Johanna da Rocha Abreu: Flash Floods

Vonnie eases up on the gas pedal and they coast the last couple of feet to the side of the road. A staccato burst of rain erupts on the body of the car as if it wants to dismantle every bit of glass, metal and rubber. Vonnie can just see them sitting in their seats after the storm, each lock, nut, bolt and gear of the “jalop,” as Paul called it, scattered around them. Worthless pieces not even a magpie would take to its nest.

Continue reading “Johanna da Rocha Abreu: Flash Floods”

Jeanne Althouse: Love Child

She inherited my uncle’s face. She inherited his pale skin, freckled nose, smoky eyes, narrow cheek bones, the way he tilted his head to his left when he spoke. She inherited his love of gab and tendency to lecture. She inherited his profession, his talent at poker, his longing for mountain streams and the habit of a rod and line in his hand. She inherited many things from Uncle Dave, but not his name.
I didn’t believe in religion, in transitions to the other side, in seeing people after death. But the first time I met Renata Taylor that changed.

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Michael Overa: Homegoing

At thirty-three, I have moved home to live with my parents. They have converted the small space above the garage into an apartment. Oddly, instead of negotiating with my soon to be mother-in-law over the food we’ll serve at the Wedding Reception, I am living in a mother-in-law apartment.
The queen bed seems too big. I am not used to sleeping alone. I am not used to going this long without talking to Miriam. We dated for eight years. Eight years and six months, give or take. No. That is wrong. We dated for six years and six months, give or take. We were engaged for two years. But, ultimately, I wonder if there is that much of a difference.

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Lynn Levin: Evermay Blair

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”

Alice K. Boatwright: Look Both Ways

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”

Neha Tallapragada: KEEPSAKES

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”

Kevin Baggett: Cricket’s Boys

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”

William Cass: The Best We Can

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”

Christie Cochrell: In Suspension

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”

Trevor Zaple: All the Clocks Have Stopped in Memphis

“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”