December 10, 2018: “Milk and Other Lies”

One day the river runs with milk. I watch as hollow-eyed mothers bring infants to the shallows. They pour the clouded liquid, scooped palm by palm, into their babies’ gaping mouths. The next day I wake to the sound of children’s laughter. I step outside, smelling a cloying sweetness in the air. The river has … Continue reading Milk and Other Lies

December 3, 2018: “The Great Abide”

There is a road off Interstate 20 in the grasslands of west Texas, no sign, no name, just seven miles of pavement before tapering off into dirt. It splits a mile later into a trail that looks beaten down by hooves more so than tires, and if you go toward the sunset at the fork, … Continue reading The Great Abide

November 26, 2018: “Arrangement”

A single brown hair on the white comforter revolts her. As if it had fallen off a leper. Or a whore. She doesn’t know if she’s ready for this then. Not so much the sex itself, which she’s done before, but the consummation of a marriage she never actually agreed to. The room is different … Continue reading Arrangement

November 19, 2018: “Anne Boleyn Could Drink You Under the Table”

Anne Boleyn loves mead. You drink it like a fish, Henry used to say. And how he laughed. Big, baritone, besotted. But that was before she was beheaded. Before she had to do it all over again. Now she’s back. A reincarnated, over-educated college student in some preppy east coast town. She has a cramped … Continue reading Anne Boleyn Could Drink You Under the Table

November 12, 2018: “Alligator”

The second thing I see after pulling the bedroom blind is my wife’s handprint on the casement window. The first thing I see is an alligator in the pool. I light a cigarette and grab my phone, Google ‘difference crocodile alligator’. I’d stopped using grammar in my searches years ago. It saved a lot of … Continue reading Alligator

November 5, 2018: “There Weren’t Even Any Bubbles”

Grandma swung in a hammock while complaining about her bad knees, so I told her she was being dramatic. “Bà nội,” I asked, “Do you know how many people in America are homeless?” I didn’t actually know the answer but I just wanted her to make the most out of this life. She was so … Continue reading There Weren’t Even Any Bubbles

October 29, 2018: “Second Base”

New rule says we must choose hands for hands or phones for hands. Not both. No exceptions. Except Devin. Devin has a Senator dad and special permission. People say Devin has one real hand and one phone hand and an agent who booked him on that reality show where contestants try to live like it’s … Continue reading Second Base

October 22, 2018: “What I Have Coming To Me”

My lips are so bitten up it’s like my mouth just chewed its way out of my face. I think my mother is about to tell me about the divorce between her and my father. Guess my age, with my parents getting divorced. You’re wrong, add ten years. I feel like I’m in a nightmare; … Continue reading What I Have Coming To Me

October 15, 2018: “The Unicorn”

Lane Cove is where individuality goes to die. Lane Cove isn’t interested in your ideas, unless your ideas are how to be more like everybody else in Lane Cove. The Unicorn is Lane Cove’s natural enemy. The Unicorn is knee-high socks, stripped crimson and yellow. The Unicorn is a purple taffeta tutu, a t-shirt with … Continue reading The Unicorn

October 8, 2018: “Trespassers”

The first boy I slept with had green eyes that I could see in the dark even when my own were closed. He took me to see a phantom face on the side of an industrial chicken barn one night, the giant face of a grizzled farmer, his features gray and blurry like a fading … Continue reading Trespassers

October 1, 2018: “The Sand and the Sea”

On our way home from the beach, my mother parks the car in the gravel parking lot of an ice-cream shop. When she returns with three Band-Aid colored cones topped with chocolate mint, my sister is hanging halfway out her window to intercept her treat. I accept one of the cones, but I don’t thank … Continue reading The Sand and the Sea

September 10, 2018: “Ourself, Ourself”

We used to sit in the auditorium and watch play practice because Mr. Fink couldn’t think of a way to actively cast the girl with two heads. He was too careful to tell us, though, so we were cast again and again as second understudies. He behaved like we were a queen–he didn’t make eye … Continue reading Ourself, Ourself

September 3, 2018: “Government-issued Bunnies”

The rabbits are government-issued. Shambolic bunnies. Bunnies with smeary eyes, with a faintly sulfurous smell about them. Bunnies splotched with white fur on brown. Bunnies full of gumption munch through buckets of grass and weeds. Don’t anthropomorphize the bunnies. They aren’t pets. I can’t help it. I name the biggest, Nutty, for the color and … Continue reading Government-issued Bunnies

August 27, 2018: “Now You See Me”

White clouds crawl across the gray sky. We drink light beer from aluminum cans. Where do you get beer at fourteen? You always get what you want. The tinny aftertaste is like sucking on a penny. My head feels like a balloon. We toss a yellow tennis ball across the open field behind the hospital. … Continue reading Now You See Me

August 20, 2018: “If the light, then the light”

The filmmaker worries he is losing the light. So many hours of work and planning, about to be wasted. He will go home that night and lie down next to his wife. She will already be asleep, though he knows she is just pretending—she is so light at it—until he hears her breathing slow. But … Continue reading If the light, then the light

August 13, 2018: “We Lose Our Virginities”

We make pacts to lose our virginities together by taking a nail file and slicing, a whisper of a line, through our palms, bisecting the juncture where heart meets head. The wounds open wide, baring all, the salacious whores, and love and intellect will never again interact without that slim scar to remind us of … Continue reading We Lose Our Virginities

August 6, 2018: “The Way to Reach You”

If there are 100 ways to reach you, then the first is a closed door, maybe the one that was broken into, on West Hilda Circle, a peaceful–but for writhing black bodies–neighborhood street (where I met you)–in Decatur, Georgia. The door makes the sound of a quiet shout when it shuts, and the smell of … Continue reading The Way to Reach You

July 30, 2018: “Sky Like Concrete”

I’m driving to my pop’s with my son, Dan, who is home from school, and we have to hurry because the sky looks like concrete and the storm will be here soon, I know it, look at the prairie grass, I tell Dan, it’s swaying like those air dancers at dealerships. Dan just nods, his … Continue reading Sky Like Concrete

July 23, 2018: “The Photo”

It must have been 9th grade for our history class was cancelled again, an indeterminate kind of “cancel” because it was Perestroika in 1989 in the USSR and our history textbooks were suddenly out of date. So we would roam the school during those free periods, in groups, like wolves, on the ready for love … Continue reading The Photo

July 16, 2018: “Swans”

When I first met Sherry she was standing barefoot in the tall grass feeding bread to a swan. Sherry lived on the other side of Stoney Creek in a small clapboard house that sat up on cinder blocks, overlooking the cove and bordering the woods that hemmed in the neighborhood. The swan had just appeared … Continue reading Swans

June 18, 2018: “All the Other Dogs Screaming—SECOND PLACE”

When she ran into the street, I didn’t think much of it until I heard the sound. The brakes’ gutting squeal, and then the way, when you had always imagined it as the cracking of bones, there was instead a dull, pillowed thud, like a tree falling into a field of flowers. The car kept … Continue reading All the Other Dogs Screaming—SECOND PLACE

June 11, 2018: “FROM THE ARCHIVES: Her Lips”

Praying hands on a cedar box. I kept it empty, because nothing seemed important enough for it. I liked to close my eyes and sniff the wood. With my eyes closed, the box was a forest and I was inside. My husband tells me I’m a target, the way I lean forward, courting everyone. We … Continue reading FROM THE ARCHIVES: Her Lips

June 4, 2018: “FROM THE ARCHIVES: Twelve Things I Can Tell You about Cutting”

1)    I don’t believe in angels, and certainly not singing ones, but when you cut yourself they sing. And not in a heavenly fashion. 2)    There are twin crescent moons above my left nipple­–from broken glass. I told an aunt I walked into a branch while hiking. 3)    When I say cut, I also mean … Continue reading FROM THE ARCHIVES: Twelve Things I Can Tell You about Cutting

May 28, 2018: “FROM THE ARCHIVES: Nobody Like You”

By the pool we peel off our clothes—not all of them, though, just down to our underpants. I am trying very hard to not stare at Angie’s white panties or her Black Bra. I’m wearing boxers. Clean blue boxers, just washed, not ratty. We stand on the edge of the pool. Angie rocks on the … Continue reading FROM THE ARCHIVES: Nobody Like You

May 21, 2018: “FROM THE ARCHIVES: Two Truths and One Lie About Marian ‘Lady Tyger’ Trimiar, Former Women’s Lightweight Champion of the World”

1. Lady Tyger trained seven days a week in the months leading up to her unofficial debut match at Washington Heights’ Audubon Ballroom in 1974. The fight wasn’t legal—not with two women in the ring—but she sparred anyway. When she trained, she boxed with whoever showed up at the gym. The men who challenged her … Continue reading FROM THE ARCHIVES: Two Truths and One Lie About Marian ‘Lady Tyger’ Trimiar, Former Women’s Lightweight Champion of the World

May 14, 2018: “FROM THE ARCHIVES: Girls, Girls, Girls”

This summer kills me and brings me back to life. Once upon a time, when I moved away from this neighborhood I hated summer. I spent whole summers doing and seeing nothing but hot bright skies and White girls trying to get tan. Now I’m home and the girls; the girls here kill me. There’s … Continue reading FROM THE ARCHIVES: Girls, Girls, Girls

May 7, 2018: “FROM THE ARCHIVES: Belly of a Fish”

This is April Jones sitting in a circle of tipsy kids, next to Becca, the best swimmer on their team. This is Becca: radiant, loud, loves documentaries, spends her babysitting money on CDs for the team’s long bus rides. This is April who swims in the last lane with kids whose bodies aren’t assembled right … Continue reading FROM THE ARCHIVES: Belly of a Fish

April 30, 2018: “FROM THE ARCHIVES: Recess”

A boy died over winter break. They found him among the cottonwood trees pushed off the trail that ran alongside the river, and now we don’t have recess anymore. I knew the trail—ran it, biked it, haunted it on Halloween. We all had, even that break, my friends and I had taken a group of … Continue reading FROM THE ARCHIVES: Recess

April 23, 2018: “FROM THE ARCHIVES: Metallic”

I told this new man I would have sex with him only through the fence. His name, I think, was Charlie. Joey. Jamie? He said it while he tongued the roof of my mouth. I slipped two fingers down his jeans waistband and, in his ear, I went, “Kimberly.” When he took his tongue back … Continue reading FROM THE ARCHIVES: Metallic

April 16, 2018: “FROM THE ARCHIVES: One Purple Finch”

He would make pancakes for her, with berries and honey. And she would lift the hem of her skirt. And she would build him a fire. And he would make her a card, drawing a picture on the front, of trees and one purple finch. And they would look at each other at the end … Continue reading FROM THE ARCHIVES: One Purple Finch

April 9, 2018: “FROM THE ARCHIVES: Daddy’s Boy”

1. Open your mouth. Sing, boy. Rise up from your pew and praise Him. Take your hands off your hips. Don’t dance, don’t smile, just clap. Firm up those wrists and sing. Your mouth is His. Those lips? That voice? Speaking of voice: make yours deep. No one likes a boy who sounds like a … Continue reading FROM THE ARCHIVES: Daddy’s Boy

April 1, 2018: “FROM THE ARCHIVES: The Village with All of the Boyfriends”

Editor’s note: In memory of Zach Doss. ___________ The Village with All of the Boyfriends is where all of your boyfriends wind up eventually. You built this Village for them and they can’t leave and neither can you. You are not allowed inside, but you wait in the desert at the edge of town, you … Continue reading FROM THE ARCHIVES: The Village with All of the Boyfriends

March 12, 2018: “Cubalub”

Cubalub, my son woke up saying the last time he was home. Cubalub in his calloused, cigarette-torn voice. I started to like how he said it, liked how he spoke as if it were something obvious, a given, a garnish on top life. “Cubalub,” he said over my croissant. “Ha,” I chuckled. “What does it … Continue reading Cubalub

March 5, 2018: “The Sky Is Just Another Neighborhood”

In Camperland, we wake up early. The traffic starts before sunrise, all those people speeding down PCH from Malibu or the Valley to go to work, the endless hamster wheel, dad says. Britt and I sleep in the bed that converts to a table during the day; Mom and Dad sleep in the small bedroom … Continue reading The Sky Is Just Another Neighborhood

February 26, 2018: “Parasomnia”

I was sneaking three moonlit fingers of bourbon into a jam jar when I saw your heart on the front porch, gazing out over the city. Only minutes earlier you and I had been upstairs making what I still thought was love. The same guttural grunting as before, the same slick, the same smile, the … Continue reading Parasomnia

February 19, 2018: “Body Snatcher”

“Your new bodies are growing in there, taking you over cell by cell, atom for atom. There’s no pain. Suddenly while you’re asleep, they’ll absorb your minds, your memories, and you’re reborn into an untroubled world.” -Miles Bennell from Invasion of the Body Snatchers   I’m 93% sure I am an undercover alien who has … Continue reading Body Snatcher

February 12, 2018: “History”

TRIGGER WARNING: This story contains depictions of sexual assault and violence which may be triggering to survivors. ___________ We are thoroughbreds, all of us, designated for greatness. Our school was built in the age of kings, or by a king? We are not sure. Bluff regality hangs about as surely as the velvet curtains dividing … Continue reading History

February 5, 2018: “The Noises from the Neighbors Upstairs: A Nightly Log”

Night One The noises are small, faint scratches and scrapes. We lie in bed and look at the ceiling, drowsy, unconcerned. Rats in the walls, you say. Maybe a squirrel. I think it’s the ceiling, not the walls. But I defer to you at night, because never in any way am I getting out of … Continue reading The Noises from the Neighbors Upstairs: A Nightly Log

January 29, 2018: “Safe”

I slept with the teller in the vault, with all the Presidents around us green with envy. She tasted like copper. The floor was metal. This is the secret, I told her, close to her ear, like I’d heard on the radio. Alchemy. Lead becomes gold. Soft becomes hard. Two become one. She nodded because … Continue reading Safe

January 22, 2018: “umbilical”

Flyers shiver like prayer flags in the blue of December. Multicolored flocks of “Fermentation Classes,” “free guitar lessons,” “NUDE WOMEN!” are clipped to the cord. Women in the neighborhood throw their wet panties across, balance bras cup side front, hope they don’t find them floating down second avenue. Children play jump rope with the slack. … Continue reading umbilical

January 15, 2018: “Aftershave and Soil”

We watch The Bachelor and then my husband buries me in the backyard. It’s just an ordinary Friday. My husband is a modern man—he does all the cooking and the cleaning—he whips up some burgers and mozzarella sticks and then he grabs the shovel and slaps my butt. I giggle like in our courtship days, … Continue reading Aftershave and Soil

January 8, 2018: “Lifeline”

Pia hides under the breakfast table while her mother hunches on the couch and scratches at her palm. Inside the house, acrid air. Leaves of Grass—her mother’s favorite, gifted from Pia’s father—long unopened. The slap-slapping of her mother’s sandal as she bobs her knee. The way her polyester pant leg flutters, the way her mouth … Continue reading Lifeline

January 1, 2018: “Sharp Sticks”

My boy is the beacon in the ache this land calls fields. He loses himself in the bush and the burrows. No man has been buried here since God dug us into the world, wanting us to spread out. I am laying seed far from the laps of my fathers. The valley is eager for … Continue reading Sharp Sticks

December 11, 2017: “חלב חם”

This story by Lea Klibanoff – Ron, in Hebrew, is part of SmokeLong Quarterly‘s Global Flash Series. To maintain the integrity of the Hebrew text, we are displaying the story as a pdf file. The English version, translated by guest editor Ilana Masad, is presented also as a pdf file. Simply click on the titles … Continue reading חלב חם

December 4, 2017: “I Thought I Knew the Answer For a Minute”

Endless Light Whenever I hear about hoarders and the truckfuls of malnourished animals or ancient newspapers carted out behind them, I think about these people in the incipience of their condition, and imagine the boundless hope that must have appeared before them.   Getting Coffee I don’t care how reserved you are. I do not … Continue reading I Thought I Knew the Answer For a Minute

November 27, 2017: “There Are Songs That Only Echo in the Belly of the Sea”

After the evacuation order lifts, we go back to see what is left. Peregrine drives, and when we pass over the bridge he invokes the name of every sea god he knows, living and extinct, because neither of us are sure the bridge will hold. On the island, water laps at the edges of route … Continue reading There Are Songs That Only Echo in the Belly of the Sea

November 20, 2017: “Princess Shipwreck”

Monsters have absconded with the lifeboats. Their frilled fins ruffle the ocean’s surface as they wheel and tug those punctured rafts into the depths. On the beach, we are a splayed catastrophe of waterlogged slippers and sand-streaked gowns. Nevertheless, we are polite. Pardon me, could I perhaps assist you in removing the seaweed from your … Continue reading Princess Shipwreck

November 13, 2017: “The Cartographers”

It’s a Friday when the beach house slips into the sea, unmoored by torrential rains and floating on who-knows-what—air pockets in the creosote-soaked timbers is her boyfriend’s theories; he’s always full of theories. “If it hasn’t sunk by now, it will float indefinitely,” Geoff says. “Plenty of time for the Coast Guard to find us.” … Continue reading The Cartographers

November 6, 2017: “The Heavy Things”

I got my period young, and heavy. Heavier than the health class pamphlet said it should be. When it came for the first time, I felt something prickling parts of me I’d never seen, and had been told never to touch. In the elementary school bathroom, I tried to clean myself up with all of … Continue reading The Heavy Things

October 30, 2017: “Nature.”

The women watch the clock on the wall of the factory where they sew cotton shirts and there’s an old woman over there, in the corner, bent over, and no one notices that her back is perpetually bent over like that, so much so that one day when the other women call her for lunch … Continue reading Nature.

October 23, 2017: “Our Father”

My sister Anne opens the door and stretches her arms around me. Behind her are cardboard boxes, taped up and bulging at the sides like dead bullfrogs, and a dim table lamp with dragonflies along its stained-glass shade. Anne says in my ear that it’s so nice to see me and tightens her embrace. Her … Continue reading Our Father

October 16, 2017: “Pastor Bob’s Picnic”

The beach pastor parked his twelve-year-old Chrysler on the street, windows and doors open, so that the squirrels had free run of the picnic items and Bibles inside. Sometimes a squirrel left the car dragging a whole package of hotdogs. Sometimes one caught the attention of a passing dog. Hence the car was a wreck, … Continue reading Pastor Bob’s Picnic

October 9, 2017: “Ueno Zoo”

July 1945 Ueno, Japan Ueno Zoo housed exotic animals from around the world. The officers at war shipped them from faraway places. The handsomest leopards with shiny tassels arrived. The longest, most venomous snakes were shipped in woven baskets. Ueno Zoo overflowed with parades of 700-pound polar bears. The line to see the bears winded … Continue reading Ueno Zoo

October 2, 2017: “Starlings”

My therapist Leo says, “So how are the warts?” and I look down at my hand, the three little discs of salicylic acid on my pinky and ring finger, and tell him the medicine’s working, they’re slowly melting away. I tell him it’s my hip that’s been bothering me. I’ve got this tear in my … Continue reading Starlings

September 11, 2017: “What We Do for Work”

With a straight face, the client says he prefers we blow him because he’s worried our cunts have teeth. The name for this myth is vagina dentata. It’s obviously not real. What is real is eurotophobia: the fear of uteri, vaginas, labia. I guess that this is what he has. Or castration anxiety, Melanie says … Continue reading What We Do for Work

September 4, 2017: “Husking”

“It’s like husking corn,” he tells her. “See? Like this. Just rip, rip, rip, and it’s done.” Does he mean shucking? He must mean shucking. But corn doesn’t have a head and eyes, a flippy tail, a cluster of legs to be yanked off. Corn wasn’t gliding through the ocean on Thursday, perching on submerged, … Continue reading Husking

August 28, 2017: “San Miguel”

I went to Mexico with my mother when I was twenty-four. We were going to spend two weeks on a tour of churches and shrines, and she was paying for everything. I liked the religious angle of the deal. Because of the delicate ecosystem of uppers and downers that comprised my bloodstream, I was afraid … Continue reading San Miguel

August 21, 2017: “Sins of Omission”

My father records my transgressions in a large blue ledger with marbled edges. Dropped lumps of coal out of the scuttle whilst taking it to the living room fireplace. Punishment: Six slaps with the leather dog collar. Stealing money from Mam’s purse. Punishment: Fifteen slaps with the leather dog collar. Staring out the window for no … Continue reading Sins of Omission

August 14, 2017: “Good Boys”

The dog we had to get rid of was the same color as the dirt in the field. We carried it there and dropped it on the ground, and its fur matched the dirt just right. If we squinted our eyes, almost we couldn’t see it. On the way to the field it kept shaking … Continue reading Good Boys

August 7, 2017: “I’m Such a Slut and I Don’t Give a Fuck”

Hello, Spokane. You peer into the darkness. You could play your first album in your sleep, but you start with the new stuff. You didn’t promise anyone anything—even Brian Wilson doesn’t sing about t-shirts, cut-offs, and a pair of thongs anymore. Does he? They haven’t come for you. They came for 1994, when you and … Continue reading I’m Such a Slut and I Don’t Give a Fuck

July 30, 2017: “Still Life with Hairball”

A straightened hanger lay in the sink, one end pointing to the ceiling, the other weighted by a bolus of hair and muck, grease and gravy, sauces to make bland things palatable, bits of whatever was unwanted—mushy peas and slimy mushrooms—the final plum of sink fruit Beth had gathered from the pipes, then dissected, searching … Continue reading Still Life with Hairball

July 23, 2017: “All of us are in pieces”

A fire gutted the tire factory three streets from our old apartment, where he still lives. It burned for days. The suburb was covered with a thick, gray pall for a week. Tires contain particularly flammable components, he tells me. He lists them. I am slipping away, floating from the cafe and down the street. … Continue reading All of us are in pieces

July 17, 2017: “Manatees”

The channel was so narrow the manatees could only swim through in single file, and we took turns diving into the water, riding their backs for a few seconds before surfacing. Their skin was soothing to touch, the globs of creatures that they were. Their blubbery bodies galumphing through the water filled us with a … Continue reading Manatees

July 10, 2017: “Night Run”

I go out to the bodega at two a.m. when I know Fresh Garden is still selling booze until three. A month late on rent, I also know I can come up with some believable excuse to excuse my delinquency. Nine years living in this same digs, and if anything counts for anything, I have … Continue reading Night Run

July 3, 2017: “Floodplain”

After his divorce, Grant Costello moved from Raleigh, North Carolina to Billings, Montana. He rented an apartment above a dry cleaners and took a job at a grocery store. He told everyone at the Crow Bar his wife Tina drowned in a flash flood, even though Tina was very much alive and working as a … Continue reading Floodplain

June 12, 2017: “Encuentro Nocturno”

“Encuentro Nocturno” is part of the Global Flash Series at SmokeLong Quarterly. The English translation follows the story in its original language, Spanish.   Está lloviendo. Jesús va tan rápido como puede, con el cuello del abrigo alto y el sombrero bien calado, el viejo maletín de piel apretado sobre el pecho, la cabeza embistiendo … Continue reading Encuentro Nocturno

June 5, 2017: “Forks”

There were five forks on the sidewalk. They weren’t arranged in any discernable pattern, but three of the forks were bent back at ninety degree angles and the other two weren’t bent at all. It was a sunny day and the sun glinted on the tips of the tines and the bent points in the … Continue reading Forks

May 28, 2017: “After the Third Notice, the City Shuts Off Our Power”

John and I pace the house by candlelight to keep our feet from going numb. The kids hug each other in our bed, which is too tall for them to reach easily. They have to stand on tip-toes, grab handfuls of sheets, and pull themselves up. Normally I say, “You can do it,” and let … Continue reading After the Third Notice, the City Shuts Off Our Power

May 22, 2017: “How to be Another Person in Five Days”

1 You will begin by letting go. Lie down and open your mouth. Can you feel them? The air particles are moving in and out, alighting on your tongue and residing in your being. The secret is in the kind of particles. If you taste yellow, stand up. This yellow is sweet like the melancholy … Continue reading How to be Another Person in Five Days

May 15, 2017: “Pulpo”

Her papa’s hands tremble as he opens the olives—something she can do but asks for help with anyway. It is the same sort of lid the octopus she is studying in her lab opens to dig for shrimp while she clicks the buttons on her stopwatch. In a race, Papa would shake into second, the … Continue reading Pulpo

May 8, 2017: “Geology”

We are all of us born with a collection of stones. Perhaps this is not how it has always been, but this is how it is now. Little, perfect, smooth stones and jagged pieces of granite that live in the pockets of our jackets and jean pants. These stones range in size from miniscule pebbles … Continue reading Geology

May 1, 2017: “Lucky Number Six”

The lady in apartment 5G, her name is Rose, is one of those black widows—a woman who, for whatever reason, keeps having husbands die on her. She’s working on number six right now, and everybody’s keeping a close eye on the situation. All of the neighbors agree that Steve, the new guy, seems nice enough. … Continue reading Lucky Number Six

April 24, 2017: “Dream Barbie”

He keeps her in the bedroom, hands in her lap, face straight ahead. Or either she’s doing the splits, like a cheerleader. After work, they watch television together. She straddles the recliner’s arm. He keeps the remote. Despite her big hair and blue eyeliner, he realizes she’s probably a liberal. But he doesn’t let it … Continue reading Dream Barbie

April 17, 2017: “Where the Words Go”

Sometimes her words simply fell away unnoticed, like pearls through a careless queen’s fingers. But one was as good as the other, and she had too many to miss a few. When she came across them again, glinting in the shag carpet her children kept telling her to upgrade, she would dig them up from … Continue reading Where the Words Go

April 13, 2017: “Three Ways of Getting Lost”

1. For a moment, I truly believed that the war had come home. People ran from the streets. Missiles, directed and released by an invisible enemy, exploded whole city blocks. Trees disintegrated. Angels beyond the clouds finally sang for us. Families, friends, and total strangers clung to each other with no concern for body odors, … Continue reading Three Ways of Getting Lost

April 3, 2017: “Hunger”

You know those little cities I told you about last night. Those tiny little cities. They’re the size of pins or smaller, they’re long and thin like pins. They rise up on each of our discarded hairs, our forsaken hairs, skyscrapers growing from our abandoned hairs. You with your giant workboots and your giant, clodding … Continue reading Hunger

March 13, 2017: “i utide”

Editor’s Note: “i utide”–in Danish–is part of the Global Flash series at SmokeLong Quarterly. The English translation follows below. Ingen ved, hvor gammel jeg er, men jeg prøver at følge med. Min krop kan, min sjæl kan ikke. Tankerne spænder ben for hinanden, søger omveje og overlap, går i ring og fletter ind i flere … Continue reading i utide

March 6, 2017: “Story with a Gallinule’s Wing in It”

for Margriet The sea was also in the story, just beyond dark playa trees like ironworks, the umbels of a wild carrot.  This was December, near the village of Santa Teresa. There was a girl, too, not a character but an actual person, who really did say, “I want to be lost in the heat … Continue reading Story with a Gallinule’s Wing in It

February 26, 2017: “The Life Cycle of Salmon”

The priest comes to the house to bless Beatrice, and I have to step out of the room the way I do when the hospice nurses come in to change her bedpan: I’m not allowed to be there. Not that I want to see that, but Beatrice cracks really funny jokes about bowel movements and … Continue reading The Life Cycle of Salmon

February 20, 2017: “Straight Lines”

My little sister moved into the chandelier in our dining room. She had a pillow and some jars of food and hopefully something for a bathroom. When our mother came to talk at her—about the party tomorrow, about safety, about lots of things—something fell on her head. I picked it up and it was one … Continue reading Straight Lines

February 13, 2017: “Wolves”

Some wolves were driven from the forest where they lived and hunted. Their forest was destroyed and made into a mall with a J. Crew and an Apple Store, so the wolves found another forest. But before too long, that forest was torn down too and made into a golf course. The wolves were completely … Continue reading Wolves

February 6, 2017: “Txaj – A Prayer”

Dream Bird For two days I lay awake thinking of death. I blamed the election first, but time on Facebook had a hand in it. I was alone. Then he visited me. A Dream Bird usually brings herbs. That is how you know you have been chosen to be a medicine man. This one brought … Continue reading Txaj – A Prayer

January 30, 2017: “Gravity, Reduced”

We noticed the coins first. The night before, a Tuesday, we drifted off to sleep in the ordinary world, and sometime in the night, the earth loosened its hold on us. We woke to floating disks of copper and nickel above the nightstand where we’d emptied our pockets, yesterday’s change suspended in the air like … Continue reading Gravity, Reduced

January 23, 2017: “A Smooth, Shallow Cut”

Hadley knew she wasn’t supposed to be out there. But nobody had said much of anything about what she did or didn’t do for quite some time, certainly not since her mother left forty-two days ago. The night was quiet. The low hum of staticky country and western music floated across the garage, eclipsed every … Continue reading A Smooth, Shallow Cut

January 16, 2017: “Missed Connections”

I was driving southbound on Clementine towards the Whole Foods. December fifteenth and I was stopped at a red light. You were in the lane beside me with your friends in a powder blue Toyota and as you pulled up I noticed you were looking in at me. You were in a blue dress, red … Continue reading Missed Connections

January 9, 2017: “Postage”

Without warning, the price of stamps began to drop. After inching up and up her whole life. Few others noticed right away, since everyone was looking at their phones, even at the post office. Still, forever, which she’d never bought anyway, came to mean something slightly different, and each day after there was a little … Continue reading Postage

January 2, 2017: “Shit Cassandra Saw That She Didn’t Tell the Trojans Because at that Point Fuck Them Anyway”

Lightbulbs. Penguins. Velcro. Claymation. The moon made out of cheese. Tap dancing. Yoga. Twizzlers. Mountain Dew. Jello. Colors she can eat with her eyes. Methamphetamine. Bud Lite. T-shirts. Thin and soft, they pass from person to person, men to women, each owner slipping into a team—Yankees, Warriors—and out again with no bloodshed, no thought to … Continue reading Shit Cassandra Saw That She Didn’t Tell the Trojans Because at that Point Fuck Them Anyway

December 12, 2016: “Accident”

La lune est couverte d’un voile de gaze. Le froid pénètre mes muscles. Je suis couché dans l’herbe, au bord de l’autoroute, quelque part entre Douala et Bafoussam. Où suis-je exactement ? Je ne sais pas. Je regarde la lune, les étoiles aussi, dont l’éclat est terne. Quelle heure est-il ? Je ne sais pas. Il y … Continue reading Accident

December 5, 2016: “A Place You Know”

We visited the City of the Dead every year. Our mother bundled us into the car early—the sun barely having crested the sky. She told us we’d get there in time for pancakes. She always promised this, even though it didn’t matter what time we got there as we could have pancakes all day long … Continue reading A Place You Know

November 28, 2016: “The Enchantment”

The bear will knock on your door on a night deep in winter. It will smell of ice and the secret corners of the forest. Its fur will gleam whiter than the blue-tinged snow sloping away to the larches and birches that shelter your cottage. You’ve always suspected-dreaded-hoped that a bear would someday arrive on … Continue reading The Enchantment

November 21, 2016: “The Body’s Amen”

In these southern mountains, men cleanse spirits with prayer spit—tobacco water, vinegar—while women swallow dust. Daddy and his men hunt snakes beyond the holler; they carry snake hooks that they slip inside rattler dens; they tail the snakes and push them around with those hooks before dumping them in a bag of God. Daddy forces … Continue reading The Body’s Amen

November 14, 2016: “Independence Day”

Last year on the Fourth of July this town had record drought; this year, they have record rains.  But the good people here go on blowing things up in spite of everything.  From my spot on the porch I listen to the whistles and blasts of their rockets. The rain falls in sheets off the … Continue reading Independence Day

November 7, 2016: “The Way of Things Now”

An alligator swam past my window and that’s when Mama said it was time to leave. He stopped and turned, looked in with a forever smile. Like he knows we can’t last. Like he’s out there waiting. Mama says we can’t keep waiting. River’s gonna rise before it falls. But still we don’t go. Ain’t … Continue reading The Way of Things Now

October 31, 2016: “The Father’s Story”

In a hotel room out west, a man writes his children a letter. He begins by saying I’m sorry—sorry for leaving when they were young, sorry for never coming home to visit. He stops here and pictures their faces: Joanne with pigtails and a crooked mouth. Tim with wispy blonde hair and chubby cheeks. They … Continue reading The Father’s Story

October 24, 2016: “Softening”

I used to tell people that my first kiss was on a December night, under a pine tree, when a boy I sort-of liked kissed me after a dance recital; but actually my first kiss was older, and with a woman. In this memory, I’m twelve (it’s seventh grade), and I wake up one day … Continue reading Softening

October 17, 2016: “Dear Fiction Editor:”

The following submission is titled “Dear Fiction Editor,” a story in the form of a letter to a fictional fiction editor of a fictional literary journal. I hope to relieve any confusion that the fictional letter might pose since this letter to you is also addressed “Dear Fiction Editor.” You could say that is a … Continue reading Dear Fiction Editor:

October 10, 2016: “Quiet Hours”

Linda did not call the police that night, did not wake her husband when she felt more than heard the vibration of the back door closing, and even before she sat up in bed she knew it was Cody, her younger son. She did not move, not for minutes, not until she was sure she … Continue reading Quiet Hours

October 3, 2016: “That Sun, Struggling Down”

One night I found that Cal’s left nipple had turned luminescent, milky-pale. The skin over the bottom knob of his spine developed the sheen of spilled gasoline. He quit soccer when the moon-colored skin hardening over his knees made it difficult for him to walk, much less run or kick. When I cried, Cal grinned. … Continue reading That Sun, Struggling Down

September 12, 2016: “Aufgaben: ein Triptychon”

Hunger Nach meinem Horoskop, das ich in der Nacht gelesen habe, steht mir in etwa einer Woche eine Hungerperiode bevor. Ich mag Hunger eigentlich ganz gern, weil einem dann besonders Fleischgerichte gut schmecken. Aber gleich eine ganze Periode? Gerate ich vielleicht bei meinem nächsten Versuch, in den Eurotunnel zu gelangen, in Polizeigewahrsam, und den Behörden … Continue reading Aufgaben: ein Triptychon

September 5, 2016: “Safety”

Heidi Sutherton disappeared from Lumitown in the summer of 1973. She was seventeen years old—seven years older than my best friend Margaret and I—and lived right across the street from me. Our next-door neighbor told us the news—Mrs. Carmichael, with her chin mole shaped like a pencil eraser. Snatched right in front of the house, … Continue reading Safety