photo of a yellow #2 pencil

What Remains by Michael Snyder

When Sally McReedy broke up with me, she used a slingshot. It took a team of surgeons three hours to exhume the ring. “Does it hurt?” Sally wants to know. She’s sitting in a plastic chair opposite my mechanical bed, grinding molars, twirling a #2 pencil around her thumb. I try to nod, but the…

black and yellow sign danger warning sign

Poly Di by Maria McLeod

I gave birth to a flame-retardant baby. Born on Ash Wednesday, her hair is gray frizz; her eyes, mini briquettes; her skin crackles, crisp. I named her Poly Di, short for polybrominated diphenyl ethers. I can’t call her the light of my life; she’s inflammable. Candles blow out when she enters the room, crawling, gumming…

stack of gold coins

Boy In Glass Box by Brenna Ehrlich

The chin-whiskered guard never made it past 2 a.m. After nodding to sleep three or four times in his chair, he shuffled out the back door and shambled home and snuffled into bed around 1:30 a.m. each night, cats on all four corners of his twin bed, his covers to his chin-whiskers. Min knew because…

picture of candy Valentine hearts

Epistles by Courtney Sender

I DON’T have a soul mate. When I turned fifteen, God Himself delivered a letter telling me so. “I’m sorry,” God wrote, “I forgot to make one. Accept this token of my apology,” and He proffered the letter and let me keep it, and it was signed The Lord God so I decided that I…

picture of a field at night underneath a full moon

Ye Who Are Willing by Tamara Miles

Choosing a spot on which to break ground for the Holy Valley Church of Blessed Creatures took only the better part of one afternoon. Our dog Maurice, a born evangelical, put his paw down on a patch of shepherd’s purse growing on the south side of an abandoned cemetery. We took it as a sign…

picture of a pennywhistle

Pennywhistle by William Squirrell

It was just spring when they first heard the music. They were at the very back of the schoolyard behind the screen of trees, sitting against the brick wall sharing a cigarette. Jimmy was hacking at the mud with the heel of his sneaker. He’d been crying. Hassled and hustled and bullied and troubled since…

Picture of matches with black and red match heads lined up in an alternating color pattern

The Second Shed by Michael Loveday

Without the wife knowing, Denholm is building a miniature model of Rickmansworth, in his second garden shed. He is gluing the model together, entirely from matchsticks (and, because of the matchsticks, it is taking a long time). He filches odd half-hours, at weekends, and grabs time in early evenings, when Joan is distracted by the…

vintage illustration of magician performing card trick

Ta-Dah! by Aaron J. Housholder

The twins were named Abra and Cadabra because Dad was indifferent and Mom had a crush on Chuckles, the poorly-named local magician. He played birthday parties and daycare centers and generally scared the children to tears and never chuckled at all. “He’s so dark and angsty,” Mom once said to Dad, in what must be…