner

My Father, The Fish, and The Rocking Chairs

No one had time to send greet­ing cards to William, my father, flow­ers meant for men, maybe an assort­ment of suc­cu­lents in a ceramic dish for his cof­fee table. In his room, the plas­tic pitcher of hos­pi­tal water sits beside an empty Styrofoam cup. A paper-wrapped straw lies aban­doned on the swing-around tray to hold orange Jell-O snack packs, never served. Continue

Duffie Taylor

Six Pieces 


He pushed the flow­ers into the folds of my apron. Keep walk­ing, he said. Keep walk­ing. So I walked. Then he said, You will lose all your roses walk­ing like that, dear girl. Continue

Sandra Kolankiewicz

Skating at Mill Pond

Sometimes we don’t want to know, fre­quency
so low we can’t arrive.  Gratitude is
a stone in the pocket to remind you
to smile, and also a rock that drags you
down into the black of the glacial pond
to see the lit­tle boy at the bot­tom
in his skates, still hold­ing his hockey stick,
look­ing just as sur­prised as you.  We had
a rope swing in the sum­mer, no rocks just
below the sur­face, and all knew the
water was run­ning, for the old wheel still
turned. The falls came from some­where under­ground
and after­wards con­tin­ued some­place else
above, by spring melt­ing, run­ning over the ice
cubes in his mother’s glass, some­thing you can
under­stand only if you too have drowned.


Sandra Kolankiewicz’s work has appeared widely, most recently in Appalachian Heritage, BlazeVox, Gargoyle, Fifth Wednesday, Prick of the Spindle, Per Contra, Prairie Schooner, Appalachian Heritage, and Pif. Turning Inside Out won the Black River Prize at Black Lawrence Press. Finishing Line Press pub­lished The Way You Will Go.  Blue Eyes Don’t Cry won the Hackney Award for the Novel. ”Lost in Transition” is souls lost to drug addic­tion.  She lives with her fam­ily Appalachian Ohio.  http://sandrajkolankiewicz.blogspot.com/

Beth Alvarado


When I opened my front door to let the detec­tive in, I saw them imme­di­ately. They were hang­ing around her, some right there on the front step and oth­ers, a few feet off in the yard as if they weren’t sure they were wel­come. There were at least eight of them, some fad­ing in, some fad­ing out. My Tommy was not among them. And that man they’d found dead, that Dr. Fremont, he did not seem to be among them. I won­dered if the detec­tive knew she was sur­rounded. Some peo­ple knew; some didn’t. Continue

Michele Maron

Fortune Cookie

Portions of her mem­ory slipped through a dark hole. She knew who I was, but just ran­dom facts about our his­tory together. She knew we were mar­ried, but she did not know for how long, or any­thing about Elvis in the white leather pants who sang Jail House Rock after­wards when we laughed till we cried. Continue

Alex McElroy

People Inside of People


Martin didn’t want to leave home. But his wife had asked for divorce. He con­sid­ered the end of his mar­riage as proof that he had grown timid and dull. He needed to blow up his life, to impul­sively live—to become the man he had been before he was mar­ried. Continue

Becky Hagenston


Both of their hearts were bro­ken, and they had the same scars slic­ing their chests in per­fect halves. They met in the car­diac ward. Lana had a bypass at thirty-two; Mitch had a trans­plant at fifty that almost didn’t take and then did. Later, lying together in bed, they pressed their chests together and mar­veled at the sym­me­try. He put his ear against her left breast and then leaned back in sur­prise. “What on earth is that?” he said, and she said, “It’s a bell, of course.” Continue

P.J. Underwood


Gorillahead hates his name, calls it an aber­ra­tion, but says the sit­u­a­tion is too far gone, a nick­name that sticks, given by idiots. He walks, knuck­les to ground, the way I’ve seen goril­las walk in old pic­tures, holoflimsy, and long, stut­ter­ing reels of Twentieth cen­tury film. I tell him I think his name is fit­ting, min­i­mal­ist, that it’s a fine descrip­tor. Continue

Lydia Copeland Gwyn

All the Baby’s Air

In our Family Life class we’d all shared a table and watched Ms. Felton from Planned Parenthood unroll a con­dom onto a wooden dildo. She talked about sin­gle par­ent­hood, how hard it was, how no one helps like they say they will. She was preg­nant with her sec­ond and con­stantly pat­ting her tummy. The whole class wanted to be her sit­ter. Continue

Ed Taylor


Someone here to see you, an intern had said, rais­ing his eye­brows and lift­ing his arms to make a shark mouth, bit­ing.  Now that they’re “interns,” instead of appren­tices, they do what they want—like chil­dren, Giorgio thought, shrug­ging and mov­ing from the bench toward the door sud­denly filled with a shadow.  Il grande squalo bianco. Continue

Kevin McIlvoy

All of the stones all at the same time

The client scratched at paste clot­ted in his hair.

The client was in a car. The client’s car was in a car space between newly painted golden lines.

A sign: Mini Bob’s Mart.

We are quite lost,” said Deer Food. Continue

Susan Hubbard

You Who Never Arrived

And some­times, in a shop, the mir­rors
were still dizzy with your pres­ence and, star­tled,
gave back my too-sudden image .…

–from “You Who Never Arrived,” Rainer Maria Rilke

I’m back in my home­town vis­it­ing friends for a wed­ding, and I stop at the super­mar­ket to pick up avo­ca­dos and limes, and I see–there across the pro­duce sec­tion rum­mag­ing among the let­tuces–myself. I’m buy­ing ice­berg lettuce–or rather, the other me is buy­ing ice­berg. This me prefers more exotic vari­eties: Boston or Bibb. Continue

Robley Wilson

Three Stories


The first time she has the dream, it seems per­fectly plausible—substantial and fac­tual, with all its details consistent—but because she real­izes she is dream­ing she is not deceived; she is a well-off, edu­cated young woman with a white-collar hus­band and a new pink baby, and she knows this is not hap­pen­ing in the real world she will even­tu­ally wake up to:

She is car­ry­ing a bomb.  Continue

Jana Martin

Your Sunny Day

My smart foodie boyfriend Hans and I were work­ing side by side in his uncle’s Williamsburg restau­rant — Das Lokal with a k — a Euro-Southwestern farm to table nou­velle thing. And I really thought I had it pretty good: a sweet lit­tle apart­ment, a lit­tle life. I admit it, at that point six months ago, I was enter­tain­ing thoughts: on my 27th birth­day we would decide to move in together, even use the M word, you know, mutu­ally. Continue

Kevin Canty

The Whore of Manzanita

Spring is hard in Manzanita. The sun comes out, the flow­ers bloom, the grass turns bright green, then a storm blows in off the Pacific and stays a week. We’ve been here all win­ter, lis­ten­ing to the water splash from the gut­ters at the cor­ners of our houses. The ocean heaves and sobs at the shore. We make soup. We walk the dogs on the wet beach or through the drip­ping woods, the green ferns and gray cedars. We make every­thing nice for the tourists, who won’t be here for another cou­ple of months.   Continue

Paul Lisicky

Four More Stories


These three AM robins who go quiet by six as if all that singing sends them back to sleep!

And the sounds dur­ing day­light: car noise, jet noise, deliv­ery trucks, and the ship horn from the river. Why is it that her yard was qui­eter once, and she could actu­ally hear an entire episode of her favorite pro­gram with­out sim­ply watch­ing mouths mov­ing on the screen?

Questions like these keep Mrs. Tonnage upright.  Continue

Terese Svoboda


The hus­band isn’t breath­ing beside me or else the bright snow falling at that angle against the wind­shield oblit­er­at­ing his chest heave and forc­ing his eyes closed is just how I see it— Continue