Leap Year

Tracy Shields

He used earth words and planted gardens and liked going down south and road trips to nowhere. He had tattoos of the Devil on his forearm, and looked like God, with big gentle blue eyes, open, steady and true, able to see beyond the simple human spirit. He was a great kisser. Like me. But quiet.

I-80

DJ Kinney

They woke together at a rest stop on the interstate, car windows dimmed by frozen breath and through the glass, anemic blue dawn swelling over Wyoming.

She struggled out of the sleeping bag, wrestled with the nest of blankets and pulled at the door. She poured herself out into the empty lot and shuffled a few paces from the car before she buckled over a strip of grass and vomited. It slapped the ground and steam rose from it. The man got out of the car and went to her and put his hands on her shoulders to steady her, to hold her. She heaved again, just water and foam.

Excerpt from the novel LOVE Park

Jim Zervanos

[img_assist|nid=880|title=Love Park|desc=|link=node|align=left|width=130|height=195]On the night before I drove Daisy Diamond home, I picked up my parents at the hospital, where they’d been visiting with a parishioner whose wife was dying of cancer. As the man walked with my parents to the curb, his glistening bald head shone. He wore a wrinkled corduroy sport coat, despite the heat, and loosely tied sneakers that shuffled like slippers on the concrete. He was hunched over, less from old age, it seemed, than from grief. But when he came into the light of the streetlamp overhead, I could see that he was smiling gloriously.

The Robbery

Christina Delia

Todd steals things. He takes tips off wet diner tables, jerks the bills from underneath the water glass you purposefully placed over them.

Transplant

L. M. Asta

I found the two carbonless message slips on my desk after the last patient. The first was the transplant team wanting me back to consult on Carl Lawson’s fevers. The second was an email address for

Tributary

Peter Dabbene

If you asked me ten years ago if I thought my life would be like this, of course I would have said no. Most likely, I’d have shown great disdain toward the idea of playing in what I would have then referred to as a “glorified cover band.”

Life is just a series of little decisions, though, and it goes from just trying to keep the dream alive until you get that legendary big break, to one day waking up and realizing that the only reason you’re still able to get paying gigs is that you’re playing someone else’s songs the exact same way they did three decades before.

Allison on New Year’s Day

Peter McEllhenney

Brrrrrrrrupt! Brrrrrrrrupt!” A muddled fanfare penetrated Allison Reed’s sleep. She rolled over, hoping she was dreaming. She was pleasantly hot under the heaped up blankets and vaguely aware that she wanted to keep sleeping. But a few moments later the sound repeated – “Brrrrrrrrupt! Brrrrrrrrupt!” – followed by a bellowed “God bless the Mummers!” in the street below and Allison was awake and knew that it was New Year’s Day.

Her Bear Husband

Gwen Florio

“Of course I’ve been in the woods before.”

Lucia glanced around the visitor center to reassure herself that she looked just like everyone else there, then glared back across the counter at the skeptical park ranger. Until encountering him, she’d felt impervious in her new acquisitions: stiff hiking boots with heavy Vibram soles; cargo pants of a slippery, fast-drying fabric that made soft whispering noises as she walked; a rain jacket with a thin fleece lining. In preparation for her excursion, she’d also bought a 20-ounce sleeping bag that would bob atop an unwieldy pack, itself stuffed with a tiny tent – two-and-a-half pounds – a couple of changes of socks and underwear, and foil packets of freeze-dried dinners, their desiccated contents so devoid of texture and smell as to be guaranteed not to attract bears.

Broad Street (novel excerpt)

Christine Weiser

I took the subway to the party in Center City. I walked from the stop down a quiet street in the business district, where merchandise peeked out from behind thick steel gates. As I approached the address of the old brownstone, I heard the muffled sound of voices and the latest Nirvana album. I felt a wash of panic. I could be back home and under my blanket in twenty minutes; but my feet kept moving forward. I found the appropriate apartment number, rang the bell, and was buzzed in without question.

The party was a crowded gathering of hipsters. I scanned the room for familiar faces, feeling stupid. The few I recognized looked at me, then quickly turned away. Finally, I spotted Noelle.