Archive for “Short Fiction”

Literature » Short Fiction

“Improv” — a short story by Lorna Wood

     This was all her fault, Sarah thought, as she watched the Victory Lounge clear out. She should have known Branchville wasn’t ready for improv jazz. But the bass player, Tommy Williams, had been so supportive after the workshop with the graduate wind students. Sarah had gotten so interested in the group’s ideas about jazz and improvising that she had gone straight to the practice room after the workshop and found their website. Earbuds in both ears, she was improvising to one of the rhythmic bass tracks there when she happened to raise the bell of her clarinet on a long high note the way she’d seen the quartet’s wind players do, and there was Tommy knocking on the door.

            He had been so just what a jazz bass player from Chicago should be, Sarah thought, with his dusky skin and his smoky voice, and his rakish fedora tipped over one eye. And at the same time he had been so genuinely

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Literature » Short Fiction

“One Suitcase” — a short story by Wayne Cresser

     Henry Bell wished the actress on the TV interview show wouldn’t smile so much. Most show folk, he thought, were not memorable. They were things, as he had written in one of his songs, made on the cheap from neon and crepe. Sometimes he believed it too. Then he’d remind himself that human beings wrote all kinds of wonderful tunes, like “The Wind” — the number that had made his mind reel when he was very young and made him think he could write songs.

     “The Wind” was eight, maybe nine, minutes of continuous jamming colored in with jazzy chords, an understated vocal and poetry. As a kid, listening to Dick Summer’s Subway show late at night on his transistor radio, stuck under the pillow to muzzle its volume, he thought he could trek into “The Wind” and the journey through its changes would be endless.

     Now, nearly forty, he wasn’t a kid anymore, and jazz-inflected rock music wasn’t his thing. At some point too, he’d decided that Circus Maximus was a pretty dumb name for a

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Literature » Short Fiction

Short Fiction Contest-winning story #46 — “Cotton Candy on Alto Sax,” by Julie Parks

At first, I simply sit on the front steps of my building, letting the summer sun bake my knees while I’m planning my getaway, trying to decide which subway to take to get to Caroline’s place faster. I know nobody will miss me. Nobody will even notice. Not like the first time I ran away.

The first time I ran away – OK, maybe I didn’t exactly run away, as the only thing I did was leave my house in the morning to go down to New Utrecht Avenue to sit in a subway station. But I didn’t come back. I wasn’t going to. I sat there all day, until it got late and dark, and eventually even darker and so late that it was time for my mom to come home. And when she did and saw that I’m gone, she called the cops and they found me instantly. Picture a pink haired girl sitting on a bench in an all Hasidic neighborhood. Not a rocket science to spot my cotton candy stack of hair even in the middle of a dark subway station. So I was brought home that same night, safe and sound, and feeling like an

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Literature » Short Fiction

Short Fiction Contest winning story #45 — “Last Stop with Louis Armstrong,” by Laura Hawbaker

            Wade missed the sweat. The sticky air that hugged you like a fat friend. The languid, dirty stench of swampy gutters. Of Bourbon street piss and puke. Of Dat Dogs at three in the morning, and the street mutts that cawed at the Mississippi. The rats and cockroaches scuttling around your shoes. The humidity. The heat.           

            He missed all of it.

            New York was cold. Not just the weather, but the people, too. Hardened pedestrians crushed the MTA platforms like stone statues, eyes glazed onto their phones or the wall or the floor. No smiles. No inward space given away to strangers. They hugged into their

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Literature » Short Fiction

Update on the Short Fiction Contest

I just returned from a wonderful three week vacation in London, Ireland, and Scotland, so we have fallen a bit behind on determining the winner of the Short Fiction Contest.  For those of you who entered your story (a record number of entrants this year!), I appreciate your patience.  I hope to have the winning story published by July 20.

Meanwhile…you may enjoy this clip of

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Literature » Short Fiction

“As good as it will ever get” — a short story by Julie Parks

Swoosh! Shhh. Shhhhh! I hear the ear numbing screech and the train finally stops moving. Nine seconds and the loud beep will announce the door opening. Heels clack against the icy early morning pavement. The mass of cigarette smoke hazes my sense of direction until we finally reach the end of the Binario 12 and my ears welcome the familiar sound of strings.

It’s distant and quite mellow but I can still make out the song. It’s a new one. He’s only played it a few times. I know it. Everyone loves it because it’s from that movie. The one with

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Literature » Short Fiction

An excerpt from “A Moment of Fireflies” — a novella by John McCluskey

     Michael continued down the darkening street.  A gust of wind blew off the Lake.  His eyes watered.  He turned his back to the wind, and the wind blew hard, unfurling his coat and his pant legs. He bent into it to soften its assault, but he soon turned his back to protect his face against the onslaught.   A man and a woman hurried across the street, almost bumping into him, holding hands as if one would fly away.  The lid blew off of a trashcan and crashed wildly into the street; a car rattled by up ahead at the intersection.  When at last the street was empty with no more cars and no more men or women about, Michael found himself alone but for a few

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Literature » Short Fiction

“All Aboard” — a short story by Susandale

    The dank and chilly hall echoed with a Marksmen rehearsal taking place. Lea and her spanking-new group rehearsed their music on a stage bordered by tables holding overturned chairs. And as David sat unnoticed in the dark hall, Lea’s caramel voice melted to run down the walls, and warm the empty pockets in his heart.                             

                                *Daydreams, I’ve got daydreams galore.

                                Cigarette ashes, there they go on the floor.”

     Scooting around, he wrestled with the chair’s wooden slats and wobbly legs versus his long limbs.    

     And while Lea was singing the third stanza, *”Let them laugh, let them frown … “ David was plotting his exit from the trailer. He was so engrossed with his plans that he didn’t notice the

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Literature » Short Fiction

“At Del Rey Rooms” — a short story by Tim J. Myers

            Years later he became a professor, a scholar—wrote a well-received book on epistemology.  But back then he was just a guy in love.

            They’d taken a cheap room in Venice for the summer, a run-down place a couple of blocks from Dockweiler Beach.  You could always smell the sea, its powerful mix of salt freshness and rot.  He’d never lived with a woman before; she’d had other boyfriends.  She was from back-county San Diego, told him she’d come to L.A. looking for a real life.  He’d just graduated from

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Literature » Short Fiction

Short Fiction Contest-winning story #44 — “Da Capo al Fine” by J. Lee Strickland

     I wake up when the door opens. Instant-awake, alert. I’m staring at the ceiling, at the ornate medallion in its center. Late-night city glow from the windows casts awkward shadows on the plaster. The light clicks on, and I hear a gasp. I feel a sympathetic shot of adrenaline hit my chest. I look toward the door, and there’s a woman there, a stranger. A beauty, too, dressed in a black pants-suit, purse slung over a shoulder, the jacket cut and fitted to her slim waist matador-style. Beneath the jacket, she’s wearing a white blouse with an enormous collar that flares out over her shoulders and breast, like gull wings. Her hair is loose, brown, shoulder-length, streaked with bits of blonde, her face around her dark eyes a mix of fear and puzzlement.

     “Who are you?” she says, her hand still on the light switch. “What are you doing here?” Her voice quivers.

     I look around. The ceiling looks like my

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