The Wedding That Was by Ankitha Venkataram

Michelle pointedly kept her school bag next to her seat on the school bus and looked away from Siddharth who was trying his best to look as innocent as her puppy, Tommy. She saw something yellow flash in front of her. He was holding out two Ferrero Rocher chocolates.  “I’m sorry,” he said. “Could you let me sit before the bus starts moving?” “Why don’t you go sit with your friends instead?” she said, acidic.  “I’m sorry! But they make fun of me already for hanging out with a girl all the time. If I acknowledged you waving at me,…

Frankie by Rachel Ament

I hadn’t gotten pregnant yet, but I could still feel the baby in me. Heavy, slimy movement. A soft cramping. We named her Frankie because it made us laugh. The name was hard and sturdy but also playful and full of life. At night I would ask Drew to touch my stomach. Our little ritual. Did you say goodnight to Frankie? He would play along. Oh, hey Frankie. Did you have a good day? It was a life within a life. I knew one day it would be the reverse. The rest of my life buried in motherhood. Drew palmed…

Talent Management in ScamBot City by Vivian Chou

Did you know forelsket means falling in love for the first time? Humans go bananas for that word during courtship. I went over it in yesterday’s bot seminar, “So You Want to Scam Norwegian Widows. How to Come Off Like a Native Speaker and Not Fresh Off the Boat.” Our catfish bots closed upwards of three million kroner yesterday alone! Ever since corporate strategy shifted from small fish, big pond, to big fish, small pond, our high-income targets have brought in way more cash, with the help of the humanizing software updates.  But boom times don’t last forever. Boss’s words…

FICTION: Accident by Brian Ellis

I was struck from behind by a solid gold car. Well, gold as in painted gold and solid as in made of matter. It was really more of a piece of crap on closer inspection. Cracked side-view mirror, dimpled hood, dented grill, rusty caps. The car wasn’t without charm, though. I mean, it was gold. The owner of the vehicle (Molly, according to the name tag on her black vest) exited the car and asked if I was all right. I said I was all right. She said the collision had surprised her because her attention had been drawn toward…

Stay Inside and Live Forever by Matthew Chabe

Christopher’s crying in the stairwell. He’s been at it for hours. I’m concerned about what the neighbors will think, but also I don’t care, so I shut the door and fall back into bed. I turn and press my head into the pillow. I bury it so far, it’ll never be found, and just when I’ve reached the lowest point, the door across the landing opens then shuts, and there’s a knock. “Samuel.” It’s a mirage. I pull the blanket over my head. “Sam.” Fitch stands outside the door in his tighty-whities. I can see more than I want. “What,…

Who Hates Acapella by Eric Rasmussen

For most of a minute, the tenor splits his stare between his phone and the lake view framed by the minivan’s windshield. Then he sets the device in the cupholder. The other three members of the group wait in silence. Finally, from the back seat, the bass speaks. “What’s it say?” The tenor swallows. “It was all a joke.” “That doesn’t make sense,” says the baritone from behind the steering wheel. “They sent the down payment. The money’s already in our accounts.” “The groom hates acapella,” explains the tenor. “When he found out the best man hired us, he made…

Redlands, CA by Aja Vasquez

“The University of Redlands held a commencement ceremony Monday to honor its ailing mascot Thurber following his cancer diagnosis, which was made public last week… Those close to the pup, including handler Beth Doolittle, praised the dog’s contributions to the university. Thurber was then presented with a diploma representing his degrees in math and psychology, and a minor in theater and human-animal studies.” ~Kristina Hernandez, Redlands Daily Facts, November 13, 2017 The glow of Madison’s phone lit the tears that ran down her face as she sat in the dark. It was always like this with her. A mixture of…

Permission by Mark Clemens

Out at the barbecue, Abel puts everything he has into commandeering tri-tips around the grill, flipping one steak, sliding to the next, elbows akimbo, spatula flashing, trying to lose himself in the sizzle and burn. Then the heat sears too close and he pulls back, squeezing his watering eyes shut. He can’t shut out what he just learned, though, one more thing he didn’t know about his father’s secret life. “Come on honey, party’s on.”  His wife’s voice lilts across the yard. Abel opens his eyes to find Jodie waving at him from the deck where she’s serving a gang…

Still Life with Stalk Eyes by Mekiya Outini

  We’d looked all over the house for Dad, gone down to the basement, up to the second floor, the attic even, taken flashlights out and paced the edges of the freshly mown yard, poked around in the toolshed, even sent John to the top of the maple-crowned hill overlooking the old apple orchard where Dad used to set up his easel for landscapes, but there’d been neither hide nor hair until Gayle had glanced out the backdoor one last time, on the verge of giving up, and spotted him there at the edge of the trees.  The yellow light…

Thank You No Thank You by Chris Klassen

The people voted and assigned power to the Universal Equality Party.  At nine o’clock, the polling stations closed, and at nine o’clock plus one the results began to flood in to the media, who then flooded them out to the public.  At nine o’clock plus fifteen it was already a reportable majority and then a massive majority.  The incumbents were out, humbled by the numbers and newly unemployed. “We have heard you loud and clear,” the new Leader bellowed in the acceptance speech.  “You are frustrated by the years of elitism, of riches held in the fewest of hands while…