BAD SEEDS by Tanya Zilinskas

You were supposed to turn them over to the Department of Agriculture if you received them. Packages without return addresses showed up in mailboxes all over the country, each one containing a single packet of seeds. The official line was inconsistent but grim: they were from China, they were from Russia, they would kill the crops, they would release pests, they were a Sino-Russian hybrid that would release pests that would kill the crops. When I received the seeds, I planted them. I planted them because I wanted to see what would happen. I planted them because I didn’t trust…

Continue Reading...

NEW THING KISSES by Robin Zlotnick

They breathed each other in for ten years before they married, and then they were married for forty years, and the whole time, they needed to know every bit of each other, not just know but suck in and taste, so they had this thing, a sort of game: any time she noticed something new about him, a wrinkle on his forehead or a mole on his wrist, she would kiss it and vice versa, like when a pie-baking burn bubbled on her hand, he kissed each blistered bump, and when her chin grew a hair he kissed that too,…

Continue Reading...

THE COLLAPSE OF A STAR by Jamie Etheridge

We sit in the van parked on the railroad tracks not knowing if the train is coming, or if you are going. You want to die. You said so and we believe you. Momma cries out, “Bill, please,” over and over and we wait, inhale then hold, for you to decide.  It was always like that. Random moments of drama; life or death, on the side of the road. That time in Texas in the middle of the worst blizzard in thirty years. The truck’s engine exploded and we were stuck, freezing, as semis whooshed past on the highway and…

Continue Reading...

EILEEN GETS A LITTLE BIT DRUNK by Natalie Warther

My sons were watching a movie in the living room and I was upstairs, rummaging through their bathroom. I’m not really sure why, I almost never go in there, but there I was, and I’d had some wine, and we hadn’t left the house for twelve days, for Christ’s sake, so what else was I supposed to do?  I looked in the drawers, looked in the shower, looked in the trash can, looked in the mirror and I looked old.  I stuck my finger out like a cane, pointed it at the mirror, furrowed my eyebrows, and whispered at my…

Continue Reading...

GIRL ON FIRE by Neal Suit

The first of the silvery sequins that grew and dangled from your skin appeared on your left shoulder, forming the shape of a crescent moon. I examined the sparkling protrusions rising near your collar bone, squinting as they glistened under the lamp. You booked an appointment with the dermatologist. They gave you a cream and told you to come back in a week if it hadn’t cleared up. They took pictures to show their colleagues and friends and the internet. They fawned over how you shined. Sequins sprouted on your arms, legs, neck, back, and forehead. Walking made you shimmer. The…

Continue Reading...

SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE! by Rich Giptar

The first time I ever heard about Matthew, Mom was filming us on her Nikon D5300 and trying to get us to play this stupid game for her YouTube channel. The previous day she had filmed our reaction to her telling us we were getting a new brother or sister. We had been in a good mood then, ready to whoop and jump in the air and cover our mouths with our hands and run out the room. The bit she was filming that day was meant to be sequential, but Dad, a moron, had put our clothes from yesterday…

Continue Reading...

ON THE STREET CORNER by Lina Lau

To see him again—tall, lean, crinkling eyes, thin lips tugged into a smile, always dry from working outside high up in the trees, a ‘tree doctor,’ he called himself—my stomach drops like it did when we first met at seventeen, him walking into the shoe store where I worked, later returning to ask me out, the first time picked up by a boy meeting my parents and we strolled the boardwalk in and out of circles of lamppost light, illuminating, fingers intertwined, his large hands enveloping, and now two decades later on the street corner in front of his parked…

Continue Reading...

THE PHONE RINGS IN SEPTEMBER 1979 by Derek Maine

My father did not speak to me. He sat in his faded blue recliner, I remember that, and watched Star Trek on Saturday nights. Other times he watched golf or read Lawrence Block. Sometimes he would ask me to get him a beer or to stop running in the house, but he never spoke to me.  I have a son now. He complains I talk too much. I’m constantly asking him about how he’s feeling. I know this is not totally healthy and my wife helps me notice this when I do it too often. But, son, my father did…

Continue Reading...

DELICIOUS by James Cato

Like most Saturday mornings, I’m alone cleaning the streets. The morning sun hurries through the cloudless sky, already buttering me with sweat, though Las Vegas sleeps. I slog around with trash pincers and make peace with the place through solitude. Before, I worked afternoons and wore my baseball cap with the army patch. People asked questions. Where was I deployed? What’s it like being a woman in war? Did I ever shoot someone? War stories drew people in. They tried to stare through the ugly by looking at me. I’m picking up after a parade; I can tell by the…

Continue Reading...

THE COGNITIVE BEHAVIORAL THERAPIST WANTS A DIVORCE BUT DOES NOT WANT TO BE THE ONE TO ASK by Jo Withers

Ten months before she wants things to end, she buys two figures sculpted in soapstone, one male and one female. She positions them on the bedroom windowsill, where they will be the first thing seen each morning, the last thing seen each night. Every day she moves the figures a fraction apart. Every day she turns the male slightly into shadow, every day she moves the female closer to the light. Eight months before she wants things to end, she redecorates, weaving bad memories throughout the apartment like mold. She scents the inside of their pillows with crumpled pine leaves…

Continue Reading...