SHORT STORY MONTH - steven seighman



ben brooks

Too far to fall now never say never but the men at the bottom look more hyena than wolfmother say never quite right but always there they are all willing this I hear voice roll drum roll hand hit faceplant “This way” sign provoking otherworldly gospel of heroine and cement into immortalization amber smoke it down drink it down your parents know what is best and they will hold to the guns they found under your bed when you were twelve and were yet to fuck anyone but were willing to fuck most things fuck the man, the supermarkets and the banks embrace poverty and the plough now you are looking to dirty paper boxes day job night job money and a flat even if God is no longer lingering over gold leaf biblical something out there never pray pray pray we cannot sleep eat drink drive yet wait for his return wait for the bear, the bear and his claws, the bear and his claws and his stubborn swimming style “won’t drown now darling” damp paws around your waist feeling jilted jaded television broken radio on top of all of this your autonomy is threatening to leave “Nothing left for me” you let it go and leave you concrete base four more thin nooses and five less cigarettes say “not yet” and feed on the mould in the cupboard say “here” and pull a woolsack over his muzzle do not say nothing rake eyes from skull-craters never too late to grow up sit down be quiet the game is up and the blue cars are running, ill-equipped for wine rivers or relativity finally sense in the form of a pubic beard and a Socratic tongue you keep speaking and other things stop things never stop anymore the fish are always fishing and the Inuit watches helpless tiger in a mesh cage house this is ending here.

Ben Brooks
Wind-up Chronicle
Haruki Murakami



alexandra isacson

There is a strange man outside parked in a car; he's gazing at my house. On a whim, I go out alone in a bathrobe. I wave him over and talk. He used to live here. I remember his name from neighborhood stories: divorced twenty-some years ago.

After moving in, we found a cache of black and white photographs. I wanted to return them, but she left them in the attic. Wedding pictures from the sixties: her wearing pearls, smiling holding a cat; baby girls; a yellowed newspaper clipping of their wedding: him in an army uniform all somewhere lost in a box in our laundry room.

I invited him in to look for the photographs and didn’t know if I could find them. He was in a trance and looked out through the French doors in back. He built the tree house in our China Berry. Outside he touched their family names he had poured together in concrete.

His wife’s funeral tomorrow: I didn't recognize her name in the obituary earlier in the morning. I couldn’t find the pictures of her holding the cat. I couldn’t tell him that. He held the pictures in his shaking hands, shuffling through telling me about their mysteries. Tonight he will take them for her viewing to show his daughters.

Alexandra Isacson
The Door
Marget Atwood

SAXY JANE AND THE CONDOM - sandra knisely


sandra knisely

Saxy Jane sits beneath the awning of the old Ben and Jerry's with her thighs splayed out like a cushion beneath her rippling waist. She sits, every day, in cut off jeans that leave a gap of white, hairy meat exposed above gray socks tucked into the black combat boots.

She plays the alto sax religiously--free form jazz repeating the same three riffs in ever-increasing volume and rapidity.

She has a real name, but no one cares because Saxy Jane suits her best. She has a bed tucked in an abandoned warehouse across town, but no one ever sees her anywhere but the Ben and Jerry's. She is my neighbor and I hate her desperately as her alto shrieks long past midnight, but I hesitate before dropping a condom filled with water from my third-story window when, for one note, she hits a sweet spot somewhere on the G scale.

It vibrates deep within me and in the moment before I release the Trojan, she and I connect along the sound wave.

Sandra Knisely
Cracking Open
Patricia Brienschke

YARD SALE - daniel rosenblum


daniel rosenblum

It’s Sunday in suburbia. Lawns are lined like semi-precious gems in a bracelet along a blacktop road. On each lawn there is a table, upon each table are things once treasured that can no longer be owned. Each item is marked accordingly, to be sold to the first buyer who meets the price. The people in the house with the basketball hoop and the three boys are selling baby smiles, 12 for a dollar. Next door, a woman is offering her mother’s comfort, tarnished and broken beyond repair. Down the street, an elderly couple sells memories of combing their daughter’s hair, fresh from the bath, three for a dollar, slightly worn, still smelling of love.

Daniel Rosenblum
Our Story Begins
Tobias Wolff

CONJECTURE - t.j. forrester


t.j. forrester

A walnut split down the middle, halves in silent symbiosis on the table, meat turned toward the moist air, or perhaps she's not a walnut at all. Perhaps she's an onion to be peeled, skin rustling to the counter, fingernails digging into the underorb until there is nothing left but bad breath and a squinted gaze. Then again, she might be the cod on the fishing deck, gutted, a fish that breeds no more, a fish that breathes no more, a fish that swims no more. Cracked, peeled, and gutted. Maybe one, maybe two, maybe all three.

T.J. Forrester
If the River Was Whiskey
T. C. Boyle

WHEN WE ARE OLD - ben white


ben white

When we are old, I will be schizophrenic and you will have dementia. Every morning, you will wake up in a panic because there is a stranger in your bed, but don't worry: I'll remind you. I will take care of you.

Sometimes I will think you are plotting to kill me. Sometimes, because you cannot remember, I will convince you of your treachery, and you will sob and beg my forgiveness. And when my realization hits, I will give thanks that you won't remember my cruelty.

Our kids will visit, will beg us to move into a home. But we won't. They won't understand our need to live for lucid moments, when we'll sit on the porch like other old couples and think about the simple beauty of a life well-lived, of our children, and the countless small miracles of our countless days. And, though we are normal now, our love will be so much more impressive.

Ben White
Gentlemen of the Road
Michael Chabon

RUNNING - donna d. vitucci


donna d. vitucci

The news reported a man with a knife etching hairline scratches along victims' inner thighs after the rapes, but Suzanne double knotted her laces and bounced on her toes because fear would not rule her.

Horizontal and vertical grey of air, land, sky, a road without signs on a pseudo-mild winter day, no wildlife, nary a car. Birds. Where were the birds? Observations through the brain like clouds burning off, known, then not. Breath matched even pace two miles before her hamstring tightened, her lungs sucked the wet Georgia air. She'd quit after three, and until then she'd dig deep. Smart enough not to plug her ears, she heard other amplified running.

Short of breath, the tips of her ears burning, a stitch in her side. She endured these, she could endure anything, even the ground vaulting up. His weight snuffed the work clamoring inside her ribs. Automatic processes sky-rocketed the way you'd expect--adrenalin, sweat, pulse.

“You won't forget me,” he said.

Hitch at the back of her throat where the run had dried her. No spit for hiccup, or scream, or whimper.

He sliced her new singlet from neck to hem, also the long sleeve undershirt. The running bra kept her decent. Her small breasts did not entice him to remove it. Shorts unsalvageable though, and panties too, his fingernails gouged like skate blades atop a frozen lake.

Gravel worked its way into her shoulder. The ground was merely cold on her neck while the sun tried to pierce the dumb-colored sky. She closed her eyes and would be unable to describe the knife. Gingerly, she turned her head from the browned-out grass where she had partitioned her ego, entered the vacancy above, grateful, brought her sticky knees together. It took two trembling times and the help of her hands, hands which were marvels she could not stop watching.

Donna D. Vitucci
Ron Rash

DRAWSTRING - forrest roth


forrest roth

A work we slew this for: bringing it out of it, the little cotton-piece this bind—if he can watch us chore him afar and how there he is him. Big bright. Holy-rolly. Too crimson from cot to dry brook, yet we carry down where he has no sleep. Cranky with our touching. Cornmeal doesn’t warm up, makes us tender to his slights. A good chance will change him worse instead of being raised in our apron. It needs whisking, we shout. It craves an egg! Slipperiest fish they all say. Morning starts to demand lots from us. He means pushing away to collect himself, we suppose. Thinking. Pointing over there, that far ground—that’s maybe okay for a well. Must get digging through lean tight deep. Shame’s in the needing is what he teaches. He shows us tugging any earth. Eats a mouthful. Looks like we got his trust. He has sleep. We cut his apron bows away miles into wilderness. There are no eggs answering. So who hears our faith to return? stays this silent pace? When he knows, when bawling will we come back. His rags are whole-bound again. He won’t talk much with a mouthful. And believe his getting-on sense should we strike water so that he may gentler us. Can’t charm forever by smile, for wanting certainty.

Forrest Roth
All Gall Is Divided
E.M. Cioran



kate wyer

She picks up the stray off Belair Road. It has a collar with a snapped lead. It was pacing with a low back and rumbling teeth in the McDonald's parking lot. When she opens her door, the dog jumps in.

What are you doing? she asks the dog.

The dog sits down in the passenger's seat and looks out the window. It licks her ex's cheek print off the glass.

I've been meaning to do that, she says.

They eat hamburgers.

She drinks vodka and cranberry.

Hangovers make her cry. They make her say things she wouldn't say when drunk. Things like, I'm in a box and I can't read Chinese. Like, I'm sending all the answers back in Swedish. Where is the slot? There is a ghost machine in my pussy.

The dog is named Hank Williams. She puts posters up and down Belair Avenue with Hank's grimace and her phone number. A few people call to tell her she has an ugly dog.

Hank knows not to talk. He's a sentient, not a conscious being.

They get hamburgers for dinner.

Hank doesn't eat.

She tries to get him to sleep on the bed with her, near her feet. Hank doesn't understand.


SHORT STORY MONTH - steven seighman



audri sousa

you say lonely but do you really know lonely this is not about loneliness this is about pissing away the biology dissection because it was against your code of ethics this is about everybody's own burlesque this is about hands connecting with drums pristine like animism this is about how you relish the pain of small metals and sudoku kisses and used to make barricades in the alley between our houses this is about alienating all your remaining friends after watching three slow deaths of people this is about choosing poor over routined choosing sexed over loved choosing a new independent himalaya over an old suburban america this is about how good organic cotton feels against your otherwise naked body how good sound feels against your otherwise naked veins in a dark alone public bathroom hair unwashed a dead poet's line in your head with lips in rapture this is about words like orange peels cut and curled into water this is about feeling music as sex with eyes closed and seeing with fists closed and receiving transmissions with elbows poised to renounce your gods this is about touching the oversoul behind pupils wet with their own cum this is about reaching upward for no reason apathetic about all the plastic gossip all the perks of industry apathetic about whether you have want or need people this is about the act of kneeling with a hand caked in blue paint and an impulse toward iconoclasm this is about never wearing a watch this is about the insects that crawl over you while you are asleep this is not about loneliness this is an ugly square made of words about things

Audri Sousa
measuring tape for the midwest
noah falck



roxane gay

I was sitting in a bathroom stall at work, minding my business, when I distinctly heard another woman also minding her business. Imagine my surprise when she flushed, exited her stall then exited the bathroom without washing her hands.

This happened not once or twice but three times over the course of three days with three different offenders.

At least, we once went through the pretense. We performed the series of motions, holding our hands under a narrow trickle of water, made a half-hearted attempt at lathering with that reticent foamy dollop.

These gestures were not really about removing invisible germs. Instead, the ritual was meant to assure one another that a basic level of hygiene was being upheld.

It was a dance; there were rules. We were in it together. We were telling that stranger listening from their stall, “I acknowledge your presence. I will make us both more comfortable by playing my part. “

It’s like the ritual of security theatre at the airport, when we’re cattled in lines, wanded and screened, all to make us feel, despite knowing it to be untrue, that there’s nothing to fear.

Roxane Gay
Bright Shiny Morning
James Frey



drew kalbach

You can't deny an ascetic his mastication You can't price tag poorly built children’s beds They came back as book burnings they came back as rusted shopping carts in a plague His rabbit's mouth and horse-hair smile were stuck in the background stuck swimming through slides You can't cut open a stomach and sift through the contents without plaster masks of goats rubber gloves vats of Vaseline Bald and plaid go together bald and tiny feet ride the same bus If there were a cohesive structure we'd call it gothic vomit and spit-up His designer bag was strapped like a dildo He wore his jeans and meant it

A BUNCH OF CASH LANDED MY WAY - stefanie freele


stefanie freele

I don’t know where it came from, that big pile of green, but I think before it disappears, I'll visit my friends that are making large sculptures of private parts and buy them for exorbitant prices. I’ll say, “I’ll offer you ten large for that granite hinder.” I always wanted to say large. I’ll truck these stone atrocities at 2am to places like Bank of America and park them in their front lawns. In the morning, I'll put on boots, a flannel shirt, make hot chocolate and sit in my Adirondack chair on the sidewalk, watching the bank manager and the officers and all the townspeople eeew over the sculpture. If asked my opinion, I'll respond behind dark glasses with, "Lilacs bloom in March don't they?"

Stefanie Freele
Elephants In Our Bedroom
Michael Czyzniejewski

PONSETT - paul silverman


paul silverman

They were driving to their long-planned weekend at Ponsett, Sam’s ocean place. The weather forecasts had turned pessimistic and the blue sky was now the thick white of milk gone sour. Laura, not Sam, was at the wheel. Sam seemed incapable of steering himself, let alone a car. He spent most of the trip staring into a Kleenex, on emergency lookout for blood, which he saw as a lethal threat. He’d mentioned that his father had died from some kind of cancer above the neck; and that he always remembered the blood seeping out, just flowing from his father's nose and draining into the old man's saliva. As they drove in silence she watched him in the passenger seat, fixated over a wad of tissue, spitting and looking, spitting and looking – and he spat so hard he finally produced a smear of blood. She imagined him as the future father of her child, doing this in the stall of some hospital men's room on delivery day. The thought made her cold all over and she began to stare over at him the way he was staring at the Kleenex, so fixated at fifty miles an hour she saw nothing like a tree, only a white flash that perhaps was lightning.

Paul Silverman
Wiggle Room
David Foster Wallace

BUCKETHEAD - robert a. dollesin


robert a. dollesin

Marty got home from work and found the Great Dane puppy inside the house with its snout stuck in a metal bucket. While the dog ran blindly around the living room, clanking against furniture and toppling flowerpots, Marty's two daughters sat cross legged on the carpet in front of the television playing their video games. Marty exploded. He told the children to shut the damn television off, get up off their butts and get the the pail off the poor dog's face. His eldest daughter, Rosemary, took hold of the dog's tail. Little Natalie wrapped her skinny arms around the silver pail attached to the dog's snout. At the same time, the two girls both held on tight, closed their eyes, and tugged.

And that, Marty explained to the Animal Control officer, is how Buckethead, the tailless Great Dane he was surrendering, got its name.

Robert Aquino Dollesin
Eric Beetner

CONCLUSION - cindy a. littlefield


cindy a. littlefield

He was working that night and we had an hour to kill before picking him up. Time to stop at the quarry. Have a smoke.

She stared at the stars and the moon and swore that she loved him. Wider and deeper than the sky. She said her father would kill her if he ever found out.

"About the baby?" I said. I had older sisters and I knew what it meant when a girl got sick day after day for months.

She turned to me then, so slow I wondered if it was her or the ledge that moved. "He already knows about that," she said.

I pulled out a cigarette and leaned away from the wind to light it. Took my time while I thought what to say. When I turned back around, she was gone.

Cindy A. Littlefield
Shutter Island
Dennis Lehane