Required Summer Reading

By Kimberly Tolson
My grandma kept her pocket paperback romance novels in the scary spare room on the second floor, directly to the right of the J-shaped staircase, the one we’d ride down on the old dishwasher box.

Calling Mom Home

By Elizabeth Boquet
I call my mom once a year, on the day she died. Five times I have pulled up “Mom Home” in my contacts. Five times I have pressed the phone icon.

You Couldn’t Wait to Leave This Town

By Jennifer Handley
Concrete steps rise from pebbly cracked sidewalks, but go, absurdly, nowhere. Into the boards of a fence, or the sunless dirt beneath a low tree limb.

Backyard Aristotle

By Leonard Kress
In this morning’s backyard drama the tiny green bird has crashed into the glass of the sliding door and lies feet up and claw-splayed on the brick patio.

Lil

By Stephen D. Gutierrez
Our neighbor Lil looked like a TV Indian, all sunbaked and leathery. She wandered the streets brokenly, ill dressed, barely attuned.

Cornflakes of Compassion

By Janet Hommel Mangas
Head buried between cradled knees, I sobbed rhythmically with the clacking India railway train.

The Postman

By Elisa Jay
I’m surprised to see the postman’s face at last. The wrinkles parenthesizing his lips and eyes are soft...

The Size of Memory

By Merrill Sunderland
Once upon a time, you loved being big. Your bone-smuggling classmates reminded you daily...

AGUR Is the Last Way I Learned to Say Goodbye

By Clare Boerigter
Javi cuts the morcilla, flipping it into the pan. It is de casa, the pig. Homegrown.

I Was Furniture

By James McCready
I can’t recall much from my childhood. For all I know, I was a piece of furniture—an inanimate object. A cactus in its pot.

What Might Not Happen

By Nicholas A. White
Blood-red eyes, a forearm against the light, meetings and deadlines to attend. Mouths to feed, cars to buy, doctors to pay. And politics.

Beer Pong at Tiffany’s

By Misty Ellingburg
Last night, a girl asked about my name—why it's Misty; are my parents hippies? I said no, they're Native American.

What I Am Not Saying

By Emma Bogdonoff
Once you knew a boy and you loved him though you never said. Through so many years, you never said. It made you irreplaceable; who else could say so much with so few words?

Three Flash Metafictions

By Pamela Painter
They want to know why some characters get long stories while they get Micro, Sudden, Flash. Why some characters get cities or towns, streets, homes with dog houses and dogs that howl in the night.

Danny Boy

By Dinty W. Moore
My father was known throughout our neighborhood for his honey-rich tenor, his mastery of Irish-American songs, and Sinatra standards.

Nostalgia

By Deborah Rocheleau
Why does everyone patronize mice? They’re always “unwanted guests,” or “the new resident.” Never “the prisoner on death row” or “the vessel for deadly diseases you would rather avoid.”

Skin flâneur

By Joseph Heathcott
In our wanderings about the city, we pass through each other. What is a human being, after all? Nine of every ten cells in our bodies are not human: bacteria, fungi, viruses, yeasts and symbiants.

Tucson

By Andrea Spofford
When my mother calls she talks about the succulents in her backyard, how she overflowed the pool because she forgot to turn off the water, my father's new job at Rainbird, how she's worried, at 57, she's too old for this.

“Real”

By Rhonda Shary
Vacation had been unfolding as if charmed. With car windows open, idling in the small grocery’s parking lot, we studied the local map of Provincetown. If Mary Oliver would only wander past, all would be perfect.

Skinning the Gloves

By Jonathan Starke
You box to forget her. The soft olive skin, how she walked as if straddling a line, the no-names of children you will never have. And this hurts when you look at your hands. Pain comes with each punch.