The cold is sweeping across the country and settling in—so why don’t you settle in and read our favorite fiction and nonfiction published around the net over the last month!
“Fire Escape” by Eric Rasmussen | New Limestone Review, November 1
Somewhere in the middle of my tasks I heard the bell above the door ding. Before I saw who it was I dashed back behind the counter, where I felt a rush of air and heard a buzzing noise, almost as loud as a lawnmower. A fly about the size of a large cat landed on counter near the register. “Hi,” it said. “My name is Mary.”
“Home Economics” by Kim Magowan | Booth, November 1
When June was a newborn, every single thing that could go wrong with breastfeeding did. Within ten days, I’d plowed through every chapter of The Nursing Mother’s Companion. A clogged duct escalated to mastitis escalated to an abscess escalated to, finally, quitting breastfeeding altogether. My first “failure” as a parent, caused because I had too much milk—it would spray across the room, actually hit the wall. June’s demand could not keep up with my excessive supply. The breastfeeding book promised that eventually one’s milk would adapt to one’s baby’s needs, but mine never got a chance to regulate. I remember the shame of quitting, and the ungodly relief.
I remember tearing through those “what can go wrong” chapters now, reading the book Birch loaned me about raising adolescent girls. “When to worry” is the conclusion of every chapter.
Now. Now. Now.
“So,” says Matt, calmly-grimly, “our daughter is a liar, a thief, and apparently an addict. What’s next?”
“Fugato” by Rebekah Frumkin | Granta, November 4
Ellen was gone. He was alone in the office with Marsha, who was probably moving glacially around the little alcove where she sat behind the sliding glass window, gathering her phone and crossword puzzles and stress ball made to look like an alien’s head before she left. He sat still, waiting for the growling to begin again. It had been atavistic, a feral dog’s growl. He went to the window and looked down into the street. No dogs, and he was too high up to hear them even if there had been any. It could be an auditory hallucination, for which he typically prescribed risperidone, aripiprazole, olanzapine, ziprasidone or quetiapine. When those drugs failed, clozapine or haloperidol.
“Ruins, 2005” by J.E. Reich | Little Fiction, November 6
Years later, I will remember looking to Walt’s eyes, and I will know what the feeling is. It’s not forgiveness or sympathy or empathy, but something closest to the idea of forbearing, of understanding without absolution. I’ll think of Walt and the men who brought bombs with them below where a city breathes, and I will wonder what it’s like to love and to hate so much that you can’t stand to stay inside of your skin. To be so torn and incomplete that it can only be assuaged by obliterating every brick before you on the sidewalk, making the heart chambers of others implode.
“Good Girl” by Melissa Moorer | matchbook, November 11
You thought two girls would be enough, would be safe, but there’s really no such thing. Two girls is just an extra victim. You found this out when you were twelve and your best friend wanted to meet some guy she’d met on the internet and she talked you into going along just to be safe even though you were smaller than her and eleven.
Three girls isn’t even enough. You know this from the news. Four girls, four strong teenage girls can sometimes be enough, but rarely.
“Party Girl” by Monica D Drake | Gay Mag, November 13
The intern — who was, not surprisingly, young, white and male — turned my writing into a party girl forced to jump out of a cake, or a stripper hired for the entitlement and entertainment of drunk men. Men in charge, women as object, these are the only stories he knew, apparently.
It’s important to think about the cultural gatekeeping role he’d been granted, as an intern, and the apparent limits of his willingness to extend respect to submitted material. I’m going to say he liked my work. He liked it enough to carry a copy with him to a party.
“The Unlovables” by Len Kuntz | BULL, November 14
We carried our gunnies and worked our way down the rain-slicked slope, trying not to slide or topple. I offered my hand to Mother, but each time she batted it away, so cruel thoughts trundled through my head, images of Mother tumbling down the craggy slope, landing broken and helpless in the garbage along with everyone else’s unlovable junk. And then, of course, I felt guilty and despicable for thinking such things. I was thirteen years old, nearly a man. I should have known better.
Curated by Cole Meyer