photo of lit candles

The Big One by Ashley Hermsmeier

Day 1 It’s hot, even at night. We sleep on top of our duvets and sweat under rattling ceiling fans. We live too close to the sea to be an air-conditioned city—that’s what we tell ourselves. Most of us are asleep when it happens. We roll over and some of us sigh a little and…

photo of heart-shaped topiary

The Tunnel of Love by Chris Daley

I was taken aback when Mr. Medvedev gave me the news: my elderly neighbor Lidiya Silchencko had died and made me executor of her estate. I didn’t know her very well. Occasionally, I had asked her to feed my cat when I would go to St. Petersburg on business, and once I picked up her…

photo of fish packed in ice

Love, Pan-Fried by Megan Crosbie

You always said I loved you too much, and I guess you were right. You said it again that day by the pond, when you told me how you weren’t responsible for my happiness and your eyes matched the water, sun-speckled and murky. That day when I loved you so hard that you exploded into…

photo of yellow subway car in station

Before by Tara Isabel Zambrano

Sometimes, Neil and I’d meet for lunch in a small Indian restaurant that served astonishingly delicious lamb curry with rice crepes. The waiter was a tall Sikh who often gave us privacy and a discount. We’d sit outside and watch the clouds swirl in the sky, our finger tips stained with tomato-turmeric sauce. On our…

photo of trilobite

A Benthic Wunderkind by John Gorman

Sweta caught me picking lint from my belly button. I was blessed with an innie. She didn’t bother looking away, and I gave her oodles of credit for that. You’d think, in a scenario like this, we were lounging poolside or finishing up a 10K in the park, but nope. We were both at one…

photo of crescent moon

0500 by Miriam Alexander-Kumaradoss

At 5AM, when I’ve been up all night, a wind sometimes rushes through the garden and sets branches and stalks rustling against each other. Sometimes I’ll be wandering through the house when this happens and I’ll stop in front of a window and watch them undulate. Sometimes the moon is just a fingernail in the…

photo of sparkly red nail polish puddle

The Hedgehog by Rachel Linn

Inspired by “Hans-My-Hedgehog,” a Brothers Grimm tale Nobody realized that Zhao Li was different until near the end of elementary school, when he started to look seriously weird. We were all the same cans of soup–and then he grew a layer of spines over almost his entire body. He still looked better than a lot…

photo of piano keys

Little Old House by Lauren Suchenski

Little old house, I drove past you. I angled past your pale blue paint, cracking from age and weathering from time. I drove past those windows – the ones I used to look out, stand in, glare at, think of, close the shutters, open the blinds, let the light in, close my eyes to the…

photo of tic-tac-toe game drawn into sand

The Concealer by Matthew Vasiliauskas

The boy was in charge of burying things. Now this had been determined well-before he was born, for the boy came from a group known as the Concealers, that revered class responsible for disposing of anything dead. Of course this wasn’t just the often bloated and sun-burned bodies clogging the curbs and alleyways of the…