Standing Still (Excerpt)

Kelly Simmons

In all things, I blame the husband.

Women who sleep with teenage boys, women who shoplift collectibles, Yes. Their rotten husbands drove them to it.

And that is why, when the kidnapper cracks open our new skylight like an oyster and slithers in, I don’t blame the defective latch, the alarm system, or the thin bronze shell of the new tin roof. The dotted line of fault doesn’t lead to my architect or contractor or engineer.

And oddly, lastly, I do not blame my intruder. And that explains everything that follows, doesn’t it?

“The Kiss Me Stone”

Barry Dinerman

In a previous life, my husband was an alley cat in Rome who lived in the Colosseum and whose purrs originated in his scrotum. Now he finds love in the belly of compost heaps and in the folds of Burpee Seed envelopes—fixed and declawed as he is. These thoughts are typical of the private games I play each morning before I visit Karen’s grave. The content of my mental life is the Swiss-army knife of daily cemetery goers: it snips, scrapes, uncorks, screws, and whittles its way to consecrated ground.

For You

Myrna Rodriguez

We walk into the corner store drooling for shoelace licorice. My best friend in the whole world, even though he’s a boy, leads me through the too-close aisles, and almost knocks over a rack of Philly Inquirers. His summer buzz cut is so short, he’s almost bald, bony shoulders poke out of his Bruce Lee tank top, cut-offs, no socks in his black Kung Fu shoes. The dog choker chain that holds the two pieces of broom stick together swings back and forth in his back pocket, clanking when he walks. Manny stops in front of a round rack of key chains. He turns the rack, key chains swing, crashing into each other. I stare, hypnotized by the different plastic animals that hang from the key rings. He asks which one I like. I like the monkey best.

Holiday

Emily Fridlund

I do not know him and never
will: old spitting man, man in suspenders. Anyhow, everyone’s
grandfather is like this. His has some yellow teeth and some are

Schools of Fishes

David Sanders

“Mark…?”

Radio Lung’aho’s whisper rose from the darkness, barely audible over the hissing of cicadas outside in the Kenyan night.

Anthracite

Marie Davis-Williams

The house, so full with the heavy breath of prayer and the shifting feet of the waiting, settles another inch and the long vigil is suddenly over. Ona’s mother is dead. One after another, the women untangle their hands from their rosary beads and feel relief in knowing that now there will be more productive things to do than pray.

Letters from Paris

Lee W. Doty

August 30, 1957. SS France

Dear Han,

Whoopee! Junior Year in Paris. Universite de la Sorbonne, here I come.

Arrived in New York Friday, right on schedule. But let me tell you, baby sister, there’s a big difference between Birmingham trains and the trains up north. For one thing, there are no separate cars. It’s whites and coloreds all together, if you please. And no “Mornin’ ma’am.” Just hustle-bustle.

Real Life Things

Nathan Long

When my husband called the other day, I thought there was an emergency. We’d only talked once in the five months since we’d been separated.

“It’s about our son, David,” Frank said, as if I might not recall the name of our only child.

“Wait,” I said. “Have you been drinking?” It was one in the afternoon, a Saturday.

“I got a post card from him today,” Frank said. “He’s not in college any more.”

“What?” I said. “Where is he?”

“Indiana.”