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Jennifer Hasty

I’m sorry your study was ruined,” he said. “But I think those rats gave you an answer after all. Maybe not what you were looking for.

Jennifer Kathleen Gibbons

“California itself has appeared almost as a singular character throughout my writing, kind of like the hotel in The Shining, but less creepy — or more creepy, depending on how you view my work.” – Alex Green

Jude Whelchel

In celebration of their eleventh birthday, the mother orders her twins Sunday suits from the Sears and Roebuck, matching breech pants, double-breasted sailor coats with yellow neckties.

M. Demyan

It’s the things that come out of my own life or the reading that I’m doing, or things that I’ve heard from friends or whatever. But in this case, I think it’s just been an ongoing evolving project that had adapted to the realities of my own life…

Tierney Ray

Every once in a while, I’ll call a psychic. I was on the phone with one at one point and she said to me, “Oh, wait. Hang on. Hang on, they’re speaking to me.” And I was like, “Go ahead.”

Edited by Breanne Cunningham and M. Brianna Stallings

You never really have to look at the blank page at all because by the time you’re free to write and can actually get to a computer, you already know what you’re going to write.

Noelle Catharine Allen

I had killed the engine, filed my nails, organized my wallet, and done a sketch of my left hand.

Sara Schaff

Our house was too big. It dwarfed me and my mother, who cried every year when we received the first winter heating bill.

April Kelly

Considering the number of dog owners in America, it is safe to speculate that on any given day a small percentage of the population wakes to find an unpleasant mess on the floor, as did Dylan Carter one Thursday in March. The difference between him and the others who made such a discovery that morning is Dylan did not own a dog.

Triptych, detail
Lisa Nikolidakis

Ask anyone in Greece and they will tell you the same: our snails are best. From all over they come to our village in Crete to pluck the mollusks from their swirling shells and feel the soft dissolve against their tongues.

Alan Sincic

So not but a week after the funeral and this thing, this crazy thing that happens. I’m trekking through Midtown – no temp job that day – past CBS Headquarters. You know, Black Rock. You’ve seen the pictures: black as a burnt marshmallow, thirty-eight floors of granite, kind of a cross between the Tower of […]

B. Boyer-White

I have a mouthful of hot tea when it hits. A boom in the walls like a wrecking ball blow, then a whole series of them, pounding. Nothing breaks but the windows snake-rattle in their frames.

Hope Chernov

I swim most days after work, at first because Prescription-Happy Hindu Granny told me to, but now I look forward to it. The water has become my respite, the soft aqua antidote to my other life, the noisy Kodachrome one, where staying afloat requires more than the flimsy raft with which I’ve been equipped.

Lee Ann Dalton

Today, as soon as I draw a card and flip it over, I know it’s going to be a shakedown day, so I call the absentee line and make my voice low and slow like his when he has to speak to anyone with any degree of authority.

Terrance Manning, Jr.

Never go down to the ground with a wrestler.

And I’d shake my head all, Right, damn right, hell right, because it felt good to know he was a tough bastard, and I’d always, since I could remember, wanted to be a tough bastard.

CROPPED Lovett. Rainbow Cattle Co. 21
Richard Farrell

With all four engines turning, one Superfortress rattles the ground like an earthquake….it sounds as if the brigades of Hell have been unleashed on Guam.

Anne Cocroft Adams

When people say there aren’t any accidents I just feel kind of sorry for them, the way you might feel about newborn rabbits, so defenseless and ignorant about everything. But the people who say things like that are usually people you can’t tell anything to, and you especially can’t tell them there’s something they don’t […]

Lam Pham

“It’s okay, Sister Frances,” Seana says. “He’s a family friend.”

“He’s Dad’s special friend,” Ciaran clarifies.

The nun looks at you with a special brand of suspicion normally reserved for prison convicts and the homeless.

Jacob M. Appel

Through thirty-six years as a general surgeon at New York Episcopal Hospital—during which she extracted over two thousand gallbladders, fifteen hundred appendixes, scores of thyroid glands, three miles of small bowel, and eighty-four foreign bodies, including a tie clip left behind by a colleague—Dr. Emma Inkstable had grown increasingly skeptical of human weakness.

Debra Rook

Cypress, rust-water thick, knees knocking against each other in clumps of billowing muck. Snakes tangled like cut ropes looped by the current. Broad black mud with a stink so sweet you gather why the gators and deer and bear wallow in it.

Cody Walker

Herve was snoring—a little whir-whir on the rollaway—when Walt turned off the TV and the light. I can hear myself think, Walt thought. Or not think. I can lie here and hear myself not think. The snow outside caught his attention: it fanned out, reconvened, made circles around the neon WELCOME sign.

Kendall Klym

Recipe
5 jumbo egg whites, room temperature, if the room is cold and dark
1 1/4 cups caster sugar kept dry, despite dampness
scant 2 teaspoons brown malt vinegar

John Hough Jr.

Sidewinder, the kids called her, because of the way she walked, dragging her left leg, swinging herself along half sideways. A witch, they said. Boils cats and puppies to make her soup. No one knew where she lived, or how, or where she’d come from, or if she’d been born here.

C.L. Patterson

The overcast skies split to allow a few pale rays of sunlight to bleed through the seemingly solid clouds. Below, an Assistant Professor of English sits on the platform bench. She is alternately grading the stack of papers in her lap and contemplating the advent of her thirty-fourth birthday tomorrow—the end of her “Jesus Year,” as her friends in the Department of Theology call it. She is not certain she ought to be evaluating her students’ work along with her life, but she sallies forth nonetheless.

Elizabeth Gonzalez

A new moon and a clear, cold Michigan night, the sky dead black and loaded with stars, so clear you could see the tendrils in the Milky Way dust—things were aligning, and Arthur Reel was prepared. He called the two neighbors across the road, who were kind enough to turn off their automatic lights whenever Arthur said he would be skywatching. Three a.m. found him perched in his rooftop observatory, sitting in his padded folding chair next to a telescope that was almost as big around as a basketball, waiting.

Donald Quist

Daisuke would find them in varying levels of decomposition, bleeding out into the snow or scattered over hiking trails, half eaten. Most would be hanging from the trees, the trunks so close and tight that in the perpetual twilight of Mount Fuji’s shadow their limbs looked like strange branches sprouting from the shaggy moss. They were businessmen or star-crossed lovers, victims of incest and criminals. They came from all over.

Rachel Thomas

Ninjaboy is not Japanese. Ninjaboy is not even Korean. Ninjaboy is white. His mother is white. His father is white. Perhaps somewhere far up the line, as his mother claims, there is noble Cherokee blood, but it doesn’t show in Ninjaboy. Ninjaboy is pasty white, the color of Wonderbread, which is one of the few things he allows himself to eat. You can never be too careful when you have enemies like Ninjaboy’s.

Lin King

I live in a town called Winthrop in Suffolk, Massachusetts. Population: 18,303.

I attend Winthrop Senior High School along with every teenager in my block, aside from Ashleigh Brown, whose dad took her out of school after she got her front tooth knocked out in Gym in the sixth grade.

Mojie Crigler

We smoked crack, not heroin. Jeter Flint bought crack on 16th and Mission and brought it back to the loft (which was on 19th and Bryant, not 23rd and Shotwell) where we cut the crack with cigarette ash, packed it in a pipe and smoked it, exhaling into someone else’s mouth to make the crack last as long as possible. The film gets Jeter’s basic facts right, though: a painter, from Laredo, Texas via Las Vegas, New Mexico.

Josie Sigler

A man does not set himself on fire.

A man works. Strapped to the ceiling, dangling over a half-made truck, he welds, he solders, twelve hours, fourteen hours, weekends, overtime.

Thus, he is tired at day’s end.

Tricia Springstubb

Right around the time that Martha’s marriage fell apart, her only child became a runner. A distance runner. A runner of distances so long and arduous that some nights Martha crept into her room to examine her daughter’s sleeping feet. How did they do it? Mile after mile, hill after hill? The slapping and pounding! In the light from the hallway the twin soles glowed slick as sea stones. Martha could remember when they were brand new, and fit into the palm of her hand.

Natalie Serber

In the beginning, don’t talk to your daughter, because anything you say she will refute. Notice that she no longer eats cheese. Yes, cheese: an entire food category goes missing from her diet. She claims cheese is disgusting and that, hello? she has always hated it. Think to yourself…okay, no Feta, no Gouda—that’s a unique and painless path to individuation; she’s not piercing, tattooing or voting Republican.

George Saunders

It’s like this, and it is no dream: First off, a plastic palomino and its stiff-armed rider float above a toybox. The rider is a dyed Custer, and everything’s red. I mean boots and kerchief and holster and eyebrows even.

Tobias Wolff

If it takes a kind of genius to strike gold, then I am a genius. In fact my genius blows me away sometimes. Today, reading George Saunders’ story “A Lack of Order in the Floating Object Room” for the first time in many years—since 1986, to be exact—I am transported to my old living room […]

David Hancock

Bobby Alamo’s dead. Just don’t know it yet. No footprints. Hair stopped growing. Sense of taste is gone. He only exhales now. Like he’s got one last breath inside him and needs to dole it out.

Kirsten Clodfelter

Camilla often fantasizes about plane crashes. On the long, tedious commute up the GW Parkway to her two-bedroom apartment in Rockville, she imagines herself on a doomed flight out of BWI airport.

Richard Adams Carey

Single, childless Augustus Cyril St. Clair would have filled both vacancies with the same presumed applicant, would have married David Biffenbaugh’s daughter the moment she touched his shoulder and trailed a finger like a hot wire through the hair on the nape of his neck.

Stacy Patton

She’d repeated the story often, imagining it so clearly—the dark eyes of the boys, dusty hair and dirty fingernails, the heat like a fist. She felt like it had happened to her, though it hadn’t. It was just a story she told.

Emma Komlos-Hrobsky

The Little Carrillo Camp Store has been out of marshmallows since your family arrived, so all week you’ve been using gummi bears in your breakfast s’mores instead. Your dad pitched the s’mores as a special treat, much better than, say, the bacon cheesy eggs he botched on day one of your trip.

Deborah Vlock

Right while I’m getting my braces, and saliva I can’t swallow is pooling in the back of my mouth, Doc Hallowell tells me about square dancing. “I do it every Saturday with Linda,” he says, “and after we’re done we go to Bobby Ray’s for a nightcap.” I can see Linda holding “Mr. Thirsty” off to the side, and I silently curse her for not using him.

Mayumi Shimose Poe

Kazuo Ikeda’s first and last taste of fugu had been the spring he turned seventeen. Seventeen was practically adulthood. Kazuo’s goals for his adult self were: 1. Do something interesting. This did not include camping in the car amongst redwoods with his parents; eating salted toffee while visiting historic Old Sacramento and nearly as historic old relatives; or catching the cable car to Fisherman’s Wharf only to end up overstuffed at Ghiradelli Square.

Karen Munro

I went home with a woman from the bar, which is something I never do. She had black hair with a long streak of grey in it, and I thought she looked tragic and romantic. She reminded me of my aunt Dolorosa, who grew a grey streak after all her stargazers died at once.

Liz Prato

Cody and I are sitting side-by-side on a picnic table, looking toward the Rocky Mountains covered by ponchos of snow. Black-necked geese are honking, and I’m thinking, They must be lost. They shouldn’t be in Denver. They should be in Acapulco.

Jeffrey Boyer

I sit in my parlor with the man on the phonograph.

“Can you help me find a policeman?” The man on the phonograph speaks like there is no danger. “Konnen sie mir helfen polizisten zu finden?”

David Yost

Ota Benga, flecked with shadow and besmeared with elephant dung, crouches at the base of a zebrawood tree. He hears branches crashing down, liana tearing free of the canopy, and then his prey shoulders past: the elephant, the meat that walks like a hill.

Deborah Vlock

Ute Schmidt’s first lesson, upon arriving in Boston, is that Americans talk fast and laugh at things that are not funny. She learns this while going through customs and immigration at Logan airport, when an officer asks her where she is hiding the sausages and then laughs immoderately.

Shane Joaquín Jiménez

The kid crouched behind the chuparosas along the ridge. Down in the valley, the man stoked the fire with a long, crooked sage switch. The kid imagined that he felt the outer warmth of the fire, but the desert cold coiled cruel and true inside his bones.

Chris Haven

Snow was coming down hard, better than an inch an hour according to the radio. Ed Wilson’s wife Winnie had gone to dinner with friends from the non-profit where she volunteered, unaware that the worst blizzard of the decade was blowing in.

Richard Adams Carey

It was 1963, but Barney Wetterer said we were living in the Year One, A.B.—After Bonnie. It was still less than a year since the Sprinkles had moved in, and Barney had the day he first saw Mrs. Sprinkle circled in red on his calendar.

Tony Perkins

Lois Fleming and Bob Cuso are ninety-five years old, and they’re not married. It’s a scandal—they’re living in sin.

Sarah Cornwell

We stand on the ferry’s top observation deck, I with my binoculars, elbows on the rail, trying to spot Camp Island—the bluff, the dock, the raft—and Rose leaning into the battering wind with closed eyes, savoring some private thought.

Robin Black

It isn’t even a two hour train ride out from London to the village where Jeremy’s daughter and her husband—a man whom Jeremy has never met—have lived for the past three years, but it’s one of those trips that seem to carry you much farther than the time might imply.

Clint McCown

Even before he got dropped off at his parents’ house, Bobby Malone had begun to worry. The streets near the square were deserted, and all the streetlamps were out, leaving the familiar neighborhoods in darkness

Aimee Pokwatka

When my lips hit the floor, I taste blood and think of kissing. The hardwood is gritty and scuffed from our shoes. I sit up and touch my mouth, find a feather from last night’s magic show. Richard keeps shouting the choreography, slapping his thigh to keep the beat.