Night Sweats in Amherst – by Lee Upton

There was a point in her life when Emily Dickinson didn’t leave her room because Herman Melville was in there, suffering night sweats.

I understood the situation, of course, although from the opposite end of the spectrum: for a long time I gave other people night sweats. There was a man I’d see at movie theaters, at plays, at receptions, and as soon as he laid eyes on me he’d start quaking and backing up into a corner.… Read the rest

Being Aesthetically Pleasing – by Timothy Gager and Teisha Twomey

Usually, stories do not begin in a room where the hairdryer is secured to a wall, but this one does. It begins the way all moments which find their way to the long-term do: an unexpected brush of the back of a hand to knee. It is a story lacking a picket fence or farmhouse, nothing resembling creamery butter, but yet, if you look hard enough, the flashing hotel sign and heavy women at the front desk will disappear right before your eyes.… Read the rest

Love Like a Crooked Spine – by Len Kuntz

She does not notice, but we watch her for signs of explosion. At the dinner table it’s Rex, Jerry, me, and Mom. Mother chews the way a large hamster does, chubby cheeks crimping. I hold back a flinch when her fork tine screeches on the plate.

Though she did not say it, we know Mother thinks our dad died because he was weak.… Read the rest

Mimi – by Peter J. Goodman

Born in a Bronx tenement, her birth name was Ada Clara Warshawski, the second daughter of Morton Warshawski. Before Ada Clara awoke on a Friday morning, Morton left his family.

Fifty-four years later, everyone knew her as Mimi, the woman on the ninth floor of an ornate, Upper West Side apartment building. Mimi stood five foot tall, when not hunched over.… Read the rest

Some Things Worth Living For – by Jon Morgan Davies

The gun came off my head, and a few seconds later, I heard the office door shut. I let out a deep breath, listened for the back door, and heard nothing more. I counted out what I thought were one hundred twenty seconds, stood, picked up the phone, and dialed Michael, the manager. He told me he’d be there in twenty minutes and to call the police, which I did.… Read the rest

The Other Side of the Line – by Maggie Wing

One evening after work, for no good reason, you kiss her in the parking lot. She looks up at you and smiles, and you kiss her again.

That night you lie in bed and listen to your wife’s breath as the hours grind around you in a slow arc. The family portraits make shadowy stair steps above the book case.… Read the rest

Pause for Dramatic Effect – by Paul Corman-Roberts

She is the one who teaches me how to kiss.

~ ~ ~

She gives Kirby a look when he brags about how much he can bench press. He grins and says, “Man, I’m pumped.”

“You don’t look that pumped,” she drawls.

“Check out my rip!” At the age of 16, Kirby really can’t contain himself.… Read the rest

Future Me – by Joseph Bates

1

Future Me arrives in my office on a Tuesday afternoon and tells me he’s me from the future. He looks exactly like I would look if I stopped smoking cigarettes and started smoking army boots. His complexion is terrible. He smells like bourbon. He is clearly not me from the future, just some homeless person who bears a strong resemblance to me and knows very intimate details of my life when I ask for proof.… Read the rest

Umbilical – by Robert P. Kaye

“I said, there’s something attached to your goddamned head.” Foster angled to capture a glimpse of invisible thread against the light. “What the hell are you talking about?” Serge said, interrupted in the middle of chewing Foster out over another botched attempt at a set of custom windows for some billionaire’s fantasy home, as specified by an architect whose creative process probably included dropping acid.… Read the rest

A Few Bedbugs – by Susan Tepper

Near the Indiana border they stopped for the night at one of those places called MOTEL on a peeling sign. The old man was livid. They ate dinner in the MOTEL coffee shop, the food uniformly greasy. Everyone woke up in the morning with bedbug bites. Russell had some on his back and ankles. At breakfast in the MOTEL coffee shop, the two girls were upset; Sonia in particular.… Read the rest

Iron Mike Behind Bars – by Timothy Gager

Iron Mike Tyson knows what people think of him. They believe he is an animal. He knows different. He is no longer wealthy; he is broke with only a few friends that stuck by him. The old ones that used him bilked him out of cash and then threw him off to the side. I am a promoter, not a friend.… Read the rest

Flambé – by Richard Peabody

You have been standing next to the wall by the hedgerow since noon. The clouds and shadows gliding across the reflecting pool, the visitors having left at last, and spotlights scattered about the grounds have begun spilling their softness into the burgeoning California darkness.

It’s time. You lift the gardening crew’s shovel, the one you borrowed [acquisitioned] while they were on break, and make your way across the flower beds and thirsty grass, to a pair of black gravestones.… Read the rest

Maybe Not Today – by Kathryn M. Barber

I shouldn’t have called Kelsey, and I know it. She’s my brother’s ex-wife (almost), and the last thing he needs is his ex-wife meeting his girlfriend while his dad is dying in the hospital, but I had to. I need her. I put my phone back in my purse, and I sit by Dad’s bed, holding his hand.… Read the rest

Migration – by Leah Browning

Henry stole a boat and rowed out onto the lake. It was the first morning he’d been single in sixteen years. The divorce had been her idea, but then, inexplicably, Janine had refused to sign the papers. She changed her mind, then changed it back again.

Now it was the off-season; already the geese had gone south for the winter.… Read the rest

Tabloid – by Marian Berges

I had to abandon the work when it was discovered–no, nothing had been discovered, nothing really proven, just announced to the press–that JonBenét’s mother hadn’t killed her after all. My novel, or, as I liked to call it, my investigation, was based on an assumption of Patricia Ramsey’s guilt.

JonBenét was found in the basement at the bottom of a circular staircase in an empty room past the butler’s pantry next to the wine cellar, and if “butler’s pantry” conjures something sort of old country or country-ish, in this case the pantry is spare, sheetrocked.… Read the rest