Ricky brought two forty-ounce beers to the counter. Jonathan was tracing the hair of his chin strap. One day Ricky would grow facial hair like that too. He’d go even further, he’d grow a full beard and twist it into a point. He’d go wherever he liked and no one would dare kick him out.
I remember when the macro eraser was itself contested for function. That was when the poets were still employed, and they were writing poems about justice. But then poetry was erased, so they started painting about justice.
I wonder if we say we love each each other for ourselves or for the people we’re saying it to. Or if we do it because we know we’re running out of time, like we must share it for fear of never sharing it. Or if it’s just another way to say I see you. Another way to be seen.
Her name was Florida though she had never been there. Her mother really liked the name, the state too, the oranges and sunrays it conjured. One day you’re gonna visit for me and you’re gonna love it, her mother would say.
Early in my relationship with Justin, back when we would cut whole days of ninth grade and spend them burrowing into each other underneath bedsheets of whichever friend’s parents weren’t home that day, he’d told me that Hector had taught him how to masturbate in the fifth grade.
“She’s doing better off without us,” his father said. “It’s this guy right here that has to pick up his shovel and dig for the family.”
Of all human experiences, loss has the most intense redness. When a hope is expelled from our bodies, grief expands within us: to us observers, everything appears to be the colour of blood.
So banished to your room, curled up against the cold metal headboard you tried re-reading an old Nancy Drew. Instead you stared at the neighbour's dog as she ran up and down the red steps at the back of their house. She was the closest thing you had to a pet.
Back in your bedroom there was still a snoutless rat and a dishwasher filled with styrofoam plates.
When my sister finds her eulogy, she’s really not impressed. And she should have been quite happy, I think, considering I managed to come up with so many nice things to say about her.
On his way to Alfie’s, Luisito stopped by the corner mart to pick up some Mickey’s. Forties on a noche like this, where the sol stays slaying skies until 8, there was nothing better.
Sunil gazed at Buku as they lay on a small cot that looked like a hospital gurney. A thick, sturdy mattress held their light weight, resilient and resistant to their shape, never bending to the sentient beings that occupied it.
He didn’t take and the lady looked at me like time being of the essence was a foreign concept to me. I was carrying everything I owned, of course time is of the essence. If it’s not for me, it’s not for anyone.
He returns every evening at 6 p.m. and asks if she's found a job yet. She has a part-time job, but it isn’t enough. Her husband expects her to work in a respectable office and wear high heels every day. He has a fantasy of them meeting at a pub for happy hour, both of them exhausted and full of work drama. Their twin martinis escape valves, sour tonics.
Our fear, then, was that all the swag came with an expectation of high quality. We couldn’t rely on improvisation forever. So on that fourth day, Sanders cupped his hands around his mouth and yelled out to the crowd, “Does anyone have any screenwriting experience?”
I had seen Arthur around for a while, at this particular station. Whenever I was coming back from work, at night, he stood there, smoking, and whistling through his trimmed moustache.
It Has Been 70 Years Since Eva Braun Was Incinerated Along with Her Underwear She takes the U-Bahn across town to visit him where he is cat-sitting for friends. She carries a bag containing [...]
I used my mom’s pink razor to shave my leg because I was too afraid to use Dad’s black one. I sat in the tub running warm water over my smooth calf. It was beautiful. That night, I rubbed my leg against my sheets until the pleasure of it was overwhelming.
We walk past the old tenement where Anya’s great-aunt still lives, claiming the hole she tore in the world. Imagine if we all moved into Columbia Presbyterian! Someone probably has.
Jacob was trying to be alone with the alligator when his mother called him into the house for dinner. His mother didn’t know a thing about it; she didn’t even know the difference between an alligator and a crocodile.
In high school Marian said to me about my favorite author, George Eliot. “Isn’t that just an old British man?” smiling like her mouth was a knife.
Witches and wannabes, way too many drugs. Day three without sleep and you're psychotic for real. Then it’s like the song—we’re waiting for our man.
He was my husband, but I called him dog. When he returned from the woods each passing dawn, from wherever it is that wild things go, he would whimper and scratch at the door.
A house is an organism, Earth is an organism. These are more than just metaphors, I will think months later when I get the call from Kristen that Dad isn’t expected to survive the night.
Biriyani jumped off the diving board and broke the surface of the swimming pool in a clean arc. Pale pink fluff rippled over the pool. Her legs kicked a trillion tiny dark blue jewels into the air that melted back into water.
Death and silence you decide after unzipping your pants. You put your hands on the top of the urinal and steady yourself.
Morcella is her name and we’re twelve in Miss Conway’s science class talking kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, species of the kangaroo.
We should have known Eduardo would be the type to tattle. He was a hyperactive, annoying child with a tendency to boss us around, although at 8 he was younger than me by a year and had been held back in school.
The Jellyfish Yosa was doing all the usual things with his hands but I felt nothing. With the lack crept a doubt that anyone has ever felt arousal. The [...]
Her mom’s idea of good music was Kirk Franklin and Beyoncé. More than once Kenzi found her mother in the living room stumbling along as she tried to “get in formation” or convince Fat Dave to put a ring on it. She even had a shrine to the singer in her bedroom, photos taped along her dresser for “inspiration.”
In July, the spare room on the second floor of their rental fills with flies. They try getting the landlord to do something—anything—about the flies, but they’ve only been in France a month and can’t remember how to say please. They keep the door to the Fly Room shut tight.
Everyone was shouting this on the first day of the summer of 1993, so loudly it took us awhile to realize we were shouting it too.
The test began. The students worked diligently to fill the bubbles they deemed appropriate. Livia watched one young man methodically draw frowny faces within each bubble and then cover them over with a flurry of graphite.
His date had neon pink shellacked fingernails. Lance couldn’t stop staring at them. The glare off them from the overhead lights was almost blinding. It reminded him of headlight beams bouncing off a rain-slicked road.
My therapist says to remember that I’m young and only human. My mother in our last phone call said that I’m a narcissist. My father wants the money back from my wedding.
M takes it from him. It sits in her palm, a squat little thing that's very white at the top but bloody at the root. She tries to remember what the different kinds of teeth are and which one this is. Around them, the other kids are screaming and prancing but M and V are still, staring at the tooth.
The city is sinking and about to go underwater. You don’t understand that the city is sinking and about to go underwater. I can smell the trash outside getting wet with anticipation.
Sound exposing floor tiles, drumming to ceiling, embattled floor. Recorded music—Tchaikovsky—wolfs me down. I shut it off and beg myself to play. Baseboards glimmer a fine, clear yellow, hiding internal pipes, charting this dim-lit [...]
After the disaster, we were shuttled in busses to the elementary school. We were a soft-footed herd. They turned us towards the entrance, combating the mass distraction of our frozen thoughts. We were demagnetized [...]
I knew little about Brad when we arranged to meet. Demographics, mostly. He was thirty-seven, an adjunct with abundant graying hair. A childless Libra, he’d never finished his thesis on Jay Gatsby as American [...]
So, they decided to go to the dinner thing. And now Audrey is looking across the table at her husband next to her oldest friend and her oldest friend’s beautiful wife and she thinks that [...]
The best thing about the city was the train home in winter, after she had spent the day behind the circulation desk at the public library. Already dark, so that when the train exited [...]
They get him on the way out of Trader Joe’s, with a bag of groceries in his hand thawing slowly in the summer sun. Some college kid with bad acne and a big smile [...]
White knuckles knocked on the glass. Tanya flinched then looked up to find a thin woman with an angular face, watery blue eyes, and shiny coral lips. The lady motioned for Tanya to roll [...]
Every night at 8 p.m. I wait for the beautiful telemarketer to call again. Her voice has a radio liquidation. She’s lowered it like a man’s. Each word floats up from the pit of [...]
Once upon a time, there was a mother, a father, a child, and the police. MOTHER: Don’t lick your lips. CHILD: Why? MOTHER: You’ll ruin your smile. CHILD: How? MOTHER: Your saliva is acidic. [...]
Every day is a gift my mother would always say last December when we returned home from the Christmas tree lot with the tallest and thickest of the bunch and she said we need [...]
A coat check girl with deep pockets sits across from me. She’s excavating the night’s ticket stubs, dropping them on the table next to the double-wicked candle that conflates with the smoke [...]
Luxury The narrative is only conflict or complaint. I ask my friends, If a vagina had a facial expression, what would you read? My friend A says, Humph, and then my [...]
I met Ray in the summer of 2014 while I was visiting my father in Greece. My father had moved there six months prior, after his tumultuous divorce from my mother, to finish his novel [...]
I am telling a woman, in a dream, that she fell into my life through contingency. I am telling her that she is from another world. I tell her, our paths crossed because [...]
My own mother wore the same handmade clothes until the day she never woke up. Try as I might, I am nowhere near the seamstress she was. So now I wear my daughter’s old clothes. [...]
Months after using my camera, I developed a roll of film and found you on it. I thought of Sontag writing, “The sense of the unattainable that can be evoked by photographs feeds directly into the erotic feelings of those for whom desirability is increased by distance.” I felt obvious and became embarrassed.
After rereading it you feel a weakness that draws out of you like a low tide until there are only raised boats in the mud and incredible want. Why didn’t the character in the story predict that? What did she know that you don’t?
Even when he doesn’t look as good, he still can’t quite look bad. Right after he broke up with you, he bought you a drink.
He reached into his briefcase, pulled out an apple, wiped it on his shirt, and took a large chomp. He watched himself chew in the rear-view mirror. He ate the apple’s core too because he had nowhere to dispose of it and he didn’t want to chuck it out the window in case the client pulled in at exactly that moment.
If you think I see Sibley, if you think I see Ruze, if you think I see Gran or my mom or Ms. K – sorry, you lose. In Gran’s town, the streets don’t care if you are desperate or sad – the streets, like the dark houses, like the faraway sky, like the trees, do what they’re gonna do. They keep quiet. They keep calm – each intersection on auto-light: red, green, yellow. Stop, go, slow. Green, yellow, red, green. Go slow, stop, go back…or go home.
Under her keyboard was a faint eeee. Feeble warble weakly insistent like a dog shut outside. The eeee was deep in her laptop’s guts. Her brother Mark was on video chat, her famous and handsome brother, mouth-breathing due to his rhinoplasty and making tattoo suggestions. But she could hear it between his sentences, the eeee.
There’s nothing wrong with your life, other than the obvious things. The other girl is rich, though, the kind of rich with soft hands and chauffeurs. You meet her outside her mansion, a baseball cap tipped over your face to hide it.
I also occasionally fell into a coma. I would dream of Las Vegas past, when I was a kid, when I flew down with my grandparents and we could still go to the Sands and the Silver Slipper and the Stardust. They would spend six weeks in the desert every winter in a motel two blocks off the Strip with a pool and a large Yiddish clientele. My grandmother, a smoker not a swimmer, would sit out in the sun and trade two-fers with the other ladies from Cleveland and Cincinnati and Saskatchewan. My grandfather was interested in the sports book, the horses in particular. Once we heard on my grandfather’s pocket radio that someone had jacked the bank across the street with a shotgun. I was afraid, but to prove that we were safe my grandmother marched me over to Smiths and bought a six-pack of pepsi and she gave me a can and then drank a mickey of bourbon in the rest of it. Bank robbers never hurt little kids, she told me. Remember, this city is full of people who just want to have fun, they don’t want to hurt some little kid.
Within a few minutes a woman in a red sweatshirt came to collect Tammy. Anisha left soon after, and then, to my consternation, so did Daniel Park. By lunchtime half the class had gone home. At the time I had a strange fondness for carrots dipped in ketchup, and it was this I was enjoying when my father appeared in the doorway.
The grandmothers walk through the front door, two and three at a time, bonding over talk of the weather. They lower their umbrellas, brush raindrops from their shawls and smooth their sheen grey hair, propped up in helmets or draped over grandmotherly shoulders. Cats and dogs, they say. Absolutely cats and dogs.
My room was just as messy as I remembered it, books and papers all over the floor, crushing the bed under their weight. This whole thing was getting farther and farther away from the story I’d written and I wasn’t sure how to get it back. Where was he anyway?
First of all the name of the creature who follows me around: Agvagvat. Watching my mouth in the mirror call her, “Hey, Agvagvat,” I can’t stand it—Agvagvat isn’t an attractive word to say. When my mouth makes those guppy sounds I look very middle aged.
In Marko and Ana’s living room in Astoria hung a framed piece of Paška čipka—Pag lace—attached to a piece of creased cerulean paper. Last year when they were packing their bags to leave Croatia, Marko told Ana not to put it in her suitcase but she was hurried and stuffed everything in.
From THE IMPOSSIBLE FAIRY TALE, by Han Yujoo. Copyright © 2017 by Han Yujoo. English translation copyright © 2017 by Janet Hong. Reproduced with the permission of Graywolf Press, Minneapolis, Minnesota. 1. Dog. See [...]
The first reason the Mistress chose you from all the rest when she discovered you abandoned like a seed lost in the rye was because you were beautiful. That your hands were reaching out to [...]
Born landlocked, the animal trainer had been plagued all his life by whale thoughts. It made no sense. He had never seen one, would never, still his dreams brimmed with the giants. He couldn’t swim, [...]
Sheri shakes me awake. She’s half out of her sleeping bag, a flashlight pressed under her chin. It’s spreading shadows across her fleshy face. Most of her sleepover had focused on going through the library [...]
Two weeks ago, we packed our bags and left the civilized world. We moved into an Office Max. One with trouble maintaining full lighting. Downtown. Though it is the dead of winter, the hiss and [...]
Her parents had moved to a retirement community with low humidity and warm sun. There was tennis and golf, indoor calisthenics and shuffleboard on outdoor courts. There were daily walks and jogging with pedometers, cushioned [...]
Charlie breaks up with you over the phone but later you fly to Seattle and insist he do it in person. The initial conversation had gone something like this: You were exasperated and said, What [...]
I. On the first day it rains, we smoke in Arif’s basement. The table between us looks like it should be caving under the weight of the elaborate metal-and-clay hookah atop it. The pitter-patter on [...]
Before anything else, he realizes he is a person. He has somehow reached this point in his success to consider the question of what is a good person? He is feeling quite detached from where [...]
Alex, suddenly cold and awkward in own his skin, clicked play on Jolene. Once Dolly was well into her desperate plea, he moved away from his desk through the leaning doorway, walked into the living [...]
From THE GRINGO CHAMPION, by Aura Xilonen. Copyright © 2015 Aura Xilonen Arroyo Oviedo. English translation copyright © 2016 by Europa Editions, translated by Andrea Rosenberg. First publication 2017 by Europa Editions. Reproduced with the [...]
In the Retreat Club Diner, Bud Howard drank his second morning coffee while watching the morning news on a small television set secured in the corner. The other regulars had a passing interest in the [...]
Excerpt from Jesse Ruddock's story collection Shot Blue, out February 20, 2017 from Coach House Books. Available for order now here. Her mother tried to show her how to pack a suitcase, but Tomasin didn’t want to [...]
After dusk in Seattle, look for the moon. Sometimes it burns pale fire over the tree line, other times it hangs crookedly nailed to the sky; a slivered hangnail bitten from God’s hand. Only summer [...]
Listen, I know I said I'd go to meetings. I know I said I'd get a sponsor. But I'm busy. My work is my meetings. My work is my sponsor. I know what your [...]
There was once a man who had a love. And this love lived somewhere far away from his small corner of the world (a place called Pilgrim’s Paradise, Demoines City). Now the only way this [...]
Sitting in the chair means the mouth of it swallows your ass. You don’t take to the chair, it takes to your body and keeps parts after you’ve risen from it. It hulks in the [...]
Future Vision I take myself to a movie because I think I deserve it. I go to one of those big chain cinemas downtown, the kind with the reclining vinyl chairs big enough for two [...]
Gutting a pale fish with my father, the strongman. He turns it in his hands once, twice, plops it on the chopping block, belly up. Swallows the air. The thing about stinky little fish heads [...]
. Excerpt from Edie Meidav's story collection Kingdom of the Young, out April 11, 2017 from Sarabande Books. Available for pre-order now here. Don’t worry, I didn’t take all the soaps. I didn’t think you did, the [...]
They don’t do it small in India. Even a regular thundershower is mounted on the scale of a Hollywood disaster movie, shot on 70 mm on the coast of Iceland – apocalyptic grey, green and [...]
Since Ray got sprung from Bellamy Creek Correctional, it’s been better and worse and the same. Delia, for better or worse. And the same all-night radio show tiding him over, lulling what’s left of the [...]
The girl is dead. Is she a girl? She’s old enough for shimmer lipgloss, for a boyfriend. There she is in photographs, her brother’s arm large on her shoulders, grinning in low-cut jeans that show [...]
Roland was a Marxist—probably the only Marxist in Lagos or even the whole country, he was sure. He believed that there was a “ruling class” in Nigeria and he was sure people already knew that, [...]
Excerpt from Gabe Bump‘s forthcoming novel Get Down, Claude. July before I started 8th grade, Paul had this scare. A fuzzy blemish on an x-ray. After tests and hours of chain smoking—nothing serious, just an aberration. [...]
At the Meet-Up event, most of the women wore sexy tribal costumes, but I dressed up as Pumba from the Lion King. The elastic snout kept falling down over my mouth, making it difficult to [...]
It was April again, and the feet were getting ripe. They hung from our large tree’s lower branches, emitting a scent similar to an old, damp rag, swinging back and forth, slowly, following the direction [...]
Moths died in daylight, nocturnal no longer. That summer. It was always one hundred and two degrees. The moths and their noon wing death. That summer. It was hard for anyone to make sense of [...]
Lizzie sits in a room because everything is a room. Right now, the room is a field and the field is corn. The sun is slow and turning the wheat, its chaff, golden. Lizzie waits [...]
It is 6:56am PST, and I watch a car drive across a bridge. The passenger, who for this record I will call Child, presses her face against the window. The driver, who for this record [...]
Bound to the earth ten paces from the willow, Frankie calls to her mother. A dream of what she might have been appears solid, white hem dragging through the dust. These moments before dawn are [...]
One day, when they were giving the dog a bath, he proposed. He swished his arm around in the tub and produced a ring that winked its white glaucomic eye. “Now, how did this get [...]
We weren’t in a barbershop. He sat in a wooden slat-back chair on our mother’s kitchen floor and looked up at me. His face was upside down from my view above him—his eyes, a forgiving [...]
1. The neighbor had upwards of eighty succulents laced around the wood beams of his staircase. You saw him every day watering the plants, sometimes in nothing more than a swath of white linen around [...]
When I was a kid, you were an idiot if you wore shorts in this city. The only times I remember having them on were during soccer games (for practice we wore sweatpants) and on [...]