Periphery

Red oak leaves circled the edge of the parking lot next to Ben’s head. He watched them swirl in mid-air like cardinals, zigzagging from hedge to fence to light post; all of them seemed to be searching for anything but him. A few leaves finally gave in and fell to the crowning his bleeding head. They didn’t …

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Muse

Poets pine for my touch. Choreographers claim that I am a walk in the woods. Musicians mistake their soulmates for me. Fools. I am that green-aproned siren in the café down the street; I am that tendril of steam rising from the mug she holds.  

XP

“Repeat it,” Brian, the seventh-grade DM, says, holding a cigarette lighter directly under my fist. “I can’t play until I’m 14.” “So stop asking.” His grip releases and I shake the pinpricks from my fingertips. “Now hand it over.” I pull a folder crammed with notebook paper from my backpack. Brian yanks out a character …

Souvenir

“You sure you’re cool with us?” The cigarette in our neighbor’s mouth bobbed as he spoke. Heather was in the kitchen rustling pots. “Us?” I asked, setting my beer down on a coaster, a souvenir from happier days when I still bought Heather gifts. “You know, with me and Heather?”

Drakkar (A Noir)

"Darling Jesse," she says—her voice is a bassoonist playing in the back of a concert hall—and then she ashes her cigarette into a waiting urinal.  The wide brim of her sun hat and her five-o-clock shadow obscure her face, but I recognize the mole on her right bicep just below the hem of her puff sleeve. "Where've you …

Red Dot

"What did your father say?" my mother whispers. I watch her gaze flit from my eyes to the painting of a peacock on the wall and back to a spot just left of my nose. Her drink is crooked in the hand that isn't clutching me. I look past her cashmere shoulder to my sister’s television in …

Nip Point

TW: violence, suggestions of rape Summary: A woman unwittingly falls into the hands of a killer the moment she walks into work. Liz saw them as soon as she walked into the reception area of the Chippewa Paper Mill — bright orange helmets lined up outside the doors to the machine floor. Each helmet sat …

The Art of Distraction

“SO IS THIS WHAT YOU DO HERE—make Rube Goldberg machines?” Jacob said, after I’d spread string, scissors, plastic cups, and a few small peg boards across the breakroom counter. He was sitting at the table eating a sandwich and fries from a styrofoam box. I watched as his paisley tie dipped into ketchup. That's how new he …