Posts Tagged ‘New Voices’

New Voices: “Private Affair” by D.S. Englander

Today, we are thrilled to publish “Private Affair” by New Voices author D.S. Englander. In this quiet and powerful story, a man feels fiercely protective of his wife, who is receiving threatening letters from one of her students. This is complicated by the man’s reflections on his own history with women.

“He had met Ali in his early thirties after a long lonely stretch of years. She had changed his life. He felt only horror at the thought that she could somehow be hurt or taken from him.”

A light breeze played through the windows of the Subaru, and it felt refreshing to Desalt, who was visibly perspiring behind the steering wheel. It was hot, hotter than was normal for May. He tried to inch a little closer to the gearshift, to escape the sun’s glare, but that didn’t do much. The whole parking lot was baking.

He watched the doors to the school, where his wife would appear. Presently, it was mobbed with activity. Teenaged boys were filing out, dressed in khaki pants and oxford shirts. It was a uniform that he thought marked them for future corporate lives. Some wore blazers, and Desalt noticed two boys with white ball caps pulled low on their brows, as if they were a pair of executives about to hit the links. He pulled the lever on his seat back in disgust, and reclined just enough to give the tightness that had been bothering him lately in his lower back some relief. He tried closing his eyes against the sun’s glare, but that didn’t work.

The school was a brick building with little flourishes and buttresses from another century, three, four stories high. From where he sat, Desalt could see the curtains billowing in the high, second-floor windows, perhaps in one of the classrooms where his wife taught. It was a pretty building, capped off with an old-fashioned clock tower, complete with roman numerals and handsome greenish metal. Yet, even in the full bloom of May, there was something a little foreboding about the school. Perhaps it was the generations of students who had passed through its doors, the sum total of old exertions and humiliations.

He watched the students form a loose column to the flat roofed athletic building, at the end of the parking lot. They were hapless as they walked through the parked cars, oblivious to his presence in the driver seat of the Subaru. He imagined they would drift through their lives in a similar fashion, hardly aware: to college, their first jobs, straight up through middle management. Even as he thought this, he knew it wasn’t true either.

Some were probably his wife’s students. While he had listened to Ali describe her students, and even remembered names, he would never be able to match those names up to faces. In any case, he couldn’t think one generous thought about these kids. One of them may be the one threatening his wife, leaving lewd notes and promises of violence.

To read the rest of “Private Affair” click here.

New Voices: “The Cock in Cadwalader Heights” by Ariel Delgado Dixon

In Ariel Delgado Dixon’s beautiful summer story “The Cock in Cadwalader Heights,” an eleven-year-old girl growing up in Trenton, New Jersey decides to investigate the mysterious rooster who lives in an abandoned house in her neighborhood. “The Cock in Cadwalader Heights” beautifully captures the hazy, long summer days of childhood while also giving us a sober look at adult issues. This piece charmed us from the beginning, and we are pleased to share this story with you and to welcome it to our New Voices library.

“The first time I heard the rooster, I was taking a sweaty nap in the backseat of the Saab. I woke confused, in someone else’s dream—where a bird had a duty to mark the day.”

In the abandoned rowhome behind our house, there lived a rooster that crowed every day at high noon. Though the phenomenon of the bird might have begun earlier, I only noticed it at the onset of that summer, as I was wandering away humid weekday afternoons while my mom worked.

The noises of barn animals were decidedly scarce in Cadwalader Heights, though there had once been a quarter horse corralled in a patch of yard two streets over, whose braying traveled easily over snow-flattened winter days. By the time the rooster showed up, the horse was long gone, hauled off to somewhere—a placid farm retreat for city horses, I imagined—and the cock’s noonday call rose above the customary street refrain: the double-thunk of cars wheeling over manholes, dogs conversing blindly with one another from blocks away.

Our house was an old one, even by our neighborhood’s standards. The colonial revival came with a crumbling brick garage, a derelict wooden loft barely afloat near the rafters. This, I was forbidden to climb. As consolation, my mother’s brokedown Saab became my home base. For as long as I could remember, it had been stashed in the brick garage, which had become a building-sized junk drawer full of castoffs: rotted firewood, a decommissioned lawnmower, bike inner tubes that I frequently mistook for monster garter snakes. The Saab was the centerpiece of the scrap and my own personal jungle gym. Its permanently open moonroof made the perfect hatch for climbing in and out, and I’d often retreat to the backseat with a Highlights magazine lifted from the library, or a handful of pebbles to lob through the gash in the garage’s side window.

The summer before, I had made it my mission to dig a giant hole in the backyard, a venture I pitched as a tunnel to China. I’d always hit a root system a few feet down and give up, then move over a few paces to begin again. By that summer’s end, the ground was pockmarked with three-foot-deep craters, as if massive ice-cream scoops had been taken from the earth. This summer, I was less motivated.

My sister Eneida was off spending the summer at Camp Dulcet for Girls with her best friend, living in three-walled cabins in the mosquito-specked Poconos. She mostly kept her bedroom door closed anyway, but without her the house was sedative, stale.

The first time I heard the rooster, I was taking a sweaty nap in the backseat of the Saab. I woke confused, in someone else’s dream—where a bird had a duty to mark the day. I was ready to run to Eneida’s room, to tell her of the sound. Then I remembered that she was off in ceramics or riflery class, maybe piloting a canoe.

So, I went to inspect the noise myself. Sidestepping the backyard’s cavities, I headed toward the battered fenceline, a third of its posts knocked out. The connected rowhomes on either side of the pale brick dwelling had been bulldozed a few years earlier, leaving just the one—a crooked and protruding tooth of a building shaved down and disowned. There was overgrowth to wade through, thorns that snagged my socks. I listened for something to tell me where to fix my eye. I heard the howl of an ambulance, wind nudging the heavy bows of summer-ripe oak trees. Then: a flash of white in the second-floor window, where the boards were pulled away.

It might’ve been the flutter of a curtain, or light bouncing off some scrap of metal. I looked for signs of life among the litter in the onion grass and trained my eye on the second level, just as a breeze picked up. The wind whirled its way through the rowhome’s lone open pane, livening the dust from the floorboards and corners. That’s when I saw them: two long feathers crisscrossing in mid-air—one black, one white.

To read the rest of “The Cock in Cadwalader Heights” click here.

New Voices: “Friendly Crossroads” by Lydia Conklin

Today, we are proud to bring you “Friendly Crossroads” by Lydia Conklin, the next installment in our New Voices series. This story chronicles a youth group retreat in New England in the mid-’90s, from the perspective of Corey, a high-school freshman, who often sees the world more exactly than the teenagers and adults around her. It is a story about coming out and coming of age, told in detailed, direct prose. Read on. You won’t regret it.

Group of people hugging outdoors; sunset

“After all, how could she know anything for sure? One day she might kiss a girl and find the saliva bitter as detergent.”

The youth group was on the way to a retreat west of Boston. Corey sat squeezed in the back of the station wagon, her elbows on her knees and her fingers pushing spirals into her temples. She watched Meredith Styles, the group’s guest, who was up front with Bill, the leader. Meredith Styles was a recent college graduate in the church, along on the fall retreat to issue an award called the Coming of Age in Unitarian America Award. They’d collected Meredith at a plain clapboard house in Lexington.

“So these are the brave youth,” Meredith had said upon entering the car.

No member of youth group had met Meredith Styles before, and yet she was to issue the only award Corey had ever heard of in First Parish Church. Corey leaned forward toward the front seat, away from the mindless jabber of Maxine and Jen beside her. She wanted some clue as to the criteria for the mysterious award, but Bill had Magic Smooth Rock 94.3 turned up all the way. Meredith’s red shrub of hair remained frozen no matter how catchy the tune, never nodding to the beat, never swiveling to chat with Bill. Corey wouldn’t have chatted with Bill if she were up front, either.

Corey calculated from road markers that the Friendly Crossroads retreat center was only twenty miles from the church in Lexington. Bill and his wife Janet, who was along as a chaperone, were deliberately disguising this fact. The two-car caravan meandered, stopping at any overlook or shallow New England canyon they happened by. They lingered in a drugstore in Waltham, choosing Wonder Bread and a block of bright cheese for lunch. They ate the sandwiches without condiments in an arboretum near Thompsonville. But it was a ruse, a triangulated journey, designed to convince the group they were traveling some great distance, both spiritually and physically. In reality they remained in the eastern portion of the state, within biking distance of First Parish.

The trick worked, was the thing. When Corey walked across the colored leaves, matted over the lawn of the retreat center, she felt far from home. The center was on several acres of field, which fanned out into a fringe of woods. Though they had left Lexington at two, the sky was already striped pink.

<<Read the rest of “Friendly Crossroads” here>>

New Voices: “Linger Longer” by Vincent Masterson

FALL FICTION WINNER! Today, we present the winner of our Fall Fiction Contest judged by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer: “Linger Longer” by Vincent Masterson. In this story, Lori and Michael visit a cabin in the woods for a getaway with friends. Throughout the weekend, Lori struggles to keep a clear head. Michael chalks it up to her “difficulties,” but for Lori, tracking reality becomes an increasingly blurred line.

linger longer

I. Arrivals

It was their first vacation together, a log-cabin weekend with Michael’s old friends from grad school, and Lori was determined not to ruin it. This was more her fear than his, and she had overcompensated with eager questions—Where was this Quad? Who’s Dupin? What’s absinthe?—her eyes wide and searching and wanting more. But somewhere between Tallahassee and the mountains of eastern Tennessee, Lori grew weary of Michael’s nostalgia. Her temper was tripped easily—by his voice, by the loose flapping of the Wrangler’s rag top, by a stomach upset from too many filling station snacks. Didn’t he know she never wanted to go? Why couldn’t he have left at her home with her TV and magazines, refilling her favorite blue mug with dark wine?

She pressed her forehead to the cold window, thinking of the stupid questionnaire Dr. Ryerson had given her during a session earlier that week. I sometimes have strong feelings that do not seem like mine, score from 0 to 10. Focus instead on your breathing, she thought. Conjure tranquil images: pristine mountains, waterfalls, softly falling snow. Beside her, she could feel Michael coiling tightly. The last hour of Lori’s sulky shrugs and one-word answers had finally burned up the last of his good cheer. How many miles had they driven in that bitter and troublesome silence? She didn’t know. A phrase lifted in Lori’s mind, a father’s frequent advice to his inscrutably moody little girl, Please, honey, just try to have fun.

She reached over and squeezed Michael’s knee.

“I love you.” She winced to hear herself. I love you? It was overblown and over-sudden and, worse, it wasn’t what she meant. What she meant was, I’m sorry, it’s just me, I’m trying to snap out of it. What it meant was, Can’t you just pretend I’m happy, or that you are?

To read the rest of “Linger Longer,” click here.

New Voices: “Shine” by Ron A. Austin

“Shine,” by Ron A. Austin is a tale about a rebellious teen and her younger brother. It is a gritty, funny, and heartfelt story, touching on the ways in which familial love endures conflict, pain, and anger.

Grunge summer background

Yell bit Mom on the shoulder so Mom finally kicked her punk-ass out. Mom made me put on rubber gloves and inspect the wound for signs of infection with a miniature flashlight and a magnifying glass.

The wound was a perfect oval, as if Yell had attacked with a precision cutting instrument and not her teeth. There was discoloration—red, green, and purple, like weather-beaten aluminum—but there was no pus, no gangrene. Funky tufts of fur didn’t sprout from Mom’s face, nor did she become a zombie. One day later, Yell’s stuff was jammed in garbage bags and boxes, and two days after that Mom organized a yard sale. I lugged grimy folding tables out of the basement, and Mom made placards, even busted out that fine and sophisticated calligraphy she learned at the Y.

She earned ten bucks off an old lady who haggled over Yell’s antique hand mirror for a solid hour. Mom closed up shop when a crusty white dude with only 2.5 teeth in his head asked: Got any gently used stockings? I’d take garters, too. Three days after that, Yell’s stuff was back in her room, hair-care products categorized by severity of kink, Freak ‘Em dresses hung with respect.

Two more days after that, Mom sighed and told me, “Avery, you need to go find your sister.”

Read the rest of “Shine,” here.

New Voices – Fiction by New Writers

Our New Voices section is the best place to find stories from talented up-and-coming authors. Each month new pieces are added to our growing archive, which offers hundreds of online stories for free. It’s a great way to introduce yourself to new writers and to see the kind of work we publish. Below we’ve listed a few of our favorite stories from the archive.

To access our full New Voices library, follow the link.


wham teaser

life after teaserkimzey-teas

New Voices: “Midlife Crisis” by Angie Pelekidis

New Voices author, Angie Pelekidis takes a look at life through an interesting lens. In “Midlife Crisis” a man begins wearing diapers. It’s an absurd notion that carries this story, which is about bodies and how they fail us, the fear of mortality, and the state of infancy, through to a powerful conclusion.


Midlife Crisis

by Angie Pelekidis

One day, Anne’s husband, Dan, decides to start wearing diapers. He is forty-nine years old and has never had any incontinence issues, or signs of incipient senility. His father, however, died five months earlier, not long after suffering a super-nova stroke that obliterated a large section of his brain. Dan Sr. spent the last few weeks of his life in a hospital bed, diaper-clad, minus his dentures. His nourishment was dumped directly into his stomach through a plastic umbilical cord attached to an upside-down bottle at the head of his bed. He lost the ability to speak and could only repeat the same sound over and over again: “Va va va.” Questions like “Are you comfortable? Do you want another blanket? Shall I close the curtains for you? How about some TV?” all received the same response. Dan’s mother was also nearly speechless during those weeks. She spent hours at the hospital, holding her husband’s hand and staring at what he had become.

In bed, Anne watches Dan pull on his trousers over an adult diaper, so unlike the bulky ones she used twenty-plus years ago when her son and daughter were infants. “What are you doing?”

“This?” he says, gesturing toward his groin. He shrugs. “It’s just easier. I’m so busy at the firm. This way I don’t even have to leave my desk.”

“You’re not actually going to use it?”

“Sure. Why not?”

“What will your staff think?”

“They won’t even notice. See.” He turns around to show her his rear, and sure enough, there’s barely any sign of the diaper beneath his pants.

Dan leaves for work, and Anne would like to go back to sleep for a few hours until eight or nine, but she can’t because her brain is circling around her husband’s actions like a cat trying to kill a snake. Should she talk to somebody about Dan? No, she doesn’t want to worry the kids. And telling her friends is out of the question. She can imagine their faces, how odd, repulsive or, even worse, funny they’d find his behavior. It’s just a tardy manifestation of his grief over his dad, she thinks. The compassionate thing to do is humor him until it passes.

To read the rest of “Midlife Crisis” click, here.

Masters Review Submission Categories

Currently, both our submission categories are open. Find out a little more about our published anthology and our newest category, New Voices, outlined below.


The Masters Review Anthology

Submissions for our printed anthology, The Masters Review, are now open. Each year we produce a collection of stories written by students in MA, MFA, and PhD creative writing programs. Out of thousands of submissions we select ten for publication. Those ten stories will be chosen by our guest judge, AM Homes, who will select the top ten from our shortlist. This year we hope to expose progressive, diverse, and well-crafted fiction and narrative nonfiction from across the country.

Submissions for this category are currently open. We only accept original works of fiction or narrative nonfiction under 7000 words, and only from writers currently enrolled in an MA, MFA, or PhD creative writing program. We do accept simultaneous and multiple submissions, but please let us know if your work has been picked up elsewhere. To familiarize yourself with the work we like to publish, copies of last year’s book are available here.

Submissions can be made, through our online submissions manager, here.


19th century engraving of a wooly mammoth

New Voices

New Voices is our newest submission category and is open to any writer who has not published a novel-length work. This category is designed to showcase the many talented writers who are not pursuing their MFA, or who have already earned a creative-writing degree. While our printed anthology tends to focus on literary fiction, our New Voices category is open to writers of all styles and genres. We simply want to showcase new and talented work. With that said, our quality standard is very high so we ask that you only send us your best.

New Voices is open all year, and will only be published online. We ask you keep submissions in this category below 5,000 words. In order to submit, please send your original work to: contact (at) mastersreview (dot) com, with a cover letter introducing yourself and your story.