by K. W. Holland
As far as frogs go, it’s pretty big. Like the size of my fist if I used it to punch a brick wall. Swollen.
“Jimmy?” it croaks. Jimmy is my name. It wants me to pick it up. “Jimmy?”
From its mouth, my name sounds like something bubbling out of a swamp.
Reasons to Admit
by Gabrielle Griffis
Iris had a sixth sense. She could read other peoples’ thoughts, so she never went out in public. She spent her days in the garden, cutting flowers, gathering herbs.
Her father was an architect. He built asylums, traveling the East Coast, overseeing the construction of brick institutions.
She was fixated on irrevocable spite. Her mind stuck in loops of disdain. Judgments hurled at her existed under the surface of everything. Unkind thoughts were like insufferable wounds.
by Laura Freudig
The squirrel in the parking lot eyed the peanuts I was throwing with a thin thread of thought more like a rat’s wormish tail than its own generous bushy one: a narrow line stretching from the woods to the loading dock, from fear to desire. I stacked two pound bags of peanuts from a pallet by the open loading door into a metal cart, which I planned to wheel into the Food Mart and place on a shelf in the strategic location devised by our manager, Ms. Carmine Bardwell. One of the stiff plastic sacks had split, spilling its contents among the rest of the sacks, and as I stacked, I simultaneously tossed peanuts to the squirrel. In the past ten minutes it had skittered down a spruce tree and a concrete retaining wall, across thirty feet of cracked asphalt and was now ten feet from the loading dock.
A Slant of Light
by Abby Manzella
The afternoon sun creeps stealthily onto Dolores’s desk—an ephemeral cat. Its low, reserved angle brings to mind Emily Dickinson’s “There’s a certain slant of light…” She recites it as she rests her pen, her voice breaking the stillness.
It has already been a long winter. She is tired of sweaters. She is exhausted by seeing her breath materialized like the ghost she feels herself to be.
by Olivia Walton
I probably told you, but two years ago I got us a real nice horse, a mare with a blonde mane and shot-straight back who I called Ethel after Sallie’s mother’s mother. Ethel was only fourteen hands high so she was a good ride for Sallie, just a waif of a thing, but was still big enough that I could take her to and from the river each day, and into town when we ran low on condensed milk and potatoes and Sallie’s woman-type things. Point is, Sallie loved that horse like it was a lapdog, always braiding its hair and slipping it bits of orange, even when I was between jobs. Sometimes I’d kid her, remind her we weren’t supposed to have any Gods before our God, but she’d just laugh and tell me that as long as dinner was still on the table when it was supposed to be I had nothing to worry about, so I didn’t.
The Disappearance Kit
by Abigail Oswald
A few days ago I received a box in the mail, filled with all the things Sadie owned that had to do with me. A collection of creased and faded photographs: adolescent mermaids, painted toes betraying our shimmering fishtails. A soft gray college sweater she’d stolen from me freshman year, left cuff unraveled in the intervening decade. The single waxy shard of a birthday candle.
French Vowels that Make You Look like Goldfish
by Jackson Bliss
As long as I’ve known my son, he’s had a thing for French and this obsession has driven my white husband insane, but now our son won’t speak to us in English. It’s gotten so bad that after four months of nagging and fighting in two different languages, we’ve had to hire a French interpreter. We don’t know what he’s saying otherwise. Charlie doesn’t care. He says, Fine, let the boy speak surrender monkey. See if I care? But I’m his mom and caring is literally my job.
by Duncan Birmingham
I stop at a gas station market off the highway for Travis’s favorite chewing gum, jumbo coffeechinos and energy breakfast bars then gun my car across Delray Beach before the whip cream flattens.
The gate guard at Tranquility Bluffs has zero muscle tone and a man-bun. Past the gate it’s a pretty plush set-up; all manicured hillsides, wooden walkways and charming bungalows. I spot some decent talent milling about, gnawing their nails like they just quit smoking and meditating in little matching pajama pants in a semi-circle by a dinky waterfall. I wonder how many are secretly high.