Answer One Question for The Stay of a Lifetime by Rebecca Houghton

“Have you seen my wife?” says Mr. Blakeney, his hand coming down on the slate tile counter with a thump.

“Ah, hello, sir. We’ve been expecting you,” replies the neatly dressed concierge, his dark red uniform smartly pressed, metallic buttons glinting in the light from the old-fashioned brass desk lamp.

“My wife isn’t here?” says Mr. Blakeney.

Phoebe, or Rapunzel, Revamped by Linda McMullen

Once upon a time, there was a young maiden named Phoebe, blessed with beauty, grace, and intelligence – and enough guile to hide the last, when necessary.

She was the youngest flower of an ancient lineage, the only child of a love-match.  She possessed a wide circle of friends who adored her, and openly envied her loveliness.  She lived in ease in an ancient house in the country.  Indeed, her whole life was a song – except that her parents were in thrall to The Grandmother.

There and Not There by C.J. Dotson

We all read the stories when we were little, didn’t we? A bunch of children go into a wardrobe, or through a tiny door that’s only bricked over sometimes, or find a secret key, go down a rabbit hole, cross a bridge, fall into a book, vanish. Then there’s magic, and adventure, and villains for the children to test themselves against. At the end they come back and no time has passed, no one realized they were gone.

It’s bullshit.

Plane Girl by Andrew Stiggers

Though she loves her best mate to bits, Rachel doesn’t believe her for one moment.

“Yes, someday soon, I’ll be flying planes,” Jeany had told her as they were observing from the bar an airline pilot crossing the terminal hall. He’s smartly dressed in his gold-striped uniform.

“Sure, Jeany.” Her friend could never stick with a job. She gets bored too easily, flittering like a moth from lamp to wall light. First there was the hairdresser’s, then the vet’s, and now more recently the dental assistant job. “That’s it—I’ve quit the practice,” she’d announced, tossing her keys on the benchtop after returning to their flat.

Psychedelic Existentialism in Rob Doyle’s “Threshold” by Declan Toohey

In one of the wittier moments in Rob Doyle’s latest book—a sprawling account of one man’s quest for meaning in the pharmacological era—the narrator visits the world-renowned Shakespeare and Company bookshop in Paris. There, among other things, he searches in vain for texts by Maurice Blanchot and Pierre Klossowski, and repositions copies of his own novel to cover the works of rival authors. Observing that the Parisian bookshop is as much a tourist attraction as a place in which to acquire books, he bemoans the many patrons who visit the store solely to be photographed, and who shuffle off with a book or two from ‘usual suspects’ such as ‘Kerouac, Bukowski, Hemingway, and Salinger.’[1]