Jackson’s silver hair glinted under the full moon. His boots crunched the gravel parking lot in front of the ramshackle apartment building, long ago a hotel, where I shared an apartment with my mother. Jackson shared our space a few nights a week. He cursed and cast a black trash bag into the bed of his truck. It landed with a soft thud. He hadn’t noticed me yet, standing on the sidewalk, but his presence allowed me to soften my grip on the house keys poking through my fingers. My white, work button-down was stained and reeked of the whiskey spill from an overserved guest at the Angler’s Inn.Continue reading “Catch and Release by Heather Rutherford”
“You’re a kid,” he says, and his voice is so absolute that it leaves no room for argument.
Meesha isn’t sure she’d be able to argue even if he sounded uncertain. Her eyes are blank, her lips locked in that little downward position that everyone claims neutral (that everyone knows is actually a faint frown), and as she stands in front of this leathery heap of a man, she can’t bring herself to care that she’s been caught.Continue reading “Room For the Dead, Room For the Damned by Ella Paul”
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.Continue reading “Steady Space by Yash Seyedbagheri “
Yeah, I live on Scarlet Street all right, near the corner of Agamemnon and Chintz. You know it? There is a pool hall on the corner, where there was a stabbing last year. 1732 to be exact, apartment 2C, in the back. I used to have a Plymouth Valiant but now I drive a Malibu. I just finished a box of crackers and a hunk of Swiss. I’m all out of dough. Cashed my pension over a week ago, paid some bills, and haven’t a dime to my name.Continue reading “They Shot the Beave by David Lohrey”
Holly More first got drunk at the reasonably late age of nineteen. On a late summer Saturday night in 1977, he dropped in on a pair of college classmates who shared a shithole studio apartment at the base of Seattle’s Capitol Hill. The roomies extolled the virtues of “Bokay” apple wine, which sold for sixty-nine cents a bottle. Ritzy nectars such as Boone’s Farm, T.J. Swann and, Allah-forbid, Lancer’s were too fancy-pants pricewise for students who earned $2.10 an hour at Work Study jobs. That left MD 20/20, Night Train, Thunderbird and Bokay. Since the first three were what the Pioneer Square bums drank, the guys went with the Bokay. Holly later found out that Bokay was the wine of last resort amongst the Pioneer Square bums.Continue reading “Elbows With Fishes by Leila Allison”
When Kurt Cobain died, Susan didn’t leave her bedroom for four days straight. She closed her door on that Saturday morning and stayed put until I went over and saw her on the Tuesday afternoon. She never joined the groups that gathered at our college when the following week broke; the circles of teenagers who grimly shuffled in the canteen and classrooms, who shrugged and sighed and slowly shook their heads. It was, I suppose, our defining moment. Naturally, none of us realised it at the time. As a generation we had no Great War or Woodstock, social media was science fiction and everyone’s parents had jobs. We were fortunate enough to be insulated from existence. It took a dead rock star to communalise our experience, to sharpen our senses, to force us to cower as the world fired its first warning shot. A snatched photograph of an outstretched leg with a limp Converse training shoe was the image that blew our adolescent minds. This was when the penny dropped that shit had finally got real.
The boy’s father considered there to be two primary aspects to parenting – the importance of time spent with the child and the importance of time spent without the child. One took precedence over the other. Once a month, without fail, the father would take the boy to the barber and they would both get their hair cut the exact same way. The father would have a shave and the boy would envy him while he had it. It was because of this ritual that the boy would forever remember the back of his father’s head.
Magnificently justified, she teeters on the parapet of her limestone tower. The herd lows below, and in the autumn air all stands still except for Tom, who has spied her from a distance and now is racing to her rescue. Her foot shifts and slips a bit, sending down a pebble cascade, but her heart is strong, and she refuses to be petrified. She stares straight ahead at the hillside, where leaves fall from their trees, drifting, dropping, like children’s valentines into makeshift paper-bag mailboxes taped to her classroom wall many years before. Cards of teddy bears with hearts, Hello Kitty with hearts, blooming flowers with hearts, circus lions proclaiming, “You’re purr-fect!” Suppressing squeals, children scurry. Others’ bags fill up. In hers, not one. Eyes anchored on the hillside, all she sees is disregard. That and the teacher frowning with pity for poor Samantha San Gabriel, so shy and so odd.
Peter crouched in front of the attic window and gazed down on old man Mueller’s cornfield. The plow, unhitched beyond the stalks, turned north like he meant to continue but got interrupted. Peter looked toward the barn, no sign of Mueller’s horse and buggy. The Amish and Mennonite neighbors, with their peculiar ways kept to themselves. Mueller only talked to his pa when he accused Rufus of killing his chickens, or a year ago, the day his brother’s mind broke when Gabe went screaming from the veranda twisting his ears as he ran into Muller’s cornfield. That day Mueller shot out of the house, the top of his unsnapped overalls flapping as he sprinted after Gabe, Mueller’s wife and five children dashed onto the porch, the boys still in their pajamas.
There was once a girl who worried about everything. Charlotte worried that her mother would die in a car crash on her way to work- she’d heard that things like that could happen. Her mother said that she always drove carefully, and accidents like that didn’t happen very often, but Charlotte didn’t believe her. She’d seen her mother drive far too fast when they were late to get somewhere. She would screw up her eyes in the back seat and pray that they would get there on time, alive, even though she didn’t believe in God.