Monday, September 24, 2012



“Isn’t It That I’ve Just Been Human?” by Tammy Peacy

I’ve made a big deal out of little and useless. Paid too much attention to none of my business.

These two girls behind me talked loud. The way young people did because whatever they had to say was very important or because they didn’t know yet that sometimes people were paying attention, even when it seemed they weren’t. These girls hadn’t figured out much just yet. Too busy sharing their experiences with one another.

“It was thick, thick,” one girl said, with an accent, something Latin, maybe Puerto Rican.

“Oh, ew. I don’t like that,” the other said.

I didn’t have to strain to hear them, even with all the noise the train made, but I would have, if I’d had to.

“No? I do. And it was, like, black, real, real black. And, like, shiny,” the supposed Puerto Rican continued.

I waited for her to go on. Fought the urge to turn in my seat and say, “And then?” but they’d finished. The conversation ended there. They were off at the next stop.

Monday, September 17, 2012

"Arthrogram" by Elizabeth Wade

You were not there when the doctor drew an x on my body, when he tried to insert a needle into that x, when he tried to flood my joint, tried to create contrast. And you were not there when he failed, when he failed and failed and failed again, not there when he finally quit probing and delegated me to a colleague. I do not know when we quit probing. I know that you were never good with equations. I know that I was sloppy whenever I solved for x. I remember forgetting to think about inversion, about how once they are squared, the positive and negative look just the same. I was never good at starting with mystery, at quantifying things, at defining possibilities. I was never good with more than one variable, never saw how x fit with y, never grasped their dependency. The year I took my only college math course, I spent a lot of time looking for y. That was the year we agreed to meet in the middle, picked a spot on the map, and drove all night. That was the night we got lost, the night we circled each other for hours, the night when I found you by the color of your shirt, not knowing that was the wrong variable, not knowing that night in that town belonging to neither of us that we would never solve for x. Years later, I lay in the hospital without you as the needle kept trying to find its way inside me. I did not know it until I got home, but there at the injection site, beneath a piece of my skin I do not think you ever touched, bled a single sphere of ink, the center of the x that doctor kept chasing. A man who’s not you told me I think that’s how they do it in prison, meaning the way the convicted take their allegiances into their bodies, the way they decorate themselves, how they bear the ones they lack, how they signal those outside.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

"Outside To Defrost" by James Lawless

On a sweltering Italian summer morning while I was inside my apartment sweating through my yoga I listened to the people ordering their dogs around in the adjacent park. They were just voices and shadows behind the hedge not far from my open window.

A heavy masculine voice: "Bring it here! Hurry up you lazy coward".

A high pitched feminine voice: "Be good. Do your duty. Did you finish?".

I imagined the masculine voice didn't pick up the shit his dog left behind, but the woman had a plastic glove already slipped on her hand. And I thought these dog owners will soon head off to work, but at this very moment it was they who were in command, a command that will be passed over to someone else the moment they put Fido away and prepare to punch-in.

And then I thought about the flat tire on my wife Libera's bike. I told her I was going to fix it, but she insisted I didn't. "Don't bother with it," she said. "It's an old tube. It might just leak again. It's better I buy a new one at the bike store and for a few extra Euro they'll put it on for me."

"You mean you can't stand watching me get angry as I do tedious physical work, often swearing at the tire as I fix it."

"Yes, that's a big part of it."

"This time I won't get angry at my work."

"Each time you fix flat bike tires you say that, but you always get angry and swear. You always do."

She's right. This makes me think how much women are better than men. They rarely swear; they usually have patience for whatever they do. And they're better than men at most things, especially things that need care, tact and brains.

Then there's this Italian library where I'm currently writing. It's as hot as a firecracker outside, but inside it's freezing. I brought a long sleeved shirt with me and I'm wearing it now, but I'm still cold. I feel like a pickle in a pickle jar stuck in the back of a refrigerator that is over-cooling and freezing what's inside. So I blow on my hands, send this off, and go outside to defrost.

We're back!

So September is upon us already. Feel free to submit your best short fiction now. Make the transition to fall a little smoother for us by giving us something cool to read.