by Susan Taylor Chehak
It’s called a murmuration, when the starlings flock together and swoop like that, as one, a great cloud of them, moving in synchrony. How do they know? Who keeps the choreography?
Elf is considering the squalor of the kitchen at the north end of his (ex-)girlfriend’s trailer. Ariel. Or: that tramp, as his mother calls her, which never fails to make Elf wince and flinch, even though he knows that’s just the purpose and the point. His older brother only smiles; his younger brother elbows him and laughs. Elf is a small man, in full sync with his name: Elf, short for Elfred, and he doesn’t know why they can’t just call him Fred. He’s not quite the runt of the litter, but that same laughing younger one of his two brothers—the latecomer, as he’s sometimes fondly called, though not by Elf—isn’t yet full-grown, and because his father doesn’t happen to be the same as Elf’s, it very likely won’t be long before he’s outpaced his older brothers both. Continue reading
by T. E. Cowell
I was having a smoke out on my balcony when I heard someone knocking so loudly, with such force that I nearly dropped my cigarette in alarm. The knocking stopped just as abruptly as it started, and I rested my cigarette on the side of my ashtray. I was about to go inside to see who was there when the knocking started up again, and I realized now that it wasn’t my door being knocked on but my neighbor’s. Then I heard, “Police! Open the door!” Continue reading
by Nathan Alling Long
Before the pigeon, I woke up with worry, a stone of dread that would skip from the leak in the roof to the water bill, from the pile of unwashed clothes to the peeling paint on the window sills. It would eventually settle in one spot in the pool of doubt and sink down deep—to a reoccurring tooth ache, the check engine light in the car, the credit card bill that depleted its limit like diminishing oxygen in a mine shaft.
by Mariah Rigg
For Papaya, the weekdays of summer are filled with the garden. She and her mama plant cosmos, pick mangoes, watch the chunkily ridged black-white-and- yellow-striped caterpillars curl and uncurl themselves into inching balls, devouring milky crownflower leaves, weaving themselves into chrysalides, so that they can break out as delicately feathered Monarch butterflies. Some days are sprinkled with sun, sand, and salt. Other days they pick flowers on the edges of the brown, dirt trails that run through the green ridged mountains. On the steamy, lazy days they lie in the rectangular shade of the tin carport and read aloud from the Chronicles of Narnia. Continue reading
by Rebecca Keller
1 The Mother, 1996
Yolanda fussed in her playpen, working up to a howl. Maria launched herself out of the chair like an awkward pole-vaulter. Her belly was heavy, and the sweat trickling between her breasts felt like an insect in her bra. Being pregnant the first time had been easy. Yolanda had been small and light, floating easily in her middle, light and calm. Continue reading