On the beach was no one and waves and sun and birds. When I was sitting I ate an apple and threw it away and then a gull came and picked it up. It stood close, watching me sideways with a leg up and choking down the core while I talked too much. The water broke white over my feet and left a wet shadow as far as I could see until it sunk below the sand. I watched this happen for a longer time than I ever imagined.
by Zachary Koch of Fanwood
Mother Starr sits on her bench, remembers all the perfect splinters she has removed after all the perfect days watching Hazeline play princess of her wooden Camelot, but when she drops the peppermint ice cream cone on the pavement―once Hazeline's favorite―she watches it melt as the line of ants enter in and out through the cone smothering the cream, until it is eclipsed in a blanket of black wriggling legs.
by Matthew Burnside of McKinney
11 floors of failed flying. 96 of 206 bones broken, blood, guttered, gone. We glance only. Latte sir? No Caramel Macchiato. Watch your step.
by David Riddle of Sanford
She’d invite the husbands over on Wednesdays. Dinner was pot roast. She made them take off their shoes. Her daughter brought fake berries on a pretend plate. They were all failures, more or less. After, she wiped their mouths. There was a tent downstairs; a blue Coleman that’d withstand gale-force winds. They waited in it naked while she washed the dishes, squinting at their watches, as if finally late for something.
by Matt Marinovich of Parts Unknown
how crystals can bend light
in floating fissures
by Christopher Tiefel of Doylestown
I pick Joel up for our doubles match; he says Nora left in the night and took Andy. We forfeit and open a case of balls in the foyer, serving into the frames of Nora’s paintings. “Fault! Double Fault!” he shouts. We have a good, drunken laugh until Joel takes a knee, and I look up at the bare walls and nail heads, letting him wipe his tears on his wristband, as if we’re still young men only suffering from the heat.
by Erik Doughty of Boston
He knew that the end was coming. The pencils saw it, as did the brooms, as did the whitewash and the paint thinners he kept stored on the high shelves. He sat at his drawing table, waiting, not touching the pencils but letting them inch across the bristol board in orderly rows like a procession of hitched camels, self-led through a gleaming white desert under a flat florescent sun.
by Keith McCleary of San Diego