Shot

David Harris Ebenbach

Your uncle Paulie told you never carry a knife unless you know how to use it, right? That advice kept you alive for years. Even if it didn’t stop that kid from shooting you tonight, goddamnit. You’re flat on your back trying to hold your own blood in with your bare hands, wondering why it doesn’t hurt like hell.

Bridge

Kathleen Furin

The middle of the Brooklyn Bridge is not quiet, peaceful, or romantic, but sometimes when we were there together it seemed that way. We would meet there on summer Fridays, late afternoon; he would bike in from Manhattan and I would ride in from Brooklyn. We would meet somewhere in the middle, whoever got there first parking the bike and staking our claim.

Tending

Harry Groome

As Carl Crowley eased his pickup over the rock-studded dirt road, a white dog slid from wheel-well to wheel-well, too weak to lift her head, too weak to whimper, her one good eye rubbing in the sandy, cold steel track bed. The dog was nothing more than loose bones and filth, and when Carl pulled up at the end of the road, she came to rest at the front of his track like a half-filled sack of grain.

Astral Projection

Helen W. Mallon

Once in a blue moon, Mark turns to Leigh and grins, revealing the coin-slot space between his even front teeth.

“Maybe I should break it off,” he tells her. Usually it’s after the last ripples have subsided, while she lies wrapped in one of his brown sheets and he’s sliding away, showing his well-muscled back as he goes for the bottle of Black Bush he keeps under the nightstand. They meet in the apartment above his restaurant, two rooms expensively furnished in hypothermic chrome.

Not Tony and Tina

Denise Gess

My mother was already convinced she was the mother in two previous novels (women to whom she bears no resemblance, both of whom I’d killed off in violent ways). How could I tell her that I planned to showcase her in the new book?

Grace

Tom Teti, Jr

The thought was absurd, I know, misplaced, but it was pure. Like her. Maybe that’s what took hold of me. Her eyes were open, and kind, and seemed to be smiling at me, which was also absurd – why would she be smiling? Yet, that was my first thought when I found her.

Skylight: Novel Excerpt

Kelly Simmons

At three I woke up writhing on the sofa, clutching at the spaghetti straps. The nightmare again: someone sitting on me, hands at my throat, trapped screams. I stumbled into the bathroom, splashed water on my face.

Kevin’s Funerals

Terry Mergenthal

I tried to get over Kevin, my ex-boyfriend, by pretending he was dead. Not the kind of dead where you sip an iced frappuccino on a cloud, but the kind where you’re stuffed into a wooden box and buried under dirt during a rainstorm.

Richard the Third, the Second

James W. Morris

The sofa or the bed?

Richard opens the door and finds Vickie on the sofa, watching TV. Disappointing.

“I aced the final,” he says.

He waits for her to say something. She doesn’t; she keeps both eyes on the TV. It’s a cable movie that she’s watching, one of those ones in which every five minutes the hero comes running toward the camera and then you see a big explosion behind him. Vickie hates them.

“Why are you watching this?” he asks.

Blast

Julie Odell

“Gas leak?” he says. “Someone called in a gas leak?” he says in a deep voice. He has super short hair and a tiny silver hoop in each ear. I look him up and down. His gasman uniform fits him loose and sexy, and I like his boots.