Small Sounds Ricochet Through the Darkness by F.C. Malby

In memory of Sarah

Don’t walk home alone, not at this time of night, my friends say, waving at me from a table of empty cocktail glasses, flapping like a gaggle of geese. I’ll be fine, I say, I’ll text you when I’m home. Are you sure? they ask, but it’s more a way of allaying their own fears. Yes, I’ll be fine.

I walk out of the bar, keys in hand, each one pushed between my fingers — a miniature Edward Scissorhands — EarPods in, mobile phone clutched in the other hand. I wore flats, because that’s what you do when you might need to run. It’s normal, except that it’s not. Normal is wearing what you like, not thinking about when you might need to run or who you would need to call, it’s not turning the music down in case there’s a Come over here, Love. Oi. You. I’m talking to you.

Genesis and Revelation by Carl Tait

Bubba Cantwell’s a better salesman than I am. He even sold me on selling Bibles.

His daddy’s a preacher. A real boring preacher, even as preachers go. Oh, Lordy, don’t tell Bubba I said that. It’s true, but don’t tell him. He thinks his daddy is best friends with Jesus.

Anyway, Reverend Cantwell is connected with a company that spreads the Word of God to regular people and heathens. Every summer, the company sends teenage boys to towns all over Georgia to sell Bibles. The boys earn some spending money and the church helps save sinners. It’s a pretty good deal all around, I reckon.

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.

Lemonology by Gina Headden

My mother always said it was my nursery got me started: citrine walls like sunshine that made my future bright.

As a toddler, I played with lemons, rolled them on the floor, threw them like a ball and nibbled them, the way that toddlers do. I liked the taste, craved more. I begged Mum for lemon chicken, lemon pancakes, lemon drizzle, lemon this, lemon that, lemon, lemon, lemon and, at the sweet shop on Saturdays, saliva pooling underneath my tongue, I watched Helen weigh my lemon sherbets on a silver scale.