All Stories, Fantasy, General Fiction

The Kumari by Naga Vydyanathan

A brightly hued rag covered Kanmani’s eyes as she hopped daintily over the grid of numbered squares drawn hurriedly on the stone floor. “Right-a?” she asked, pausing on one leg. “Right-u”, came the response, confirming that Kanmani was within the boundaries of a square. This “Right-a/Right-u” exchange continued a few more times, until Kanmani stepped on a line and lost her chance. It was Kaveri’s turn now. Kaveri removed Kanmani’s blindfold, placed her gently on a chair nearby, and proceeded to tie the rag over her own eyes.  She ensured that her blindfold was loose enough to allow her to catch little peeks through the cracks. Closing her eyes tight, she hopped to what she thought was the first square and paused, balancing gingerly on one foot. “Right-a?”, she asked, opening her eyes wide enough to peek at the floor, checking whether her foot was within the square. “Right-u”, answered Kanmani. Kaveri smiled, closed her eyes and hopped to the next square. She loved playing this game called “Paandi”, with Kanmani.

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All Stories, General Fiction

I Love You More by Harrison Kim

A hollowness opened in me as I entered the house, a space within a space, as if I already sensed what had been lost.  In the TV room the stuffed toys lay piled almost to the ceiling, their little heads and tiny eyes facing up.  A whirring in my ears began, from the space within a space, “hello?” I said and the sound disappeared.  Where were the cats?  I paused at at the stairs to the second floor.  The steps up seemed staged, like a movie set, “Follow us, the show’s about to begin,” said the hollow in my head.  I went to the kitchen instead.

I will not give in yet,” I thought, though that hollow space signalled over and over again “this is not going to be good.”

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All Stories, General Fiction

The Softest Hands by Tom Sheehan

World War I was more than 20 years down the drain for most people, but Tommy Heffernan was looking up, with a slight discrediting look on his face, at Tim Kiely the bartender who was talking to or, more to the point, entertaining three drinkers sitting at his bar in Kiely’s Pub. The 2 o’clock sun bounced off Highland Avenue west of Malden Square and tried to come in through the windows shaded from years of accumulated cigarette smoke. Like always, Kiely couldn’t whisper; too much beyond his control, too much audience pull.“I know you boys come all the way from Somerville to hear the stories that grow from here. They come, glory be, without warning, like a knock on the door, trick or treat. For instance, take that lad down there at the other end of the bar, Tommy Heffernan, Colum’s boy. He was scorched in France, really bad. WW I’s green stuff they say. How many years ago’s that? He’s not worked a hard day since he come home from the Kaiser’s playground and might never work a hard day in all his life remaining, though the boy can put away a pint or two with the best of them. This I’ll tell you, though, that this lad, sick or not, for whatever ails him that the gas brought too close, has the softest hands in the whole world. Watch out for the cards in his hands, or a needle and thread.”

He tittered with his half laugh.

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All Stories, General Fiction

Half Broke and Fully In by Josiah Crocker

It didn’t take long before I regretted everything. By then it was too late. I cast a look back at the events that had landed me here in this moment and saw nothing but weeds. Overgrown brush and dry mud cracking under the low winter sun. A life left without watering.

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All Stories, General Fiction

The Lady has a Following by Tom Sheehan

Gawkers galore, that’s what followed her around, at any corner, on any walk, never mind the beach in a thong outfit nearly disappearing itself. Men of all ages, for their own reasons, guesses, imaginations, rallied to the cause, we all can readily believe. many women, too, who wondered what they themselves could do with her carriage, like seeing is believing from the word “Go,” or “If I had that bod, I’d be a god of the ward.”

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All Stories, General Fiction

Gabby Gets Some Colour in His Cheeks by Antony Osgood

He knew he’d reached middle age when his legs defied him each morning and when an afternoon snooze became a requisite for a good day.

Gabby abases himself before post-lunch Sabbath dreams. But when he wakes he thinks he is beside himself, caught off-kilter, unbaked, unfinished. It’s like someone’s drawn his outline and not coloured him in.

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All Stories, General Fiction

Low and Behold by David Lohrey

I tried playing it cool, but Malik knew I was pretending. We pulled out onto the highway at his usual speed, churning up a cloud of sandy dust. After a few minutes, he said, “You enjoyed that.” I said nothing. He looked at me, which was rare. So, I said, “I know you did.” Silence. I felt myself pulling a face, my childhood pout. I tried to stop. A good ten minutes later, Malik slowed considerably. I actually thought something was wrong with the car. Then, he began talking in a voice I hadn’t heard before. He started confiding in me.

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All Stories, General Fiction

About Uncle Story by David Henson

When somebody in town sneezed —pop! — they disappeared before you could say gesundheit. That’s one of the bedtime stories I remember our uncle telling Lucy and me. I think I was five or six. Lucy is a year younger. His name was Trevor, but we called him Uncle Story. His tales always had a simple moral. For example, some kids made fun of an old lady who sneezed so she put a hex on the whole town. Uncle Story said we should always respect our elders.

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All Stories, General Fiction, Historical

Midwife Legacy by Tom Sheehan

On his twentieth wedding anniversary, and pondering various presents he might acquire for his wife Amanel, Viktor Drovnovich, a land manager in the eastern section of Pskov Province, scanned the offerings in Karpenko’s store front as he headed home from a three-week separation. The trip would take him two days, with a night spent at Madame Estelle’s Inn on the Tver road to halve the journey. He looked forward to that stop, for he left Madame Estelle always carrying good will and good spirits, warming him up for the return home.

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