by G.G. Silverman
She was 13, but didn’t know how old the boy at the basketball hoop was. He was cute. Maybe 16? He played alone in the long twilight of summer. She hadn’t seen him before. He might’ve lived here his whole life but hadn’t gone to her school — maybe he went to private school? — and only now discovered the hoop next to her house, by the lone street lamp on the road. Didn’t notice her, even though she sat on the wall close by every night, watching. He seemed all-American and tall and tan and smooth and quiet and she swore his sweat smelled delicious like ripe apples. She loved his close-cropped hair and the soft light fuzz at the nape of his neck. He hardly uttered a sound as he practiced layups, and she admired his movement, his ease. She wondered more about him. She clapped when he sank the ball again. She wondered if he’d grow to like her, if she’d become his girlfriend. Then she could go to his house and listen to records. Then maybe his mom and dad might ask if she’d come get ice cream with them at the diner by the lake. Maybe he’d hold her hand in the back seat of the car where his parents couldn’t see. Maybe he’d steal some of his dad’s aftershave and slap it on his peach-soft skin.
Continue reading Fiction: All the Boys
by Danielle B Khleang
The hues surrounding the Salish Sea always burst with vibrancy or pacified the air with muted tones. I can still stare with my child eyes at the wonder of blades of grass, flakey-mushy wood, and seagulls on the wind. I am an earthling. So taken by the planet, it wasn’t until I was older that I noticed my soul’s longing for an unknowable afterlife among the stars. To dissipate between the unfathomably small in quantities so large as to hardly exist. Gazing at my own thoughts beyond the banana trees and wilding grasses as butterflies fluttered a weaving path, the pale blue sky landed a yoke on my head. I would stay on this planet long after my death, and not until this place meets its fiery end will my soul oscillate between existence and oblivion. Clear as day, as dark as night, my body felt truth. And what’s human felt contented and curious.
Continue reading Fiction: I Know What Will Happen
by Sasha Victor
See me inside your Seattle high-rise condo. Accept it, it’s already begun. Watch dried shit flake off my sneakers as I wipe my shoes on your welcome mat. Take a deep breath to calm your nerves. Smell the urine of Pioneer Square Station on my coat. Notice my jeans covered in park sludge. Feel your heart rate double when I walk past your ivory leather sofa. Blurt out, “Have my chinos.” Take off your pants and hand them to me. Try to remember why you invited me into your home.
Continue reading FICTION: Sit with Me in the Sh*t and Sawdust
by Kathya Alexander
sweet Holy Spirit
sweet Heavenly dove
guide me with your goodness
fill me with your love
She sang as she wrapped the flour around the lard, caressing the mixture in her fingers like it was worthy of love. And that is exactly the way that it was that she felt. Your food didn’t taste good if it wasn’t no love in your heart. Her Mama learned her that when she learned how to make biscuits. How you shouldn’t cook nothing if you feeling like your heart wasn’t clean. So she probably shouldn’t even be in the kitchen this morning. But she don’t have that luxury. She got these chir’en to feed. Sometimes her Mama felt so close she could almost see her. Just there, right outside the corner of her eye. She felt her the most when she was cooking in the kitchen. Even tho it had been more than 20 years since her Mama had died.
Continue reading Fiction: The Spirit of Love
by Juan Carlos Reyes
I wish I could say my shift had ended with a cough, but my boss told me to go outside and shake my throat congestion off with a cigarette after I removed my apron. I told him, staring at him in the mirror, that I haven’t lit a match in over a year and that he’d have to call someone in to replace me. But he leaned over the bar top and nodded back to the waiting lounge past the hostess desk and told me his conditions were final. It’s the rush hour dinner hour and he wouldn’t be asking again. And I could cough over the entrées if it was really that bad. He managed to say, If you really can’t help yourself, with a toothpick in his mouth. He even added that as long as I coughed on the food in the kitchen before I walked out holding a plate in each hand, he didn’t care how much phlegm I expelled. He actually used the word. Expelled.
And then he took the barkeep’s surface towel to wipe the ends of his lips.
Continue reading Fiction: Body at the Stairwell to the Waves
by Neve Mazique-Bianco
In the part of the woods we live in, the bark of the trees is rouged an amorous green.
Anyone could get lost in the fog, wrapped up in the lichen, algae, moss.
Continue reading Fiction: Dancing Lessons of the Kitsune
by Jennifer Fliss
It wasn’t the first time April felt that way. The first time was when she pushed her chubby preteen fingers against the glass at the zoo and an orangutan did it back and they stayed like that for nearly a minute before the other kids laughed saying April didn’t have anyone but this animal. The orangutan dropped its hand first.
This time, April had pulled her hand away first. While Marco walked away, April was left in front of the bodega, resting her hand on a single orange in the middle of a pile of them outside the corner store. She felt the first drop of rain that she knew had been coming as she watched her boyfriend go. Marco’s body walked and walked and people heading north and south and east and west poured in around him and eventually swallowed him up. She imagined him skipping down the 96th Street subway stairs, leaning against a column, looking up and down the tunnel as if the train would come from either direction. It always only came from the one direction, she’d always said. She was obviously wrong.
Continue reading FICTION: Bodega Oranges
by Gabriela Denise Frank
The new girl, Olive, was stealing my food.
She was introduced to our firm as an efficiency expert, but I could tell: Olive was a hatchet woman hired to trim the fat — and bone. She swooped in on a Thursday, shedding oily black pinions on the polished floors. On Friday, the first senior account manager disappeared. No farewell card, no frosted sheet cake. One by one, Olive picked off the old-timers suckling at the teat of repeat clients and retainers. Each Friday, another private office came available, albeit the walls smeared with blood.
“It’s time to name the next generation,” said Stu, our COO, at the monthly staff meeting.
Continue reading FICTION: The Harpy — or She Sought to Shatter Her Bovine Complaisance
by Phebe Jewell
What does a 70-year-old wear to a drag show?
Nancy runs her fingers over silk blouses, linen tunics, then shuts the closet door. Really? It’s the Milagro Bar on Beacon, not Vegas. No need to change out of jeans and a tee shirt. She and Barb are catching Margo Largo’s first set over a few drinks.
Still, it’s her birthday tomorrow. 71. Not a milestone like 70 or 75. She would be okay skipping it altogether, but Barb insists. “Let’s celebrate your birthday for a whole week.”
Nancy’s never been afraid of getting old, but the latest changes in her body feel more like subtractions than additions.
Continue reading FICTION: All the Bodies
by Megan Christy
Mrs. C sprinkled the fish flakes into the bowl. They floated down, down to the rocky bottom. Minos drifted toward the flakes, his elegant fins fluttering in the water. The schoolteacher looked up from the bowl and scanned her home. What would she need for the new school year? What was she allowed to bring? Nothing that can’t be disinfected. That’s what the principal had said. No more carpet in the classroom, no more story time books ’n’ beanbags, no more Holly the Horse for the kids to hug when they were scared. All those things were gone now, replaced with cold tile floors and plexiglass barricades. All to keep the virus at bay.
Continue reading FICTION: Fishbowls