All posts by Erika Raskin

THE MURMURATION by S.W. Gordon

Black and white photo of woman underwater
 

The day slipped into dusk as the ambient light ebbed imperceptibly like the liminal moment before the tide changes direction. Robin removed her Ray-Bans and stared up at the wide-open heavens above the El Charco Nature Preserve. Nostalgia? Sadness? Triumph? She couldn’t quite identify the emotions flowing through her young veins. In the surrounding sky, thirty thousand bronze cowbirds swirled and swooped in vast, coordinated waves, forming a shifting black cloud. The very air trembled with their beating wings. It had taken a fair amount of convincing to get several of her sorority sisters to … Continue reading THE MURMURATION by S.W. Gordon

Nosey by Bobby Rayner

Photo of house hanging over side of platform
 

From beneath the dining room table he spots wisps of dust on chipped gray floorboards across the room. He hears his grandmother clop around the kitchen in her low-heeled shoes, into the pantry and out again. She places things hard and small and metal on the counter. The door to the Frigidaire slams shut with a soft burp. He scurries closer to the kitchen and peers around the corner, careful to remain in the shadow of the tabletop. He sniffs nutmeg, vanilla extract. He puts his fingers to his nose, but they smell of nothing … Continue reading Nosey by Bobby Rayner

Dispatches From The Couch by Erika Raskin

Photo of roses on trellis
 

The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.  L.P. Hartley That quote knocks me out so much I wanted to use it to launch into a safari through my own history. Perform a little dispassionate examination. No judgey-ness about (most) things, just a backwards look. But, you know, pandemic. There is no yesterday. Or tomorrow. Only now. I do not allow myself to actually think about what the lock-down represents. The deaths. The crushing losses. The wasted economy. The lurking dangers to those I love. So, I don’t. Instead, I just am. … Continue reading Dispatches From The Couch by Erika Raskin

Elmer Toon by Phil Gallos

Silhouette of man against water and sky
 

Summer Elmer Toon was always a little beyond the edge. Elmer shot across the bridge from Dorsey Street and onto the big parking lot, head thrust out over the front wheel as he peddled full tilt on a right-hand arc toward the river bank. Almost at pavement’s end, he stood up and threw the bicycle into a skid. The machine did as he wished. When it stopped, he was facing the direction from which he had come. Elmer scanned the backdoor faces of the Main Street buildings and the car-spangled field of blacktop that spread … Continue reading Elmer Toon by Phil Gallos

Aerial View by Virginia Watts

Aerial view of farm field
 

Hannah Fisher keeps the curtains closed in every room of the farmhouse night and day. Windowsills are stuffed with juice glasses brimming with seasonal wildflowers: delicate, snow-white Queen Anne’s Lace, purple chicory, periwinkle cornflowers. She’s been working miracles with her monthly budget too, squeezing out extra cash for her husband Rex’s cases of Miller High Life and ingredients to prepare elaborate, formal dinners on the weekends, recipes she downloads on her laptop. If there’s any spare change after all of that, she drives fifty minutes to the Wal-Mart in Scutters Mill and returns home with … Continue reading Aerial View by Virginia Watts

Midnight by Rochelle Jewel Shapiro

Escalators and building leading to a red tunnel
 

It was raining hard and Eunice’s husband, Oliver, insisted on getting the car from the lot and bringing it around to the front of Brucie’s, where they were regulars. You could get supper for two, dessert included, for twenty-eight bucks plus tip. Marriages had rituals. After he left, the sky, at 7:00 p.m., darkened like midnight, and the rain splashed down like a carwash. She waited inside, peering out the window, watching for their cosmic blue metallic Honda that her husband would keep for five more years, at least, no matter what new safety features … Continue reading Midnight by Rochelle Jewel Shapiro

Writing Kid Characters by Erika Raskin

Photo of group of kids from chest height down
 

One time I was on a literary panel and the interviewer asked why I chose to have three kid characters in Best Intentions. I sat there thinking (all eyes on me), ‘Eek, is he saying that was too many? Should I have practiced authorial birth control?’ But I pulled myself together and admitted I didn’t really understand the question. The moderator said that in his experience writers find children so difficult to craft and differentiate they generally stick to two juveniles per adult tome. I was surprised by this, because a. I’d never noticed and … Continue reading Writing Kid Characters by Erika Raskin

A Challenge is a Challenge is a Challenge by Martha Woodroof

Child staring up tall staircase
 

  To me, being alive means dealing with one challenge after another—some glorious, others not so much. My current, decidedly inglorious challenge is having chemotherapy for metastatic cancer. I think of chemo as Paleolithic, micro-inch cavepeople marching around my cancerous body, brandishing clubs and whacking every cell in sight. There’s one! Healthy? Malignant? Who cares? Whack! Among the whacked healthy cells were the ones that hold onto hair. After the first chemo session, I went from having what one friend described as “long hippy hair” to being all-but-bald. So being who I am—a determined realist—I … Continue reading A Challenge is a Challenge is a Challenge by Martha Woodroof

Brazilian Vacation by Cécile Barlier

Underwater photo of kids
 

It’s insane to try to sort days out of days. Some days you have it and some you don’t, but the thing you have or not is never just one thing: it is a stockpile, an accumulation, a buildup, a collection, a pool, and that pool is not filled in twenty-four hours. There’s the dramatic: days of deaths, dismemberments, detentions, immurements, stoning, impaling, holes poked in the back of heads by vultures to get at the brain, intestines cleaned up by desert ants, but on a scale from one to ten that goes from horrid … Continue reading Brazilian Vacation by Cécile Barlier

Echeveria Colorata: A Self-Care Manual by Ali Curtis

Photo of single tree set apart from other trees
 

The plant in the corner needs to be watered. It’s staring at Anita again. A cold deadpan interspersed with the occasional slow blink. The plant doesn’t have a mouth but if it did she imagines that it would yell a lot. It’s a small succulent, (Echeveria Colorata- She liked that it had color in its name) that Anita bought from Wal-mart the first week of classes as an experiment in caring for a living thing. “You should get a fish. Or you know maybe start out small–a plant? It’s good to care for something other … Continue reading Echeveria Colorata: A Self-Care Manual by Ali Curtis