This month has featured incredible writing online. Settle in, because we have your weekend reading list right here. And don’t forget, our Summer Short Story Award for New Writers and Summer Workshop both close for submissions on Sunday!
“Ta-Nehisi Coates on Black Lives Matter, Protests, and Editing Vanity Fair” by Ta-Nehisi Coates | Vanity Fair, August 24, 2020
One way to both do evil and preserve one’s “manners and morals” is to emit a smog of euphemisms—extraordinary rendition, enhanced interrogation, peculiar institution, heritage not hate. In the wake of Bloody Sunday, a dissembling George Wallace recast native Alabaman John Lewis as an “outside agitator.” But beneath a rain of blows, Lewis, blazing at the highest flame, illuminated the stark brutality of Jim Crow for the whole world to see. Whiteness thrives in darkness. It has to—because to assert itself in full view, to admit to calling a congresswoman a “fucking bitch” to her face, is to have one’s own “manners and morals” degraded. A thousand Eric Garners will be tolerated, so long as they are strangled to death in the shadows of the American carceral system, the most sprawling gulag known to man. And so evil does its business in the shadows, ever-fearing not the heat of the Great Fire but the light. To clearly see what this country has done, what it is still doing, to construct itself is too much for any human to take. So it was with the slave narrative. So it is with the cell phone. The reaction of the beholder is physical. They double over in disgust. They wail on the floor. They punch the air. They pace the room until they are at last compelled out of their sanctuary, out of their privilege, out into the streets, out into the diseased air, to face off with the legionaries who guard the power implicit in their very names.
“The Life Breonna Taylor Lived, in the Words of Her Mother” by Ta-Nehisi Coates | Vanity Fair, August 24, 2020
I think about how I had to tell Breonna how to make chili a hundred times, and she would still call me when she would go to the store. She worked third shift. So she gets off of work at 7 in the morning, and of course I’m at work by then, because I start work at 4, 4:30 in the morning, you know? And so Breonna would be in the grocery store at 7 in the morning, calling my phone, and it would be funny because this is what my coworkers will remember the most about her—they always talked about Breonna in the grocery store, calling me like, Mama, what do I need to buy for chili? Blah, blah, blah. And I would say Breonna, can you write this down, because I don’t understand why I got to tell you this all the time. And she would say, I don’t need to write it down, I can just call my mama. My coworkers would just laugh. But she’d just say, I need to talk to my mama. And I’m like, Girrrll…
“Hairs” by Tatiana Duvanova | Necessary Fiction, August 26, 2020
Several stories later I found a hair between the pages. I traced it with my finger and the hair fell on the floor and disappeared. It was the last part of my lover I ever touched.
“Bad Fish, Black Sheep” by Sara Siddiqui Chansarkar | CHEAP POP, August 27, 2020
Bad fish, black sheep, Sister Lawrence, the warden, tsks. Suzie has been sent home, she says and adjusts her habit. No one must talk about her.
“Fairy Tale in Which You Date the Morally Ambiguous Boy in Math” by Charlotte Hughes | Monkeybicycle, August 28, 2020
When your best friend tells you that he was messing around with a mutual friend in the parking lot, hex the mutual friend. Spiders and scorpions fall from her mouth when she speaks. She’ll go to urgent care, twice.
That is the day he says he forgives you.
“Writers’ Guidelines” by Siân Griffiths, Dave Housley, & Aaron Burch | HAD, August 28, 2020
We want to know that the other half is warm and clean and found—but we’re not interested in that piece. We want the one that remains elusive and unlocatable. We do not accept stories with dentistry. Send us your best work.
Curated by Cole Meyer