Tommy Dean ~ Cotton Candy

Gavin, a mid­dle school his­to­ry teacher, stood in line at the super­mar­ket, duck­ing his head, try­ing to go unno­ticed. Though he only had a few items, he hat­ed the self-check machines, afraid he’d make a mis­take or the price wouldn’t ring up right. Some of the employ­ees were his for­mer stu­dents: con­ver­sa­tions like scripts from bad com­mer­cials he couldn’t suf­fer through again. So he wait­ed in the express

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Kim Magowan ~ Daisy Chain

Gently, Dr. Sukimoto sug­gests it is time for Sharon to get her affairs in order. Dr. Sukimoto is her favorite oncol­o­gist. The flaps of hair on either side of his face remind her of the soft ears of a bea­gle. When he says these words, Sharon, whose dis­ser­ta­tion chair a dozen years ago com­plained she had an undis­ci­plined mind, has an errant thought. She imag­ines not a will, but a daisy chain of names

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Avital Gad-Cykman ~ This is When the Sun Spreads Cherry Bloody Spots

A coun­try grows, waters its deserts, rais­es its chil­dren, cul­ti­vates trees, con­structs cities, opens schools, equips hos­pi­tals, defends its bor­ders, builds sky­scrap­ers, pro­grams its com­put­ers, fights a nec­es­sary war, accepts immi­grants, starts busi­ness­es, names its restau­rants bistro or gourmet, goes to anoth­er war and then anoth­er. This is when min­ions work for their mas­ters, dogs bite every stranger

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Girija Tropp ~ I Have Almost Forgotten the Taste of Fruit Loops

Pull the weeds, I hear my land­la­dy say. She likes to give strict instruc­tions to her man, so much so that I’ve been inspect­ing him from my kitchen win­dow to see if I can fig­ure out if he is a sub­mis­sive. He is no hunk but there seems to be some­thing about their rela­tion­ship that implies this. To explain, I live below the pair of them, and they have a habit of swarm­ing all over the vast gar­den that

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Glen Pourciau ~ Three Fictions

Crosswalk

I nev­er see her any­more, but I remem­ber what she said.  We were near the end of our sec­ond date, stand­ing at a cross­walk.  On our first date, we’d been on our best behav­ior, so I’d post­poned any con­clu­sions.  We’d both been divorced for over a year.  According to Jill, the friend who got us togeth­er, she’d giv­en up pray­ing soon after her divorce.  Early in the first date she told me

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William R. Soldan ~ Flares

Faces round a fire call back spin­ning wheels, pull up that throb­bing glow, the hiss of drip­ping sul­phur on a grade of crush run grav­el.

Fourth of July and they thought it’d be a kick to stick pieces of bust­ed lum­ber to the back of my bicy­cle, duct-taped road flares branch­ing off by the baker’s dozen, all of them gath­ered behind me as I placed my foot on the ped­al, strik­ing black tips with

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Tiff Holland ~ Castling

I don’t remem­ber how old I was. I think it was the sum­mer between fifth and sixth grades. I don’t remem­ber Tony going to Erwine Middle School, although there was a boy there with dark hair and a big nose who car­ried a brief­case to class and remind­ed me of Tony. Mostly, I remem­ber Tony because of his sis­ter, Angel. She was the girl my broth­ers got caught play­ing doc­tor with. I’d caught them

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Terrance Wedin ~ Three Short Pieces

Worms

I took myself to the out­door shop­ping cen­ter when the urges got real­ly bad. The unwel­com­ing way they made you slide your car into a spot was just the begin­ning. Women wear­ing pas­tel polo shirts hand­ed out sam­plers that scorched my heart. Men with ex-mil­i­tary tat­toos stopped at kiosks to touch such mean­ing­less things. Children with sneak­ers that cost as much as my month­ly stu­dent loan pay­ment

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Max Hipp ~ Tollbooth

The macabre scene looked like a Halloween prank to the toll tak­er. Then she saw the blood. – St. Petersburg Times, 2005

Manny is cross­ing 34th Street, mak­ing a list of things to pay for—flowers, music, dress, food, church—when Ernie’s car hits him, and his body smash­es into the wind­shield, his head and shoul­ders burst­ing through the pas­sen­ger side.

*

Ernie thinks Manny fell from the sky

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John Oliver Hodges ~ Cabbage

I received The World’s Biggest Piece of Shit Award in 1990. My name was writ­ten on the award in fan­cy cal­lig­ra­phy. In front of the whole class, Mrs. Kerris, our English teacher, hand­ed me the award. She wasn’t wor­ried about get­ting fired, as she was retir­ing any­way. Her thing was she was pissed that I got stoned before her class­es. I mean, she was teach­ing us impor­tant stuff about the hap­py

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Dan Crawley ~ What Others Do About It

Theo sat in the tiny din­ing room next to the kitchen, try­ing to con­cen­trate on a book he want­ed to read for a long time now. In lieu of a din­ing set, there was a bur­gundy reclin­er and a small round table that once sat in the break­fast nook. His twen­ty-six year old daugh­ter, Magda, had dragged the large din­ing room table into the kitchen because of the great light from the bay win­dows. He heard her

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Kathy Anderson ~ Airport Wine Bar

It was their own damn fault for day­time drink­ing. You don’t wave wads of cash around in front of a woman who can’t afford to buy the drug that keeps her alive and not expect her to grab it as fast as she can.

The first cou­ple she stole from was so nice. Ali and Amina from Kazakhstan. Marnie would nev­er for­get them. They were inex­pe­ri­enced trav­el­ers, very con­fused about US dol­lars. Marnie relaxed

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Christie Wilson ~ Solvay 1927

The din­ing room, elec­tric with the shift­ing of wool and the sta­t­ic that hums over the tables in the form of spec­u­la­tion and vibrat­ing con­ver­sa­tion, leans towards the impor­tant ones as they enter and take their seats at the tables.

As usu­al, we’ve been instruct­ed on invis­i­bil­i­ty, but it is dif­fi­cult not to linger. I take inor­di­nate amounts of time refill­ing the cof­fee cups, clear­ing plates, and

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Andy Plattner ~ Library

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.”

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Graeme Carey ~ Expelled from Eaton Park

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

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