RECENT AND SELECTED STORIES
The Best Small Fictions, 2019
Today the targets are locked out, told to snatch some air, move those legs and arms, play your schoolyard games, but stay away from the house in the trees. Don’t jump the ditch, don’t cavort with that loner Kyle who shoots kids with his fingers.
FATE WILL UNWIND
Booth, December 6, 2019
It begins with envy, with Kent’s colleagues going on about their miraculous children—the Eagle Scout, the homecoming queen, that walleyed nerd with the full scholarship to MIT. Kent has grown old in this teachers’ room, nodding politely at the accolades of other people’s children.
WHAT IF ALL THE OCEANS
Gone Lawn 34
Autumnal Equinox, 2019
My imaginary son is obsessed with rocks. He's learning about them in imaginary fourth grade. We've already made an imaginary volcano. You can imagine what a mess that was.
What's this one, he asks, holding out a rock. What's this one? And what's this one, he asks, picking up a clod of dirt, which not being a rock in the strictest sense crumbles through his imaginary fingers. Oh, he says.
HOW TO SHOP AFTER THE DEATH OF YOUR BROTHER
Split Lip Magazine
As you walk through the automatic doors, keep this in mind: supermarkets—and now all other things—are arranged wrong. Heavy items like sacks of rice, number-ten cans of tomatoes, and five-liter bottles of your brother’s death are all on aisle 7—after bananas, after white bread, after eggs. Leave a hollow in your cart for the heavy stuff.
Longleaf Review, October 2018
Scoutmaster Justin’s on the pier, leg on a post, balls hanging out of his cut-off shorts like that guy on the Fleetwood Mac album. He has to feel that, has to know he’s flashing the ten of us treading water below. “Dive!” he shouts, all Full Metal Jacket, blows and blows his pink plastic whistle. “It’s cold as hell down there! Watch the cottonmouth nests!”
HOW TO LOVE YOUR CHILD WITHOUT YOUR NEIGHBOR REPORTING YOU TO CHILD SERVICES
Lunch Ticket, May 2018
Til has just fallen asleep when an elderly woman bends down to the stroller and gushes, “What a putty baby. Dat a putty baby.” He’s asleep, I whisper, and could she please just fucking move along, too low for her to hear the violence in me I guess, because she’s just getting started. “Putty putty baby. Putty, putty putty baby.” I need Steve, but he’s in the haircutter’s a few shops down, getting trimmed for our appointment with child services in twenty-seven minutes. Some neighbor reported “inappropriate sexual behavior from homosexual dad” when she saw me do a raspberry on Til’s belly—his favorite thing in the world. The guy at child services laughed about it but also said he followed up on all calls. “It’s more common than you think,” he said.
SELECTED FLASH FICTION
HOW WE EAT
Bath Flash Fiction Award Anthology
This is what we did. We stood over Sebastian with our protractors, compasses and Bagua, punched coordinates into calculators, scribbled not-theres and not-there-eithers. We licked thumbs and held them to the air. We found the safest, calmest space for our son and placed him there.
New Flash Fiction Review
Inventory day in the bunker. On Daddy’s Excel sheet, canned tomatoes, peas and peaches are a month past expiry. A couple cans are fat. A family-sized fruit cocktail in heavy syrup already exploded. The bunker smells like a wino, Mama says. She explains why in her social studies lesson The Immoralities of Godless Cities. I think winos smell sweet but also . . . ruined?
The afternoon is warm for the suit Laiq’s wearing. Colonies of microbes pullulate in his sweat. He pronounces their names slowly to make them harmless science, to convince himself that they’re not demons. Mal-a-sez-zia, Staph-y-lo-coc-cus e-pi-der-mi-dis, Cor-y-ne-bac-te-ri-um, Ko-cu-ri-a rhi-zo-phi-la.
I pinch my eyes shut, take three steps, then five, then slam headlong into a sign. This, my husband says later, is the only thing I can do to prepare for blindness. He’s butterflying my eyebrow back together. “This?” I ask. “Keeping your eyes closed,” he says.
To Carry Her Home, Bath Flash Fiction Anthology
My twin sister's hair still nakes through the carpets, coils in pillowcase corners, spider-webs from plants and lamps. I should vacuum--I will--but I love finder her too much. I twine each hair with one of my own into a jar. I'm making a sister wig.
When Susan died the first time, the guys at the office filled a black leather vbook with 50 pages of heartfelt condolences. Back and front. That's what they said: "heartfelt, back and front." I couldn't open the book. It in the bedroom closet behind a big green box of yellowed tax receipts.
Content Warning: scenes of rape
The third time Tyler was raped, he was walking home from a leading role on a Broadway stage. He saw the three masked teenagers coming toward him, didn’t run, didn’t flinch when they grabbed him. They took turns, whispering at his ear You like that? You want that? Tyler closed his eyes, felt every violation expand into the next until it was done and quiet and the kids were gone.
You need a black lady. That’s how my father put it. Out of the blue. A black lady. Like he’d been thinking all day about the kind of woman who’d make me happy and just couldn’t keep it in another second. What do you say to a comment like that except Dad, please? I was ten.
r.kv.r.y quarterly literary journal
A life of want–40 years of toxic relationships, cul-de-sac jobs, and just plain dogus ignoramus decisions—has made me pretty good at cartoon impressions. I can do Daffy and Bugs, Porky the P-P-P-Pig too. “Beep-beep!” I honk, because I know my father’s a fan.
Lynn jabs it with the barrel of his rifle. It’s a sign, he says. One head, two bodies. A whitetail. Or two. The two bodies bloom out from the single head like the feathers on a shuttlecock in uterine slime. The mess puckers, releases a thin cloud of steam when Lynn pokes it again. It’s still alive.
Chase is Thirty Six. His hands are rubbing his wife’s shoulders, but his thoughts are readying themselves for escape. “Chase, please. It’s too hard.” She turns her head to look at him, but Chase is already five and leaping onto a granite kitchen countertop. He swivels in midair and lands. Sitting. His wife says again, “Chase, please. It’s too hard.” The landing’s never smooth. And then there’s always the awkwardness of turning to kneel, to reach the third shelf and the dwindling bar of chocolate his mother (never) uses to bake. He pulls back the label that reads “Pure Baker’s Chocolate” and sinks his teeth deep, hard into a corner.
Prime Number Magazine
I never visited Pete in prison, and I never told him about Miko. That was the plan. Pete claimed he was innocent, but I know different. He might not have pulled a trigger, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t want to. He’s a volcanic man. Hit first, gas-station flowers later.
The third time Will rose from the dead he figured he could make a living from it. All he’d ever wanted was a little respect for a talent, and he did seem to die well.
His first death was his own doing. People called it suicide. They doubted his mental health, laughed at his method. Pills: too girlie, they said. He should have flung himself at a helicopter blade. They were so much more imaginative than Will.
SELECTED SHORT STORIES
When Tim and I were big enough to reach its lowest branches, the oak was our spaceship. We were a Mike/Tim commando sent to save the universe. When the aliens attacked we’d eject into a musty mound of leaves, shouting “All for one and one for all!” But the tree grew heavy, too dark—like a shadow we shared.
Eclectica Literary Journal
Flat 61c—Tanna Kolvea
The steps leading up to Tanna's sixth-story flat hawed and hemmed. Six flights, 12 steps each. When the other tenants were about, the house was a babel of 12-tone rows, but today Tanna's footfalls sawed and moaned an ascending series alone. Alone. Finally. She enjoyed her own company, which she had so much more of now that she'd finally got rid of Fred.
The Smoking Poet
My father wanted a son. It was a disappointment he didn’t know how to hide. He even bought me a set of toy soldiers one Christmas and started calling me Private Kiddo. I followed Sergeant Dad to war every Saturday morning. Our battlefield was the den, our ramparts the couch and the coffee table turned on its side. We were a murderous pair.
Itold her. Dozens of times. The Big House, as we called it, was a mountain of clutter — too much for a widow with vertigo. A few years ago Dad ended in a heap at the bottom of the staircase. Mom, serving lunch at the mission, didn’t find his body for hours.
Exeter Short Story Prize
Hal’s skull is round and friendly. It slopes to an improbably slight neck. Says this person will never hurt you, but it also says HIT ME. Hal was roughed up last year in the subway. As he lay unconscious on the crowded platform, the attacker took his money, his sunglasses, his shoes.
Hal’s quieter now in public. I know it’s so we don’t look like a gay couple. He’s new to New York; I was born here.
Ten minutes till Glee. I’ve ripped the plastic off a new box of tissues. Fluffed the first one up. Popped popcorn. Finn’s just died in real life, but he’ll always be a football-playing tenor in syndication. The glee club are going to nationals again today. Afternoon reruns. I’ve seen this one six times. There’s something about song—the rise, the fall of a well-built melody—that looses the connections in my brain to the feeling parts. A little wine helps. It’s like sob therapy with commercial breaks.
The Dead Mule School
Frank kills the headlights, rolls to a stop between the three-story plywood skeleton and a dumpster full of scrap wood. He eases out of the car, pans the lot to make sure he’s alone and pops the trunk. Priest Lake Park. Lake-front Luxury! Even unfinished, this place is so much grander than his own subdivision, Edge-O-Lake, which people now call Edge-O-Strip-Mall. The funk of fried fish from the new Captain D’s hangs thick in the air by noon; the entrance sign’s O is peeling like it’s sunburt.
Broad River Review
The squatting is Dr. Frank’s idea, to get me into Trey’s eight-year-old field of vision. My face is a burst of forced positivity. His copper eyes are his mother’s, the sad slope of his eyebrows mine. Maria died two years ago. It didn’t surprise me that Trey took it philosophically. He never cried about anything. We joked about it, called him our little sociopath until his kindergarten teacher called the house to suggest we choose another nickname.