Displaying items by tag: fiction

Tuesday, 19 June 2018 18:29

Distracting by Ella Syverson

Distracting by Ella Syverson“OMG, Sophie! Those looks so cute on you!” Becca squeals with delight, and pushes Sophie in front of the mirror so she can see too.

“You think so?”

“Yes! Distressed denim is so in this year. Come on, Grace, aren’t you going to try on any shorts?”

“I don’t know…” I look dubiously at Grace as she pulls the hems a little farther down her thighs.

“Come on!” Becca protests. “You can’t wear jeans at the beginning of the year; the school doesn’t have air conditioning. You’ll roast!”

“But doesn’t the dress code ban short shorts?”

“It says mid thigh. I’ve never been dress coded — have you Sophie?”


“Then come on! Here, this is the same pair Sophie’s got, in your size.”

I go into the dressing room and pull them on. Becca’s right -- they are cute shorts, and I’ll definitely overheat if I start the school year in jeans. On the other hand, my legs are a lot longer than Sophie’s. It definitely makes them seem shorter. But what the heck? They’re comfy, they fit, and they look good. I open the dressing room door.

“Yass girl.” Becca grins. Sophie, on the other hand, is frowning.

“They show more leg on you. Don’t you think Principal Lucas will think you’re too ‘distracting’?”

Published in Issue 61 Jun 2018
Tuesday, 15 May 2018 16:56

Staying Connected by Gabe Tenaglia

Staying Connected by Gabe TenagliaI walk past the smaller models lined up in rows on the store's shelves, feeling something like pity mixed with excitement. Seeing them reminds me of their sentimental value, and at that moment it really hits me that I’ll never go back. I feel almost like I’m betraying them. They’d gotten me through most of my teens, when my parents threw me, not without love and high hopes, into the cesspool of high school. I was surrounded by hormonal freaks that made me look like a fully-functioning member of society, but I never felt like one. People around me might have seen a quiet kid just trying to live his life away from the drama, but I knew better. I had my own drama, because doesn’t everyone? Just because I wasn’t willing to risk my self-esteem with the high school ‘elite’ didn’t mean I didn’t suffer. When you’re a teenager, suffering comes from interacting with other people, but no matter how painful that can be, it’s always better than being alone. So I had friends, and some people who were more than friends, and whenever they hurt me or I hurt them I’d turn to the Listeners.

Published in Issue 60 May 2018
Tuesday, 15 May 2018 16:52

Who's the Bear? by Michael Pesant

Who's the Bear? by Michael Pesant

Colin said to pay attention to how I coped out here. He said the wilderness was an Earth-sized mirror. Motherfucker sounded like a bumper sticker.

Fifteen days deep into a wilderness program for troubled teens, I just put one foot in front of the other, hiking until one of the guides said we’d reached our campsite for the night. I swallowed spoonfuls of under-seasoned grits and lentils until my stomach went from feeling empty to feeling nothing. I recited clichés around the campfire, droning mindlessly until the next kid took the talking stick and carried on the group therapy session.

Coping implied some sort of success – a problem solved. I didn’t cope. I barely existed. It’s not like I refused the program. Not doing anything was too obvious a choice. I’d watched other kids try that, declaring hunger strikes or going mute, and it always became fodder for therapy. I did just enough to stay under the radar.  

 “This is bullshit,” Dylan complained, right on cue, snapping branches with his forearm as he chased a water bottle cascading down the side of the trail.

Marco looked over at me and rolled his eyes. Dylan’s tantrums could be amusing, but they often led to power struggles with the staff, which meant we could end up stuck on the same part of the trail all day.

Published in Issue 60 May 2018
Thursday, 05 April 2018 09:37

Alternate Forms of Life by Thomas Cannon

Alternate Forms of Life by Thomas Cannon

Lenny rubbed his salt and pepper stubble with his shoulder as he tightened the coupling. He tried to remember what was wrong with the college kid working with him. You have to explain things carefully, Lenny remembered Stanfield telling him. And you will take it easy on the young man.

"You're denser than a damn fence post,” he told the kid.

Alexander raised an eyebrow. "Ah, I am not. My body is made up of approximately 62 percent water while a fence post is composed of wood or even metal."

Lenny raised his own furry eyebrow back at the lanky kid with large brown eyes and straight teeth. He figured the kid could do well with the girls if he wasn’t such a moron. “I’m telling you, you’re dumb.”

“Urr,” Alexander said. “I graduated from high school at the top of my class.”

Published in Issue 59 Apr 2018
Thursday, 05 April 2018 09:31

Spilled Milk by Susan Howarth

Spilled Milk by Susan HowarthIt was Friday, which meant the cafeteria reeked of fish sticks. There were a hundred of us, starving, cranky, and lined up like cons in a prison. Such is high school. Standing in that sweaty mob, I was trying to focus on what April was saying. But God, she made it hard sometimes.

“... And don’t forget, you still need to book the limo, find a crimson pocket square and necktie — NOT a bowtie, Logan — and order my calla lily corsage.”

Next, shes gonna remind me to wear matching socks.  

Sometimes I fantasized about breaking up with her, but I knew that would be social suicide. Rule number one at Dalton High: don’t piss off the Queen Bee.

Published in Issue 59 Apr 2018
Friday, 16 March 2018 10:35

Somebody’s Riley by Miriam Thor

Somebody's Riley by Miriam Thor“It’s over,” Logan said to the girl sitting across from him. Megan, Morgan… something like that. He never could keep track of their names.

“W-w-what?” she stammered as a tear slipped down her cheek. Logan sighed and forced himself not to roll his eyes. He’d noticed that tended to make them cry harder.

“It’s over,” he repeated with exaggerated enunciation as he stood up.

“I don’t understand,” she said to his retreating back. “I thought you loved me.” Then, she covered her face with her hands and sobbed.

Deciding he was far enough away to avoid being used as a human handkerchief, Logan allowed himself to roll his eyes. No matter how many times he went through this, he never got over how gullible girls could be. He’d only been with what’s-her-name for a month. How could she possibly believe he loved her? And yet she did, just like all the others. Maybe the entire gender was just defective.

“Hey, Logan,” Riley said, walking up.

Logan smiled at his best friend. Okay, so maybe not the whole gender, just most of it.

“Hey Ri,” he said.

She eyed him calculatingly. “So, whose heart did you break this time?”

Published in Issue 58 Mar 2018
Friday, 16 March 2018 10:35

The Haircut by Bridget Weldon

The Haircut by Bridget WeldonShannon finished brushing away the hair around her chair and smiled at the girl heading her way. The girl smiled shyly, without making eye contact, and stood awkwardly by the chair.

“Hi, Lily,” Shannon said brightly. “Take a seat.”

Lily obeyed, clutching her phone to her stomach as if she could force it to become another organ. She even flinched when Shannon started to put a cloak around her.

“You’ve never been here before, right?” Shannon asked.

Lily shook her head.

“Awesome. So what are we going to do today?”

“Um, I want this, please. The cut and color.”

She held up her phone for Shannon to inspect the picture.

“I have others, too,” Lily said, and scrolled through a series of virtually identical pictures.

Published in Issue 58 Mar 2018
Saturday, 10 February 2018 11:40

The Timeless Dancy by J. Carter Stephenson

The Timeless Dancy by J. Carter StephensonPhillip squeezed the brakes of his bike and skidded to a halt outside the shop.  Hanging in the window behind an assortment of dusty antiques was a mask made of black leather with bulbous glass eyes and a curving beak.  An alien probably – perfect for the costume competition at his homecoming dance.  The theme this year was outer space, and with something like this, he might actually win.

Chaining his bike to a railing, he went into the shop to find out how much it was.  The place was small, but crammed with exotic looking goods – wooden furniture covered in elaborate carvings, leather-bound books with raised bands on their spines, taxidermy animals in glass cases.  The light was dim and a faint smell of damp hung in the air. 

Phillip moved along the aisles and spotted a counter at the back, where an old man in spectacles was reading a book.  Dressed in a suit that was at least two sizes too big, he had a tangled grey beard and pointed ears.  Being careful not to touch anything, Phillip moved towards him.  His arrival seemed to have gone unnoticed, so he coughed politely.

The old man looked up from his book with a start. “Can I help you?”

“I’m interested in the alien mask in the window,” Phillip replied.

The old man opened his mouth to speak and then gave a loud sneeze.  He wiped his nose with the end of his beard.  “Sorry about that, I have a dust allergy.”

Phillip raised his eyebrows, around at the grimy surfaces around him.  Could there be a worse place for someone with a dust allergy to work?  “About the alien mask...”

“It’s a plague doctor mask, actually,” the man interrupted.  “It once belonged to the commedia dell’arte in Italy.  Have you heard of the commedia dell’arte?  I can sell you a book about them if you’d like.”

Published in Issue 57 Feb 2018
Saturday, 10 February 2018 11:37

Silent by Ciera Miller

Silent by Ciera Miller“Hey loser.”

His back to the sunshine, he shifted the weight of his backpack between both shoulders.

“Are your ears made of rubber or something, dork?”

He kept walking. I noticed the stares when he came by, then whispering. I turned in the opposite direction.

Busy. I’m busy…..

He was still there; I couldn’t deny it. I tried to pretend I couldn’t hear the taunts aimed at him. Somehow the fact that he was actually the one who couldn’t hear didn’t make what I was doing feel less like a crime. No, it made me feel more like a criminal for doing nothing to stop what was happening.

Busy. I’m busy….

Published in Issue 57 Feb 2018
Friday, 05 January 2018 10:41

Ready or Not by Holly Schofield

Ready or Noty by Holly Schofield"But, buddy, where did the forest go? How could trucks remove the timber so quickly? And all the dirt? At night?"

Devon, uncomfortable in the crowd of people, turned away from Poitr's sputtering and put his hands in his jean pockets. A dozen or more vehicles crowded the narrow gravel road, parked every which way. Reporters, forest service personnel, and police officers gestured and roamed in circles around the gaping pit.

"Don’t know. It all just, like, disappeared," he finally answered.

They stood on the edge of the former clear-cut, looking at what had been Majestic Grove. Dozens of immense firs, uncounted bushes, brambles, and salal were replaced by…nothing—an empty straight-edged crater, several acres in size. A fern, perched on the edge, let go and fell almost a hundred feet to the light brown loam at the bottom of the pit.

Poitr snapped his toothpick clean through and threw it on the ground. "Damn it, Devon, talk to me!"

What was he supposed to say? That aliens had zoomed in from outer space and taken it all? The truth was simply unbelievable.

He used the angle he'd thought up during the long, wet walk last night. "Look on the bright side, man. Whatever happened, Massive Pulp will be accused of stealing not only old growth timber but an entire forest ecosystem. It’ll tie them up in court for years."  He waved a hand and was pleased to note that it was steady.

Published in Issue 56 Jan 2018
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