Oct/Nov 2020

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!)

Muthi Ammini's Banyan

In the waist-high, pellucid water, a bunch of children were having a ball, their voices gurgling. The canal was as wide as a highway, water from river Chaliyar running shallow. "You wade through the canal until you find a bridge. It will take you much less time, but if you don't want to get wet, you can trek the dry trail," was what Pathrose had soundly said. Kesu should have asked him how much longer it would take by road, but he hadn't. It was nearly sundown. The crows and cranes were returning nest-ways, the sky in places crimson, the September air in Nilambur still wet from the southwest monsoon.

Anagha Unni

Ten Bucks Says He Beats Her
(Spotlight Runner-Up!)

I ask if we can have some tunes. This dude totally still listens to actual radio stations, like, with towers and contests and shit. Doesn't he know satellite radio is so much better? He gets this really annoying look. He's reminding me he's the adult and I'm not. I just keep smiling. It doesn't fucking matter 'cause the news is on, so I space out for a bit. I hate the news. It's just a bunch of sad and scary crap happening to people I don't know and never will.

Thomas Kearnes


She sterilizes the tiny needles and puts 80 of them into my right hand. I grimace and squirm with the sting of each needle, and she tells me to think about those less fortunate than myself. I walk around her living room with the needles in my hand while she washes the plums in dish soap, dries them till they shine, then brings a bowl of them for us to eat. They are juicy and delicious, and I slurp the juice a little as she watches without comment.

Sandra Florence

The Monsoon Child

In this village, the monsoon child was born. Monsoon Child. Strange name. You see, her mother gave her the name when she started talking. The monsoon child began to talk early, and she relished the words she learned. Words rolled around her lips, her palate, her throat. She savored the way they felt in her mouth. Some were heavier than others. Some smelled gray, like the river. Some were yellow like the lamps. Some were salty like the river water in a cyclone. Some were bitter like the fish from their river.

Lakshmi Arya Thathachar

The Travelers Walked Through Byways

After a while, Grapenut grew tired of consoling Winnie and began staring at the vomit on the floor. He was too repulsed to do anything about it. Then his dread and resentment started to build. He realized the friends of the blinded guy could return with more friends and weapons. It seemed to him the situation was now more dangerous than it was when the guy first came through the window.

Huntley Gibson Paton


When the Americans bomb our country, after Moscow, they will bomb us... because there is a nuclear plant and a hydroelectric power station. And if they blow up the hydro, we are all flooded. So where should you go?

Daryana Antipova


"We got concerned because she was so precise with the cut, with hitting her carotid artery," I was informed that night by a Doctor Number Two. "Yet she was also just shy of a fatal depth."

Pascale Potvin


On Sundays I wear my church shoes. Mom puts my hair in a french braid and helps me pick out a dress. It's just me and her and my big sister Allison today because Dad doesn't come to church except when Mom is singing in the choir. On those days someone needs to sit with me in the pews, but also he likes to hear Mom sing. The choir sings up high in the back and their voices blend together, but Dad says he can hear her.

Elizabeth Wahmhoff

Return to Grace

I think Brian was relieved his mother didn't scare me. My own parents had shrieking battles regularly, but they never became physical, so I didn't associate conflict with incipient beatings. I was shocked in later adolescence to learn Brian was not so lucky: his father, also a drunk, beat his mother and him both. "He blamed me," Brian told me later, "for Mom's drinking. I told him once, after I knew how things were with people, that he had gotten her pregnant, not me, so it was his fault. He broke my arm that day. But it was worth it, because he stayed away for six months after that. Ran off to Nevada to beat someone else up every night, I guess. I was just glad it wasn't me for a while."

Richard Risemberg

Exactly Like Her Father

Jean seemed to be listening to my comments and accepting them as essentially valid, but finally she said, "I appreciate all you're suggesting, John, but now I think I would rather not continue talking about Pops."

John Palcewski


The young man who had carved her had dark hair, dark eyes, and skin like burnt caramel. He wore baggy jeans and a backwards baseball cap. He had used a chainsaw in the beginning, and it seemed almost as though he were fighting against the ice. At war with it. Slashing at it, bits and splinters of it flying up into his face. But then, as she began to take form, he used an astonishing array of picks and chisels. He lost himself in the process, a look of fierce concentration on his face as he worked. He gently tapped out her face, her arms, legs, and breasts. With a tiny little chisel, he carefully carved out the hint of a slit in her most private place: she was embarrassed at first, and wondered if she was supposed to be a dirty joke.

Leah Erickson

The Imram of Donegal

We were over 400 Irish men, women and children at the monastery of Desertegney, which dated from the time of St. Patrick. We were prosperous, with much gold accumulated over the centuries. Our flocks were large and healthy, and our weavers produced both ordinary and fine garments. We made a woolen cloak, a brat, excellent for cold and rainy weather, and we sold many of them in Ireland and across the water in Cornwall, a country still rich on the export of tin. We were known for our great wolfhounds, exported to Cornwall and elsewhere in Britain, even to Gaul. We also grew much flax, to produce Irish people's main garment, the linen leinte or tunic. Our finest tunics, dyed in blues and greens to show the owners' high station, clothed kings and nobles across Ireland. Yet all was not well with us.

Peter Bridges