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Fiction Life

Cincinnati Review

“See What I Mean”

[Winner of Robert and Adele Schiff Fiction Award]

The weather is always weird in March,’ I said. Winter to spring, spring to summer—the seamless hand-offs had been marked by nothing more than a single layer of cotton added or subtracted. And here we were dumbly welcoming spring again, the wet floral heads of April and then May already breaching. With each casual flip of our paper wall calendar, I believed, more dangerously, in miracles.

Fiction Life

Passages North

“History of Heartbeats”

[Winner of Wassmode Fiction Prize. Nominated for Pushcart Prize]

“The summer between sophomore and junior years in high school, the boy I loved cheated on me during his senior backpacking trip through Western Europe. He brought back a nesting doll and herpes and gave them both to me before announcing he was bisexual and moving someplace with public transportation. It’s the first time I remember thinking my heart might be alive and separate, something I hosted.”

Fiction Life

Ruminate Magazine

“Nesting Doll”

[Winner of William Van Dyke Short Story Prize]

“Let me start with her as a fetus, and tell you she moved so much in the womb I thought for sure I was carrying Isadora Duncan. My pregnancy made liars out of those “What to Expect” books: I grew smaller, my significance shrinking by the day under the reign of another, more supreme, human. Together, she and I completed the miraculous handiwork of six million Italian seamstresses and knitted her lobes and cords and stems, stoking the furnace of her heart to 159 beats per minute, then eventually, as I held her vernix–buttered body, it slowed to a more earthly 142 beats per minute.”

Fiction Life

American Literary Review

“Ever Seen Sedona?”

[Winner of ALR Fiction Prize]

Mom’s the color of cold Earl Grey tea and I hate how I judge her against the higher standards of the living. But every visit, every day, there’s a moment when I feel like I’m back in her womb, her body preoccupied with assembling my green eyes, my disappointing lips, while I’m listening to the muffled ticking and beeping keeping alive this woman who I’ve never met except through Grandmother’s stories. Her name is Jill Thompson. And if this were a merciful day, I’d say was. I’d say: Her name was Jill Thompson.

Fiction Life

Glimmer Train

“Donna of Mesker Park Zoo”

“Tella and Brokaw have nothing in common except hand injuries. His right hand is bruised and she wears a cast on her thumb from she and Daryl’s last fight when she threw their George Foreman grill at him and its lid boomeranged back at her.”

Fiction Life

AGNI Online

“Catch & Release: An Apology”

Today you’ll fill his prescription. You didn’t see this coming. Which means you did. Eight years ago, you saw him, perfect child, tethered to the whorled purple cord, and immediately began constructing a force field. Brined air and muslin cotton, root vegetables and dirt immunity. It was only a matter of time and equal opportunity before something interfered. This world will only tolerate peddling down hills for so long before it jams a stick in his spokes and laughs maniacally at the vaudeville act of an airborne boy.”

Fiction Life

Mississippi Review

“Earthlight Cancels Skylight”

“July 3rd and Matt turned forty-one alone. At least it felt that way. Not even a Happy Birthday from his girls. What else had he expected from a fourth and sixth grader? Apparently more than their sweet apathy because all day, in the most sophomoric recesses of his brain, he’d been concocting hints: Anybody know where to go for a good colonoscopy? You two prepared to repeat punch lines until no joke is funny anymore?”

Fiction Life

Cream City Review

“The Second Hand”

“He was sound asleep when his mother snuck in and dragged her pinkie down his cheek. He’d startled at first, thinking the spider he’d dismembered earlier that day on the patio had risen and come back for his eyes. Then he smelled his mother’s grassy shampoo and opened his eyes to the faint, faint silhouette of her long black-licorice hair thrown forward over her shoulders like puppet legs.”

Fiction Life

ZYZZYVA

“Coveting Stucco”

“Every Sunday we tour model homes.  After feeding the baby and hydrating adequately, we allot at least a four-hour window for falling in love.  The kind of throbbing, unrequited love based purely on unvested wealth and enormous walk-in closets. First we fall for the sales people. Their smiles and snuggly warmth to “Work with us,” to help us get into the “Home of our dreams.” Then, the virgin toilets—we’re suckers for the tight seal on top, that white, impenetrable plastic barrier. And the tape securing handle to tank, we love its implied promise: This toilet has never been flushed, not once.”

Fiction Life

Tampa Review

“Born in the Caul”

“Finally, Dyson answered the door with Gwen casually cocked in one arm as if he’d been trained to hold helpless things. The honest morning light rendered this man, this tamer version of Mick Jagger, too old to be a new father and way too young to be a widower. His head almost touched the top of the weathered doorframe. His knees needed meat.”

Fiction Life

River Styx

“Drowning”

[Runner-up Schlafly Micro-Fiction Contest]

“He went swimming just the other day when Rita was out “getting her tank filled.” That’s what she called it when she went to her art classes, as if Mort himself were a gas-guzzling, paint-chipped, wheezy old Winnebago parked on the driveway to her soul, leaking oil and siphoning every last drop of her youth. Besides, if he’d said, let’s go for a swim, she’d have cursed the sun and chlorine, the wetness of water.”

Fiction Life

Chattahoochee Review

“You Lose, Archibald”

“She’s on the bed now with Archy and he’s taking his time touching her trying to make it seem like he’s gone to school for something. This is as good at its gets, for her, anyway. Her fifth affair with a married man and what it comes down to is she can’t trust her own judgment. Let other women do the screening, then she’s comfortable moving in.”

Fiction Life

Necessary Fiction

“To the Woman”

“who chased her boy. who wasn’t playing a duck and goose game, but cocked her soft jaw and sprinted with the arrow eye of a coyote on a hare. who’d been made both fast and slow by the boy. who shoved open the restaurant’s double doors quickly but carefully because her mission was to escape ruin, not feed it.”

Fiction Life

Pearl Magazine

“Seeing Inside Allana”

“The doctor says, it’s everywhere. From kidneys to heart and back to bone, cannibal cells divide and deploy. What does it look like? I’m thinking the industrious carve of tiny termite alleys. Or a delicate pattern of holes and fissures that, in the right light, are pretty — maybe a doily heart, a snowflake liver. Maybe it’s as straightforward as dry rot: chipping, flaking rottenness. Such a pretty girl, people say.”

Fiction Life

Smokelong Quarterly

“A Boy Not Born Yet”

“ The doctor was gentle. She delivered the news as she probably hands over newborns still attached and wet: Delicate, careful not to rush, careful not to linger. With each word, her voice fell ten steps. So did her shoulders. The “D” first: Down. Then the “S” with her eyes turned down: Syndrome. An “S” for good measure. Syndromes don’t go away; they aren’t treated in the nurse’s office between art and social studies. They don’t fade or grow less objectionable with birthdays. There is no catch phrase for syndrome—no stork bite or strawberry.”

Fiction Life

Literary Mama

“The Running”

“At certain angles you think you already look pregnant, but mostly you look disgusted.  You’re tired, swollen like a tick and barely six weeks along. A complicated tangle of cells about the size of a spring pea has knocked you off your rocker. In no time, spring pea will grow to new potato, then peach, and soon thereafter, The Great Pumpkin. Sparking that bullshit glow isn’t going to be easy. Which is why, despite your legitimate fear of looking like a cowbell, you’ve amassed an arsenal of gauzy, flowy things. The tentative plan is to go “earth mother” on your chubby self and play like it’s all some spectacular metamorphosis. Anyway, the point is, you’ll soon have no points—you’ll have a circumference.”