Entries by Miciah Bay Gault

Red Line Stories

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.

The Speed of Sound

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.

The Ghosts of Takahiro Ōkyo

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.

Rumor Has It in Winthrop

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.

The Paper Lantern

Ruvanee Pietersz Vilhauer

It was Gaga, my grandpa, who told me about Vesak lanterns.

Vesak is a holiday. People celebrate it in Sri Lanka, Gaga said, but not here in the United States. Vesak is for remembering Lord Buddha, a teacher who lived a long time ago. Lord Buddha was very wise, and he understood the truth about everything.

In Like a Lion

Caitlin Corless

When Theresa Miller told her mother that she’d almost been kidnapped, the neighborhood went nuts. She told her mom who told the police who told all the moms on our street that a scary man with a spiky purple mohawk, yellow eyes, tattooed arms, piercings, and a gold medallion around his neck had tried to get her into his convertible by offering her candy.

A Skeleton Story

Val Howlett

A young girl has a dream about a monster. The monster is gray. It enters her window at night, just pulls it open and slides through, facing her, sagging and infinitely wrinkled, with rotting teeth. It reaches its long shadow-arms into her parted lips and down her throat to grab her life, to take it from her. She wakes up screaming.

Covered Up Our Names

Jackie Lea Sommers

And so the four of them stole through the dark grounds, Mack and Ty holding hands like absconding lovers leading the way—Mack a little ahead of Ty, tugging on his hand in excitement—and Jonas behind them, with Caleb on his back. It was exhausting, and he never would have imagined he’d have the strength to do it, except that Caleb weighed about eighty-five pounds, and Jonas was high from rule-breaking and night air.

The Mapmaker’s Boy

Christina Soontornvat

Anyone walking down Feltwhip Road early that morning would have noticed the light in the shop window. The clouds were heavy with water scooped up from the sea, and they threatened to dump it all at once onto the dark streets of Graves. Even so, the golden flicker of that lone candle in the window might make someone stop and linger for a moment.

In Your Head

ZP Heller

Batshit crazy. That’s what Mikey would call anyone who predicted he would run for senior class president, in an election that would nearly kill him. But aside from his best friend Smiles, Mikey doesn’t talk to many other students, let alone anyone clairvoyant enough to see one batshit crazy week into the future.

The Flood

Kathleen Forrester

You waded in knee deep, toes reading the slimy uneven stones, skin crawling through weeds. Pushed off. Boogie board slapping the stillness. You were tempted to lift your knees and feet and hands and arms out and above the murky unknown, balance on your belly and hold the monsters at bay…


Heather Smith Meloche

I’m in a stranger’s bed

a college guy from the cigar shop at the mall. He smells like

tobacco, tastes like mints. He pulls my shirt over my head, weaves his fingers

through mine to pull me down. And I get the same thought.

Every time. The same. I shouldn’t be here.


Betty Yee

Rosa woke up long before Jose, the old one-eyed rooster, began his morning crows. Today was January 17th, the Feast of St. Anthony the Abbot. For years, she’d watched her brother Daniel take his pet turtle out of its cage, wipe its shell carefully with oil until it shined, and put it into a new […]


Jaramy Conners

He was waiting there as I finished my jog, just standing on the corner, acting like he was out for a walk or whatever, but I knew he was looking for me. “Hello,” he said. Steve Wilkes, my across the street neighbor. He had the arms of a ten-year-old girl and a chest like a […]

Something at the Hill

Jane Kohuth

One morning Field Mouse woke up in her nest, which was tucked in a hollow between the roots of a big, old maple tree. She had been sleeping for a long time, on and off, through the cold and ice and snow. But something had changed. Something was out there, calling to her. Not in […]

The Ugliest Dog in the World

Marcia Popp

Maybe it was some kind of Christmas spirit that trailed along after me from Vandalia when I joined up as a drummer with an Illinois regiment in ’63. Or maybe I was just following in Pa’s footsteps, when it come to playing Santa Claus. It was surely something other than good sense that prompted me to deliver a Christmas gift to a Reb camp, in the dead of winter. In secret, almost.

Chasing Shadows

S. E. Sinkhorn

They committed her again.

Kay’s seventy-two-hour hold ends today. She called me to come get her. I guess the doc put her on suicide watch, but now that she’s sober they decided she’s not a risk. I wish they’d just fix her already.

Crazy Cat

Liz Cook

I fly. Here in the white air I am not Catherine George, invisible sister of Invincible Ivan, champion skier. I am not Dear Catie, accommodating daughter with yet another weekend alone. And, I am not Klutsy Kate, fifteen-year-old ditz who totally bombed her first real kiss. Up here in the air, I am Cat, Crazy Cat, daredevil dame of the mountain, red hot chillin’ explosion of white air.

No Mistake

Tricia Springstubb

Winter was almost over, but deep in the woods where old Jess lived, the nights still grew cold.

One evening, as the sun slipped through the trees’ fingers, she gathered twigs for her fire. Tying them into a bundle, Jess thought she heard someone sigh, or maybe groan.


Daisy Hernandez

I didn’t think white people got jobs the way Latinos did, just by talking to each other. But they do, and that’s how it happens for me. My first big job as a writer. It’s the end of a journalism class at New York University. The room fills with the familiar cacophony of a class […]

Breathing Room on Judgment Day

Meredith Anton

1. Years ago, on an employee retreat for a publishing company I worked for in my twenties, I met a magician who levitated.  A group of us stood before him and watched as his body rose a foot off the ground.  My first instinct was to suspect conspiracy.  Was there a trick camera somewhere?  Did […]

Birds Have Eyes

Valerie Arvidson

A dead bird is impossible. It is impossible to feel my own death before my own death. The dead bird, my own death, is impossible to touch, to pick up, to hold. Yet, as a child, I often found dead birds completely intact, lying at the base of a building or under a tree as […]


Susan Southard

Nearly every day, seventy-seven-year-old Yoshida Katsuji drives across the city from his modest home to the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum.  Always early, Yoshida moves through the museum corridors and office hallways with ease, greeting each staff member with an energetic “Good morning!” and a slight bow of his head.  As the museum lobby and sidewalks […]

How the Film Flint Distorts the Truth

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.


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.

Shout Her Lovely Name

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.

What You Can Tell from My Childhood Heroes

Sophie Haigney

I thumb through a pocket-sized pink book, rediscovered amongst multiplication tables and half-finished watercolor still-lifes from art class in fourth grade. I can see that it used to have a lock but doesn’t anymore, this dime-store diary that must have been a party favor. I turn the pages slowly, mesmerized by the loops of my h’s and my cursive b’s, by handwriting that is both mine and not mine simultaneously.

First Call

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.

Favorite First Lines

For the “Firsts” issue we reached out through social media and asked our Hunger Mountain friends to share their favorite first lines of literature. Here are a few of them.


Laura Farmer

The house we stood in front of had a stained glass representation of the birth of Christ as a picture window. I put down one of my cases of beer and looked at Robert, my college boyfriend. The New Year’s Eve party was here?

Bethany Hegedus Interviews Illustrator Evan Turk

Hunger Mountain editor Bethany Hegedus is the author of Grandfather Gandhi, a new picture book she co-authored with Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi. The book, released in March 2014 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, was illustrated by Evan Turk. Here, with an introduction by Matthew Winner, Bethany interviews Evan about his picture book debut.

First Kiss

Rachel Furey

Mom always said my first kiss would make my scalp tingle—make it light up like a summer field filled with fireflies. My first kiss wasn’t like that at all. My legs dangled from a chair in Nurse Jenkins’ office. I had a roll of gauze twisted into my right nostril.

7 Ways to Seduce Your Reader

That’s what you, dear writer, must do. Whether novel, short story, memoir, or essay, all prose openings must seduce your reader to keep reading, an increasingly difficult task in our world of constant distraction. You must make your reader fall in love.

First Fish

The Fish came on. If you listen close enough to “Section 43,” you can hear the beating heart of God. The first time is still the best.

First Flannery

I paced around my house for several hours, too afraid of the Misfit to turn out the lights, too excited about what writing could be to not read the story again.

First Elk Bugle

I was five or six the first time I had the living daylights scared out of me by the bugling of elk. We were high up in the Rocky Mountains, lost in the deep-sea darkness of the wilderness at night, and I was perched on the roof of my parents’ car. My mom had wrapped […]

First Time with Charlotte: New York City, circa 1996

This was not, strictly speaking, my first time. I had done it now and again with the famous one, Charles, and a posse of anonymous theatrical types. Every one of our hook-ups, if you want to call them that, as alien and lovely as Victorian horsehair upholstery against bare legs. There was always that papery feel of aged skin under my fingers and a lingering scent of the last century…

First Murder: An Interview with Peter Doherty

by Leah Kaminsky

The first murder Peter Doherty ever witnessed was committed by his own sweet, grey-haired grandmother back in the 1940s. He was a young child living on the outskirts of the then sleepy town of Brisbane, in Northern Australia. She took him by the hand and led him down to the ‘chook house’ at the bottom of the garden, grabbing a flapping hen along the way.

Beasty Things

Carrie Jones

The snow fell hard that night. It fell hard and fast and quiet as if it were trying to hide not just everything that was happening, but everything that could be about to happen. It didn’t need to bother. Except for James Hephaistion Alexander and a few others, nobody was awake to notice what was going on.

Not Knowing

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.

Literary & Laundry To Do List #15

Paul Lisicky

  Finish storm cleanup. Wipe slop from porch, shovel up mush of leaves. Wash windows a third time. Sweep walk. Pick up torn shingles, torn papers, loose plastic. Hose off white table to make it white again. Stop thinking about the fact that you now live in a part of the country where there can […]

The Breaking Wheel

Sarah Elizabeth Schantz

Miss Pratt and Miss Avery come all the way from Kansas City. They’re part of a volunteer program aiming to bring charm to rural Kansas. Gran calls it “Social Education,” a term she lifted from the brochure. When Gran drops me at her church, where the classes are held, she says, “I pulled a lot of strings to get you in.”

The Tall Grass

Jennifer Wolf Kam

It was the kind of morning when the sun hung weary in the sky and the grown-ups, surrendering to its incessant rays, baked and blistered in lawn chairs, cooling themselves with fat pitchers of Aunt Vera’s lemonade. Even the birds were plain tuckered, sticking to the leafy parts of the trees, their morning songs dulled by the swelling heat.

Sideways Review: Shout Her Lovely Name by Natalie Serber

by Cynthia Newberry Martin

Stories Speaking to Stories: Cynthia Newberry Martin on Natalie Serber’s Shout Her Lovely Name . Here’s a confession: For many months now, I haven’t wanted to read story collections. Each time I paused in front of my waiting-to-be-read stacks, the story collections would jump up and down, screaming it was their turn, while the novels did nothing […]

Gratitude from Country Mouse

Tamara Ellis Smith

I feel a sense of gratitude for where I live. I am well connected to this feeling; it is right on the surface where I can find it and touch it easily, but it is also deeply inside of me in a place where I can feel it in my bones. But if someone had asked me a year ago—before Sharry and I began writing our blog, Kissing the Earth—why I feel this gratitude, I would have been at a loss for words.

Raw Milk

Judith Hertog

I don’t know why I continue buying my groceries at Price Chopper. Of course it makes me feel bad: those flat harsh neon lights, the long aisles of cheap overabundance, the bland preprogrammed music, the complete absence of beauty. Even the name itself—Price Chopper—hurts me with its crude brutality…

On Material: Art + Blueprint

For me, a prompt makes creating new work easier and a deadline makes finishing possible. So I incorporated both when I created SPARK, a quarterly project for writers, artists, and musicians, who get ten days to create something new, using another person’s work as inspiration. I administer the project, but I also participate, and I use each round as an opportunity to play with process.

Visiting with Chris Featherman

by Jericho Parms

What inspired “Blacksmith” and “These Gifts”? Both “These Gifts” and “Blacksmith” I wrote several years ago while living in Spain. I wrote the first drafts of “These Gifts” in response to witnessing, and then participating in, the anti-war demonstrations in Barcelona just prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The protests were massive, potent manifestations […]

Reading the Flamingo’s Smile

Sandra Stone

Nimble and knobby, high-stepping it is how flamingos do it, courting adagio under the kliegs, pretending dark. Their smile Flora confirmed for herself after climbing into the pen before she was pulled from it (giddy, gleeful) at the zoo, conservatory for the taxidermist. Everything is inclined that way—to mating. Flora had read this in a […]

Visiting with Ellen LaFleche

by Claire Guyton

There is a wonderful story behind the inspiration for that poem. A few summers ago, I took my family to a minor league baseball game so we could see the future stars of our favorite team. And after the umpire told the teams to “play ball,” a group of nuns came trotting out of the dugout! True story. The Mother […]

Two Poems

George Kalamaras

I make easy emptiness of all the washing.
There is a washer woman in my ear. A very large sky. Remove the bees.

It is your name, solid around me, like a scar.
I would forever be grateful if you would call me Japanese scroll.

Divination, Sky

Wendy Miles

A spool of smoke unwinds across the sky. Crow clack, cicada, bodies open to the sky. In 79 AD ash and roasting heat seal an envelope around Herculaneum; they look but find no sky. But the heart remains. See it telescope the chest, long for the moon’s pull, that flight to the sky. Cyrano knew […]