Archive for March, 2012

Day Three by Holly Day

Mar 30 2012 Published by under Stories

He’s wearing out. The man looked old and tired. I have to go to work. I should call in. Damn, I should call in.

No, no, go to work. Candice took the sobbing baby into the bedroom and sat down on the bed with him. The baby began to nurse. I’ll take care of him. I’ll call you if he gets worse. Or better. She made a smile. Go to work.

And then the woman was alone with the baby. The baby’s eyes were closing, and it looked like sleep. Candice waited, holding her breath. Shhh. Eyes closed, stayed closed. Candice put the baby on the bed and gently piled covers over the tiny white body. Shhh. She backed away. Shh. She closed the door. So quiet.

Her ministrations of the previous nights appeared to have worked. Here and there were tiny holes in the walls and floors, but no new gigantic rips through the house’s foundation could be seen. She poured rubbing alcohol along the windows and doors, everywhere there was exposed wood. Get ‘em while they’re sleeping, she thought. All along the floor molding.

Two bottles of alcohol later, the baby was still asleep. Candice looked in and watched the tiny chest rise and fall, rise and fall. She called Jonathan at work. The baby’s asleep.

Oh, thank God. You, you should sleep, too.

It’s so quiet, she said. I don’t know if I can sleep. I just want to sit and enjoy this quiet. She pressed the phone against her ear and closed her eyes. Can you hear that? she asked. Nothing at all.

Holly Day is a housewife and mother of two living in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Her poetry has recently appeared in Hawai’i Pacific Review, The Oxford American, and Slipstream. Her book publications include Music Composition for Dummies, Guitar-All-in-One for Dummies, and Music Theory for Dummies, which has recently been translated into French, Dutch, Spanish, Russian, and Portuguese.

No responses yet

Up in California by Jamie Grefe

Mar 15 2012 Published by under Stories

When the son came out of the bathroom, Johnson was on his fifth glass of whiskey. He justified it, kept his cool in front of the son by opting to use a tumbler instead of his normal routine of drinking from the bottle. The son watched him fall before, had taken off his shoes, covered him up on the sofa when Johnson was too crumpled or slurred to crawl. Johnson feared the son for his propensity to care, something Johnson had left scattered across barroom floors, on cocktail napkins, torn up or thrown away by part-time waitresses with names like “Lucy” or “Sugar.”

“We have to go, son.”

“Finish your drink, Dad.”

“I mean it—visitors are coming. Too many.”

“It’s about the thing in the case, isn’t it?”

“We’re not going to talk about that, son.” Johnson tipped the whiskey down his throat, hissed, eyed the remaining drops.

“They won’t hurt you, Dad. They can’t. I won’t let them.”

Johnson had seen that look in his son’s eyes before, compassion and wisdom like the time the son pushed keys into the ignition, and Johnson read the road through slumped shoulders and dizzy undulations of swirling yellow lines on deserted roads. The son wouldn’t even let Johnson steer, just asked question after question. They found the son’s mother’s house all lit up, her standing there in her bathrobe, scowling, too disgusted to carry Johnson into the house. The son brought a bucket.

“I flushed it down the toilet, Dad.”

Spilled whiskey was a sin to Johnson, but the glass dropped, slipped, hit the carpet, just like that. The son sat on the bed, stared straight ahead at the blank television set.

Johnson’s mouth opened, nothing came out. He smelled tires peeling into the motel parking lot, heard doors open and shut, steps clacking to the main building where the girl Johnson had talked to, “Cherry” or “Cindy” or something was probably still working, still painting her nails red.

“You didn’t mean it . . .” he paused, letting the words drip down his tongue. “What you flushed down the toilet was from that ship in the desert, son. It’s the reason we’re on our way to meet those men up in California. It’s from outer space.” He closed his eyes, “up there, son.”

Johnson’s arm moved to the window, but the son only saw the heavy grey curtain fall. And his father, when the hail of bullets shattered the window and chopped into him, in that sudden obliterating moment, managed to squeeze out the words, “It’s okay, son.” And those words, with the son scrambling under the desk, covering his head with little arms, those words struck the son in a way far more real than the bullet sailing through the air from the gun of the gentleman in the black suit standing in the frame of the broken window.

Jamie Grefe lives and works in Beijing, China. Visit him here:

No responses yet

A Pledge to Stand by Nathaniel Tower

Mar 02 2012 Published by under Stories

Brandt didn’t stand for the Pledge.

“Stand up,” a group around him hissed.

The teacher remained silent.

“Don’t you love your country?” a nearby girl asked.

The teacher moved closer to the situation, his hand on his heart.

“With liberty and justice for ALL!” the class shouted, most eyes darting on Brandt at the end.

After class three boys wearing boots and Confederate belt buckles shoved Brandt on the ground. One kicked him with the hard toe of the boot. Another stomped on his chest with the heel.

“Fuckin’ faggot,” the boys said. “Move to Canada you little bitch.”

The boys walked away, high-fiving each other, proud they had defended their beloved country.

Brandt slowly stood up and brushed the dirt off his shirt. His chest ached, but he was used to it. He brought his hand up to his heart and held it for awhile before marching to his U.S. History class. They were discussing the Bill of Rights today.

Nathaniel Tower writes fiction, teaches English, and manages the online lit magazine Bartleby Snopes. His short fiction has appeared in over 100 print and online journals. His first novel, A Reason to Kill, was released in July 2011. He lives in the Midwest with his wife and daughter.

No responses yet