Issue 65: The Emerging Writers Issue

Issue 64 Cover for WebEmma Copley Eisenberg, “Ray’s Birthday Bar”

“I do love to travel, she said. Also, look who I found on Facebook!

Her high school girlfriend from Missouri.

I said, Jesus, Gin, she’s married now. She’s got a kid.

I know, Gin said. But. I want someone, she said. I’m tired of bar whores.

You wanna go to Passion Palace? I have a date with that drummer tonight and could use your opinion. To garter belt or not to garter belt?

I want a girl, Gin said. A nice girl.

What makes you think a nice girl will want you? I said. OK, I said.”



Walter B. Thompson, “Sherby’s Last Summer”

“Sherby was seventy-five, the oldest ape in America and second oldest in the world. Caldwell had always expected a dramatic rise in attendance in the event, inevitable to him, that the chimpanzee in England died, thus handing Sherby the world’s-oldest crown. But Caldwell hadn’t laid eyes on Sherby in months. He hadn’t seen the weary melancholy the ancient ape wore on his face as he spent hours pacing the chimpanzee cage and swinging his arms at the nothing in front of him. All around Sherby, his children and grandchildren wagged their cheerful tongues and groomed each other with straightforward precision. He was oblivious to all of it, full of pain and confusion and little else. He would never outlive the other chimp, and nobody, myself included, had yet had the courage to say it aloud.”


Sonya Larson, “The Kindest”

“When I was dying, people were nicer to me. Nurses washed my hair. Old teachers and old roommates and total randoms came to see me, kissing my bandaged hand. Bao brought me underwear and slept beside me on a chair. Mom flew from Philly, Dad from North Dakota, and Sui from Xian, all the way across the planet. The flowers! The questions! What hurts? How much? I was scared and they wanted to hear all about it. No one said, Why? or How come? or How could you? No one rolled their eyes or said, Well I’d better get going. They didn’t let me smoke, but I saw them mull it over, as if to say, Well it isn’t going to kill her. They leaned forward. They were riveted. They were hungry and I was their food.”


Amelia Maggio, “Sleeping Giants”

“It’s easy to fall in love with a countryside. And it’s an easy love to express. But then there are all the small horrors to which that love exposes you. Rats drowned in water buckets. Swallow hatchlings broken on the ground beneath their nests. Small animals caught up in the machine that runs through cut fields and bales hay. It’s usually mice. Sometimes snakes. Once, when unloading wagons into the barn’s loft, Lucy passed me a bale that had a duck sticking out one side. But nothing struck me like the deaths of horses. The hardship came, in part, from my attachment to each one, but also from their size. The effort one has to commit to their bodies makes grace challenging.”


Amanda Emil Anderson, “The Goodnow Guide”

“In the beginning you stalk the halls timidly, afraid of being caught—or worse, not being noticed at all. But you grow brasher each night, with each ghoulish moan. You scratch at the wallpaper, tap old pipes in the bathroom with a butter knife. You extinguish matches and watch the smoke twist acrid through the air. On stormy nights, you open hallway windows to let in the sound of crashing waves, then slam the sashes shut. By the second or third month the haunts are as natural to you as breathing. When a guest’s door unlatches, you sidestep a corner and escape through the secret passageways in the walls. It is that easy to disappear.”


David E. Yee, “Heaven for Your Full Lungs”

“There is an instant before my body rises when I’m still sitting on the lips of death, making fists in the black water. I’m not sinking, just listing in the stomach of the Chesapeake. The pressure of the Bay pushes its fingers into my eardrums, the water past my throat, my stomach, my lungs. This is after the held-breath panic, that first swallow, and surrender. There is no boat, no coast or beach, pebble-strewn and gray. Up the way, that hand-me-down Corolla with its seats folded back will not be reloaded with my drums. I won’t thank Andy for letting me drag her to another gig, and she won’t tell me to stop apologizing for existing. I wonder if she ever had children, if she named one Theodore, even if he isn’t mine, a thin strand of my thoughts reaching backward toward life, then Thump! and the dull knock of knuckles to glass.”


Akil Kumarasamy, “The Butcher”

“He had rarely felt at home since he had arrived in America. Kwame did his best. He looked up recipes for Angolan dishes and hung a cloth wall to enclose the mattress on the floor. But now Marlon was not imagining the small apartment he would return to that night or picturing the house in Gaborone where his wife and another man would wake in the morning. They were too far to matter, and for once, the past and the future didn’t bother him. He was a butcher in America, and though there were countless other paths he could have taken, here he was, in the happy glow of strangers, and he wished to be nowhere else.”


Buy a copy of the Emerging Writers issue of American Short Fiction here.

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