Oct/Nov 2022

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!)

The Shepherd
(Spotlight Runner-Up!)

There are no secrets, really; every boy worth knowing is known. How pointless then to feel disappointed and panicked to see Earl's chariot, and yet he feels it, a tightening in his chest, a flutter of anxiety not unlike what he felt when he played, waiting for the kickoff, a stupid fear—until the first hit, the first crunch of contact, and then everything was all right. After that it was just competition and not dread.

Huntley Gibson Paton

One November Day

Alfreda was the most credible kid I ever met. She read adult newspapers, and if she wasn't certain about some topic, she said nothing. The students sitting around us leaned over the backs of the bus seats. We formed our own kneeling huddle. One boy stationed himself in the back seat to monitor the clear November sky for planes, bombs, and particularly for a mushroom cloud.

Marcia Calhoun Forecki

Praise God and the Lake

If the mzungu is a more thoughtful sort of person, I give a different answer. I say both the lake and the breast give life. When I am driving on safari, I take care to show to every mzungu peaceful scenes of zebras and wildebeests drinking from lakes or from small pools of water, as the child drinks from the breast. The more thoughtful sort of mzungu seems to be touched by this answer rather than amused.

Don Stoll

Everything Changes into Nothing

I told Neli she looked silly staring at a man with gray hair. Tom, she told me, you look silly with your youth. That's ridiculous, I told her. Neli tended to disagree with me—it was part of our foundation. I believed in antiquated reassurances, and she believed in future hypotheticals. He was a fictional husband after all, but nothing about the scenario was fictional—our children would play on something created by ingenuity, constructed by capitalists, and globally distributed by modes undoing our planet. Neli told me in the script for the commercial, she and "Harry," the silver-haired fox, would divorce once their children graduated. Their policy would protect them both through this challenge.

Gresham Cash

Harrisburg, 1965

I had no idea where we were going, but that wasn't unusual. He liked to surprise me, though I long suspected his so-called mystery adventures were simply the result of not giving our time together any thought until the last minute. We got on the Mass Pike, which wasn't much of a clue since it led to just about anywhere while offering him an extra lane to drive even faster and more recklessly than he did on regular roads. We were heading west, which could mean the basketball hall of fame in Springfield, skiing in the Berkshires, the whole length of Connecticut, maybe even New York City where he took me once and we spent the weekend trying to find tall buildings where you could go to the top for free.

Peter Gordon

Mount the Sky

The Laveers were childless. They had been married ten years and both reached thirty. They worried they could not breed. Who would help them work the farm? They had started mounting midday before lunch as well as at dark, morning, and sometimes the middle of the night.

J. Allen Nelson