Issue #79

Summer Issue | August 2021

In this Issue:

Three Stories by SJ Han



She was a quick reader and a ruthless reviewer. Cover letters and prospectuses were to be disregarded; the text was paramount, but often insufficient. All it took was an unearned emotion or a particularly irksome phrase, such as "the wind whispered," and the manuscript would leave her hands to join an ever-growing pile of rejects. One afternoon, she happened upon a thin submission, dry but free of any immediate fault.

As paragraphs laced together, a city of glass sprawled. A nameless protagonist wandered through a valley of skyscrapers but could not find anyone else. On one street corner, he happened upon a nameless acquaintance. Read more...

Two Stories by Valerie Fox


A little help from St. Francis

  1. I'm in one of St. Francis's hospitals. Just a simple procedure, I'm okay. St. Francis is there.
  2. He says, how are you feeling? Would you like for me to bring you some broth? Jello? When I feel down, I talk to some animals.
  3. I tell him about Swoon, my longtime boyfriend. I've never even told my mother about him, and he isn't here for post-op or taking me home. Another woman was in this room but she disappeared last night.
  4. Francis pats my hand. I tell him, I met Swoon, my unreliable guy, on an airplane.
  5.

A Sea Voyage by Brian Biswas


The storm had been building in intensity for a long time. Far too long, the sailors thought. The ship would have to give at some point--and probably soon. The old square rigger rocked fore and aft, tossed by twenty-foot waves like a cork on the ocean. The torrential rain had long ago drenched everything in sight, the winds having swept away all unsecured objects. The captain, however, appeared unconcerned; indeed, he seemed not even to be aware of the storm! A giant of a man, with a round face and puffy cheeks, yellowish hair and fiery light-blue eyes, he swaggered up and down the deck like a carnival barker, all the while shouting orders to his crew:

"Rip that sail! Lower that mast! Crowd that boom and bring her astern! Scrub that deck--yes, you Powderboy; scrub it hard--hard till it leaks! Catch that crow! Squawk that fish!" Read more...

The Man in the Building by Michael Canfield


There's a man in that building over there, I'm almost sure. I feel like we can get at him if we tried. We might get in there. It might take a group of us, but I think we could do it. It would be interesting.

What things would he tell us? What things would he do? Would he be surprised to know that we had come for him?

What is he thinking now? He might well be thinking, "there are people on the street down there," he's almost sure. I'm certain if he exists he has thought of us at one time or another. If we wonder who is inside, he might wonder who is outside, and therefore we might not be so different. Read more...

The S-Man by Daniel Schulz


The ringing of the alarm clock shook his whole body. His whole body was rattling with no possibility of turning it off. His hands trembled. He was awake. When the alarm clock finally calmed down, S shivered into consciousness: he could no longer fall asleep. He took the key and stuck it into the side of his hip, slowly winding the alarm clock up, in case of future eventualities. He also used the key elsewhere, applied it in turns between the bars of his ribcage. Readiness is everything: this was his torso. He stretched out for a moment. Then he wound his joints tight, one by one, one last time.

He was ready. He could start. But when S stood in the frame of the door, he paused, almost as if someone had pulled the emergency brake, forcing him to stand still and stutter. Startled about his own refusal, he let out a short sigh. – "You hesitated." the Boss said, "Why?" – S didn't know. Read more...

Forgotten Cities, Nonfiction by Jacqueline Doyle


I open a book to an underlined description of a city: "Euphemia, the city where memory is traded at every solstice and at every equinox." The hardcover book has a shiny silver dust jacket and has been visible on the bookshelf in our dining room for as long as I can remember. I know I enjoyed the book greatly once, but I can't remember reading it, or underlining that particular passage. I flip to the flyleaf, surprised to see that my friend B. gave it to me forty years ago, when I lived in Ithaca. I haven't thought of that particular friend for many years. I see her before me now: skin so pale it was almost translucent, pale blue eyes, thin, straight hair—a color that used to be called dirty blonde. A townie, the daughter of an engineering professor, she'd dropped out of college after a psychotic break years earlier. She lived on food stamps and temporary part-time jobs and magical thinking. Read more...

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