All Stories, General Fiction

Summer and Sweet Peas by Oso Jones

He places the cloth bag carefully on the kitchen table; Formica, worn and chipped. She had trained him in in the use of cloth bags. You would have thought the simple act of remembering to take a cloth bag to the shops was a panacea against climate change. More like a superstitious tick, like genuflecting at church or throwing salt over your shoulder. Something to make you feel like you are warding off an even greater calamity when the real damage has already been done. He unpacks the bag carefully: a hammer, a hatchet, some rope, an apple. The apple was impulsive, they looked fresh. Crisp and juicy. He tells himself he must eat it soon. He has his own superstitions and the longer an apple is the house the more he suspects that it is mealy. Many a good apple has gone to waste because he couldn’t shake the feeling it was imperfect in a sickening, unnameable way. Of course, you can never tell with apples, not until you take a bite, but he could never bring himself to take that risk.

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All Stories, General Fiction

Steady Space by Yash Seyedbagheri 

Dad communicated in grunts and edicts. But Uncle Max communicated in smiles and jokes and deliberate instruction. He told me dirty jokes and turned condoms into water balloons. But he also took me bowling and taught me to drive, telling me always to look forward, guiding my hands with ease.

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All Stories, General Fiction

The Wait by Lisa Toner

The child is painfully thin.  Her ribs poke against the taut skin of her back as she draws on the dusty floor with a stick.  She crouches on toothpick legs, supported by hardened feet which rarely see shoes.  The bottoms of her filthy white shorts graze the dirt floor.

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All Stories, General Fiction

From an Appalachian Peak, a Small Red Star for Me and My Father by Tom Sheehan

This appointment came when light tired, this arrangement, this syzygy of him and me and the still threat of a small red star standing some time away at my back, deeper than a grain of memory. I am a quarter mile from him, hard upward on this rugged rock he could look up to if only his eyes would agree once more, and it’s a trillion years behind my head or a parsec I can’t begin to imagine, they tell me even dead perhaps, that star. Can this be a true syzygy if one is dead, if one is leaning to leave this line of sight regardless of age or love or density or how the last piece of light might be reflected, or refused, if one leaves this imposition? The windows of his room defer no light to this night, for it is always night there, blood and chemicals at warfare, nerve gone, the main one providing mirror and lethal lens, back of the eyeball no different than out front, but I climb this rock to line up with another rock and him in the deep seizure of that stolen room, bare sepulcher, that grotto of mind.

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All Stories, General Fiction

Screens By Yash Seyedbagheri

I awaken to computer or phone screens with emails beckoning. Mostly junk, links to New Yorker articles, reminders of delinquent dues on this card or that. CONTACT US IMMEDIATELY, black words growl on a sterile background.

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All Stories, General Fiction

Crack by Yash Seyedbagheri 

The train horn rises through my window. It starts as a hum, but rises to a wail, insistent and bursting, fragments of noise burying themselves in my ears, in my body.

I cover my ears again, sitting on my bed. Mother tells me to think of anything else, moving closer and closer. She plops beside me, a defeated little plop.

“Close your eyes, Nicky,” she says, her lips quivering. “Take your mind elsewhere.”

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All Stories, General Fiction

It’s All I Can Do by Thomas Elson

Look closely. Near the walnut bookcase a friend built for my son. Can you see me? I visit here every day.  

A couple of weeks ago, I told my son it was time. There were no miracles cures for me – ninety-two years old – not really high on the list of miracle-cure candidates.

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All Stories, General Fiction

Renaissance by Yash Seyedbagheri

Spring breaks through my empty walls and drawn curtains, an impenetrable fortress. It spills onto cell phones where sisterly jokes about my old-school wardrobe and loving and laughing face emojis no longer wait. Sunlight taunts the charcoal-colored shadows that keep me company on empty couches that smell of musk, armpits, Malbecs, and sativas.

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