BRUISES - cynthia c. scott

It’s twilight when we bring Daddy home. The shadows fall in gradations of blue to black with each gradation fading into the next. We fluff the pillows and pull back the bedsheets before we wheel him into the room that has been his alone for the past three months. Mama still sleeps in the room she once shared with him. She watches us silently from the doorway as we help him into bed, gingerly holding each arm as he slides onto the soft mattress, lifting each leg so he doesn’t strain himself. When he looks up at us, his expression is mean and helpless and vulnerable all at once. This is the man whose voice sent us trembling to our rooms; the man whose slaps across our cheeks sent us hurtling into streets looking for that elusive dream: men whose touches don’t leave bruises, welts and tears. He blinks lashes heavy with tears that pool at the corners of his eyes. I look down where I held him by the ankle. A bruise forms in the shape of my fingers, blue as indigo ink fading into black.

Cynthia C. Scott
Season of the Witch
David Talbot

THE MEN I AM - cs dewildt

I’m afraid of men who look me in the eye. I steer clear and think of the things I’d like to do to them, when I can get the better of them in the dark. I use blunt things to pummel them to sleep. I suck out those eyes and eat them like oysters. I feel them looking at my insides, the oyster eyes, and I wonder where the light comes from, the light they use to see every inside inch of me. I watch the eyeless heads as their eyes watch my stomach churn from the inside. Each of these eyes I shit into a bowl. I take a picture and put it on my blog. I do this every day because I carry the collective delusion: if it came from me it must be worth something.

I have eighty-four followers, mostly acquaintances from my home town.

CS DeWildt
Julian Darius


The preacher sharked his car down to Pacific and Elm at night when the ladies in the fishnet shirts and the cheetah hot pants came out. He rolled down his Honda’s window with a creakcreak and fanned the fives out for them to see. The bills were fresh and straight from the bank, ink-stinky, creaseless. The ladies ignored his bait, lit cigarettes and batted their falsies at other skulking vehicles. Starra and Malia had both gone with the preacher once and now they were like poof as in gone. He moneyed girls so he could read them Bibles out of hotel drawers. He spooned them room service and cranked the Evangelical channels and never even touched the girls or his own thingie. This was how he grew his congregation. Rhinestone said she knew which church it was. She peeked in once. She said he wore a gold suit while he played the piano and the pews were full of women with elaborate hats singing, “Come, People of the risen King.” He was sick, that man.

Faith Gardner
Love in Infant Monkeys
Lydia Millet

WILLY NILLY WAL-MART - monic ductan

Georgia sun on asphalt. Flip flop into open warehouse. Thighs sticky. Wet, metal cart feels like phlegm on doorknob. Close eyes slowly, a drawn breath. Anticipates, sees bodies surrounded by green apples.

Grapes mashed, run over, juiced. $3.99/pound? Price justifies dire death.

Hand reaches across breast, elbow to nipple.

Oh my god! Excuse me, m’am.

It’s just a titty, sir, whispered between painted lips.

No cheddar cheese cubes. Oh God! Why? Her breath—a disappointed huff—feels like kiss dropped on neck.

Carts coming. Wily angles. Squeaking. Whining. Laughing.

Clumsy feet.

Kids leaning outta buggies.Hands on bare legs. Hands reaching for Trojans. Hands rubbing pillows. Hands caressing melons. Hands bouncing balls.

Big pile of newspapers toppling over. Some resting unfolded.

Some rumpled.

Few neat.

Black girl with a rifle, packing heat and buying shells.


Vow never to come again, til next week.

Monic Ductan
Cynthia Kadohata


My left hand has a problem. It's rapidly aging. Making it hard to type, steer a car, or crochet. Crochet? God, I am getting older. You see, the arthritis and whatever disease afflicting the one hand is commandeering it to an early grave.

Sometimes I wake up at night to find my left hand painstakingly writing its own obituary in sloppy, shaking script. "Here lies Marie's hand, dead at nineteen. She left behind her right hand man and five digits: four fingers, one thumb."

I first noticed its ugly progression with a single blue vein protruding just below my second knuckle. Soon the veins spidered bluish and greenish along the back of my hand.

My grandmother's hands I remember. Knotted and gnarled, they were everything my hands were not. Those hands cut rose stems and knitted itching yet well-fitting sweaters every year.

Those hands had loved.

I suppose half of me somehow inherited her hand, her left, and I love her for it. Someday the hand will pass on and be sliced by steel. All that's left, a nub of young flesh. 

Lem Parzyk
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

IT WAS ALL I NEEDED - sean daly

I poured out cereal for my boy. The sound of it allowed me to pretend that no one wanted to kick us to the curb. Boxes and canned goods lined the floor. I walked into the master bedroom and saw my wife wrapped in her blanket, still dead to the world. An egg shell colored light filtered through the curtains she made when we moved in. I squeezed her foot that hung off the side of the bed. I rubbed the bottom of it with the callused part of my palm.

“Leave me alone and figure out our next move,” she whispered.

“Let’s get our boy to his game first.” Her eyes, once blue, appeared to be the greenish color of a pond that was beginning to dry.

I walked back into the kitchen. My son sat at the table. He ate, but looked beyond the box of cheerios into the vastness outside.

“Ready to score some goals today little man?” I asked. This was his house, his kitchen. How could I let him down?

He nodded, and a soft dribble of milk spilled over his lip. It was all I needed.

Sean Daly
The Waitress was New
Dominique Fabre

A BALMY DAY - michelle meyers

Edna Millay went to the pool one day only to discover that someone with herpes had used her lip balm. At least, that was her suspicion. She was lounging by the shallow end at the Club, sipping from a margarita and enjoying a quality read by Jodi Piccoult, when she discovered that the very central indentation of her bottom lip was below a level of optimal moistness. She reached for the small pot of lip balm in the depths of her purse, enriched with shea butter, lavender, and tears from ethnic children, but when she dipped her finger into the balm and applied no more than a pinky’s tip to her bottom lip, she could taste something different, something viral, something immediately infectious. She immediately disposed of the balm, flinging it across the length of the pool. Though for liability purposes, we must omit the rest of this story from the published account, given that the balm allegedly hit and punctured the now destroyed eyeball of one Peter T. Bloomington, who also, coincidentally enough, had a raging case of herpes at the time. 

Michelle Meyers
The Curfew
Jesse Ball