Displaying items by tag: fiction

Wednesday, 09 August 2017 05:17

Down on the Farm by Rhema Sayers

Down on the Farm by Rhema SayersHis grandmother’s huge old roll-top desk had lots of little drawers, different sizes with odd things in them, like shells and pebbles and foreign coins and paper money. Granma had said the desk was over a hundred years old. For a moment Billy Carson looked at its scarred surface and thought about where it had come from and who had sat there before Granma. But only for a moment. Mostly he wondered about money. He didn't think he could use the foreign money. It was probably no good in Kentucky. Some of the shells fell on the floor and were crushed under his feet. One little drawer had dozens of business cards. He tossed those aside and they, too, fell to the floor. When he pulled the drawers out and laid them on the desk top, he noticed that one drawer wasn’t as long as the others.

He leaned forward over the desk and stuck his hand in the spaces where the drawers had been, searching each one. One was also shorter than the others and he could feel an open place behind the drawer stop. He felt wood back there, a shelf. His fingers brushed something crinkly. He'd always been the shortest guy in his class. He could barely reach this. Carefully he pinched it between the tips of two fingers and pulled. It moved slightly, but his fingers slipped off. He repositioned and pulled again. After five tries, and continuous swearing, a rolled up wad fell out of the desk. Money! Twenty dollar bills. Billy’s heart raced as he counted them. Nearly three hundred! Jackpot! He’d been searching for more than an hour. He knew she had to have a stash somewhere. All old people did. At least that's what his buddy, Toofer, said. Toofer always had a lot of money. He had told Billy that he took it from the old people in his big family. Lots of people lived in Toofer's house.

Published in Issue 51 August 2017
Thursday, 20 July 2017 08:36

Jolt These Visions by Angie Romines

Jolt These Visions by Angie RominesJericho told her to meet him at midnight, at the abandoned barn near the turnoff for their holler. Nobody remembered who originally owned the barn, but it didn’t matter now. Who would want to claim a pile of leaning planks of wood that gravity was about to pull all the way down to the grass? She climbed over the stack of 2x4’s that used to be a door. She’d brought a flashlight, but it was cheap. She could only see a few feet in front of her. A quarter moon shone through the gaping roof, illuminating the packed dirt floor. A few rust-eaten farming tools hung on the wall. Naomi wondered if they’d disintegrate if she touched them.

“Where the heck are you, Jericho?” she muttered, hugging her arms in front of her to brace against the chill of the night air. She never liked the dark, and now the blackness was especially terrifying since she could never predict what she’d see when she closed her eyes.

“Whoo, whoo!” Jericho yelled as he stumbled into the barn, arms stuffed with candles and chalk. “You scared, little girl?” He dumped his goods onto the floor in the middle of the barn where they landed with a thud.

“What is all this?” Naomi asked, picking through the candles. She smelled a pink one. “Is this one strawberry scented?”

Jericho plucked the candle from her hands. “Book didn’t say nothing about whether or not you could use the smelly ones. These were all Mama had. Raided the bathroom stash.” He began to create a circle with the candles, stepping back occasionally to admire his work.

“You read a book? Dear lord, this is serious,” Naomi joked but still, she was curious. She was normally the one who could be found poking around their barebones school library in between periods. Jericho never really took anything seriously, least of all, school. 

Published in Issue 50 July 2017
Thursday, 20 July 2017 05:17

Sara's Cell by John Beyer

Sara's Cell by John BeyerShe was mortified. It was hideous and unfair what her parents were doing to her.

An outcast she would be.

Was it her fault that she had dropped her cell phone? Well, maybe since she tried picking it up just after applying lotion to her hands. But the phone had struck the tile on its edge, cracking the face so badly that the device was useless.

Staring at the phone all Sara could see were thousands of spidery webbed cracks across the screen. It was useless - just useless.

Why wouldn’t they just buy her a new phone? Her parents were mean, that’s why. Just mean and stingy.

Of course, this was her third phone in less than eight months. Was it her fault the tile floor in their house was so hard?

Every time she dropped a phone it broke. Stupid floor!

Now, her parents had refused a fourth phone. How cruel could they be?

Published in Issue 50 July 2017
Sunday, 11 June 2017 14:17

Pre-Calc Predicament by Lisa Keifer

Pre-Cal Predicament by Lisa Keifer“What are binomial coefficients?” Mr. Soren does not pause for a reply. “The answer is the binomial theorem. It demonstrates how-”

Mr. Soren talks on, but my brain cannot process what he says. I stare at my open Pre-Calculus textbook, desperately trying to absorb all I can about this day’s lesson. He moves on to Pascal’s Triangle while I am still lost. I glance around. My classmates haven’t followed what he’s taught, either.

So goes every class. Mr. Soren stands at the blackboard, lectures for twenty minutes, then sits at his desk to read a newspaper, leaving us as confused by the end of class as we were in the beginning. We essentially learned to teach ourselves. Not an easy task with advanced math, especially when the teacher refuses to answer questions or guide his students in any way.

After Mr. Soren sets down his chalk, a classmate of mine timidly raises her hand. Annoyed, our instructor stops halfway to his chair. His eyes bore into hers. “What?”

She lowers her arm, clearly trembling. “I don’t get it.”

Published in Issue 49 June 2017
Sunday, 11 June 2017 14:13

Hayley’s Hero by Nerisha Kemraj

Haley's Hero by Nerisha KemrajHayley

Battered and bleeding, she lay there crying, unmoving, no longer able to defend herself. She was a prisoner of her own body. Clutching at her head with both hands while the rest of her frame held a foetal position, trying to protect herself as they continued to pummel and kick her on the ground… Hayley’s swollen face was now bloated and felt twice the size, numb from being thrashed.

There were hundreds of spectators and yet none of them came forward. Laughter erupted from the booing and jeering crowd, unnervingly entertained by this brutal act. Then there were the walkers, all rushing by, as fast as their legs would take them, feet shuffling and almost tripping as they bustled along, willing themselves not to get involved, lest they should be the next targets. She barely felt the pain now, except for a sudden jolt of agony from the movements their heavy shoes brought onto her. Blow after horrendous blow, and the punches to her back were nothing in comparison to the kicks to her stomach. Barely conscious, she could not bear anymore. Was this really the end of her journey? And what about all the future-plans she made? As they abruptly stopped, she knew that this was it - the Grand Finale. But then a shadow fell over her, towering to shield her from them. Struggling to see the person behind the silhouette through her half-closed eyes, she listened attentively, her shielding hands did do some good in protecting her ears, after all. Peering through her fingers and squinting from the sunlight, she saw him. Josh, her savior, shouting at them to leave her alone.

Published in Issue 49 June 2017
Monday, 08 May 2017 15:19

Sarah's Journey by DL Willette

Sarah's Journey by D.L. WilletteSarah stuffed the money, birth certificate and diploma in the side zippered pocket of her backpack. She closed the safe deposit box, stepped out of the small room, and signaled to the bank lady, letting her know she was finished. Jake met Sarah in the lobby and laid his arm across her shoulders in that possessive way he had.

"You get all your money and papers?"

"Yes." She gave him a sidelong glance and they strode to where he’d parked his father's pickup. She scooted in from the driver’s side, leaving just enough room for Jake to slide in next to her—the way she knew he liked. He squeezed Sarah’s thigh before pulling the truck onto the street, and his hand rested on her leg as he drove. The backpack was on the seat beside her.

Jake parked the truck on icy slush in front of her house and turned to look at her. “Think your old man’s home?”

“Don’t call him that. No, Stan’s still at work. Ma should be here, though.”

Jake rolled his eyes. “Yeah, okay. Well, I’ll meet you there tomorrow. Bus leaves at four, right?” He ran a finger back and forth across Sarah’s cheek and dipped his head to get her to look into his eyes. “You looking forward to getting away from this mess?” His eyes swept over her head to look at the house. “And ...” Jake lifted her chin and smirked, “being together?” His brows moved in a suggestive gesture.

Published in Issue 48 May 2017
Sunday, 16 April 2017 20:11

The Fireflies of Todaji by Russell Hemmell

The Fireflies of Todaji by Steph BianchiniThey strolled along Sinus Iridum’s walking area, luscious and green - the dome’s borders looming in the distance. Artificiality nonetheless, it’s an awesome place, Chandra thought.

“Thanks for having me here,” Yumiko said with a timid smile. “You’re the first classmate that invited me to her settlement since I’ve joined school. Would you honour me and visit my home?”

“Certainly. When?”

“For the Todaji. There’s no better occasion to be in New Hokkaido.”

“Todaji - what’s that?”

“It’s the main event of the year. We celebrate the coming of spring and the cherry blossoms.”

“I’m not sure I understand, Yumiko.”

“What’s not to understand? It’s a water festival – and in Japan they regularly hold it.”

“See? At least two things in your sentence that don’t add up. This is not Japan, it’s not even Earth. And, water is at a premium everywhere on the Moon. Can’t believe things are that different in your settlement,” Chandra said.

Published in Issue 47 Apr 2017
Sunday, 16 April 2017 20:05

Aftermath of a Suicide by Dariah Spriggs

Aftermath of a Suicide by Dariah SpriggsWhen I said it, it was just a passing thought, something not to be taken seriously. It was a hot summer day, and I was hanging out in Nico’s room, cooling under his air conditioner. Nico, or as he was more widely known, Captain, was one of my best friends. He was sitting on his twin bed, and I was lounging in the beat up black bean bag chair in front of it. We were watching some crappy Lifetime movie on his small flat screen when he brought up the anniversary of my brother’s death which happened to be in a few days.

“Are your parents doing another memorial barbecue for Henry?”

Paying attention to the TV, I shrugged my shoulders. “I think so, but they never really decide on anything until the day before. Whatever they do, I don’t want to participate in it this year. Henry’s death isn’t something to be celebrated.”

“I don’t think they’re celebrating it, they’re just honoring his memory.”

“Henry wasn’t all that fond of barbeques,” I said, running a hand through my light brown hair. “If they want to honor him, they should at least do something he liked.”

“What did he like?” he asked, shifting on his bed.

Published in Issue 47 Apr 2017
Wednesday, 15 March 2017 08:40

That Awkward Moment by Susan Howarth

That Awkward Moment by Susan HowarthAaron made sure there was no food stuck in his teeth and flattened his hair. Again.

"Would you stop that?" Nate punched Aaron's shoulder.

Aaron shoved his hands in his pockets and concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other. Another block to go. He had seen these cookie-cutter houses with their carports, barbecues, and well-trimmed lawns a thousand times. His house was only five minutes away and looked just like them. But that night, he knew he was in a whole different world.

The street was quiet, unlike his racing mind. Sweat was pooling under his arms, and he made a mental note to keep his Beatles hoodie on all night. He didn't know much about impressing Tess Jacobs, but he knew that giant pit stains wouldn't help.

"Seriously dude, you look like you're about to puke. We're going to a party, not Principal Mackie's office," Nate said.

"This isn't just any party. Tess is going to be there." Aaron's voice was higher pitched than usual. "What am I supposed to say to her?"

"Talk about her band. Haven't you been to every one of their gigs?"

"If she finds out I've been sneaking in and hiding at the back to watch her, she'll think I'm a stalker."

Tess was the lead singer in a girl's rock band called Minor Blaze. The group was still working some things out -- like how to play the right notes and sing on key -- but God, Tess looked amazing up on stage.

"You are a stalker, dumbass. You've been staring at her from a distance for the last six months, not to mention talking my ear off about her. Trust me, it's time to make your move."

Published in Issue 46 Mar 2017
Wednesday, 15 March 2017 08:37

Rope Bound by Katie Stevens

Rope Bound by Katie StevensThe bell rings for the shift change. Everyone puts down their instruments and we turn as one. I stand behind Beatrice and see the clock on the wall, the red hand ticking steadily, one-two-three-four-five seconds, then I take a step forward, one-two-three-four-five another step. I watch the blue and red lights of the scanner wash over Beatrice, her up-stretched hands hardly reaching the over head bar we must hold to keep us still. She steps forward, we all step forward as one.

My head buzzes from the scanner, the only sound I have heard all day aside from the dull whir of machines. Everything sounds muffled as I hang up my white coat and remove the shoe covers and deposit them in the bin. I follow the line down the long, brightly lit corridor towards the exit. However bright the white light tubes might be, it still takes me several moments to adjust to the outside. I can not wait to allow my eyes to stop watering. I know without seeing that a corresponding line just feet across from me is walking in the opposite direction to begin shift. Another will be taking position at my work station, donning my gloves and equipment ready to take their part in the production line.

I step through the gates, turn to the right finally losing the view of the top of Beatrice's shining blonde hair. I take a deep breath but keep walking. It is forbidden to stop in a public place during shift change, between the hours of 11pm and 5.30am, and during the Sunday worship period. I walk along the perfectly manicured streets following the perpendicular grid of roads and pavement until I reach “Joe's” cafe bar. I push through into the cool clean interior. I take a seat next to my sister Lisa who is staring at the tv screen with an equally silent Justine, our cousin. We all work the same shift at New World Pharmaceutical Institute.

Published in Issue 46 Mar 2017
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