February 26, 2014 Leave a comment
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A Diner on the Edge of Town Alcy Leyva
There’s a Wait Jordan Smith
Orpheum Kevin Oderman
Isolation (poem) Eileen Berry
River, Clap Your Hands Cynthia Hawkins
A Lawyer in Islamistan Ali Eteraz
An Economic Novel Mark Brazaitis
Forgotten Exiles Cyril Dabydeen
When the Frost Comes Erin Pringle-Toungate
Words in Skin Alcy Leyva
Morning Sarah Gerkensmeyer
Read the opening of each story
A Diner on the Edge of Town
A fly walks into a diner…
(I’ll start from the beginning, sorry.)
As I tore open the sugar packet,
a piece of the pink wrapper fell from the bigger chunk,
sashayed in the air,
and did a medium-sized backflip
There’s a Wait
Millard’s will was simple enough. The house and assets would be sold, the investments liquidated, the proceeds placed in trust in three equal shares, thus neatly avoiding estate taxes and any disagreement about who got what. There was only one additional provision. The beneficiaries would each receive one personal bequest, an object to be placed prominently in each of their homes. For the next twenty years, until the trust dissolved and the capital was distributed, the monthly income would be paid only when the trustees had certified by a personal and unannounced inspection that the object was where it was supposed to be and neither altered nor disguised in any way.
The bulbs on the marquee illuminated the crowd pressed close to the door, but the line ran into the half darkness down the street. Orpheum. A word exotic to the boys. They’d been to the movies before, in Bend, to the Bijoux, which their mother—it seemed a long time ago—had told them meant jewels in French. Fielding had wondered about that, jewels? That was when they had already entered the shadow of their mother’s illness. She had told them a movie house was like a jewelry box, she thought, they kept the pretty things inside. The sparkling movies. Colors almost unbelievable. Simple stories. Happy endings, she’d said, and smiled her wan smile. And the boys had nodded. Already that seemed like a long time ago.
River Clap Your Hands
Make shadows for me Jack. That’s what I always called Jack’s drawings when I was a kid. With his eyes squinting into black slits of concentration and a wafting of his gnarled gray fingers gone straight, his hand would make its graceful pass over tables, walls, great pads of paper I eventually bought him, the surface growing gradually darker than its natural shade, darker until I could see the shapes he made. Just a wave of his hand. That’s all it took. He was good, Jack. He liked to add a kind of Deco flourish to limbs and fingers and the ends of hair twined with an imaginary breeze. And Jack was drawing his self-portrait across the cracked concrete alley behind the strip mall where I was looking for boxes, the dark spindled sketch of his question-mark figure hanging like a shadow from my heels, when a woman burst through an emergency exit. Like birds scattering off a lawn at the first hint of a doorknob twist, Jack was gone. Just like that.
A Lawyer in Islamistan
Mr. Eblis, a first year defence attorney in the country of Islamistan, sat in his office in the old part of Muhammadiya District and wondered if his solo practice was doomed to fail. Most people avoided criminal law like it was heresy. The trials were complicated and messy, and took an eternity.
He had wanted a high status job. Government. Academia. Morality. Anything that kept him out of court. He had hoped that upon the completion of his twelve year program he would be installed as a lecturer at Jurist’s Inn or invited to become an analyst at the Guardian Council.
An Economic Novel
The scene in which the protagonists (soon-to-be lovers) meet: You’ll know from experience or fantasy what they say to each other, how their gestures convey a tangible longing, how, when they kiss, the world brightens, as if in a nuclear flash.
I was meeting him again after a twenty-year lapse, and I figured he would be reluctant or self-conscious, my father. Time, distance, between us; and yes, it would be his poverty, his house being a ramshackle place with a nondescript living room, and the doors being boards simply tacked together and the roof zinc sheets piled one on top of the other. He’d been ailing too, arthritis wracking his bones, the relatives had said.
When the Frost Comes
The girl and her mother sit at the small kitchen table, eating their cereal. On TV, the weatherman stands in front of his colorful map. He has gray hair and a red bow tie and is the same weatherman who visited the girl’s class and explained about Ls and Hs. How Ls meant lousy weather and Hs meant happy weather—For the most part, he said. She and the rest of the class were impressed since he was from the larger city where the shopping mall and movie theatre and hospitals were, and they saw him every night on TV, but there he was shaking hands with Mrs. Lindsey and standing in front of their chalkboard. It was almost as good as the shopping mall Santa making a special visit, but since none of them believed in Santa anymore, the weatherman would do.
Words in Skin
I sit back and enjoy the crunchy skin of the pig my father and uncles have roasted using smoking coals. We’re sitting in a driveway in the Bronx, but the smell of a fire pit and the rattle of dominoes screams of an island lost in their memories. My son sits at my feet with his New York Yankees hat and British character inspired toy trains which were made in China. I don’t give my son a piece because he distrusts anything new.
Every morning, my husband and I grab our briefcases and our stainless steel coffee thermoses. We kiss each other on the cheek and then we kiss the dog on the cheek and then we pull the front door closed behind us and let the screen door give a happy slap. Every morning, I set my stainless steel coffee thermos on the roof of my car and my husband sets his stainless steel coffee thermos on the roof of his car and then we open driver-side doors. And right before ducking into the airtight spaces of our separate, efficient automobiles, every morning, we both see Harold waving at us from across the street, his other hand holding a slack hose above the brown-pocked grass. Like usual, there’s no water coming out of the hose, and, like usual, my husband and I both wave back.