It was close to midnight on Saturday, and I was driving home from a visit with Sandra, the two-lane country road wet from a November rain and spattered with leaves, when a girl came running out of the woods and dashed straight for my car. If only she could have been snatched up on invisible strings. Instead we collided, her eyes in my headlights, white with panic. You don’t forget the eyes. Continue reading “Lynn Levin: Evermay Blair”
When Molly Porter arrived home from work, she skidded around the last icy turn in the drive into a yard crowded with trucks: John Griffin’s rusty blue pickup, Mike Greeley’s classic Chevy, Victor Gianetti’s silver half-ton, and, of course, Andrew’s faded green Ford. On a summer evening or a Saturday afternoon, it would be ordinary enough for them all to be there, but this was six o’clock on a Tuesday in January. Continue reading “Alice K. Boatwright: Look Both Ways”
People at work asked how I felt when I found out, and I didn’t know what to tell them because of the ideas they already had about how I reacted. I know how they already saw me in their mind’s eye, a collection of home videos starring yours truly: a soldier’s wife staring out the window waiting for her husband to return from the war, or the tottering child in a domestic drama naively wondering what’s happened to his alcoholic mother. Most of all, they expected me to have cried, tears like diamonds running down my cheeks and settling on my Cupid’s bow, intermingling with rivulets of snot. This is how the arts ruin us. They set unfair expectations for how we’re supposed to behave. That’s why I don’t watch movies. Continue reading “Neha Tallapragada: KEEPSAKES”
There was a girl at Tuxchanie High School who had a reputation for being easy called Cricket, a nickname given to her supposedly because when she closed her naked legs while making it with a boy, she made a sound like that of the insect. I don’t know how many people even knew her real name. I had English II with her and even the teacher in that class called her Cricket. On the last day of class before the Christmas break, a rumor circulated that Cricket had tested positive for HIV, which caught on super-fast like all rumors in school. A secondary rumor to this main one was that dozens of upper level students, boys and girls alike, were ditching school to go get tested for STD’s at the county clinic. Anyone who had ever had sex with Cricket or had relations with anyone who had could be infected. Continue reading “Kevin Baggett: Cricket’s Boys”
I loved my mother, the first time she was alive, indulgently and deeply. Now that the mammoths are coming back, I love her just as much and at the same time I fear for the future of mankind. I don’t mean just the future of the species. I mean of each person, each life. Each death. Continue reading “Donald Mace Williams: The Point of Immortality”
I taught second grade, which meant that virtually all of the parents wandering around my classroom for Back to School Night were, like me, not much older than thirty. The exception was the elderly couple who’d just entered the room and hovered uneasily inside the open door; I guessed they were both at least seventy. The woman held her hands in front of her and stared up at some pictures on the big bulletin board beside her; the man gazed about him with a tiny grimace. Most of the parents were at their children’s desks where work samples from the first couple weeks of school were displayed. I greeted several of them as I made my way back to the classroom door.
When I got there, the old man’s eyes met mine. I smiled and said, “Good evening.” Continue reading “William Cass: The Best We Can”
From the train window Elena watched a bird rising out of an English field. A perfect, ordinary thing—something she half-remembered underlining in a novel once, in some middle school class, profoundly stirred by a presentiment she hadn’t been able to name. Her first encounter with a bird and field imbued with metaphorical significance, and now after a lifetime of sightings dulled by familiarity and growing weariness, likely the last she’d ever note. Rising in late sunlight, then gone. Continue reading “Christie Cochrell: In Suspension”
“The Boss Hides The Remote”
The sun sets behind a cloud and as its last magenta rays filter out over the gothic tops of downtown Buffalo Stephen orders a Rolling Rock and slides a five across the wet surface of the bar. He eyes the pool table but there is already a couple playing there, a skinny blonde man and his tattooed brunette companion. They stay close to each other and whisper intimacies into each other’s ears; Stephen turns back to his bottle of beer and plays with the corner of the green label, fraying the paper and getting the adhesive gummed into his finger pads. He looks up at the aging television mounted behind the bar and sees John David Henderson looking like a deer that has been shot from behind a blind. His eyes are wide and staring into the middle distance past the CNN camera. His hair is grayer than Stephen had previously imagined, and is styled in early contemporary bird’s nest. A solemn police officer is cuffing Henderson’s hands decisively behind his back. Continue reading “Trevor Zaple: All the Clocks Have Stopped in Memphis”
Are you gonna be okay? I asked Carly.
She sat cowering in the corner of her bed, recoiled into the wall. I could tell she had been crying. She wore a man’s T-shirt with the neckline pulled too much. Her knees were tucked tight into her chest. She nodded at a 9-millimeter on the nightstand. It was dark and heavy looking. The gun wasn’t hers; somebody had been here. Her eyes grew distant and rheumy. I stared at her and not the gun. She hadn’t looked at me once and I could tell she knew whose it was. Continue reading “Chris Guthrie: Kings of New Orleans”
This train goes south along the Hudson. You should sit on the right-hand side of the train, that way you see the river. Grab a window seat. It’s alright if someone sits next to you. Just act like you’re really doing them a favor if that happens. I’m in a long-distance relationship; I know how to ride the train. I wear the same sundress every ride. It’s blue, and I’m elegant like a little elf. I love the ride home to Brooklyn. I love goodbye: Matthew waves like a boob from the platform, and I have the luxury of getting smaller and smaller, until I vanish. Every goodbye should be that fun. Your aunts and uncles shrinking until they’re long gone, having a ball. When you want to say hello, you grow like an azalea, out of nowhere. Growing and shrinking out of lives like it’s a habit.
Carlisle is certain of the robbery. Burglary. Theft. He will look up the distinctions later. He thinks that burglary might have to do with breaking and entering, robbery with holding someone up, and theft with—what? Maybe it was taking something against no resistance, like a chocolate-covered peanut from the bin in the grocery, or the dirty pair of earbuds he found the week before, draped over a low-hanging tree branch.