It’s almost Valentine’s Day again. Yeah, the holiday can be kind of schmaltzy, but it’s nice to have an entire day dedicated to showing affection for the people we care about. To help celebrate we have compiled a list of some of our favorite stories from our New Voices section, which features fiction and narrative nonfiction by emerging writers published online. Whether you want to celebrate your love for your partner, your family, or your pet—or if you simply want to read a tale in which all men are zombies—we have a story for you.
IF YOU LOVE YOUR PET
If your furry companion occupies a special place in your heart, you will adore Jessica Lee Richardson’s story “House Hunt.” In it, a woman searches for a new home with her best friend, who just so happens to be a lion. One of our favorite lines: “The love I had for this lion was like a stake made of piano keys driven through the throat. Thick, painful, echoing.” Just read it.
IF YOU LOVE STAR WARS
While intergalactic travel may be the principal factor uniting the Star Wars series and Samuel Jensen’s brilliant, quiet “Sarajevo,” I think that we can all agree that love stories are infinitely more romantic when they’re set in space. “Sarajevo” takes place in the future on a moon that is light years away from earth. In a cave on this distant moon, a deaf geologist miraculously hears—for the first time—the voice of her lost love. Trust us: you will be moved. Read the story here.
IF YOU’RE FEELING CYNICAL
If you’re looking for a story about relationships that is realistic, but not romantic, you will love “That Was Me Once” by Megan Cummins. In this story, a man facing possible jail time spends an afternoon tagging along with his ex-wife. While he entertains romantic notions about this past relationship, his current girlfriend waits for him at home. He says about the two women: “I turn away from Dani, but the idea that I would go to her, if beckoned, keeps a steady pace with my love for Mara.” Continue reading here.
IF YOU’RE INTO THE SUPERNATURAL
In “Clean Hunters” by Lena Valencia, Emily and her husband Gabe share a passion for ghosts. They are clean hunters, searching for spirits not with fancy detection equipment, but with their natural Sense. However, when they travel to a famously haunted New England inn to celebrate their anniversary, tension in their relationship mounts. “Clean Hunters” is an illuminating examination of the notions of dependency and deception in relationships. Dive in here.
IF YOU WANT TO CELEBRATE YOUR FAMILY
William Pei Shih’s “The Golden Arowana” is a beautiful examination of the love of family across different generations. In this story, a man and his grandmother take a road trip to claim a valuable fish. “The Golden Arowana” was the second runner up in our Short Story Award for New Writers and each one of its sentences shimmers. Read the whole story.
IF YOU’RE JUST SO OVER IT
If you are simply done with all of the Valentine’s Day sappiness, let us suggest “Life After Men” by Dale Bridges, in which all men are zombies. The author had this to say about his piece: “Turning the male population into mindless, bloodthirsty zombies allowed me to reduce “men” to a convenient metaphor without being too literary about it. Emily has been hurt by all the men she has ever known, but she’s still drawn to them. She loves them, but she also wants them to die. I think that’s how I would feel about men if I was a young woman.” Read on.
IF YOU CRAVE THE INEXPLICABLE
In “Katie Flew Again Tonight” by Trent England, a man struggles with the fact that his wife can fly. He knows that, eventually, she will fly out their apartment window, never to return. This story examines our desire (and inability) to protect those we love. It is a moving meditation on marriage. Read it here.
IF YOU ARE FEELING NOSTALGIC
“Iron Boy Kills the Devil” by Sheldon Costa is set in a speculative world in which drones from a large company are the only source of supplies for a small, rural town. However, it evokes the feeling of coming of age and coming into your own. This exacting story is told from the point of view of fourteen-year-old Iron Boy. It touches on the discovery of sexuality and reminds us of the power of youthful optimism in a beautiful, rough, and unforgiving world. Discover the story here.
Browse our full New Voices archive here.
by Sadye Teiser