All posts by Susan Shafarzek

The Hit Lady by B.K. Marcus

2 birds sitting on a lamp post
 

She was four-foot-something, ancient, squat, and elegant. I assumed she was Russian, though I only ever heard her speak once. She was born before there was such a thing as the Warsaw Pact, before the Cold War, before the founding of the Bolsheviks. Even in her diamonds and furs, she did not seem out of place in our eleven-story, turn-of-the-century university building, nestled between Harlem and the Hudson, where the elbow-patched faculty of the 1970s lived alongside the Old World émigrés of earlier decades. I could already see over her hat by the time I … Continue reading The Hit Lady by B.K. Marcus

First Favor by Joan Mazza

Trees in the early morning
 

Of all the scenes I could replay to rewrite or undo, one I go back to one again and again. It’s the end of my therapy session and I sit up and slip into my shoes, pick up my purse, when Dr. Bob asks to speak with me a minute. I look up at him, unused to facing him. “Let’s sit in the waiting area,” he says, and slides the pocket door open. I follow him out to the blue family room with a bar. Sliding glass doors open on two sides, facing the Intracoastal … Continue reading First Favor by Joan Mazza

Thirteen by David Gardner

Yellow Grader on side of road
 

Thirteen is a hellish year. I don’t understand why evolution didn’t just let us skip from twelve straight to fourteen. Twelve is really cool. You’re a sixth grader in grammar school (as they called it when I was a boy), the oldest and biggest of all the kids. Everyone respected you. At fourteen, you were a year into adolescence, beginning to be comfortable with it (overlooking, of course, the pimples and the squeaky voice). But thirteen? At thirteen, you were all of a sudden among the smallest at your junior high school, the one everyone … Continue reading Thirteen by David Gardner

What Would Buffy Do? by Miles Fowler

Poster of characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer
 

The first fan fiction I ever wrote was inspired by Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the television series created by Joss Whedon about a blonde superhero who turns the tables by killing vampires instead of being killed by them. Then, having seen every episode of the series, I wanted something more but wasn’t sure what. I bought an Xbox 360 solely for the purpose of playing the Buffy the Vampire Slayer video game. As my partner’s grandson can attest, I am usually incapable of keeping an avatar alive for more than thirty seconds, but I managed … Continue reading What Would Buffy Do? by Miles Fowler

Life in the Big Woods by Martha Woodroof

View up, through trees, into sky
 

Ten years after my second divorce and one year sober, dreaming of companionable days and zooming up to a net worth of zero, Charlie asked me to marry him and I said yes. It was an act of reckless selfishness. I had no history of peaceful co-existence with a man; no demonstrated ability to function as part of a team, take things as they come à deux. But true love will rise up and conquer common sense even after forty, and one fine September day Charlie and I were married by Rappin’ Ray, minister of … Continue reading Life in the Big Woods by Martha Woodroof

A Late Night Scare by Miles Fowler

Street sign at night
 

Late on a warm summer night in 1979, my housemate Lenny and I were shooting the breeze at the kitchen table when we heard a long squeal, followed by some loud bangs, interspersed with another squeal and, finally, a crashing sound that seemed to occur in slow motion. At least it went on long enough for Lenny and me to look each other quizzically in the eye. At the time I was renting a room in a house on Broadway in Somerville, Massachusetts, sharing kitchen and dining areas with seven other twenty-something men and women. … Continue reading A Late Night Scare by Miles Fowler

Butter, Bread, Beethoven: I Remember My Father by Cora Schenberg

Plate with bread and butter
 

In the Valley of the Bones The hand of HASHEM was upon me; it took me out by the spirit of HASHEM and set me down in the midst of the valley—and it was filled with bones…He said to me, “Prophesy over these bones! Say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of HASHEM!’ Thus said the Lord HASHEM/ELOHIM to these bones: Behold, I will bring a spirit into you, and you will come to life. I will put sinew upon you, and I will coat you with skin; then I will put a … Continue reading Butter, Bread, Beethoven: I Remember My Father by Cora Schenberg

Four Kitten Alarm Fire by James Carbaugh

White kitten
 

Mopsy, our beloved cat of mixed origins and numerous partners, had just had another litter of kittens—this time only four. She had amazed us the previous two times with six, all beautiful and now in good homes. We gave our new little ones the easily identifiable names of Brownie, Whitey, Stripey, and Junior—Junior looking very much like his mother, grey-mixed. They were beautiful kittens and we loved all of them; however, no one loved them as much as my brother BB. He gave them additional names other than the obvious ones—Mudface, Snowflake, Superman, and Hercules. … Continue reading Four Kitten Alarm Fire by James Carbaugh

My First Year as a Cidiot by Mat Zucker

Goats at a wire fence
 

Within just a few months living in New York’s Hudson Valley, we stopped buying our eggs anywhere but Sawkill Farm down the road. “Your eggs are better than anyone’s,” I told Kallie who runs the store and who moved from Brooklyn not long ago herself. She beamed with pride, but I don’t think it was the first time someone gave the compliment. “Cidiot” refers to a hardened city person who moves to the country and acclimates through experience. After 20 years in Manhattan, my husband and I purchased an 1847 cottage in the farm community … Continue reading My First Year as a Cidiot by Mat Zucker

Under the Wattle Bush by Mary Pacifico Curtis

Yellow flowers on wattle bush
 

Heaven and Earth Off the coast of the continent stars pinprick a black sky—tiny and plentiful, a cloud of a luminous multitude—announcement of lives, flows of history that date to creation and reach to uncertain futures through shifts of current day. Bright around the cloud of light: the planets, big stars proclaiming the universe and the lands below. I decided to come here instantly after the announcement that the next global gathering of our public relations agency network would take place in Cape Town. Although my heart was no longer in my competitive career, the … Continue reading Under the Wattle Bush by Mary Pacifico Curtis