Displaying items by tag: fiction

Sunday, 15 September 2019 10:02

Unequal Arrith by Katie Keridan

Unequal Arrith by Katie KeridanArrith pulled her gaze away from the walls and focused on where the doctor was gesturing for her to sit. The chair was a sleek mixture of white cushions and steel rods and looked like it might recline. She sat down carefully, ready to lean forward and catch herself if the seat suddenly rocked backwards. It didn’t, which probably meant it was controlled electronically and wouldn’t move until the doctor typed in a command.

Arrith scooted back until she could feel the top cushion pressing snugly against her shoulder blades. She’d briefly considered perching on the edge of the chair, but had decided that such a position might look suspicious. It wasn’t as if she’d be making a mad dash out of a doctor’s office, no matter how much she might wish to.

The doctor’s dark blonde hair pulled back into a no-nonsense bun. She sat down across from Arrith and offered a smile that was too large and too bright to be genuine.

“Hello there, Arrith. Thank you so much for coming in today.”

Arrith nodded, knowing it was the polite thing to do. She wondered why grown-ups said things like that…as if she’d had any say over whether or not she came to this appointment. She hadn’t even known about it until last night, when her mother had stuck her head into Arrith’s room and casually mentioned it.

She had, of course, first frowned at seeing the book in Arrith’s hands.

“Is that for a school assignment?” she’d asked.

Published in Issue 76 Sep 2019
Thursday, 15 August 2019 15:46

Eleven Minutes by Jasmine Stanford

eleven minutesApril 11, 12:06 AM

The booze smelled sour on his breath as he stumbled into her and asked, “Want to get out of here?” She had given him no signs that she was interested, in fact, the only reason Jess was even out tonight was to celebrate her friend’s birthday. She had been guilted. There had been puppy dog eyes.

Then an arm circled her waist from beside her and a clean-shaven man that did not seem like he had spent the better part of the last three hours doing shots with his buddies said, “Sorry man, she’s taken.”

August 18, 8:31 PM

“Honey, it’s not that we don’t like Cole it’s just that, well, it’s only been four months. How much can you really know about a man in four months?” Jess’s mother was trying to keep the panicked pleading from her voice.

“Mom, I love him. He loves me, that’s all I need to know.” Her heart was filled with warmth for the man who entered her life a stranger and had since never ceased to show his love for her. The way he would pull her tighter whenever they were out and another man seemed to look her way. The way he would show up unexpectedly to surprise her with lunch at work. And of course there was the proposal, no one saw that coming.

Published in Issue 75 Aug 2019

The cherry of his cigarette makes the darkness incandescent. We’re also eating cherries. At least I am. All he does is crush them in his fists until the pulpy juice drips between his fingers.

It’s no secret why he asked me to his family’s orchard, though we’re both very good at pretending. My heart spiked as I walked here and hasn’t stopped thudding since. I don’t know if I should feel sad or relieved that he can’t hear its telltale arrhythmia.

“Want a drag?” he signs one-handedly.

I’m about to give my token answer for everything: I don’t smoke. I don’t drink. I don’t kiss other boys. But I want to touch the place his lips touched, so I take the cigarette from him and curl my mouth around the damp cylinder.

I cough, and his laughter is a quiet vibration next to me.

“Graduation’s a week away. What will you do afterward?” Asking this is a distraction, a way to stop overthinking about what we’re doing here, and what my parents would think, and—

He gestures around at his kingdom. “Anything,” he signs. “Anything but this.”

Published in Issue 75 Aug 2019
Monday, 15 July 2019 12:54

Disposables by Ruth Nwefo

disposables.jpgThe day Sophia received the acceptance letter in the mail was the worst day of her life. She didn’t even have to open the packet to know she was accepted. The size gave it away. Placing the stack of mail on her dining room table, Sophia glanced around the still house. She needed to get the letter out of the room unnoticed as soon as possible.

Her parents had been waiting for this day to come for years. Having both attended graduate school up north, they found it fitting that she, too, follow in their footsteps. They had loved their education so much that the two of them decided to stay in Cambridge, instead of moving south like they had originally planned. This way, Sophia would be able to get the “finest education” while living at home, in which there would be no possible way for her to “forget her culture”. Every day since the interview, they had asked Sophia to bring the mail in as soon as she got back from school. It was the only thing that kept her parents going--the anticipation.

Sophia’s mother stood at the kitchen island, fiercely chopping plantains for the night’s dinner. As per usual, her dark brown curls were tied back, and she was wearing the same cooking apron that she always wore. Sophia had never really thought that she and her mom looked alike, but their identical hair, high cheekbones, and brown eyes said otherwise.

Her mom turned to her, noticing Sophia’s staring.

“Anything good?” The one thing Sophia hadn’t gotten from either of her parents were their Nigerian accents. Hers seemed to have gotten lost at baggage claim when they had arrived in America.

“Anything good” was code for did the letter from her alma matter come in the mail, granting her daughter acceptance?

Published in Issue 74 Jul 2019
Monday, 15 July 2019 12:51

Tradition by MM Schreier

tradition.jpgAn arid wind swept across Kiro’s face. He flattened his nostril flaps to block out the dust and frowned.

“This is grave folly.”

Anouche snorted.

“You sound like an elder. You’re not on the Council yet, Kiro-lin.”

Kiro raised an eyebrow at the honorific. Anouche ignored him and tipped back her canteen to let a narrow stream dribble onto her tongue, before wrapping her dust hood back around her face.

For the hundredth time she wished she had more native features––the sun-dark skin, the strong-muscled legs designed for walking through shifting sand, the second set of clear eyelids that protected against swirling grit. Instead, she was a throwback to the now extinct Offworlders. The two peoples had intermingled, but the pale skin and fragile stature of the aliens had bowed to natural selection, unsuited for this desert world. Still, Anouche hoped that the freakish blood running through her veins would be good for something. Perhaps she’d succeed where everyone else had failed.

Squinting, she glanced up. The first sun had reached its zenith, and its smaller red sister marched across the sky, close behind. Their rays turned the air into a shimmering, sweltering curtain.

Published in Issue 74 Jul 2019

Mirror, Mirror, in the Market by Michael M. JonesIn the very modern city of Puxhill, where science and rationality mostly hold sway, an ancient, secret bastion of magic and mystery rests, quietly waiting for its time to come around again. Forgotten, ignored, or simply disbelieved by most people, it’s both haven and temptation for those with the capacity to embrace the unknown. Here, in the Gaslight District, streets change direction, shops come and go, and the night lasts as long as it likes. For those who are truly bold, curious, or desperate, there’s the Midnight Market, which only exists for three nights a month when the moon is at its fullest. In between the vendors hawking charmed shoes and enchanted trinkets, fanciful foods and rare herbs and potions of all sorts, one stall holds nothing but a simple wooden chair in front of a small, ornate mirror mounted on the back wall.

Sometimes—but not always—if the right person sits in the chair and stares into the mirror, they see not their reflection, but something else, a wisp of a face floating in a cloudy void. Questions may be asked, and answers received. There is always a price for truth.

It was near the witching hour around the end of March when a young woman walked into the Midnight Market, every step a wary advance into unfamiliar territory. She huddled in a much-faded blue sweatshirt, features all but hidden by her hood, and she paid the wonders around her little heed, instead making a beeline for the chair and the mirror. Those who noticed her, who realized her destination, followed her with curious looks, conversations pausing momentarily. In a few cases, money exchanged hands as bets were placed on whether the mirror would respond to this one.

Published in Issue 73 Jun 2019
Saturday, 15 June 2019 10:27

Feedback by Harrison C. Cowan

Feedback  by Harrison C. CowanTasha is sitting in a dimly lit green room with her headphones on, waiting for her guitarist Azam to call her to the stage. As always, the boys perform the first song alone before she kicks off the show. Normally, Tasha can barely contain herself during these backstage moments. Her nerves like jangling keys, in her stomach the fluttering, giddy anticipation of stepping in front of a crowd, then the terrifying thrill of performing. “An ecstasy unlike any other,” Azam once called it. But tonight there’s a sick feeling in her stomach. A low, aching pain that makes her wish she wasn’t performing at all. She knows what it is.

She can’t see the crowd yet, she’ll only know when she steps on stage, but she can already feel him in the audience. Fadhli, her boyfriend. Ex-boyfriend, she reminds herself. He’ll be waiting out there, his sad, pleading eyes ready to connect with hers during the show, never once looking away.

Bile builds up in the back of her mouth. She leans over her knees, nearly retching. I don’t want to see him tonight. God, I can’t see him tonight. She spits onto the floor and the acid taste lingers.

Through her headphones she hears the steady pounding of Rafe’s kick drum. The sound is thick, muted, like hearing it underwater. It mixes with all the other noises she's been hearing.

Published in Issue 73 Jun 2019
Monday, 06 May 2019 14:37

Heroine by James Harris

Heroine by James Harris

I’ve always wanted to be a hero.

Or, I guess since I’m a girl, I’d be considered a heroine? Fitting.

I could tell you about my whole life story. Explain all of the events that brought me here, to this moment in time, in this particular place, but let’s be real. No one wants to hear another sob story.

I’ll tell you what does make me feel like I’m a heroine, with super powers, able to go back in time, save my own life, along with countless others.

Black tar.

Nothing in the world like it, let me tell you.

Since I was fourteen, I’ve been-

Shit, see, no one cares. You’ve heard it all before.

Published in Issue 72 May 2019
Monday, 06 May 2019 14:34

Izzie’s Secret by Kirsten Quarforth

Izzie’s Secret by Kirsten Quarforth

Izzie squeezed her red solo cup, pressing her drink up until it almost spilled over. The wind ruffled her hair, raising goosebumps on her arms. However, even this far away from the party, the bonfire’s heat pressed into her back and kept her from being completely chilled as she stared into the trees this time of night. A few shrill beats wandered her way, threatening to break the boombox Jake had bought at a vintage store last week. First, record players were hip again, now the boombox. At least the record player sounded less tinny.

Jake’s hand slid onto her shoulder. Izzie turned, letting her cup regain its normal shape. She smiled up at him, her boyfriend. Boyfriend. A year later it still thrilled her to say it, even to herself.

“Why are you so far away from everyone?” he said.

Another gust of wind shot through her. “I was looking at the trees.” She crossed her arms.

“You need another drink?” He twirled his empty beer bottle.

She looked down at the only drink she’d had the past two hours. “Nah. I’m good with this.” She’d been wandering out here to pour away the drink bit by bit, so it looked like she was drinking, but she supposed she still couldn’t keep up with the boys’ habits.

Published in Issue 72 May 2019

Desperate Trolls Call for Desperate Measures By Kathryn FletcherI am a seer of magical realms, a defender of the unaware. Fairies, goblins, tiny dragons, and more populate our world and very few people know it. 

The troll incident began Friday afternoon at my school, Ogion High School. Three sprites flew around Mrs. Snapp’s feet as she wrote on the whiteboard. She could not see any of the Fae.

Mrs. Snapp is the nicest teacher ever. She is one of the younger teachers at the high school. I can tell, because she wears skinny jeans. Old teachers don’t wear those. Plus she always smells like chocolate and green tea.

I watched them to see if Mrs. Snapp was going to trip over one of the sprites or step on it. They zipped around and between her feet like it was a game. Maybe it was for them. I hated them for that. I hoped she would do me a favor and step on one. All it would take is one mistake on their part and Mrs. Snapp would crush it, like one of those little red tomatoes squished on the carpet.   

Sprites look like your typical fairy as depicted in countless books, except they are angular. They have sharp pointy eyebrows, ears, and even their elbows are sharp. The little devils wear studded clothing too. Nothing about them is pleasant.

Published in Issue 71 Apr 2019
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