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 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 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 K.D. Senior
Percy tied his apron in the back and took a deep breath. He knew it was going to be a long day. He grabbed the broom by its handle and began to sweep the floor; he knew Mr. Hopkins would complain if he didn’t at least see him sweep. This is what life after war was like. At least it was not the trenches, he thought to himself. During the course of his day, he reminisced about what his life was like before the one year war. Percy didn’t have to wonder what it was like after; he lived that day by day. He figured that this was the best it was going to get for a negro veteran in 1922. Still, he was grateful to Mr. Hopkins for taking him in, ’cause work was scarce after the war. While stacking cans, sometimes out of the corner of his eye he would see grenades. Some of those times when cans dropped, a slight gasp would escape his lips, followed by a sigh of relief when he realized he was not in the trench but a grocery store in Harlem, where he now, in contrast to his former glory, grudgingly swept the floor and stacked cans.
He tried to remember the smell of his mother’s cooking, but like many things before the war, the memories seemed to evade him. He remembered how that memory carried him through hours of kitchen detail. He wished it would somehow carry him through this. One thing the Army taught Percy to do well was how to hate menial tasks, such as the one he was currently engaged in. Mr. Hopkins sauntered in from the back with a morning paper wrapped in his chubby fist. “Mornin’ Percy, I see you’re sweeping, and I ain’t even have to tell you!” said Mr. Hopkins as he took his seat at the counter, unlocking the register. “We got four cases of canned peaches that need stacking, so after you’re done with the store, take a break and then get to it.” Percy paused for a moment and recalled a portly master sergeant named Wilkins. He talked rot sometimes, but he was still good people.“Yessir.” Percy grinned to himself and popped to attention. “Don’t you start with that army bullshit.” Hopkins said. “No, sir, wouldn’t dream of it.” Percy went back to sweeping. He laughed to himself.
Continue reading FRIDAY FICTION: Demon of the One Year War
by G.G. Silverman
The man who blows up your house will do so disarmingly. Your appointment with him was for other, more innocuous reasons, the small drip from a pipe you fear will become a flood. When the doorbell rings, you run your hands over your unkempt appearance, a slap-dash attempt at looking less bedraggled. You hurry to the door, demanding “shhh” from the various children behind you — four, to be exact — who stop throwing toys long enough to allow you to cross without a flesh wound. You tune them out, forcing your best smile as you open the door.
The man on your stoop is attractive. Easy on the eyes. His are blue. And you have a type, a preference for cerulean peepers. Lord have mercy.
A pointed mustache adorns his lips, and a short neat beard announces his chin with a subtle but dashing entry. A fitted black vest hugs his toned physique over a white-collared shirt, and a black fedora rests atop his head.
“Hello, ma’am,” he beams, doffing his hat to take a short bow. “What am I here for today?”
Continue reading Friday Fiction: The Detonators
by Jennifer Fliss
(content warning: contains strong language)
The charred remains told Sarah it might be too late. The campfire smell should evoke memories of sweet burnt marshmallows and ghost stories and Sarah thought that yes, what she was seeing were definitely ghost stories.
Her nostrils flared. There were no bird calls, just the distant thwomp of helicopters. Down the block, the sign for The Stonefruit Diner was lit, its neon a beacon beyond the tract of burned houses.
The fire was five percent contained. Flames licked the hillside. It was noon but looked like evening. The texts came and the warnings pinged. Sarah shut off the volume. The helicopters flew off and now there was just a thick pillowy silence. The hulking remains of five-year-old McMansions smoldered on either side of her. One mailbox was completely untouched. It was in the style of a tiny red barn and she wondered if the HOA had approved of it. She assumed no and applauded this small token of protest.
Continue reading Friday Fiction: Contained / Not Contained