Oh, Christmas Tree by Ellie Reed

The girls are not the last to arrive at the farm, but they’re certainly cutting it close. It’s after dark on December 23rd, and I have to admit I was starting to worry that it wouldn’t happen for me this year. That’s been the case

Subject: Waterman Family Christmas by Allison Lynch

Subject: Waterman Family Christmas From: Pam Waterman-Chase <pwatermanchase@gmail.com> To: WatermanFamily@googlegroups.com Date: Fri, November 24, 2017 at 7:13 AM Good morning, Watermans! I hope you all are digesting peacefully after last night’s Thanksgiving feast. Thank you again to Jonathan, Carrie and kids for hosting. I would

The Lavender Room by Bobby Minelli

I suppose, when it comes down to it, what everyone really wants is a simple answer as to why I was out on the fire escape in the first place. They’ve all been treating me like a goddamn deviant or a lunatic or something, and

The Nathaniel Chronicles by Janek Ambros

November 13th, 1998. New York City. What a cesspool. I came here on a redeye, coked out my skull, wearing a striped navy blue suit, a bow tie, and tandem brown leather shoes and belt. Barry Levinson bought the shoes and belt for me as

Where Only Air Had Hung Before by Aaron Golden

We finished the treehouse on Saturday night, our hands riddled with blisters and our throats seared from the aggressive treatment of spliffs we had prescribed ourselves since the morning. It was a marvelous sight: a spacious wooden den built on the carcass of a redwood,

The Mat by A.W. Greene

My name is Patricia, but I go by Pat, or at least that’s what I’ve taken to calling myself. It’s funny, me writing a preface in my own little 280-page journal. It’s a bit too long, really. Dr.Ew tells me that I’ve been carrying this

While the Neo-Cons Slept by Janek Ambros

In the mid-1970s, the neo-conservatives started to move away from the Democratic Party in lieu of Henry Jackson’s multiple failed presidential bids and the rise of the anti-war left taking control of the Democrats, with George McGovern leading the charge. With too much passion and

The Temple of the Muses by Bobby Minelli

1. My father’s absolute favorite book was Jane Eyre. He read it to me nightly while we cuddled beneath blankets upon his bed in our flat at 11 Broomfield Rd. We were of modest means, and yet by sheer coincidence, we shared our surname with

Better Best Forgotten by Faye Griffiths

We were sitting at the dinner table, finishing off. We were still in our school shirts and skirts, the material of the classic 80´s kitchen chairs digging an imprint on the underside of my thigh. My sister was eating a yoghurt and she was leaning

On Home by Kathryn Larkin

It was somewhere near the age of thirty when it happened – although I think it’s safe to say that it’s somewhere near the age of thirty when a lot of things happen, when we ask bigger questions than we thought ourselves capable of, when

The Weight of Dust by John Staughton

“Any good collection is full of ghosts.”  ~ Anonymous The sun was out when the brunette woman and the child arrived at his bedside. Her head seemed to glow in front of the window, like the old glass pictures in the church he had gone

Hera’s Orchard by Bryanna Cloney

Our children bought us a padded swinging seat for our 45th wedding anniversary. They kindly put it together for us, but took for granted how hard it was to pop a tight champagne cork. After two attempts, we resorted to our default tipple – Cointreau.

The Acid Reign of Ignorance

Ignorance isn’t something that changes overnight. Neither is intelligence. Both take time to develop, and if so much energy is being poured into believing something, wouldn’t it be more rewarding to eventually arrive at the truth? Granted, it is a truth that may change form

The Coyote Smile and the Red Horse Cry

When I awoke, after the first time Dixon Halbauer shot me, Ann’s was the first face I saw. I had passed out from the pain and when I came to, there was a pale face floating above me. Though she wore a pinched, worried expression,

Wander West, Young Man

Moving across the country inspires a certain kind of madness, notably different than fleeing over an ocean for exploits requiring little more than two suitcases, a camera and a backpack. After more than a year of wistful gazes towards the sunset, I had finally left

It’s How Big?

I was preparing for another several months out at sea, and with that preparation comes extensive medicals. I was due for a pap smear and gynecological check as well, so I was knocking all the birds with one stone, so to speak. The only thing

Teaching With Depression

We were at a dingy diner in a western border town of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula when I failed to save my camper. It felt like I was trapped, or frozen. For all my training, I couldn’t seem to respond to the panicked shouts of “She’s

Where the Wind Blows

PART 1 of 4:  Bad Burrito.  Filming.  Last Year.  Martinsburg, West Virginia. I’m sitting in a harshly lit lobby of a Comfort Inn, in West Virginia, at a tall table with chairs too short for it made out of particle board and vinyl, eating a

Oh, Why Did I Eat the Ribs?

A Surreal Culinary Nightmare at 30,000 Feet It was just after the final security checkpoint at Ngurah Rai International Airport when the cold sweat kicked in on a warm, humid September evening. Two weeks of stunning Indonesian sunsets along the west coast of Bali were

Pancakes & Promises

As his eyes opened, it felt like a regular Tuesday to the young man, another anonymous morning, of equal estrangement from his life across the ocean as the night before had been. The bustle of activity outside the door betrayed that normality, however, as the

The Lobster

Our house, a colonial building with high ceilings and enormous hardwood doors, had been in my mother’s family since her great-grandparents’ generation, since long before the revolution. It was a fantastic house, with heavy shutters on each window that completely blacked it out at night,

Home I’ll Never Be

I arrived in Tuscaloosa earlier this evening, by way of Birmingham. Tuesday night. My day began a country mile east of Atchafalaya, in the heart of Old Louisianne. My shoe leather was worn thin, so I put my thumb out at first light, hoping for

The Seven Gables

“What other dungeon is so dark as one’s own heart! What jailer so inexorable as one’s self!” ― Nathaniel Hawthorne, The House of the Seven Gables 1. When I was nine years old, I had a dream that I couldn’t wake up from. My parents

Coconut

She arrived to camp on Monday afternoon with my two closest friends on the playa, a mischievous polyamorous couple from Tucson. It was Coconut’s first burn and within the hour she had joined us on an LSD-fueled bike ride through the still-emerging city of dust

FUCK.

Back in June, on the day of the California Primary, I rode my bike down Micheltorena Street to Sunset Boulevard into the heart of Silverlake, and I caught Bernie Sanders giving out handshakes like they were going out of style. Turns out they were…  Going out

Amerijuana

My mouth woke me up. It was wide open, resting on old carpet decorated with last night’s party, covering the floor of a decades-old RV in the middle of a desert. For reasons related to the mess on the floor, the camper’s door, like my

Endless Summer

I’m thirty-one, still have most of my looks, and the summer is endless. I start my routine around 4 pm. First, I lay my uniform out on my bed, feed my dog, and then slip into the shower while she eats. Then I shave, put

Between the Lines

The first two lines are always the best. I wish someone had told me that up front, though I doubt it would have stopped me. The anticipation that comes from seeking a connection, picking up, and making your way home with a little bag of

The Infallibility Booth

The candy-striped envelope had arrived URGENT post-marked August 21st 2085, the day after his thirtieth birthday. He hadn’t been surprised and when his neighbor caught sight of the telltale mail, she’d smiled at him reassuringly as if to say, “This is probably for the best,

Only What I Remember

I. Slug Dive Wake up slug. Time to dream. Let’s chat in space, let’s suspend. A casual leap into gravity like you tasted the glass eye and dove like a slug. You wanted to. You said let’s go. So you did and I had no

Birth of the Mother

“…WHEREAS, the women of the United States are to be commended and supported in their organizations and activities…” -Joint Resolution of Congress, 1971 Designating August 26 of each year as Women’s Equality Day I am a witness. I have seen the power of woman. It

Demons

You are sitting in the window of your apartment smoking a cigarette like you have so many times before and you think it bothers your roommate, but you do it anyway. There are people shuffling outside at the bus stop and the bus is late again, but

Star-Lite Siesta

“Some people, and I am one of them, hate happy ends. We feel cheated. Harm is the norm. ”                                            – Vladimir Nabokov 1. My mother kept a journal, and she used to say that writing it all down was a mild form of

Wandering the Western Womb

The hungry sense for travel, Universal in its draw, Stirs souls of every color, age, Faith, appetite and call. O’er middling plains, towards Eastern shores, Or westward mountain steep, The itch to move is scratched anew By those who seek the sea. As peaks peer

This Must Be the Place

I loathe this place. I’ve never understood it. But they kept telling me it had changed. There are bars with mixologists, not ‘cheeky vimtos’, along with ‘pop-up’ burger places with food that comes in baskets and drinks that come in jam jars. Just like the

American Funk

My landlord taught me something the other day, “It’s all about the blues, Chris. America is about the blues.” He was telling me this old truth and he was kicking his right foot back and forth, left and right toe taps on my driveway, with

Rewiring

Years of self-punitive restraint have rendered her devoid of fat. The Orange County type rolls up her Botox-branded yoga mat and tucks it into her armpit, awkwardly shifting her rather ample breast implants right into my line of sight. Which is fine. It keeps me

Twisted Days

9:32 am It was a grey-green Thursday and I awoke to the sound of banging, like the crackle of a wrench on sewer pipe. Knowing every common sound of the house, from breaking glass and bottle cap pops to short-lived lovemaking and slamming doors, the

The Trappings

Dearest Mother,  I couldn’t resist any longer. After learning of the titillating experiences you enjoyed on a near-daily basis over at Goodman-Silversby, I’ve decided to throw in the towel on self-employment and the proverbial chasing of dreams. I have joined the rank and file stables

A Hole in the Bucket

Shasa slapped at her cheek, the tickling flutter of a blowfly on her eyelid wrenching her from troubled dreams. Her skin was already sticky with dried sweat from the early morning heat. She lay for a few selfish moments with her eyes squeezed tight, her

Groundhog Daze

There was this one time I was sitting shotgun in a white Range Rover and we were off-roading in a desert in the United Arab Emirates. We were swerving around camels and I was wearing this red and white turban on my head like some

The Other Side

By: John Staughton “You know that you don’t need to be here, Wolfgang. I only invited you as a courtesy.” “This entire display is a means of criticizing my life’s work… and yours. I wouldn’t miss it. I only wish Albert were here.” “The world

Sisyphus

By: Hugh Roberts I passed the spliff to Ben, who passed it over to Cole, holding it at arm’s length, as though it could turn into a snake and bite him. I hadn’t seen Little Benny in over 10 years, and he looked exactly the same,

Patty

By: Adrienne Thomas She looked a little like Patti Smith. I met her on the street around 11pm on a Wednesday night in Williamsburg. She was the connectivity cap to my day alone in this dazzling new world. I walked past her, but boldly called

Biscuits With Nathaniel

By: Nadia Kuftinoff It was up in the Bavarian mountains that Beatrix found the place she’d been looking for over the last three years. She had expected a sinister castle that she’d have to infiltrate in the dead of night, guns blazing, baddies falling to

Icarus Dancing in the Heart of the Sun

By: Philius Brutus Ruckus (A.W.G) At first glance, this title may appear pretentious to the point of vanity. Do people know Icarus, son of Daedalus, who flew to heights unimaginable, and was consequently cast down to depths beyond compare? What is it to the reader

The Billy Goat Curse

Whenever something bad happens and I get that awful feeling like I’m a paranoid schizophrenic and the world outside is choking my neck, I try and think about baseball and Wrigley Field and the Chicago Cubs, and for a split second, no one’s out to

Departures

Lily was a front desk agent at La Maison, a boutique hotel in Chicago.  Most days at La Maison revolved around placating the large number of wealthy (and entitled) clientele who frequented such places, and today was no different.  On average, she mollified two dozen harried guests

Rent Party

The guy’s apartment was this storefront that had been renovated to be lived in as a studio space, so to get in you had to get past this thick steel door – the kind of door that was made to keep people out. Rivets and

59 in the East

May 17th, 2012 Jamison Coates reeled from the stab of pain as it raced up his shin. The sharp teeth of his bike pedal had savagely bit into the front pleat of his dress pants as it swung wildly in a cyclical design quirk that

Euphoria

On a cloudy Sunday in May, a pale young man with a pale young gut stands outside of Euphoria Massage reading its sign. His head pulses with an eager hangover and he wears a baggy hoodie so no one will see his face. So no

The Silver Box

careening through the dark and dismal jungle, a silver box carried me above dead tree trunks and across a canopy. the box hustled and bustled, jostling my body back and forth, causing my brain to roll around in my skull, nausea to take over my

Loss of Bright Things

Air thickened in his throat, warm, tasting of papaya and old smoke. He’d logged on for flight details and now the word ‘dead’ stared from the screen, reminding him just how far he was from home. Michael wiped the sweat off his forehead with the back

Laughing Last

“What about bringing back the narcoleptic clown?” Anderson proposed, spinning his pen in that annoyingly practiced way that makes it look unconscious. “We haven’t used him in months. We can squeeze four more minutes of mindless laughs out of him.” The other heads at the

Vacuum

In the inexplicable, there is most definitely what is explicit. We are in no other way situated. To this undeniable truth, Saul G. woke up every morning, and according to this truth, followed through with the routine that had dictated the waning energies of his

SN3 | Bastille Day

Bastille Day:  Volume 1, Issue 3 Publication Date:  July 14, 2015 Authors:  Chris Blim, John J. Staughton, A.W. Greene, Nathan Silver, M. Andres, Tamzin Whelan, Clara Feda, Roger de Laci. Featuring illustrations by Brandon Ruiter. Bastille Day is available here.

I Am the Walrus

HUGH ROBERTS We sat at the bar in Storrs, Connecticut swilling middling whiskey and waiting for the women in our lives. It had been just over a year since I’d last seen my father. He’d sold our family home and taken up residence as a

The City in the Sky

Max Silver Walter stood facing the mirror, fingertips poised on the final button of his light gray suit. It was a perfect shade of blue—not too light, not too dark—with a beautifully curved edge and four flawless holes punched through it. The button was exactly

SN2 | Equal Night

Equal Night:  Volume 1, Issue 2 Publication Date:  March 20, 2015 Authors:  Chris Blim, John J. Staughton, Max Silver, Hugh Roberts, Clara Feda, Jessica Jade Andres, Quinlan Orear, Matt Piet, La Tisha Conto, Roger de Laci Equal Night is available here.

Atheists Are Wrong About Everything Except God

Ugh. In light of the ongoing violence in the Middle East, there has been a lot of blowback from the people of the West, using their most powerful weapon: super clever Internet memes! Most of these condemn the violence of religious fanatics while (mostly explicitly)

The Empty Bottle

Sara picked up the remote control and dusted it for the second time that morning. She softly hummed a tune to herself, a discordant cross between the Final Jeopardy theme song and the original Mario Brothers background music. Years of listening to Tom’s frustrated trivia

Silly Humans

By John J. Staughton SN1: NEW YEAR’S DAY The first howl that sliced through the painted night shook me from my thoughts, but it was quickly followed by a second, and then a dozen more. It was a haunting moan of collective ecstasy, soaring boundless

SN1 | New Year’s Day

New Year’s Day:  Volume 1, Issue 1 Publication Date:  January 1st, 2015 Authors:  Chris Blim, John J. Staughton, Jessica Jade Andres, Adrienne Thomas, La Tisha Conto, Drew Michael, and Roger de Laci. New Year’s Day is available here. Read Chapter One of To God Knows Where by