by D. Dina Friedman
As my mother lay dying, we sat around her bed listening to a Bach Brandenburg Concerto on a no-name discount CD.
“Look, she likes the music!” Aunt Elissa gushed. And sure enough, something in my mother’s body had loosened—a small slackening in the muscles of her mouth, which continued to draw a rattled, but rhythmic and regular breath, like the pulse of counterpoint fueling Bach’s twisted knot of repeating melodies. Continue reading
by Ken Nishizaki
(Translated by Toshiya Kamei)
I don’t remember who started calling him “Starman.”
Was it Kondo who worked at the bar? Was it Shorty, a self-proclaimed drummer who quit the band after a month?
One day at an izakaya, Starman told us he’d come to Earth from another planet in a distant galaxy. Since then, he’d been known as Starman. This is his story. Continue reading
by Vivian Lawry
I was my younger sister’s maid of honor when she married her high school sweetheart a year after graduation, and fifty years later I was her matron of honor when she married him again—and I hope to tell you that finding an appropriate outfit for a sixty-something matron of honor was no easy task— Continue reading
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 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.