The Sweetest Things

by Dinamarie Isola   She left a box of half-eaten chocolates sitting on his dresser. Waxy and whitened along the edges, they looked inedible, if not fake. He didn’t bother to confirm what he knew to be true: the expiration date had long come and gone. Pitching them into the trash, the mounds of chocolate dinged against the metal rim, scattering over the floor. Even when she wasn’t around, somehow she made work for him. I don’t need you to take care of me. Lorelei liked to say that, but getting to her doctor appointments required crossing a six-lane highway.…

The Writer

By Peter Aronson I am a writer. Yes, I am. By day, I write for the municipality. I write forms for every conceivable aspect of life. My favorite last month: Municipal Sidewalk Chewing Gum Eradication Program, Citizen’s Report: Number of pieces removed per square foot: __________ Type of gum removed, if known: mint _____; fruit _____; bubble_____; other _____ By night, however, my writing is mostly form-free and my life, my writing life, is much different. I shed any semblance of a logical, coherent thought process and become a real writer. I sit at my well-lit desk, in my tidy…

Fiction: Magic Show by Michael Long

Something that’s weird about me is that I have oven mitts for hands. Not actual oven mitts; that’s just what one of my old foster parents called them. He said it meant I was going to grow a lot in a few years. It never really mattered much to me, except for it looking kind of funny with the rest of me being normal size and my hands being so big. Large palms, long fingers—you get it. It wasn’t until I moved into my last foster home that I finally found a reason for them. My new foster dad had…

Distancing by Anna Shannon

I flick on the coffee machine and open the fridge. Oh, right. I finished all the wine, ‘coping.’ I rub my eyes and tighten the belt of my pink satin robe. It has a tendency to slip, putting my negligee on display.  Course that never bothers Lionel unless the drapes are open. As if anyone can even see my breasts from that far away, even if they were open. I close the fridge and look past the kitchen island, past the extra-long white leather couch and matching ottoman to his liquor cabinet. I loathe rustic design, but he had it…

Desquamation by Megan Jauregui Eccles

  The lizard suns herself. She looks happier than I ever have. She blinks one eye, then the other. She doesn’t look at me. Does she know that, like me, she once belonged to you? The days wind like hours on a clock. I try spending more time outside. Lying flat on the ground and soaking up the rays of the sun like I’m a plant or a very small lizard. My skin reddens and blisters. I go inside and nurse my wounds with aloe and Tylenol. Later, I see the lizard bite off a piece of her own shedding…

Not a Chance by Brenda Salinas Baker

My calendar’s automated alerts remind me to check up on my enemies. Once, twice, three times a year, depending on the severity of their insults. I occasionally come across a detail that brings me satisfaction, but generally, my enemies seem to be doing pretty well for themselves. Everyone seems more accomplished online. I know that even at knifepoint they couldn’t recall the humiliations seared into my memory. If pressed, they might wave their hands and apologize, saying they were working through their own trauma at the time, trauma a self-help podcast had helped them see. Or worse, they might invert…

EXCERPT: Veronica G. Henry’s debut novel, Bacchanal

The Coachella Review is honored to present an excerpt from Veronica G. Henry’s debut novel, Bacchanal. This novel is a fantasy and historical fiction set in the Depression-era South. Centered on Eliza Meeks, a young Black woman with the power to communicate with animals, the novel takes the reader on a journey of self-discovery and acceptance as Eliza joins a traveling carnival with a sinister secret. Unbeknownst to Eliza, she is being searched for by an evil spirit, Ahiku, whose goal is to destroy Eliza before she can come into her true power. With a cast of diverse characters, Henry frames…

Interview: A Conversation with Viet Thanh Nguyen

By Ioannis Argiris I had the privilege of connecting with Pulitzer Prize winner and best-selling author Viet Thanh Nguyen to discuss his new literary spy thriller The Committed. In this sequel to The Sympathizer, the unnamed narrator travels to Paris, where he lives with his new handler—his aunt. Once a dedicated communist spy in America, the narrator is introduced to a new world of politicians and the French socialist elite. He integrates into a local mob, selling hashish and getting caught up in the Parisian underbelly’s free market. The narrator continues to struggle with identity as he endures tests from his…

Voices

By Tisha Marie Reichle-Aguilera Driving east on Interstate 10, I crank up the a/c. The sun peeks up over distant mountains, blinds me despite my designer sunglasses. Damn! It has been years since I trekked across this desert. Swore the last time I’d never do it again.  I don’t remember much about last time. Just knew when I left, there was a lot worth forgetting. Squeezed my eyes tight and wrung out all the water. Haven’t shed a tear since. Haven’t drank a drop neither. Almost ten years sober. And now I gotta cross this barren desert with no one…

Shadows Over My Window

Falling asleep in a room I don’t belong in—in a bed that’s not my own. All the melatonin in the world can’t help me slip into my dreams and away from watching the shadows of tree branches stretch across the room.