Archive for February, 2012

The Screwdriver by JP Wasserboehr

Feb 23 2012 Published by under Stories

The first time we heard gunshots go off in our building, Lee and I leapt out of our bed and ran straight to our infant daughter. I was first to grab her. Lee peed herself. Stunned, we all moved into our bathroom where we regrouped—me on the toilet and Lee on the tub floor with our daughter. It took fifteen long minutes before we heard the first sirens.

That night, huddled as we were in the bathroom, I thought of the things we’d gather in a total state of emergency—one in which we suddenly had to flee somewhere—and the list I assembled wasn’t long. In a pinch, I reasoned that these things could be packed into a duffle: passports, the ninety-plus dollar rainy day fund, a week’s worth of diapers, a week’s worth of Gerber’s vegetable and turkey baby food, and a box tab folder filled with our family’s essential papers. Sitting there, thinking about it some more, I learned that if such a situation did present itself, most of these things were expendable. I realized that I was expendable, too, when I thought even further.

Not long after the night the shots had been fired, I started having a reoccurring dream. In the dream I was riding on The Screwdriver, a famous roller coaster from my New England childhood, a roller coaster, well known, of course, for it’s screw-like spirals. Except, in the dream, I wasn’t a kid riding my favorite roller coaster, I was me, in full father form, and the seats were not secured by the hydraulic safety restraints as they are presently—no—in the dream, the seats had regular old buckle-style seatbelts, the kind installed in common automobiles. But everything was going as usual until the rollercoaster made its infamous 360-degree whip-around and flung us into the corkscrew segment. There, upside-down and in the midst of the breakneck tumbles, I managed to peel my eyes down to my white and bloodless hands gripping the seatbelt and—just then—I watched my index finger poise over the red push-release button. I knew, that with any sudden urge, I could press the thing and go flying to an uncertain death somewhere over the trees. In bolder dreaming states, I’d press the release and then feel all of my weight become lighter, my limbs become flightless flesh pieces succumbing to gravity’s tug. Then I’d jolt awake, sweating, my arms swimming, looking for a surface to brace onto. When later I told Lee about the dream, as any troubled and decent man would confess to his wife, she was facing the bathroom mirror, straightening her hair with an iron. In the ten years I’d known her, she had always kept her black hair long and very straight.

“Life’s that hard?” she asked, passing through our bedroom. “Don’t tell me these things.”

Jeff Wasserboehr is a writer from Boston. He currently lives in Asia, where he is at work on his first novel. He edits the journal Beantown: Ten Stories.

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Annie by Deanna Morris

Feb 09 2012 Published by under Stories

Their baby was already four days old and Mr. and Mrs. Morgan still had not named their child.   The nurses kept asking the baby’s name for the hospital records, but the Morgans kept answering, “Not sure yet.”  The nurses mumbled among themselves that “they’ll have to call her something to be discharged tomorrow.”  One of the nurses started calling the infant, “Baby It.”

Tomorrow came.   Mr. Morgan was reading the morning newspaper in the hospital room as Mrs. Morgan packed her things to go home.  He carefully folded the paper into thirds, then half over and fingered the air out of the pages.  He held up the paper and pointed to the obituary column.

“Annie, we will call her Annie.”

Morgan sighed, “Fine” and wrote “Annie Morgan,” on the discharge papers.   On the way home, she said, “Annie, I like the name Annie.  I don’t like where you found it though.”  Mr. Morgan said he liked it too and “what difference did it make where he found it.”

More tomorrows came, the child grew and, as children eventually do, Annie asked about her birth.   She was turning ten next week.

Mr. Morgan rubbed his forehead and looked straight at her.  “I will tell you the truth, Annie and, the truth is, you were not planned.  It is also true that you were the best mistake I ever made.”   Then Mr. Morgan told her about finding the name Annie in the obituary column and how it “just sounded right.”

“Besides, I figured the woman in the paper wasn’t using it anymore,” he laughed.

Annie’s eyes opened wide and Mrs. Morgan walked into the room just as Mr. Morgan was telling her about her name.   “It took five days after you were born for your father to decide on a name.  I don’t know what took him so long.”

Mr. Morgan looked at his wife and said slowly, “You know, naming something means it belongs to you, that it is yours.”

Mrs. Morgan paled as he added, “I wasn’t sure.”

They both stared at each other, forgetting that Annie was in the room.   When they remembered, Annie had retreated to her bedroom and closed the door.   They thought it best to leave her alone.

Years have passed now and they have never spoken of the matter again.  Not ever.   Not even Annie.   Especially not Annie.   When family and friends ask about her from time to time, her parents say she is “doing fine, really fine.  She does, however, seem especially fond of black crepe dresses and she wears no makeup, except of course, for the white lipstick she applies all day long.”

Deanna Morris is a second year MFA student at Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana.  Her story “Charlie” was published at Subtle Fiction, her story “Orchard” was published at A Small, Good Magazine. Her story “Connections” is published at Clever Magazine and her story “Birthday House” is being published in the upcoming issue of Scissors and Spackle literary magazine.  Her poetry credits are “Sewing Room” published in IUPUI’s genesis [sic] literary magazine as Best in Poetry, “Go Now” published at Quantum Poetry and “Ice” to be published at Eunoia Review in May.

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Front of the House by Crystal Koo

Feb 03 2012 Published by under Stories

Natasa forgot that right of way is guests, hot food, cold food, empty plates, empty-handed staff, not free for all, and collided with Stefanos, causing Table 14’s moussaka to fall off his tray like an angel of light from the sky. I was signaling Stefanos to get Alecto and her sisters a new moussaka plus a shiraz on the house when Georgios at reception started tapping his right temple with three fingers at me and I thought, VIP Party of 3 isn’t due till an hour later, and in swings Orpheus with his Telecaster slung over his shoulders, THRACE FTW stickered on the body, and that was the beginning of the end because my best table, the window seat with a view of Styx Piers and Charon’s new fleet of hydrofoils, wasn’t cleared yet and where was that new busser Eurydice when you needed her.

Crystal Koo was born and raised in Manila and is currently working in Hong Kong. Her most recent publications include short stories in The Other Room; Corvus Magazine; and Short, Fast, and Deadly. She maintains a blog at

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