Wayne knows that the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library downtown opens at 10 a.m. on Tuesday-Saturday and never one minute earlier, not even when it’s raining and there are a dozen plus-citizens waiting to get inside. The building is eight stories, cube-shaped, neutral-toned. He’s read up on the architecture: it’s known as Brutalist, taken from the French words beton brut, or “raw concrete.”
Another head poked through the small opening in the door. This time it belonged to Rory, the floppy-haired kid from next door. He was wearing a Santa hat and didn’t say anything to James, who lay on the bed with his hands behind his head and his eyes up at the ceiling. He just wanted to get a look.
Everyone wanted to get a look. All afternoon, heads had been popping in and out of the room
The hospital where Petra was born, her mother would later tell her, ran out of drugs the week of her birthday, so her mother screamed for hours, and her father, at work filing papers, swore he could hear the shrieks echoing across the entire city. Petra didn’t know whether to believe her mother about the shortage of drugs, or if she made up the negligence, another piece of evidence in her mother’s
Soupmann is Superman’s third cousin twice removed. Unlike his relative, Soupmann set his priories logically and succinctly. He fights for truth and justice, and sometimes for truth and the American way, and sometimes for justice and the American way, but not for all three at once. Otherwise, he’d be stretching too thin. He goes into a phone booth and turns into chicken soup. He smothers
Her death is sudden, so there is no time to prepare—no protracted sickness. A stroke: Henry wakes to find her dead beside him, stiff and cool.
You have never met Elaine. You have only seen pictures: the one on his desk with the lacquered frame, and the wedding picture on the hall table that one time you went to their house, when Elaine was visiting their son in college. I imagine you encountering
Even prolific swingers like us had morals. Rules to our carefree promiscuity. Rules each of us took seriously. Beth and I had been happily married, you see, before we met this married couple off a dating site at Sloppy Joe’s. Rule One: we only got together with just as happily married couples. But when these two walked in, Beth poked my shoulder and rasped, “They’re not
I trace the scars that tattoo the dark skin of your shoulders in the back seat of my Volvo s80 and tell you to stop popping benzos so often. I like the way you sigh and roll your head back when I go down and how you wear that wig sometimes. You’re prettier than my girlfriend when you wear that shit. Sometimes I feel like I should shave my legs more often. It’s getting warmer and I’ve been
The teenage boy drove a black Trans Am with an eagle on the hood. He was friends with my babysitter Rita and her friends, and she would invite them over to drink beers and blast David Bowie and T. Rex on my dad’s stereo system. One night the girls raided my parents’ bedroom and dressed me in a wig and a glamorous old gown and painted my face with lipstick and rouge. The teenage boy had long
My neighbor, Tom, came to the door. Tom was in his forties, his only distinguishing feature a patch of blond in his otherwise dark hair. He and his wife had bought the three-bedroom house next to ours four or five years ago, bringing with them a pair of greyhounds nobody wanted after their days at the racetrack were over. That’s the kind of couple they were. Tom had come over to ask me something
One rocked himself to sleep every night, banging his head against the wall. One who’d been beaten for clogging the toilet, took to shitting behind the garage. The youngest one had night terrors. Once he dreamed he was being chased and tore through the snow in his bare feet to the neighbors’ and broke a window with his fist. They all wet the bed. They suffered all the communicable diseases, these
To all involved in the Best Small Fictions 2017 contest. See results here. Couple of our folks involved.
At a Wawa gas station and minimart in Newport News, Virginia, a landscaper named Scott stood in line to buy a bottle of Gatorade. He had been working for the city, weeding and replanting a wide median strip and a flowerbed at the mouth of an off ramp, which surrounded a sign celebrating the incorporation of the municipality from one of the original Virginia colony shires in 1896. The job—half
Mrs. Lark is dying. I think it’s the children. They’re like an algal bloom polluting her water. What I know is that when I lived with her all those years in her yellow-walled apartment, Mrs. Lark seemed healthy. Then in August, she scooped me into a plastic bag and brought me here. She said to me, “I’ll bet you didn’t know I used to teach. That was long before your time. It’s been fifteen
You imagine a life in a small Midwestern town where you teach Calculus at the community college and buy sweet corn at the Farmer’s Market on Thursdays in the town square. Your big yellow dog named Jethro chases squirrels up trees in your fenced backyard and it’s all fine because you don’t travel anymore and the days are long but not so grueling that you wake in the middle of the night with a cinder
Americans, Meg thought, understood earthquakes. The earth moved. Los Angeles. Bridges collapsed. San Andreas. Your best China falling, standing between door jambs, damage to the Sam Kee Laundry. The Nimitz freeway.
Volcanoes, she’d assumed, would be similar, except with added lava. But this was so different.
She and Greg were in Jogjakarta, Indonesia, near Merapi volcano when it blew. News reports