Oct/Nov 2013

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f i c t i o n


(These are excerpts—click on the title to view the whole piece!)

The Testimony of Jayce B.

When I pulled away, her eyes were still closed, a few crystals of salt and sand caged between her fluttering lashes. I leaned in to press my lips against the first "8" on her forehead, but then stopped. The number was slightly fuzzy at the edges, almost as if it had been written in ink and ocean water had begun to wash it away. The blur was so slight that I thought perhaps it was my own vision at fault, a product of the wooziness I felt from the kiss. Yet in another few weeks, I noticed it again, and it seemed the gray was becoming even more faded, like a bruise slowly disappearing.

Karissa Chen

I've Always Thought Marjorie Was Okay

The barn door slid open easily with one hand, the tracks and rollers well-greased because Mac was like that, a good farmer. He liked to think he was a good husband, too, like now where he was carrying Kay with courtesy and dignity (almost, Kay's butt right next to his cheek) instead of wrapping his hand in her hair and dragging her across the barnyard. Like anyone, Mac had forces inside urging him toward despicable behaviors. He was yielding to one, he knew, but that didn't mean all vestiges of marital decency had to go by the board.

G. K. Wuori

The Grinning Man

Now, the more sensible of us are skeptics. Carl Washington went and called our town a den of fools. He says our imaginations are running from us, full sprint. That we ought to slow down and think for a second. Some of us agree, but most are growing scared.

An Tran

And the Cunning Heart Whispers

I kept going to the bar and would wait for Robby's shift to end so he could walk me home. We would hold hands as he walked me. And walking me home became walking himself inside my apartment, and given the late hours, it began as innocent sleepovers that never ended in more than holding one another, our hands, then our bodies. The physicality escalated to sex after a few weeks of innocent sleepovers and everything else that people who have sex do.

Rebeka Singer

The President's Telephone

Things are getting tougher for the electrons, there's no doubt. Running around at the speed of light with Gigahertz of oomph? Do you like to jump out of bed in the morning? They're fed up. Bad blood is coming out. They've always been competitive with protons, and now they're saying, with all due sarcasm, "Why don't you ask those losers to do the job?" Apparently they don't like neutrons either. They call them loafers.

Jon Fried


O looks into Blaire's face, and for a second I think she might scream, but then her look mellows. I don't think she has a clue who Blaire is anymore, but she has decided to go dormant as though she does, like an animal hibernating in a bank of snow.

Jennifer Dunn

The Privilege of Distance

We had planned to have children as soon as we settled our little family in the unsettling routine. Our baby would naturally grow to be proud and accepting of a father who splits. But I? I had to learn to peel my beloved from my insides.

Avital Gad-Cykman


There's that prickle behind her eyes again, but she can hardly help it. Kane is so much like her Joseph at the same age. Such talent. It was her mother all over again, playing through his fingers. His gift, his wonderful, wonderful gift. At least he never followed his father into the used-car business, at least she can be thankful for that.

Paula McGrath

Of Job's Tears

Brandy and I had met on Match.com. Our first date was in a bar on College Avenue just south of Berkeley. I'd been on nine of these, and they had all come to bad ends, usually evident in the first 20 seconds. But upon sight of Brandy I felt a note of hope.

Dennis Kaplan

Annette and Florian

For several weeks she teaches him French for an hour each day. He brings her presents of food at times and tobacco for her father, who doesn't smoke but hoards it to pass along to others in exchange for other things. Her family is left alone, conspicuously so, because neighbors start to behave strangely, becoming more distant, which hurts her mother deeply. Annette can tell. Her father is too ill to be out and about much, so he hardly notices. Annette keeps dyeing her hair to a color Adjutant Fuchs declares more than once he thinks is beautiful. Little does he know.

Beate Sigriddaughter

Owen in Her Head

It was crazy, the way Owen Wilson sounded like Owen Wilson. He made hot cocoa and noted the lack of marshmallows in the household and talked to her about things he never talked about in public. He talked about why he loved heroin and yet hated heroin, and he talked about his breakups and how hard it was to connect and stay connected, and he talked to her about Bertrand's music (not a fan), and he knew everything about Val. He knew about how hard she had cared for her dad (cancer) and her mom (epiglottitits) and how much she didn't like being an orphan. He knew about the way she cried and how her heart had grown full of dread.

Caroline Kepnes