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
The first group of women who invited me into their regular game were from the B team. The club had two competitive teams, but they stayed very separate. The B team players were never included in the games of the better players. Sure, some of them were quite weak, but, in my opinion, the line between A and B was murkier than anyone liked to think. I played with them because I knew that, sooner or
I stand with mosquitoes in my veil in the evening sun and speak words from some other time: of cathedrals and dances at the spring house, green campus quads. The air is heavy with the smell of overturned fields. I drop your ring on the lawn, but it still finds your finger.
You have me sharpening knives. Petal thin against a wet stone kept black in a cookie tin in our pantry. The damp suck of
He traces my wrists with his hands like he doesn’t know I’m afraid of wrists. I’ve told him. They feel sensitive while his hands hover there before I’m able to move them down to mine. Wrists are just a thin layer of skin and then vein.
I had accidentally cut my wrist on a metal fence when I was little, not deep, but my friend told me I was lucky it wasn’t deeper. Wrists are just a thin
I’ll Always Hear From Me
On the blue line today I was trying to feel every one of the fifty-nine degrees—I took turns looking at the stop-start freeway, at a billboard covered in graffiti that read “fuck cancer,” & at my feet—the latter of which I’m still thinking about. I want them to know they’re good to me, that they’ve carried me & they’ve never said a word. I want to be like that—kind &
When the parrot went missing, I put my hat on, took my father-in-law’s Peruvian cane with the carved parrot, asked my husband to come home, placed his skates by the gate, and headed out, leaving the entrance door unlocked. The parrot, Torrap, had long discovered how to unlock the cage door with a combined action of nails and beak, and how to open our bedroom door, by calling the dog’s name (God
MEDITATION AT RIO DEVA
How to distinguish a trick
Of the eye
From wind in a chestnut
Or waking from dream
Dissolve and give way
The body strapped
To its shadow
Weighs no more
Values of letters
Do not make the name
Of God any more say-able
All knowledge is arcane
And thus prevents
To the immanent beyond
It’s hard to get used to
As when detained By
I leave my aroma, strong enough to put out the lights or clear a room, to Cassie, my vegan lover, who can use it to protect her patch of vegetables and plants. I leave a pile of hair to my pillow, to the many dust bunnies leaping from room to room, to the finches looking for fur to line their nests. I leave all my best insults to Sri Lanka, formerly Louis, who has stolen most of them anyway
On the terrace across the street below the elms in fickle light, you eat dishes that are neither here nor there. Facing the canal, you lower your spoon into your bowl of soupçon and come up empty, as though the dash of salt is just an idea. You stab your fork into a generous cut of something dark, waiting for the blood to sprout, and instead meet the resistance of a slice of toasted
I’m typing here because Larry the electrician has just—and I know it’s Larry because can I see his lean bearded figure through the upstairs office window as he stands before the front door holding that green cell phone, which nearly glows in the lengthening shadows, and Larry is looking more worn than usual because it’s 5:30 in the evening and he’s on our threshold but he’s missing