Jul/Aug 2018

e c l e c t i c a
f i c t i o n


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

Piano Lessons

She wanted to say that he had touched her. They were step siblings, after all. He had lumbered into her room, and she had awaited him, her neck hot, on the mattress. She retrieved her cup and sipped, remembered the striated curve of his erection; his pale steps; his discarded clothes that seemed to slink, whispering, through the dark; and how nobody had suspected them or asked questions except the one time her mother entered the kitchen while he snuggled her neck and, piercing him with her gaze, said she had not rinsed the cups properly.

Tobenna Nwosu

The Children

A newspaper from the larger town over caught wind of the growing family and photographed them, all working blondely and happily on the farm. The reporter showed up with a Finnish interpreter, and the McClouds' praises were sung loud and liltingly by all the children.

Jeannette Garrett

Pretty Little Thing

We were all there to celebrate life and next steps, new professions and wealth, livelihoods on the rise, maturing romances, a sum of the work we had all put in during our youth—both together and apart. This was 2006, and their apartment had a view of the Freedom Tower in its kind of skeletal phase of construction, and all I remember is this sense of a behemoth construct shading over the entire dinner and the reflection of the beams present the whole time in the Bride's copper eyes.

Alex Eaker

What Happened on Brandt Street

I'd been seeing my shrink Scott for two years. He probably shouldn't have been a shrink, or maybe he just shouldn't have been mine. He met me each week disheveled in khaki pants, a white or tan, wrinkled, button-down shirt he didn't bother to fasten at his wrist. His messy office was covered in remnants of cigarette ash that fell like dust over everything. His five o'clock shadow that never went away was darker than his short dirty blond hair. His flinty brown eyes were unreadable. Basically, Scott always looked like he'd just stepped out of a detective novel. All he needed was a gun holster strapped over his broad shoulder, and he'd have been the sexiest man alive.

Melissa Lewis-Ackerman

How can you tell if someone likes you?

"I noticed you were looking at me and then looked away when I looked at you," Andrew said. The man was strong. He could have pinned him against the subway doors, which was a fantasy of Andrew's. A fantasy of many people's, Andrew knew, from Quora.

Michael Kaplan

Principessa di Fiamme, Princess of Flames

I talked to some who said you must have died, because it couldn't have been a healthy lifestyle. I thought, maybe they're right. But what did it matter? I was committed. Something in the image of you, of your eyes focusing into the camera, of your posture, of... something. I've learned since that I wasn't alone in the need to be in your life. You'd come and gone for so many, been so important to them, been a muse and a siren and a love song. Yes, it was strange to search for you as long and as hard as I have, but the mystery of you needed solving, even if the end was a stone in a cemetery.

Chris S. Burns

This is What We Do in the Dark

"Lamb of God, take away the sins!" It came from the window. Lazarus peered from behind a potted cactus, creating an unnatural silhouette. The fence shook, and Billy let out a "Sonofabitchwhore!" He said it succinctly, as if the son, the bitch, and the whore were all part of one organismal trinity.

Nolan Allen

Why Don't You Make Love?

The boy said to the man, "Do we get the bed for free if we make love in it?"

James Penha

Goodbye Is Too Good a Word

If one event marked the change more than any other, it was the firing of Andy Mack (sometimes called Big Mack) from the Planetarium Grill. All of Columbus Avenue seemed to shudder as the news made the rounds that Saturday afternoon. No one could believe it. Andy had been a fixture at the Grill for all those years when the Grill was the hub of the action, a renovated pioneer among bar-restaurants on the Avenue. None of us will forget that day. It lives in infamy for anybody still around.

Raphael Falco

An Excerpt from The Beneficiaries, a Novel

The librarian wore a monocle over his eye—he had only one to wear it over. As I approached his desk, which towered above me, he gripped the far edge and pulled himself forward, leading with his nose. And so, most unfortunately, it was upon this organ that I made my first impression. He sniffed and blinked in surprise, or winked I suppose, and cried out, "Guard!"

Benjamin Henry DeVries

A Student Deferment

But if this deal went through, he would not have to write any pathetic, straining articles for some time, long enough to finish a book, even two if he was at his best. He had never been a top journalist, but he could put words on paper fast enough when he had to. Now he was selling pictures, and he smiled at the knowledge that, indeed, each one was worth much more than a thousand words.

David Rich

Inside the Castle

She found his pessimism endearing—what a Jew—but also frustrating. Couldn't he just, for once, be happy? "You should give reviewers more credit. Or less. I mean, if Obama has an effect, they'll parrot him, right? Isn't that the way it works?"

David Mizner