A Grammar Rule to Live By by Erika Raskin

Plane trail in the sky
 

“Period. New Paragraph,” the mother of a good friend of mine used to announce when changing subjects—sometimes mid-sentence. It’s a good rule for life in general, though. I believe in changing your mind. When I was in sixth grade I agreed to participate in an Outward Bound type field trip that involved rappelling down a cliff. I took one look at the ground below and sat on the grass. Period. New Paragraph I spent freshman year of college in a state so cold that by November when I went outside with wet hair, it froze … Continue reading A Grammar Rule to Live By by Erika Raskin

Beauty is in the Eye of the Boulder by Emily Littlewood

Yard with stone pathways and around trees
 

I’ve lived way out in the country for a little over a year and, with the exception of an inability to have food delivered, I have no complaints. There is something weird about the house though: the rocks. The previous owner used them to mark the driveway to separate it from the yard. But he didn’t stop there. He went on to create a path outlining the entire acre. He also used them to encircle the trees in the yard. Every. Single. Tree. We live in the George Washington National Forest. This is something that … Continue reading Beauty is in the Eye of the Boulder by Emily Littlewood

Maida’s Little Books by Susan Shafarzek

Drawing of a house made from neon wires
 

Maida Westabrook was a brave little girl who had a “floating mass of hair, pale gold and tendrilly” and also a serious chronic illness, which had at one time confined her to a wheelchair, but that was in the past. She could now walk, albeit with difficulty, and had many friends. She also had a devoted—and, happily, wealthy—father, a widower who cherished the life of this his only progeny and thus was devoted to making her life satisfying, stimulating, and worthwhile. To that end, as can happen only in fiction, he provided her (in a … Continue reading Maida’s Little Books by Susan Shafarzek

The Birds of Spring by Roselyn Elliott

2 red-headed woodpeckers on a limb of a tree
 

The heavy, punishing rains have stopped for now, and I step out onto the sun-warmed deck facing our back yard. A third of the space is now a lake, and in the center of this six-inch deep water stand our bird feeders. One with a metal green box perched on a steel pole is full of basic mix composed of sunflower seeds, millet, yellow maize chips. The others hang eight feet away offering sunflower seeds, and suet. Tufted titmice, cardinals, sparrows, nuthatches, and the persistent chickadees are busy at each feeder. A blue jay swoops … Continue reading The Birds of Spring by Roselyn Elliott

My Grandfather’s Garage, 1966; Heart Box by Lynda Fleet Perry

Old wooden garage in the countryside, black and white photo
 

My Grandfather’s Garage, 1966   Steel licenses, galvanized, nailed to the wall, black Virginia plates, rusted and dented, years spanning a life on this farm, his World War, to the second, his sons’, our fathers’. Children, we kneel before sagging cardboard on the oil-soaked dirt, reeking still of machines. Brittle pages crumbling as we rifle Field & Stream, National Wildlife. Silverfish scuttle. Dust rises in dimness. We peer into a fading Popular Science over and over, breathless and startled cousins whispering, sunburned noses turning up and freckled like our fair-haired fathers’. Rapt, as if I … Continue reading My Grandfather’s Garage, 1966; Heart Box by Lynda Fleet Perry

Editing as Channeling: A Dangerous, Necessary Evil? by Dick Harrington

Mug, vase of flowers and papers on table
 

As a retired college English professor, I much enjoy editing manuscripts part-time. Clients find me via a University of Virginia website called Professors as Writers, a service intended for UVA faculty and grad students seeking help with their writing. The service is also available to anyone else accessing the site. About five years ago, I received a call from a Nigerian man who lives in Virginia, teaches full time at a university, and had just finished drafting a book manuscript that was a defense of God and Christianity. I accept only editing jobs that intrigue … Continue reading Editing as Channeling: A Dangerous, Necessary Evil? by Dick Harrington

Just a Crush by John Ballantine

Two people looking out at the sea
 

Did she touch you like that, with a little more than love, a little more hurt than you want? Did you see the pain in the dulled eyes; hear the shame in her slurred words? Did you know the room was not safe? I knew when I turned in the dark that I should not switch the light on—not because my clothes were thrown on the chair, or the book on my desk was opened to unfinished homework. No, I knew that the door was open a crack letting in eyes that were too familiar. … Continue reading Just a Crush by John Ballantine

Placeholder Son by Spriggan Radfae

lightning in Arizona desert
 

Being disowned by your family is often an integral part of the queer experience. It’s a common story that I find is meticulously avoided in popular, escapist/pulp media—an effect of heterosexism that erases and denies the reality of gay lives: “No kween, make us laugh!” Sometimes I wonder how different my life would be if my father and mother had disowned me. It would be revealing to watch a movie of my life without my father’s influence—a twisted version of It’s a Wonderful Life. My family didn’t disown me. However, they also have never been … Continue reading Placeholder Son by Spriggan Radfae

Promontory by Joan Colby

foggy sunrise through trees
 

Promontory   At the overlook, we could see four states If the fog had not rested its elephantine Rump upon the conifers. We can barely See each other, much less the road Switchbacking down the side of something Extraordinary, that we’d hoped to Experience, in full sun, even though We rose in and out of sudden Precipitation. The entrails of an owl Would predict a dirty soup Like purgatory where hopes are grey Bandages flapping loose over the red wound. A shaman burns the diary. This journey Must be undertaken. The valleys spread tables For … Continue reading Promontory by Joan Colby

Who Could Ever Forget? by Lawrence F. Farrar

Hand with a blister on palm
 

A year after the car accident that orphaned Nick, the Bishops picked him up from his grandmother’s for a weekend at Fallen Tree Lake. Saddened by his circumstances, the financier and his wife had taken to including the son of their late groundskeeper in their own child’s outings. They also decided to see to the bright boy’s schooling, underwriting his tuition at a private institution in his neighborhood. That day, the 12-year-olds had rowed across the lake. Harry, chunky with dark crew cut hair, had done the work while Nick, a slim, sun-bleached blond a … Continue reading Who Could Ever Forget? by Lawrence F. Farrar

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