From Spur Cross and Carefree
Surveying the pool, Rachel saw couples, women with men, lounging around the shimmering blue—most of them older, one mother about her age standing in shallow water, arms outstretched, coaxing a little girl who stood resolutely on the first step, arms circled by inflated orange water wings. No sale. Even the daylight here surprised her: brighter, whiter, it made everything seem starkly exposed. She stepped forward, tipping the brim of her cap down to block the glare, even though she was wearing sunglasses, and checked again, body by body…
He drove a red truck. I was a senior in high school. He was a couple years older and over six feet tall. He stilled lived at home with his parents. The first time we did it, he wouldn’t take off his shirt. The second time, the phone rang. He stopped and picked it up to look at the caller ID. He didn’t answer. I thought that was nice.
Good As Gold
Before dinner, Gran was allowed one glass of beer. Dad would bring the lager, tall and golden with a thin head of froth, to her Electric Lift Recliner where she sat watching evening television. Sometimes it was The Garden Gurus, sometimes it was an 80s British comedy sketch. Usually we had the sound turned off. She’d lean forward and crane her neck, and we’d often find her shaking with mirth at someone pruning nectarine trees….
Can’t Make It, Sorry (Not Really)
No one said to call off the party, but their messages excusing themselves indicated a get-together wasn’t a good idea. They all have a thru-line: I’m not coming.
I took myself off the group chat to let you know, privately, that I will absolutely friggin’ not come to your thing. Spare you the embarrassment…
1. They say the toll of my loneliness is equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes each day; as if I were choosing and craving and choosing this; as if I stood on some balcony under a broody sky with my hand cupping a flame and party music spilling across my back.
2. 15 cigarettes, they repeat, and I want to tell them they are wrong. It’s got to be at least 40—all this insubstantial quiet filling and not filling me, curdling, twisting, every moment of it leaving behind a dark residue…
Thirteen Year Olds Talk Boys
“Oh my god, he’s so hot, just look at him. Don’t you think he’s so hot?”
“I heard Marissa say she heard Zack say that he likes someone in our class.”
“Oh my god if it’s me I would just die, just combust and die. Wouldn’t you just die?”
Kelly’s arm is resting on Sara’s shoulder, friendly and easy, as Sara scrolls her computer diligently through your classmate’s Facebook photos. Kelly leans over her, some of her long sandy-blonde hair falling onto Sara, who doesn’t seem to notice or mind…
Bryan D. Price
When sun finally came out it was too late to do anything except mix coffee with calvados and wait for it to set again. He went from window to window (as was his habit) and watched the wind. She used to call him on the telephone and then telephones became obsolete. Something arid about writing letters. He lied in letters (like talking to doctors)…
To begin with, the book was mine.
John gave it to me as a birthday present, an autographed copy of his Lamia. Percy borrowed it and never gave it back. I’m not sure if he even found the time to read it before they were both sacrificed to the waves by that defective boat…
…But across the street, the neighbor’s husband is working in the garage. He has a pencil behind his ear, and he’s making, what appears to be a large shelving unit with a powerful circular saw. I can’t tell if I’m coveting my neighbor’s husband or coveting his circular saw…
Do not have any other Gods before Me; you must also love and fear Me; you must sanctify My name; you must worship only Me and emulate My ways; you must love your neighbor as yourself and not hate your brother in your heart; you must not embarrass others or oppress the weak; you must not slander or take revenge or bear a grudge; you must not worship idols…
In my youth, we traveled the back roads from Baton Rouge to Biloxi, Jackson to Monroe, the roads coiling like a nest of snakes, us staying each night in a fleabag motel, paying 31 cents per gallon at one-pump stations, our ’57 Olds, 264,000 miles on the odometer, sucking gas like a four-pack-a-day smoker, the junk’s hood hooked to the front bumper with baling wire, a proverb painted on the rear window from Matthew’s “thrown into the furnace of fire,”…
If We Hadn’t Taken the Detour We Wouldn’t Have Found It
The best fish and chips in Scotland the sign said. I wasn’t convinced, raising an eyebrow but my brother who lived only a few miles away had assured me that the sign really wasn’t a load of bollocks. I was visiting from Ireland, hungover and hungry….
Jot down your precognition
My sister will be home soon. I will take off her coat and remove her shoes- allow her to reset after a busy day. I am going to suggest she sits on her favourite chair, which I say is golden, she says is brown. After a mug of something hot and a slice something sweet, I will tell her about the book I read today and my resultant, blistering hope for our future. I will reveal the enormous potential on offer – in detail…
Things We Live Inside
I’m making a video game for you to live inside, since you can’t live inside the world anymore. I’ve never made a game before, so it’s nothing special yet, and it’s more of a glitch simulator than anything resembling life, and Unity still has a bit of a learning curve even though it probably is the easiest entry point for noobs like me, and maybe I could’ve made you a sprite-infested 2D platformer instead, something like what we used to play inside on swimming-pool-street flood days, but I wanted as close a simulacrum as possible now that you’re gone. I know it’ll take longer. I know you won’t see it anyway. Not the you you are now. But it matters to me…
Alex M. Stein
The room smelled like paint, ambition, and terror. Our final projects waited judgment on the stage, hidden beneath sheets and drop cloths.
Just before she pulled the sheet from her sculpture, Lisa said “I want this to be anthemic.”
Dr. Alverez, the head of our program, dressed as always in a dark suit with a checked tie, cocked an eyebrow.
The rest of us pushed forward. Up on our heels and eager to see…
Dreams of a Sleek, Gray Sofa with Tufted Cushions
Inside the man’s apartment, off a highway with high billboards and cars that rumbled all night was a creased, brown hippopotamus of a couch June refrained from telling him was ugly because he’d spent so much money on it, and besides, her kids liked it. It had infinite folds and crevices where they left toy cars and Cheez-Its, board game pieces, and Oreos left over from the late-night snacks he let them have, which June said she didn’t mind so much, because they were bonding, after all…
Your date has been sending you covert glances and “fuck me” eyes all night, but you only have eyes for Jordan. He’s dancing with Kira, the only skill among the drunkenly swaying bodies at the bar Kira chose for your double date. You’ve been to this particular bar many times. It’s one of your favorites to go to with your friends. You like it fine, particularly the brick aesthetic and the live music. It’s very Brooklyn, whatever that means…