All Stories, General Fiction

Generative/ Iterative/Evaluative by J. Bradley Minnick 

These are the last days and unfinished pages of a dissertation on Pragmatics and Features of Sex, 1998—Beth says—expected by her committee members in two weeks, or at-most, a month. Her defense is in three weeks, but she doesn’t think she’ll finish. She says she’d happily quit and work in a bank or in a mall selling perfume behind shiny counters—spritzing the stuff on eligible men who will buy it from her with hopes of getting laid. She says even if she quits, she will continue her work, untethered and uncriticized and make her own study of the language of love, its features through natural conversations, speech acts, implicatures, while managing the flow of reference and the theories of the mind. Then, Beth pauses. But it’s still too big, she says. It’s always too big.

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All Stories, General Fiction

The Kristen A. Schmitt

When I started putting the words on the page, I didn’t know what it was. An exercise in letting go. A reflection of memories. A way to make myself understand what it was, what I had been through. I never thought of the consequences, of letting anyone else read what I had written.

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Editor Picks, General Fiction, Short Fiction

Week 401: A Dirty Slate; Welcome to YES-vember and What’s On Your Wonderwall?

Tableau de rasa is Latin for “a clean slate.” In philosophy it describes the unmuddled mind of infancy, which is soon spoiled by life. I was once one of those overly polite people who’d write “As you know…” or something equally cagey before sneakily defining a term that I figured maybe only half the readers already know. This of course presents an unwinnable situation for the polite person. I have always seen condescending people as jerks while patronizing types are smiling jerks. In my mind you cannot patronize without being condescending but you can condescend without being patronizing. So, if anyone out there smells either on my breath I apologize, but it might be an aid to know that I consider condescension slightly less rotten than patronization.

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All Stories, General Fiction

The Sea by P O’Connor

The loose hall board, if you rocked heel to toe, sounded like someone drowning, that bastard son-in-law he hoped. He tried to silence him with new copper nails along its length. For a while it worked. But one evening the gasp returns, quieter now, pitched high. His weighted heel brings his wife, grasping a breath before sinking under a swirling sea. His toe raises her sea-washed face and she gasps again; help me, John, I have her.

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All Stories, General Fiction

Liza, Like Lizard by Joy Florentine

She’s like a storm cloud drifting my way. The thick, grey coat and bright yellow rain boots are probably a choice she made herself, because the sun’s out and I’m sweating like a pig. I don’t understand why Lenny would let her go out like that, but I don’t have kids and won’t pretend to understand what it’s like. I guess my only comparison to dressing a child is when Roger, my Rottweiler, comes running to me with his lead between his teeth because he wants to go to the park, and he’s got only that one lead. I guess I shouldn’t call a dog my kid, but all he wants is to eat, play, sleep, and shit. Roger’s the closest thing I’ll ever have to a kid—which I’m perfectly fine with.

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All Stories, Fantasy, General Fiction

Relief by Rati Pednekar

There must have been about ten or twenty of Them. Circling above the house like the beginnings of a tornado. Their smooth, steady flight was stark against the clamour from inside. Voices clashed against running footsteps, something clanged in the kitchen, and the phone wouldn’t stop ringing. One man sat huddled in the corner, unable to move. And in the midst of it all was a wail, a cry that every few minutes rose from within and floated slowly outward. But They remained indifferent, a set of black wings and sharp beaks stark against the sun that was just beginning to dip downwards. They soared round and round, while inside the small bungalow chaos reigned. One of Them ruffled its feathers.

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All Stories, General Fiction

The Violin by Frank Jamison

Whistler stood in the weeds, leaning against the brick wall of the old train station and listening to the susurration of wind over the tracks. The others might have known he was there, might have seen him suddenly after looking once and not seeing him as the wind stirred through the cyclone fence, wafting the trumpet vines and grasses down near the old, rusting boxcar where Nathan lived, but he saw no one. Bobo and Saint Louis lived at the other end of the yard in a faded red caboose, but nobody knew where Whistler lived. He appeared and disappeared. No one knew.

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All Stories, General Fiction

Rachel, Remarque, and The Maltese Falcon by Vince Barry

Del Río— Rachel’s new board and care home. ’S where I was this morning till eleven, with Caron, the Russian, although “Caron” sounds Greek to me. Whatever, he’s gonna handle the move. Me, I’m driving home and thinking of Miles Archer and tuned to NPR when—

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All Stories, General Fiction

Hen and Chicks by Rachel Sievers 

The pain in her chest was akin to a physical blow. It had always been this way, in life outside of family she was well-spoken and liked by many. In the circle of family suddenly she was reduced to the small child who hid when voices rose. 

I just don’t understand why you have changed so much Callie Rose,” the woman’s voice was raspy from years of chain-smoking. “It’s like you don’t even love the Lord Jesus anymore.” 

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All Stories, General Fiction

Cold by Mason Koa

The wind played music with my bones. Like a xylophone.

“It’s cold in hell,” he said, “Let me tell you.” He shook his head, taking another puff from his cigarette. He throws it into the ocean and it fizzles out into the darkness. Hands in pockets, overcoat. Leaning on the sidebeam, night blows past.

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