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Fiction

Fiction

Dead Girls Have No Names

Our bones are cold. It is the type of cold that comes only after death, and it will never leave us now. We mourn what must have come before: hands holding ours. Sunlight warming the tops of our heads. Cats on our laps and nightclubs where we danced out of our minds and Pop-Tarts straight from the toaster. Life, pulsing hot and fat beneath our fingers. Mother keeps us in a chest freezer.

Fiction

Hussy Strutt

“Hussy Strutt a cold-blooded bitch, wouldn’t pee on you if your heart was on fire. She love to fight, an’ rage taste better in her mouth than food. She big, too. Hussy Strutt use the East River for a bathtub and be mad ’cos it don’t cover her butt.” Ayo giggles in spite of herself, and things seem a little closer to natural, at least by sound: Zinger weaving another tale, embroidered by Ayo’s laughter. Zinger’s been at it all night, picking up a new thread when hour upon hour of darkness pulled tighter than their bonds.

Fiction

We Came Home from Hunting Mushrooms

On Saturday afternoon we piled into Ben’s old Civic, the five of us and two dogs, and as we drove out to the edge of the state forest to hunt mushrooms, we all kept a hand on each other, in case someone vanished. Ben was driving as usual, and instead of me up front sat Hunter, his new girlfriend. They’d been together almost a year, but as a far as I was concerned, Hunter would always be Ben’s new girlfriend. It was me, Mara, and Andre in the backseat, holding each other’s hands. | Copyright 2020 by Adam R. Shannon.

Fiction

The Folding Man

They had come from a Halloween party, having long shed the masks they’d worn. No one but Harold had been drinking, and he wasn’t driving, and he wasn’t so drunk he was blind. Just drunk enough he couldn’t sit up straight and was lying on the back seat, trying, for some unknown reason, to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, which he didn’t accurately recall. He was mixing in verses from “The Star-Spangled Banner” and the Boy Scout oath, which he vaguely remembered from his time in the organization before they drove him out for setting fires.

Fiction

Spider Season, Fire Season

The house is haunted, of course. That’s why the rent is so cheap. It doesn’t matter that it’s only April, that ghosts dream quietly when the world is in full bloom. Nearly any haunting will be small: flickering lights, a mysterious lullaby, an intrusive thought chasing the living from room to room. Fatalities are incredibly rare, though most people, even the disbelievers, fail to find that reassuring. December is not most people, not when it comes to the dead, but she promised herself twenty years ago: when I’m grown up, when I can choose, I’ll never live with a ghost again.

Fiction

That Tiny Flutter of the Heart I Used to Call Love

Karen thought of them as her daughters, and tried to love them with all her heart. Because, really, wasn’t that the point? They came to her, all frilly dresses, and fine hair, and plastic limbs, and eyes so large and blue and innocent. And she would name them, and tell them she was their mother now; she took them to her bed, and would give them tea parties, and spank them when they were naughty; she promised she would never leave them, or, at least, not until the end.

Fiction

Dégustation

You are a spore, barely more than a twinkle in your many parents’ breeding-breathing air. They are your family, among other things, living as a colony in the dim light beneath an abandoned office building. They fill the already-damp air with the encouraging words of hopes and aspirations for you and your siblings. And though you are nothing more than a speck in the air, the sentiment is warm, just as the earthy mulch you settle into that embraces you like a blanket.

Fiction

Girls Without Their Faces On

Delia’s father had watched her drowning when she was a little girl. The accident happened in a neighbor’s pool. Delia lay submerged near the bottom, her lungs filling with chlorinated water. She could see Dad’s distorted form bent forward, shirtsleeves rolled to the elbow, cigarette dangling from his lips, blandly inquisitive. Mom scooped Delia out and smacked her between the shoulder blades while she coughed and coughed. Delia didn’t think about it often. Not often.

Fiction

We, the Folk

The maypole dancers are restricted by what’s left of the ribbons. I watch them squeeze past each other with shining faces flushed pink from the heat. Too pink to be skin. More like meat. To my right, John’s wickerwork bath chair crunches as he shifts. “Raymond tells me you’re writing again,” he says. I swallow a scowl and nod. Raymond—Ray—John’s doctor. That man can’t smell gas without striking a match.

Fiction

Call Out

Opening the field gate, Malcolm sensed something born wrong sheltered in the old cattle shed. The sickly sweet smell of decay spread across the hillside. ’Round his feet, half-blind, featherless jackdaws cawed. Malcolm hesitated, not wanting to cross the grass, to make those final steps on this late-night call out. Bill Hoden had already started over the field. He lifted up his left hand and beckoned Malcolm on, holding a damp cigarette between two remaining fingers.