Jan/Feb 2022

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f i c t i o n


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

For Hers is the Kingdom of Heaven

Every time Aabha enters the room, she finds Uncle-ji in a different state of undress. He rolls her up the sleeves of his kurta, then takes it off. He takes off his vest. He then pulls up the leg of his pyjamas.

Prateek Nigam

A Lost Will

On Mott Street, I watched the faces of those who passed me, wondering about the history of their lives. I missed my father, who'd told me all about the original will, a gift to me and my sisters from our parents—a gift split three ways when the house would be sold. Now it had changed, and there would be nothing. There'd been a fire in the lawyer's office, after all, and Mom didn't know where her own copy was. And no hard copies anywhere.

Lou Gaglia

The Bear of Tallgrass Reservation
(Spotlight Runner-Up!)

Sister Walburga had hoped to escape the kind of grueling physical labor she'd known as a child, yet the mission assignment had proven even more challenging. As a child, Agatha had picked rocks in the spring, lifting whatever large field stone came up in the heaves of freeze and thaw, rolling them onto the back of a wagon her older brother Otto drove too fast for her and the other children to keep up. Agatha hated the mud, the dirt everywhere, the backbreaking work of laundry with her mother, worse and worse as the dozen children were born in their own season and heaped more and more clothing on the pile, including diapers, all her years at home. And after her younger sister Sarah fell through the ice and drowned, her mother lost the spark of joy she'd had—and there had only been a small spark—and everything became pure drudgery.

Susan Sink

The Last Five-Year Club

After lunch we reported to the basketball court in our jockstraps, where we had our height and weight measured and stepped on a wooden box for posture photographs. Miss Loveday the registrar took notes as Nurse Belleau called out the measurements. Edgerton was both skinniest and tallest, leading to his nickname, Edge. Aronson was the fattest. Miller the shortest. Kuharich (already Ku) had scoliosis of the spine. He looked like a goose-pimpled banana. Davis didn't want to take off his socks because the floor was cold. That's when he became Socks.

Robert Earle

The Movie Theater

Mr. Wu leaves unsaid the state of the theater's balance sheets. The truth is, newer theaters with better equipment having been popping up for years, and now that audiences increasingly stay home and watch Netflix or whatever, the family business has not been doing well. It doesn't help that even among movie theaters in this provincial city on this neglected island, theirs is famously old-fashioned. Hell, it still insists on hand-painted movie billboards. Absolutely no other theater still does that.

William Han

The Party at Freida's

Freida Plasky was fiftyish. Ironed cheeks. Puffed up lips. Nape to knee Chanel. As President of the Condo Association, it was on her shoulders to host the party. She had a hundred guests to entertain, but this lunatic, this Slavic slut, kept her ambushed in the kitchen. Svetlana Stein was at least a decade younger, and that decade meant everything.

Marlene Olin


If he needed money, he'd pull up outside a bar or a club with a bouquet of balloons and sell them for ten bucks each; buyers would fill their mouths, their lungs, like kids with helium, changing their inner worlds for roughly the same amount of time you can hold your breath. He lived on free samples, YMCA showers, the kindness of certain women, luck, loopholes. I'd ride around with him. We would park somewhere and drink the stuff into our heads while the world went on around us: ducks on the water, geese on the grass, the old men on the park benches, the joggers moving by. We might courier packets of documents from one place to another, consume gas station food, buy lottery tickets. I admired his commitment.

J Eric Miller

The Adventure of Aulus: an historical novel

Now it was time to go aft and eat his breakfast porridge, which, Lucas yelled to the crew, was ready. Aulus took his portion in a battered metal porringer and, not wanting to continue a conversation, walked forward and sat down with his back against the mainmast, the sail above him full of wind. He looked out to starboard at the African mountains, now a little nearer, a low, gray-green wall. He was no longer, he thought, the patrician traveler he had been when he had ridden down from Rome to Portus to begin this long sea voyage, more than three months ago. His servant had disappeared in Egypt, weeks ago; the provisions he had brought were exhausted; he was sharing the crew's simple meals. And the future was very doubtful.

Peter Bridges