Although we still have another five weeks until the close of our inaugural submission period, Dona, Zac, and Joe have received a few stories we couldn’t wait to accept. Here are some excerpts to give you an idea of what sends us to literary nirvana. (We’re still reading for the first issue until May 7, so keep sending your stories.)
From “And We Screamed,” by Tamika Thompson:
With that cigarette still hanging from his lips, the ashes so long that they broke off and fell on the pig’s back, Daddy squinted with his right eye, and with his left, he gave Unc a look that I was familiar with. It was the face that said, Who you think you talking to? Daddy was the oldest, born when Grandma Beulah was sixteen, and, because Grandpa Clyde spent all his days in the fields and his nights “running the streets,” Daddy had been the one to buy rice from the grocer, pick the butter beans they brought in from the field, stir the bone-in chicken soup on the stove, and tuck his sisters and brothers in at night. He’d told me that the reason he could comb my curls with ease was because he had to plait my aunts’ hair every morning before walking them to the schoolhouse. Uncle Lee lowered his eyes and complied by tightening his grip on the screaming pig’s rope.
From “Beggar by Day,” by Diana Amsterdam:
On rainy nights in New York City, the streets are less crowded than usual. I don’t mean drizzles, when stalwart New Yorkers do venture out, often dispensing with an umbrella. I’m talking about hard rain. In skyscrapers and brownstones, the lights are on.
Franny is braving the downpour. She has not seen Maureen in over a week. They have a date to meet at nine o’clock. At nine-fifteen, I see Franny hurrying along an empty street in the West Village. The street is not usually deserted but tonight only Franny, and a bearded man in an expensive slicker, are seen at nine-fifteen. Franny struggles against the tempest, her cheap umbrella turning inside-out at every gust. She appears to be staggering but is managing to stay at an equitable angle to the wind. Her hair, long and stringy, sticks to her forehead and catches in her lips. Her little red coat is soaked. She watches for the sweet yellow light of the cafe. Will it be open on such a night?
From “Alien Corn,” by Christie B. Cochrell:
Every morning on her way to work Kay passed the intersection with the shoe store and the meat market and the small shop offering to repair joy, as she chose to translate the Spanish in its window—reparacion de joyas. She felt as out of place and sad of heart in Redwood City as Ruth had in Bethlehem among the alien corn, and whenever she passed that shop she thought about stopping to have her joy repaired.
Except she’d left all hope of joy a half a world away, in the walled garden with the ancient cat and orange tree in Pisa where Adrian was helping to install the exhibition of Modigliani paintings in the blue palace along the river. She had valued it too little, hung on to her vaunted common sense, her making do, until it was too late. Only as the plane rose adamantly from the runway at the airport named for Galileo had she felt a sense of loss stronger than gravity, the force the Pisa-born astronomer had famously observed.