Tag Archives: fiction

Tips and Guidelines for Becoming a Shooting Star by Ashley Morrow Hermsmeier

Shooting star in dusky sky
 

Remain calm. You have purchased the crème de la crème of packages; don’t squander the experience with a panic attack. So bridges make you sweat. So you chew three Xanax every time you board a plane. So you refuse to open your eyes at the top of the Empire State Building, so so so…Think of the hospital beds and the tubes and the shots you will not have. Think of the chemo and the surgeries and the lopped off body parts you’re not trading for a few extra months. You’ve made your decision, so take … Continue reading Tips and Guidelines for Becoming a Shooting Star by Ashley Morrow Hermsmeier

Nothing Broken by Anita Lekic

Heavy bars over window
 

When the bus drops Diana off in the afternoon, her mother is still at work. She lets herself into the silent, spotless apartment, a large box of Oreo cookies and two bags of Mounds in her embrace. Dropping her heavy backpack, she heads for the bathroom, embarking on a rigid routine from which she never wavers, not in the minutest detail. She strips and dumps the austere British School uniform into the laundry basket. The undergarments, all in pink, a child’s color, are tossed in next. Then she takes a hot shower, soaping herself over … Continue reading Nothing Broken by Anita Lekic

The Blue Room by Karen Kates

blue walled bedroom
 

Apparently, during the fifteen or so minutes while my husband and daughter waited in the car outside Whole Foods, some man had knifed his ex-wife. The injury doesn’t seem serious; she’s slouched in the rear of an open ambulance, where a paramedic presses a tiny bandage to her cheek. Still, I’m horrified: that blade could have reached her eye. I’m relieved to see my husband, Nathan, sitting up straight in the Volvo, and six-year-old Juliet, harnessed behind him, in that complicated plastic bucket of a seat. It’s bitter cold, sleeting. As I get into the … Continue reading The Blue Room by Karen Kates

Faces of Death XIV by Tom Hearron

Vulture on post
 

The old woman fills her days volunteering for a Catholic garden club planting flowers in vacant lots on the town’s east side, where at night gangs shoot it out amid trampled pansies and broken-off cosmos. She goes back anyway. Everyone in the neighborhood knows her, calls her the crazy flower lady. ************** Faces of Death IX showed a burning apartment building. From a balcony high above a jam-packed street, a frantic crowd grabbed at an out-of-reach lifeline dangling from a helicopter that hovered like a dragonfly. A window exploded, rocketing glass shards through smoke and … Continue reading Faces of Death XIV by Tom Hearron

Drive-Thru Angel by Lynne T. Pickett


 

Bonnie took a toothpick and dug at her fire-eaten scalp. Fifteen more minutes. Her mama always loved Bonnie’s red curls. “Just as sweet as the bluebirds singing in the oaks,” Mama would whisper to her. “God spun those curls out of fire with his little finger just for you, precious.” Maybe that’s why the perm solution and the hair dye burned so bad: Bonnie was trying her best to take on God’s job. In the past few years, her perfects curls had turned into frizzy wires and her flame-red hair diluted into a muddy rust. … Continue reading Drive-Thru Angel by Lynne T. Pickett

Ernestine Goes to Heaven by Susan Heeger


 

“Old age ain’t no place for sissies,” the actress Bette Davis famously said, and these words reeled through Muffin’s head as she crammed a pill pocket down the throat of her ancient basset hound. Ernestine was no sissy. Overweight, asthmatic, maybe a little depressed, the dog had the droopy-eyed mournfulness of Davis during the late “Baby Jane” phase of her career. Some of her teeth had fallen out. Her swaybacked body was knobbed with benign tumors the vet said were “evidence of her aging immune system.” She smelled musty, cheesy, like a Brooklyn deli on … Continue reading Ernestine Goes to Heaven by Susan Heeger

Felled by Sharon Louise Howard


 

“While you’re not doing anything—again, today,” Manda said, “you can get estimates on having that tree cut down.” Ben rolled over and propped himself against the mahogany headboard. He pushed a strand of gray hair off his forehead and watched Manda pick through a dozen or more perfume bottles that took up a quarter of her vanity. “Think you have enough of them?” She selected one and put it aside. “You tell me. One for every Christmas, birthday, and anniversary since you stopped using your imagination.” “Forgot Valentine’s Day.” Ben stretched and thought about getting … Continue reading Felled by Sharon Louise Howard

Gables by Sherri Perry

Milk carton shaped watertower
 

Who knew milk cartons had gables? ‘Embossed on gable’ said the fine print, explaining where to find the identifying information, in case of what, a recall? Dottie wondered. Does half-and-half get recalled? The children were running, seemingly mindlessly, through the backyard and around to the side yard. Was it a bad thing that she couldn’t see them or hear them when they were on the side? She put her face close to the wire screen, straining to catch a sound through the open window. Faint shouts and laughter bounced off her ear. Satisfied, she hung … Continue reading Gables by Sherri Perry

Calico Cat by William Cass

Train caboose in the snow
 

In a northern portion of the Midwest, on a night of light snow, during the few minutes just before and after ten o’clock, some things happened. They occurred along a route on which a southbound train traveled through fields that bracketed a town. The train carried few passengers. The conductor sat in the back of a nearly empty car working on a crossword puzzle. He was having trouble thinking of a six-letter word for “spotted, mottled, multi-colored”. He looked outside where the wisps of snow blew sideways in the darkness, but found himself staring at … Continue reading Calico Cat by William Cass

The Sudden Appearance of an Identical Twin

Two elderly male twins holding hands
 

In his slightly madcap, secretly serious, mystery novel, I Shot the Buddha, Colin Cotterill, on the very first page, describes three types of “cinematic plot devices” that his protagonists find annoying: coincidences, which he labels as “coming in third,” behind first (or second?) convenient amnesia, and second (or first) the sudden appearance of an identical twin. Somehow my attention got snagged on that last (but possibly first) objection, sufficiently not to notice that he slyly went on to say, “but after all this was real life.” I was ready, as it were, to debate the … Continue reading The Sudden Appearance of an Identical Twin