Apr/May 2022

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f i c t i o n


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

My Brother's Bride

Carlos wrote songs for her. Some of them are still being played on the radio. And they still get a gazillion views on YouTube. He wanted to take her to Paris for her own 21st birthday, but she said no. He got her a puppy instead. That she accepted, and she loved the puppy.

Beate Sigriddaughter

Artemis at the CineMotel

I like the feeling of a movie ticket in my hand: how every theater, even the separate ones at the CineMotel, have their own ticket design; how the ticket-ripper gives half back to me like a friendship necklace; the sound of the ticket ripping; the souvenir I get to tack on my corkboard, a little piece of paper with an abbreviated movie title, as if they were coming up with the title as they were printing the tickets.

R.W. Hartshorn

The Train to Rome

He was attractive and intelligent, and she often found herself hating him. These qualities—his humor, quick mind, and intelligence—were useless now, like a box of Christmas ornaments without a tree. He had no center to hold up these qualities, which had revealed themselves to be empty, representational as opposed to actual. She leaned against the window, the cool glass against her cheek soothing for a moment. She looked at the clouds, tried to figure out what shape they were, wished she were once again a child and not a woman traveling with someone she loved and hated all at once.

Andrew Bertaina

The Peddler

All around the truck there was grass, as far as the eye could see on every side, sun-roasted and sharp-edged. He grew used to the cuts and wore them like bits of webbing—criss-cross ridges on skin from which the life had long been flayed out. Only his hand was soft, from blobs of Vaseline slathered nightly onto the palm and fingers up to the wrist. Nails he kept filed but not cut; they could be called upon sometimes to tease out feelings when plain touching wasn't enough. Different services had different rates—just at the end was cheaper than all the way through; more than 15 minutes to get there meant an extra 50 percent—and instinct born of long practice told him how fast or slow to go, how rough or smooth the person outside would like it.

Deya Bhattacharya

Oofty Goofty

The townsfolk answered with cheer, and the cabinet swung open. Grizzlies balanced on balls. Acrobats flew in the dust. Tuolumne the Indian rode in on horseback and chased a Little Monk on a baby elephant. Sequoia Suzie shot a portrait of General Pershing into a block of cheese with a six shooter. Madame Mariposa spewed an inferno, roaring above the roars of the town. The wind snuck under the big top, and dust and smoke presented Monterey Jack in a twinkling haze.

Zachary FR Anderson


"Thirty-three," he said. Yowzers. I didn't give my age, and he didn't ask. Maybe he was just being polite. Maybe he'd call me Mommy. Guys are all over the map these days. I could easily be with someone much younger, but, long-term, there'd be the weird family introductions and meeting all his little biker buddies. His last girlfriend could have been half my age. He interrupted my reverie, asking if I wanted to ride his beast. Well, okay, then.

Jo Stein

Year Zero

Across five rows of wooden benches, a mature, swarthy man from one of the former Soviet Republics sat facing me. I was otherwise alone in the carriage. He alternated between nodding off and peering sourly through the glaze of his reflection. On the right side of the train shone the lights of satellite towns, on the other blackness but for the panes of light trawling along outside and an occasional stand of birch trees. Beyond were the storied Russian forests where impish spirits waylaid visitors, at times fatally. In folk custom, visitors had to turn their clothes inside out and wear their shoes on opposite feet if they were to have any hope of escape. My own disguise was rather less conspicuous.

Michael Aliprandini