Category: Fiction

What We Left in the Caf by Katharine Coldiron

Not until a month later does your mother ask about Hannah, and even then you are able to deflect her easily. She’s been out of school a lot, you say, and it isn’t really a lie. Hannah has missed some school. That isn’t the reason you haven’t talked about her to your mother, nor is it the reason you haven’t gone to her house for a sleepover since the one in February. And it certainly isn’t the reason you’ve been looking away from Hannah eating alone in the school cafeteria.

You have thought about how much better it would be if you could go to a different middle school. Just so you wouldn’t have to see her there, eating alone, most days. Your lunch periods are still the same, you and Hannah and the girls who shut you out of the clique last year and the white-trash boys who smoke cigarettes and hunt squirrels on the weekends. Travis Putnam got killed doing that on New Year’s Day. Didn’t come back to school after winter break. Shot in the head.

Unboxed by Nathalie Lawrence

Helloooo, my lovelies! It’s so great to see you again. Thanks for coming back to my channel for my monthly beauty box unboxing. I can’t believe another month has already sailed by because what is time anymore, right???

Anyway, I just got my Glitzyglam and NailChic boxes from the package room in my building’s basement that smells vaguely like trash and sewage and I’m really starting to wonder if management is ever going to do anything about it, but let’s be real, the answer is probably not. Doesn’t matter, though, because I’m epically thrilled for this month’s video. I hate to disappoint, but I’m going to have to skip the Glitzyglam and NailChic unboxings this time because my mask box just came in, and I have to share it with you.

The Falcon and The Fox by Mitchell Near

Bernard had planned for today to be the last day of his life. He stared out the window of his office on the 35th floor of the Maxwell building, overlooking the San Francisco Bay. If he peered through the telescope he kept near the window, he could see The Campanile of the University of California, Berkeley campus.  It supposedly resembled St. Mark’s Campanile in Piazza San Marco in Venice. He didn’t see it that way. He saw it as an artifice, an historical pastiche derived from a tower in an ancient European city. As far as Bernard was concerned, it was a failure, same as him.

The Mentor by Noah Codega

My mentor sits lotus-style on the biggest chair I’ve ever seen. It’s beet-red velvet, flushed absolutely crimson, and is dangled all over with golden silk tassels. The room is otherwise green, full of leafy plants that hang densely from the high glass ceiling or stand in terracotta pots on the floor. There’s a wet warm smell, somewhere between a greenhouse and a summer afternoon, deep in a mossy forest, after a hard rain.

My mentor is ancient and wrinkled like a root-cellar apple in April. Under his coarse gray hood his blocky head is stubbly with close-cropped hair, and his full beard is smooth and white. He looks a bit like a wizard.

But wizards don’t use guns, and my mentor has a revolver resting in his lap, both his hands laid across it like it’s a sacred text he’s praying on.

Guitar Girl by Cecilia Kennedy

Bathed in red light, bodies move and pulse, arms swaying like sea-anemone-tentacles, washed by waves of electric guitar and drum beats pounding out “Zombie.” Center stage, Dolores O’Riordan plays her red electric guitar, the weight of that thing strapped to her, and she just rips it—just tears up that song, and it’s the most badass thing I’ve ever seen. And I want that. I know that a badass lives deep inside of me, but I must take baby steps first. I must learn to play the electric guitar. Then, I’ll buy myself a silver-sequined mini dress. That’s the badass dream.

Also, I have no job. I don’t have a Gibson ES 335 in cherry red, either. The moving expenses my husband and I paid to get from Ohio to the suburbs of Seattle for his job were the price of one Gibson ES 335. We’ll break even, but I should find some work too, to help out with some of the extras like room and board for a child we might have someday who plans on going to college.

Viral by Tim Hanson

“It’s so wonderful you’re helping me, Michael,” Mrs. Brewster said, offering the boy a smile he had no intentions of returning. “I want you to know how much I appreciate it.”

Like I had a choice, you old bitch.

Michael’s mother had forced him to come, so he could help their elderly neighbor dispose of her recently-departed husband’s belongings. It was penance, she said, for receiving yet another suspension at Jefferson Middle School. “It’s either that or your phone,” she’d threatened. He knew she probably wouldn’t take that away—as far back as he could remember, his phone had offered her innumerable respites from her son’s sour behavior—but he also knew everyone had a breaking point. It was best not to push his luck and just pay the piper now when the bill wasn’t too stiff.

The Unit by Joe Hakim

There’s no sudden realisation, no great epiphany. It’s just the slow creep of comprehension, like waking up from a long sleep, that brief moment when you’re not sure if you’re awake or still dreaming.

It’s like an archaeologist placing a sheet of tracing paper on an engraving, and then rubbing it with charcoal. Slowly, with a bit of effort, a picture begins to emerge.

A Beginner’s Guide to Staying in Touch After the Apocalypse by Sidney Dritz

Robert Frost wrote, “some say the world will end by fire / some say in ice,” but if he had hung around for a few more years, he might have felt moved to add a stanza or two about the possibilities of superbugs, nuclear annihilation, a robot uprising at Y2K, a racist misreading of the Mayan calendar, and the unlikely but ever-popular zombie apocalypse. Genre conventions dictate that the discerning survivor might hold out for a back-to-the-land-style complete collapse of technological infrastructure, but it’s not just disaster-sophisticates who are always just a few catastrophic weather events away from a formalized nomadic existence enforced by the need to flee hurricanes, heat waves, extreme blizzards, and flooding. But no matter which flavor of destruction is your drug of choice, I think we can all agree on one thing: in the event of a survivable cataclysm, communication is important.

Luckily for you, I’m-Afraid-To-Watch-The-News Weekly has you covered with five practical and stylish ideas for keeping track of your nearest and dearest when the end is even nearer than they are.

Headlights by Daragh Fleming

I couldn’t see the water. The waves crashed on the shore in a slow intention melody. I could hear them crashing as they tried to seduce the coastline. The waves always seemed to me to be a good metaphor for hard work, for grinding it out. A slow, almost unnoticeable effort to wear down the land they lapped at. Years of agonising Sisyphean toil that appears for all intents to amount to nothing through the lens of daily life. Yet when you step back and really look, when you see how the land was before and how the land is now, you see that the waves have managed to move the land entirely, to shape it and change its appearance. The waves have always reminded me that with enough work and persistence, you could move anything or anyone.