Ghost Light by Kate Leimer

I am the Ghost Light, the one who stands and watches the stage when the theatre is closed.

I am here for safety; you wouldn’t want to tumble down into the orchestra pit while fumbling for the light switch, would you? I watch the ghosts who come to entertain the empty seats at night; the usherette in her apron and cap, who drifts through the wall that wasn’t there when she worked here, long ago.

Russian Doll by Andrea Lynn Koohi

I never travelled as a kid but I did play “spin the globe”. It’s that game you play by yourself where you close your eyes and spin a globe, then use your index finger to stop it. When you open your eyes and see where your finger landed, that’s the next place you pretend to visit.

It seemed whenever I played this game, I landed on Russia. The largest country in the world, of course, but my 13-year old self took it as a sign. A sign I had some connection to this frigid, far-off place. And so began my Russian obsession. Mostly 19th century Russian stuff, since that’s all I could get my hands on, but I took what I could get. I borrowed books on Russian history, read all 800 pages of Anna Karenina. Ignored the strange looks of passers by as I sat on the beach with Crime and Punishment while other kids read Harry Potter. I imagined myself a Russian beauty with a pale, heart-shaped face and ever-blonde hair. I knew without a doubt I’d marry a Russian, study Russian in university. At night, Tchaikovsky blasted in my headphones while my mother and her boyfriend slurred daggers in the kitchen, diminuendos punctuated by crashing glass and the thud of bone on drywall. Sure, my pants had holes in the seams and I slept on the floor, but I burrowed in a dreamland, my own Nutcracker fairy tale, dancing the mazurka with a Russian beau.

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.

A life worth living, after all by B F Jones

When Constance Dawson died, no-one really noticed nor even batted an eyelid, for she had been ill a long time and also, a bitter old bitch.

When she came back a few days later, re-materialising on a Saturday morning in the middle of the town’s farmers market, the overall response had been a bit more energetic, some gasping, some downright fainting but most whipping phones from back pockets in the hope to catch the eerie sight.

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.

Speaking English with an Accent by Gauri Sirur

Four days after I moved with my family from Mumbai, India, to Cleveland, Ohio, I picked up the phone to order pizza. I had eaten pizza twice before in Mumbai–at a small eatery that served a spicy-sweet sauce and cheese on a six-inch pizza base. (This happened over twenty years ago. In 2021 pizza is widely available in India.) But now in Cleveland, I couldn’t wait to try the exotic version I’d seen in American TV shows and comic books.

I dialed a number from a flyer that had come in the mail. “Hello, I would like to order pizza.”

“Sure,” said a young male voice at the other end. “You have Q-pins?”