GLOSSOLALIA flash fiction - tongues on fire - volume 1:4 - summer 2009
Kelsey Blair - Ellen Prentiss Campbell - Elizabeth Costello Danielle Davis - William Farrant - Catherine Graham - K. J. Hannah Greenberg - Junkyard Sam - Louise Krug - Stephen Lynch - Jamie L. McDaniel - Keith Meatto - Kevin Murphy - Carol D. Oâ€™Dell - Melanie Page - Jerome Paul - Kenneth Pobo - Molly Prentiss - Shannon Quin Paul Sammartino - John Wheaton - Guy Wilkinson - Theodore Worozbyt
Glossolalia is dedicated to promoting the art of flash fiction. Flash fiction is a difficult breed. With each piece being 500 words or less, there’s no time for an extensive plot, nor can characters be developed in full. Now you see it, now you don’t. Words break forth at a surprising speed. We are exposed to a sliver of time, a sliver of light in the imagination of another. Flash fiction is an alive and vibrant form, full of possibilities. Glossolalia is published quarterly by Glossolalia Productions. Pieces are chosen based on quality, originality, and experimentation. We like to see the places your words will take us.
Editor: Kristen Hovet; www.vesperinlimbo.wordpress.com Design: Kristen Hovet & Brendan Yandt Cover Art: Tatterings by Junkyard Sam, 2008; www.junkyardsam.blogspot.com & www.junkyardportfolio.blogspot.com Contents copyright © August 2009 by the contributors & Glossolalia Productions.
Please send a maximum of 4 flash fiction and/or 4 cover art submissions to email@example.com. Please send submissions as an attachment and not in the body of your email. All rights remain with the author. Simultaneous and previously published submissions are accepted. Find us on Facebook; type in “Glossolalia” and join us for updates and detailed information. Glossolalia is published online at: www.glossolaliaflash.blogspot.com
CONTENTS Cover Art Information
Junkyard Sam’s Tatterings
Gods of Community Loving Elegy of Language
Flies Eggs Sentencing
14 15 16
Jamie L. McDaniel
Relatives I’ve Never Known
The Woman in the Quarry
Ellen Prentiss Campbell
Out of This World
The Stabbing of Thomas J. Pickle
Eve in the Perfume Aisle
K. J. Hannah Greenberg
Oak Minus Camera
Tuesday and the Day After That
Carol D. Oâ€™Dell
Both Feet on the Brake
Writers & Contributors Index
JUNKYARD SAM Cover Art: Tatterings Welcome! Thanks for learning a bit about my work. It's all about family, animals, good times & great memories! Animals. I love 'em. Ever since my parents used to take me to the junkyard with my black lab - big 'ole Sam snooping for snacks and myself looking out for a new toy 'midst the rubble. Those were good days... Big Texas sun, dogs panting, hard work and fresh water. Nothing beats it. We had huge red ants that made giant hills out of big rocks. We had chickens. Didn't eat 'em but the eggs were good. We had dogs to scare off the coyotes & snakes and cats to keep the mice in the field. We even had goats to eat the grass and gerbils for the kids to pet. No neighbors though, no kids to play with... so those animals were my friends. Especially the dogs. Especially 'ole Sam. Things aren't so different now. I'm an old wolf myself, keeping mostly to myself - working hard, doing my own thing. Putting pen to paper hoping to bring a smile to anyone willing to look at my art. I got a great family, and they're the inspiration behind my work. My beautiful wife Jess. Two boys I adore. A cat climbing on the cabinets. Got two dogs now, The Beagle and a big Shepherd mutt. They look after my family when I'm away like Sam looked after me when I was a boy. I'm grateful for all of this. You can see my family & animals in Magical Mystery Land, with The Beagle taking form as a Quaggle duck and The Shepherd appearing as a big Gaffle beast looking over the land with that infinite wisdom only a smart dog could have. Sometimes you'll even see my family in the background having a picnic, or me fishing with my boyâ€Ś
My family may be my inspiration, but when you look at my art it's supposed to be about you and your family. Your animals. Your adventure. I keep the art a little on the simple side. I guess I'm a bit longwinded here but I try not to say too much with my art. So you can read your own story into it. I want my work to be a two-way conversation, 'cause that's a good part of what this world is about: having a good time, looking out for each other, and telling a good story or two. Being a part of the story. Thanks for letting my work be a part of your story, too. Junkyard Sam PS. I'm bringing my art to life in the form of videogames. These games will be playable in your internet browser (for free) or on your iPhone or iPod touch. To see the work in progress, have a look at my blog: www.junkyardsam.com
MOLLY PRENTISS Gods of Community Loving At the beginning there was the wedding with the fire dancer. She was as twisted as a snake, spitting fire up into the oak tree, spitting game at the male wedding goers via her hips and eyes. There were shrimp dancing in my stomach. It was a rich time for all of us. We were even acting like shrimp, swimming around dancing pink and rosy. I humped the sous chef in front of my family, laughed wildly. We were all rectangling around these long tables made from plywood, celebrating being alive, and the sous chef was the god of community loving. I told him Let’s be community lovers but he didn’t want to. Then my airplane left and the sky around the plane was as thin as my blood after I saw the magazine in the airport with his picture in it, eating goat cheese with Alice Water’s daughter. When your heart turns into a gazelle because of Elle Magazine. You are a female. You think in pink. Then you’re flying with your women friends, who are just unhelpful abstractions of yourself. The seats in the airplane are blue, the color of boys rooms, a place for swimming and exploring. I got yellow walls but many girls got pink which was as sweet and pathetic as dead shrimp dipped in sauce which the community loves to death, forgetting easily about the environmental implications of nets out to sea. In Mexico, other people married each other. The theme was Zapotec Chic and my sequins were uncontrollable. The groom made a pass at my sequins. The bride yelled at him in a drunk way. Shrimps were on the brain. When we slept in the hammocks we looked like shrimps. When we swam at midnight we looked like shrimps. When we were consumed by men we looked like shrimps. Jorge kissed me under the moon. He didn’t hold a moonlit candle to the sous chef. He didn’t even matter. We are all made of matter which means it doesn’t matter. Phytoplankton, decapod crustaceans, confusing our estuaries with our ovaries and our salt water living for being sad. In the magazine the sous chef looked so happy with his goat cheese,
but in real life he didnâ€™t even want to be in love. I could have cooked him up something real nice. I could have been his personal feeding frenzy. What if we played surf and turf. What if I could move my hips like fire snakes. Would that do it. Would he let me be his sous sous chef? I am always the one to swim away, go up into the sky for turbulence, and then he is in charge of the blue room, doing the inside exploring, the brain work, feeding the community, perhaps tilling the land, perhaps farming the shrimp, perhaps marrying another one of us, another human no gills no open water freedom, yes guilt about her see-through body, yes a million handy eggs.
Elegy of Language On certain days of the week, one walks under the freeway bridge. The shadow of the bridge makes a cold place and a shaded rectangle. Under there it is third world, packed dirt, all the swarming, loud and angry, Mexican, starving, windy, hollow, weeds, beneath, cement, makeshift, built upwards, pushing into blue sky gray. One does not know why one thinks of this freeway bridge so often, even when one is not beneath it. Other days one sits in one’s backyard, finds a calla lily to devirginize. One puts two fingers in and removes its silk. One is looking to make oneself feel a certain way. In this case, soft. Hard change occurs. One becomes deaf, dumb, and has not yet learned sign language. One flails about. At work, one cannot tell the man in the next cubicle what the percentage of what is. One cannot say one loves one’s spouse. One must write everything down on a pad of paper. One writes: one cup of coffee, please. One writes please. One is dismissed from one’s job at the office. Although mortified at first, one soon realizes this is a relief. One does not have to calculate the percentages of anything or send electronic mail to people within earshot. One thinks: what does earshot mean to one who cannot hear? Under the freeway bridge, one sits on the dirt. One cannot hear the cars humming above on the freeway. This too is a relief, since the sound is deafening and wind-ridden. It is also a relief that one does not have to explain oneself to the people that pass by. One would not know how to explain oneself while sitting on the dirt under the freeway bridge in one’s work clothes, calla lily dust still on his fingers. One writes many things on his notepad. One writes notes to oneself and notes to others. One writes gray sky gray sky gray sky. When one is tired of writing about the sky one begins to write about the freeway bridge. One writes: wind tunnel dirt scraping hollow Mexican starving
place. One feels relief when one writes this, because he had never been able to describe these things out loud. One gets struck by a car while crossing under the freeway bridge. One falls to the ground and lays there. An ambulance comes. One reaches for his pen but one cannot move oneâ€™s arm. One cannot move any part of oneâ€™s body. In the hospital bed, one thinks of the freeway bridge because the hospital is the same as the shaded space beneath it. It is a space where one is not meant to stay very long but rather to pass through. One thinks countries. The refrigerator. An airplane to Chicago in winter. One longs to document. But one can only nod or shake his head at the large colored cards that the doctors hold up. No to yellow, no to green. Yes gray. Yes brown. Yes black.
JEROME PAUL Pa(u)pers “My last boyfriend branded me with a belt-buckle,” she says, a ball of nervous movement squatting on the sidewalk, “Do you want to see?” I am still thinking when she pulls up the leg of her jeans, and there on the mottled and varicose flesh of her calf, burning an angry fresh red, is the word ‘JAKE’. “That’s not his name,” she says, looking me in the eye, flecks of brown floating like driftwood in dull blue pools: “It was his friend’s belt. He was from Tennessee.” The gangly kid sitting next to her continues to arrange his daily earnings on the sidewalk. An alien head with three bimetal eyes glares up at me. “We just need to get this guy some ears,” he says, hands shaking slightly as he fashions a nickel antennae, “and then we’re gone man.” He stops suddenly, as if the very thought of leaving has erased the present. “You need to clean that cut baby,” he says, looking at the girl, “it looks like it’s getting infected again.” He leans over and carefully unrolls her jeans over the wound, kisses her on the cheek and goes back to his off-world friend. An hour later I burn my tongue on too-hot coffee, swear softly to the swirling liquid. At work I forget to sign in several contractors and my boss, a weary man with a crumpled face, looks at me carefully, wonders at the reasons for my negligence. “You don’t usually forget,” he says, and gives me a lecture on proper procedure that eats into my lunch break. I let my swollen tongue probe the roof of my mouth, speaking words that deflate at my lips. On the subway I am crushed between a man with a guitar slung over his shoulder and a woman who mouths the words of a book she is reading, Ten Ways to Success in Real Estate. The subway doors chime open to the rush-hour palpitations, and the man with the guitar darts
out. He vaults over the turn-stiles with a grace I will never have and I shout out to him, â€œWhere are you going?â€? but the subway doors close and I am not heard above the noise. At home there is an old western on television about a couple that live on the frontier, and I go to sleep late. Tomorrow I will remember to check the security badges of the contractors and sign them in. The tulle hem of the bed-sheet has coffee stains in it. I will have to get fresh sheets soon. I do not dream. I wake up to the sounds of the streetcars rumbling in their tracks, sparks bursting at the junctions, grease lining the beveled metal wheels, tufts of wild grass poking through the cold stone, an occasional scream at the breaking point.
JOHN WHEATON Shoes When I was young, my dad used to hit my mom. He’d pick up a shoe and throw it at her. Get the hell out, he’d say. Don’t come back ‘til I’m asleep, he’d say. I wished and wished that she’d just leave when he’d say that. Instead, a dark smile would creep across her face. My dad would hit and he’d hit again. I’d run into my room, my untied laces trailing behind me like streamers clutching the feet of depraved partygoers. When I’d come out, I’d go straight for the pile of shoes. The sheepskin slippers would always be there. The cracked leather of my brother’s basketball shoes. And my own Converse pumps, the white soles upturned and glaring. But my mom’s brown leather boots would be nowhere in sight. I’d breathe out a quick puff of relief and return to my room to fold myself neatly between the blue sheets. Now it’s the same. In the evening, the light from the neighbor’s porch shines through the blinds of our bedroom, tracing diagonal lines on the bed. The motion sensor is hyper-sensitive—it blinks on when the tabby cat creeps up to sniff at the screen. But when he loses interest and settles down on the cement step to sleep, everything turns to darkness. My lips curl into a subtle smile. I pull the sheets up to my chin and listen to the snoring from the other side of the bed.
THEODORE WOROZBYT Flies The old woman who may have been the owner of Ruan knelt and prayed a moment before the plates left on the table opposite ours on the porch where the scarab-colored bottle flies lit at the plate edges, rubbed their forelegs and flew away. Food was left on some of the plates and I wondered whether she was praying for the sin of wasted food or whether she was happy to have had a full table of customers. I was happier then that she had the business. The ashtray was a slice of tree. There was a counting of white cells, their white rings. I said steal it. The rain ends, but you haven’t noticed. But you aren’t facing the window as you should, your face also gray. The waiters flicked the switches and brought out the brooms. Missing music is the eighth circle of melancholy, no one said. Some things are on twenty-four hours, like news of forever and the commercials for it, just beyond the plaster and the lathe straps of the wall. Signal noises crawl around like rats from the Netherlands. And you can’t sleep to them. How happy, by contrast, Denmark’s statistics are reported to be. It seems the day is an alphabet with buzzing ends.
Eggs Under the canvas tent, I browned some scrambled eggs with the mess kit. Bobby Ryan ate them, who was smaller than me. He was very small. It was dawn and the dew was heavy, it had turned colder and the dawn fog came to the top of the hill. I propped a dead blue jay in a maple crotch and shot him. I planted thorns in the hollow yellow rose. There was aâ€Śwhat I noticed most often was that my memories, or their claims, were not streams of continual action, but were like a series of still photographs or clips strung together. Everything I could remember filled up only a few hours of my time. Then I knew that the habitual categories of memory were like the patterns of stars we see in the night. I can still taste what thenâ€Śeggs?
Sentencing I remind myself that these letters are too large. This machine is so delicate a single stroke of the key would send me into a registry of oblivion. Already, the machine has grown a problem, and I know that the problem is a result of something that I have inadvertently done, a single action, or perhaps a hesitation, a wink, and the corruption has spread like neuroblastoma through a baby destined to die before he has mastered sentencing. I have begun to attend meetings with a stranger who has nothing to offer beyond professional kindness. No one is in charge. The courts have rendered decisions and I must follow their wakes like a perch hungry for something churned up. Someone dead keeps following himself around, and the shadows begin their casting. The jig is flapping neon green with its hooks across the morning water. The line is invisible. The reel sings and whines simultaneously. Yesterday is a birthday without the unusual colors of the dream. The sun is shining. The clapboard house has its many shaded windows, the bottom floor surrounded by hedges. I skulk through them and the air is bright and dry and there are no trees but a cool breeze is nearly stirring. It is morning, and I feel the shivery touch of the huge silk web against my neck until I think that this is only a garden spider, big as my outstretched hand. They are not poisonous, my guide tells me, and you can take one slowly onto your palm and the eight eyes will consider you, and the canary yellow body striped with pure black will rest on your skin if you are gentle. I step out and a field of cardinals feeds in the long vista of technicolor grass. I squat down and see that the web shapes a tunnel where insects are trapped in a woven cup at the bottom and a downy woodpecker perches inside feeding on them. It regards me jealously. At the far edge of the range a group of white tigers saunters, their eyes turning toward the dense flock of cardinals pecking seeds from the ground. When they turn to eye me, the birds fly away, their wings like stripes of blood.
JAMIE L. MCDANIEL Relatives I’ve Never Known I first hear their names while lying with Momma underneath Aunt Francis’s quilt made for Christmas. Cotton baby blankets and pieces of plaid aprons were stitched into multicolor monarch butterflies frozen in flight and patterns of trumpet honeysuckle and red morning glories. The flowers were stained with spitup and strained carrots from past births, the butterflies with macaroni and cheese and red velvet cake from past Easters. We look up from the photo album to stare out the window. Like good Southerners, we had stocked up on milk and bread when snow predictions interrupted our weekly viewing of Murder, She Wrote. We had snatched the last gallon and loaf from the Piggly Wiggly shelves with the same finesse Jessica Fletcher shows when catching the killer. We turn the page. I ask about a cousin who should have graduated high school, and Momma asks if I know his father has been married before. She tells me the name of his first wife. Rilla Jane (pronounced “ril-lar ja-een”) I imagine an ape-like woman of middle age with a weakness for banana pudding and Tarzan movies. My giggle-box turns over, as Momma always says, and my breath escapes. She finds joy in the harmless torture she calls “laugh extraction” and continues the names as I turn shades of red she says she did not know existed. Birtie Belle (pronounced “bir-die ba-yul”) I see a ruby-throated hummingbird competing with the butterflies for the honeysuckle nectar. The golden unraveled threads rise from the flower’s interior, enticing the hummingbird to fly backwards.
Erastus (nickname “Rass”) Two men “rassling,” as Momma says, locked in a death grip while fighting for the best camera angle. Cleophus (nickname “Cleo”) The King of Fruithurst famous for muscadine wine. A burgundy thread trickles from the top of the quilt, separating the animals from the flowers they seek—the Alabama Nile. We turn the page to a sepia toned picture of Aunt Francis from 1995. Momma comments on the physical similarities between her and Angela Lansbury. She stands in front of her single-wide, seventiesorange trailer. Aunt Francis always made sure Santa visited me with a gift she bought at the trade day, Clue with missing revolver or a paint-by-numbers kit of a filly and foal with number four brown already painted. Her calloused hands were a constant reminder of her abilities as a seamstress, and she sold her quilts for hundreds of dollars. She never married but took care of her father until he died of lung cancer. She continued to smoke despite his death. I wonder why; the picture refuses to explain. Though old enough, Francis was not my aunt. She was my cousin. After breaking her hip, she shot herself. She did not want to be a burden. Our laughter ends. We watch the grass disappear. I sometimes tell my friends about their names.
LOUISE KRUG Unsympathetic I would call this friend more but she has this cough. She is sick with a cough a lot. She called me the other day, and every time I spoke, I had to stop because the coughing, deep and bronchial, was so loud. It lasted for more than three seconds each time. For example, when I told her when I was thinking of leaving the house to come and see her that weekend, I had to say, “I was thinking,” and then wait three seconds to say, “of leaving at three.” The first, second and third times she coughed during that phone call I would ask her if she was okay. Once I even suggested that she drink some water. But then I didn’t want to ask her anymore, so I just waited with the phone in my hand, looking at my dirty glass coffee table impatiently. I had the feeling she was wearing her bathrobe, because she always put it on right when she got home from work, over her clothes. We were in my kitchen, laughing, when she got the phone call that her brother was killed in a car accident. She had crumpled to the floor. I had not been the one to drive her to the hospital. I had sat in an old church pew as she walked up to the pulpit in a dirty, white suit and gave her brother’s eulogy. Her hair had been bleached out. She told me once that she hated her mother-in-law because she had no sympathy for the sick. “Trust me,” she had said, “I know from experience.” I asked myself if I was the same way. I know that my friend smokes cigarettes and doesn’t eat very nutritious foods. I wish that she would cover her mouth when she coughs, or maybe say, “excuse me.” I wonder if she thinks that I am not sympathetic to her sickness, if she wants me to suggest helpful remedies, like soothing soups, or throat coat tea. I have been sick.
CATHERINE GRAHAM The Woman in the Quarry They say a woman drowned here. This is what they say and over the years I’ve heard other snatches. That it happened on the other side of the quarry. A place seen better with binoculars but too far to feel the cool of stone on your feet or finger the shell ridges of ancient sea animals. Waves leave from there. They don’t arrive like they do here against the dock where I’m standing, above the heat of dark plank. Even if I did have binoculars I couldn’t see through the wedge of tree and bush that walls the quarry from Windmill Road. That’s where her home is. Was. I’m not sure who lives there now. Driving past I forgot to look. It would’ve been silly to stop and reverse. People don’t do that around here. But I believe the grass is long, uncut and the shades drawn. They say it happened years ago and we’ve been here years so that adds a lump of time. I love swimming in the quarry. My second home, the water. My skin adores the fragile warmth, the way stone softens the skin like creamy lotion. I try not to think about her when I’m in, but sometimes I can’t help it. The dead slap of fish against the limestone rock or dry scales curdling in the sun. That upended eye, sucked of life. But fishes’ eyes are always sucked of life aren’t they? They never look scared when you reel them in. Only the manic flap and bellowing gills signal: panic. I let them go I do. They slip from my hand like grease and then griddle their backs back to their element, scurry away like silverfish. She tied a rope around her ankle, the end to a rock. I’ve been to the other side – there are no rocks. Only ledges like unplanned stairs to sit and watch the day lay its blade. So you know there was planning. Did
she haul it from the woods or from the back of her shingled house? And where did she learn to tie a rope round a rock? I don’t think she wore a bathing suit. No. Heavy clothes. Like the heavy water inside her, drowning the bones and the organs, making her think there’s no way out other than under. I don’t know who found her or how they could, given her solid anchor. But water is home to the other gravity. Things rise to the top, only the airborne fall down. The middle’s where everything meets.
GUY WILKINSON The Comb Two learned old men, as crooked as the sticks they leaned on, conversed with heads bowed together as they proceeded along a garden path. The sun shone benignly on their stoic faces, their gleaming hairless skulls. Though aged now, and frail, they had possessed vigor enough in youth. They had fought their battles, and had collected their spoils, so that the comfort and refinement of their twilight years were assured. The first old man, whose garden they strolled in, was speaking of the rewards of experience, when his companion halted his progress, placing a hand on his arm. “Look there, old friend, on the path,” he said. What is that you have nearly trod upon?” Stooping as quickly as his advanced years would allow, he picked an object up from the path, and held it aloft for inspection. It was a comb – but no ordinary comb, rather it was a work of consummate artistry, carved from a single segment of polished tortoise shell. The first man praised its craftsmanship; the second testified to its antiquity. As the two men admired it, their eyes began to glitter. “My friend,” said the first man, “you have unearthed a great treasure from my property, and I assure you your diligence will not go unrewarded.” “I beg your pardon,” interjected the other, his eyes narrowing hastily. “It is I who have made this discovery, and must therefore claim the prize for myself.” Immediately a heated debate ensued. Points and counterpoints of Law were raised, which led to a grappling of hands, and ultimately, unfortunately, to blows. With little confidence in the strength of their brittle bones, the two old men were forced to resort to the authority of their walking sticks, until simultaneous strikes to each smooth
cranium laid the gentlemen out horizontally. The comb, flung aside in the heat of strife, fell under a thorn bush, where it lay, undiscovered, for all eternity.
ELLEN PRENTISS CAMPBELL Out of This World Gray, raw late January morning: the baby napping. Soon Tracy must wake and bundle him for the stroller-ride to Rachel’s nursery school. The precious morning has evaporated into chores, the perpetual leafraking of family life. The phone rings. “Do you have the television on?” asks her mother. “She’s at school, no Sesame Street today, thank goodness.” “You’re missing the lift-off. The shuttle.” Still holding the cordless phone, Tracy turns on the television and joins her mother and the crowd in Florida: waiting. More than twenty years ago, huddled with classmates on the cold tile floor of the assembly room, she’d squinted at the fuzzy black and white television set on the stage; class dismissed to cheer the lift-offs and re-entries of the first astronauts: Alan Shepherd, John Glenn, famous as rock stars. Space travel has become commonplace, astronauts anonymous – but not today for her mother, watching the little set on the kitchen windowsill above a sudsy sink. No teacher would miss this launch: the ultimate vicarious field trip. Her mother would have loved bounding over the surface of the moon, picking up rock samples to bring back to class. And Tracy herself imagines and envies the thrill of lifting out of the every day, leaving this earth spinning below; her passport expired now, her only current travel documents a library card and driver’s license.
The expectant faces of the schoolteacher’s family and students regard the huge vessel, poised and pointed up into the cloudless blue Florida sky. Flashing numbers scroll across the screen in the final count-down. Tracy murmurs the chant of the long ago schoolroom, “Ten, Nine, Eight, Seven, Six, Five, Four, Three, Two, One, BLAST OFF!” The commander’s voice crackles, “Roger, go with throttle, up, up.” “Oh, look!” her mother whispers, amazed as a child seeing it the first time. Then the shuttle disappears in a billow of cloud: swallowed by the sky, obliterated. Feathers of white vapor bleed into the vacant blue. Tracy’s the last mother to arrive at nursery school. She kneels, inhaling the heavy earthly scents of white paste and apple juice, embracing her sturdy, solemn child: anchor, ballast, sweet millstone.
DANIELLE DAVIS Swell The day my dad turned 65 he gardened and ate a pint of rum raisin ice cream. Three days later, Brain cancer, they told him. A few weeks after that, his left side was paralyzed, speech slurred, half his head shaved to reveal a thick scar snaking his skull. The jacaranda trees were in full bloom, their flowers like heavy garlands of lavender popcorn. In the ICU I kissed him on the cheek for the first time. One year, they told me. In August, he sat in his backyard every day after radiation, his hairless head and face turning milk chocolate, and listened to his Bible on CD. Penance, I thought. In September, the first truly cool day since spring, I sat with him and my mom in the hopeless cafeteria. The two of them drank citruscinnamon tea out of Styrofoam cups while I drank green in a mug from home. His yellow â€œCancer Sucksâ€? cap was gone. In its place, a blue one, the name Jesus spelled out in bright letters resembling the shape of a fish. In October, there were alternating days of blustery cold with stretches of bone-dry heat. New tumors, they told him. No chemo, he said. In November, the first rains, drizzly mists stopping and starting. He was in the hospital again, panicked, terrorized. He cried out for help, begging for it, counting, yelling, hiding under his blanket and running his good hand over his bald head, repetitively, obsessively, violently. Hell, he worried. I wanted to tell him, No such thing. Instead, I let him hold my hand and guide it on his chafed head, around his gaping scar,
over and over again, his forehead gooey from the yellow spinal fluid dripping from his wound. The rain cleared and the earth and air were parched. His eyebrows turned gray. He talked mostly of huevos rancheros. The annual Santa Ana winds kicked up two wildfires. He looked peaceful and sweet as a little boy as he slept. I felt my heart expand as I watched him breathe. He told me two things Iâ€™d always wanted to hear: You look nice and I think youâ€™re swell, he said. On Christmas he was back at home. I fed him soft eggs while everyone else cooked or played with newly unwrapped gifts, and he talked with me in reveries. Beethoven visited me last night, he said. He says you and him are friends. The next day, his own father died, leaving his fortune to charity. The last time I saw him, he was quiet, barely talking, and I stood next to his bed, listening to the rain. I gave him some milk through a straw. I have something to tell you, he said. His eyes welled up but then he just went to sleep as I stroked his forehead where some hair had grown in. I already know, I thought. And the rain outside turned to hail.
KELSEY BLAIR The Stabbing of Thomas J. Pickle Feet It was lots of twirls and steps, like dancing the rumba late at night. Stand heavy. Shuffle left. Lunge. Reactive choreography: high heels staging a fight. It was a waltz, slow repetitive rhythm. Yes, yes, like a waltz. Forearm There are slashes all over me like curtains attacked by over active kittens. Elbow got a better deal and it’s broken. Liver There was no alcohol if that’s the question. Eyebrows Arch. Wriggle. Furrow. Repeat. Fingernail, thumb, right hand It was like slicing skin while cutting cucumbers, scary until I realized the blood wasn’t my own. It’s still with me, here, on the underside, well below the tip. Brain Did I know what I was doing? Define “I”. Define “doing”. Life and death are complicated, but people want the transition from one to the next to be simple. Time, place, cause, like a grocery list. If you can figure out which eggs, how many cups of flours, maybe you can pinpoint the moment the cake rose? If life’s a list, then death’s a heading, or, perhaps, more accurately, a foot note1.
Death isn’t a footnote. Death is “Fin” at the end of an English language film. Tomatoes, work, scraped knees, children, lost car keys, fin.
If you didn’t want philosophy, why are you asking me? What happened? Neuron. Axon. Synapse. That’s what happened. Gut Like the time we took the cookie without telling mom. Like when we cheated on the math test. Like when we cheated on our girlfriend. Like when we were late for Grandma’s funeral because we’d been drunk the night before. Lips Unlike speaking Swedish, it was all the usual movements. Teeth Clenched. Jaw was bearing down like hands on monkey bars. Jaw meant it. We may have accidentally hit tongue. Tongue They bit me. I know they’re just bone, but fucking seriously. They drew blood. Now, that’s unnecessary violence. Left Eye Deep, rich, rusty, red. It was all colour: two parts rose, right where it touches the stem. 1 part carefully constructed cotton. 3 parts strawberry jam. I wish I was blind. Skin It was like at Halloween when they blindfold Eyes and Hands are stuck into large bowls. Brain knows its peeled grapes, but, without Eyes, it’s all slimy, oval shaped, and hard to tell. Then, Eyes, open and you see. This time, it was like dipping a finger into thick Jell-O and swirling it around, to have eyes open and discover, it isn’t Jell-O. Right Hand Left did it. Left hand Like I have that much dexterity. Right did it.
Both hands Toe, hip, small of back, everyone knows there’s more blood on us than anyone else. Don’t let them tell you they didn’t participate. Now, it’s all blame, but one day it’ll be sympathy. When the arthritis kicks in, when we’re glorified claws. Maybe not. Maybe, after this, we don’t deserve to be helped. Knees Weak, like after your first kiss. Only the opposite.
MELANIE PAGE Sliced Holiday Fluffy animal fur clings tenaciously to my wide white slippers. I use nutmeg to spice my coffee. The chunky orange scissors slice through wrapping paper vertically. My hand slips, almost nicking the unhelpful cat sniffing presents for holiday. A postcard on the refrigerator reminds me to check daughter’s mail while she is vacationing on a cruise; coupons, oceans, bills, boat. Ripe fruit sits in a basket on the kitchen table, brown dots on bananas. I choose a granola bar, which doesn’t feel healthy, chocolate chunks and 100 calories. My cholesterol is over 200. The cat sniffs the leg of my pants, pees on this pair every time I undress and leave them, dirty, on the floor. Perhaps she feels they are hers, but we will switch shirts on Monday at school, so we have twice the wardrobe. I could put little clothes on her, dress her up and make her walk like a person. “Oh, Fatty!” I would cry to my cat. “We think you’re people, yes we do.” Around my neck I’d wear my best pearls, three strands of them, and silky white gloves up to the elbows. We’d shake our bottoms when the neighbors pass by and say “hello” in our throatiest voices. When I was a little girl, I used to put my kitten in the dolly carriage, push her around the lawn until she mewed. Covering her with a blanket, I would shush her and tell her it’s okay. We are too old for school and carriages, my cat and me, but sometimes I play that we are young, too young to watch our weight, our slippers, our scissor slips. We both curl at the spine when we sleep on the bed.
SHANNON QUINN Eve in the Perfume Aisle As I walk this gauntlet of beauty products in a pricey shop, aloof women are trying to peddle me products my mother used to wear. I know there are no promises in these tubes of cream and bottles of powder. I pass a counter selling liquid foundation for women of a certain age, dance music plays, the bass is cranked up to an adolescent boy’s satisfaction. In the fragrance section the chemical reaction from the indiscriminate ejaculate of so many bottles has changed the composition of the air I am breathing. Its assault even more overbearing than incense swung over bowed heads on a Sunday morning. It feels right that in this noxious cloud I see her. She is backlit by soft halogens and has corn silk hair and blue eyes pebbled with grey. I want to say, “I always assumed you were a brunette,” but I’m too shy to speak. Her freckled shoulders are wrapped in a linen sheet. She opens her arms and wraps me in her sheet that is as soft as the inside of her wrist, holding me close. I press my cheek up against hers. We both ignore the efficiently aloof women whose eyes bulge as their ropy hands with manicured nails make erratic gestures towards us. I hear one of them yell, “Security!” It feels presumptuous but I want to ask her if she ever had one night alone in her garden. One night without a groping Adam. One night under newly lit stars as the earth still heaved with birthing pangs…before the eternal desire to drag her through the dirt snaked out of the planet’s afterbirth. One night before she became a one-dimensional poster, encased in glass, in a department store.
WILLIAM FARRANT Neighbourhood Door The door on that house won't open because it's ugly. The years of disregard it has endured are saddled on its uneven rims and edges. If it were to try and close it would sound like a dead body meeting the ground for the first time; to open, it would do so reluctantly, as if required by law. I can tell the door is lonely. It hangs despondent on that abandoned house unfortunately close to ours. Passers-by are suddenly walking hurried, cutting conversations short, shielding children. It's a bleak, indecisive day around that place. A dulled yellow tarp thrusts unconvincingly on the grass next to the tree that used to hold a tire swing. The tarp tries to cuddle forgotten wood. The door refuses to watch. A garbage can is overturned near the cracked, depressed pavement of the front steps. Someone's garbage is in that can. The organic parts of garbage have become one with the ground. Other parts rest on it, defying decomposition. The door's eyes stare straight ahead. Beyond the house is nothing. A fence suitable for little-league baseball surrounds the backyard; appropriately high enough to inconvenience the children of a poorly run day-care. A throng of electrical lines cuts diagonally above the middle of the yard. And you can smell the hum of freshly forming tumours. The door, grasping on to its hinges, is defiant for power. A dilapidated cat humps another cat beside the oil storage tank. Neither cat shows any emotion. A truck delivering someone's new dishwasher drives by. The cats finish up.
I begin the final sip of my tea and rub out a cigarette in the ashtray my son made in kindergarten. I then routinely slide inside through my back door.
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ELIZABETH COSTELLO Beginning Every morning they circled the green, the dog a scrambling orbit to his head down, hands jammed in pockets path. What they didn’t know was that, just a car-skulking street across and three stories up, this was as much a part of her morning ritual as brushing her teeth or drinking in the tang rich smell of coffee and just peeled orange. One morning, they didn’t show. On the balcony an invisible layer of smog coated her skin. She was late for work and her in-tray grew fat. “You’re looking a bit peaky these days,” said Jason a week later. “I don’t want my best worker burning out. When was the last time you took a vacation anyway?” The next day she found herself train-bound to a town of sandy sandwiches and jellyfish sting memories. It was raining when she got there so she ran into a tea and scones place with red and white checked tablecloths and a collection of teapots that ran all the way along a room-round shelf. Just as she was ordering it happened. “Excuse me sir,” said the waitress. “You can’t bring that dog in here.” She looked around, found his face just as she always imagined it.
KENNETH POBO Oak Minus Camera Annoyed, Steve sits on the porch. The iced tea glass sweats on the salmon-colored patio table, a bequest from Grandmother Agoncourt. Jim is out bowling. For cryin’ out loud, bowling, another excuse to avoid fixing the silverware drawer. But that’s not what’s bugging him. The tree dudes are cutting down Martha Blump’s oak. She lives next door with eight cats and a stereo that wails Tony Bennett too deep into the night. “I love Tony, more than the memory of George,” she told Steve two years ago. “He’s OK, but he can’t hold a candle to Big Frank and lacks the hotness of Michael Buble,” Steve replied. Conversation went dead. Door slam. No one asks the saw for an opinion. It is told to cut or not to cut. The saw sometimes gets grumpy, but the strong hands operating it pay no attention to its moods. The men get moody themselves. It’s a moody world. Steve thinks about the shade he and Jim will be losing. Begonias by the fence will cower and drop buds. He prefers most trees to people. Trees are on good terms with both earth and sky. The moon plops a bony behind down on the tallest branch and yawns. This should not be cut down. Steve remembers a northern Wisconsin forest, clear cut, invisible dollars building nests in midair. He felt dead trees moving in his bloodstream. Jim said, “Oh you drama queen.” He didn’t feel those trees. He ate a Little Debby cake and floored the pedal.
Loss should be captured, Steve thinks, so he gets up to find the digital camera. Maybe he can get a few pictures of the trunk before it completely falls and gets chopped into sawdust. The tree would be photographed in its death throes. This is rude, like walking in on someone in a private moment, but Steve wants to remember more than a stump. No camera. It’s usually on the bedroom dresser, wedged between Jim’s socks and empty water glasses. He hunts in the living room, the basement. Where is it? Maybe Jim took it with him? A flashy strike might need permanence. By the time Steve gets back to the porch, the ice in his tea is gone as is the oak. Martha yells at the tallest tree dude. “Hey! Are you blind? You made a mess of my black-eyed susans!” “Sorry. We’ll clean it up.” Door slam. Absence surrounds Steve. Dead playmates reappear. The faces of family members lost to boxes and mausoleums, even Grandmother Agoncourt who was cremated. The oak is like a tooth missing in a mouth. Steve wishes Jim were home. That passes. He would want to talk about how close any branches came to crashing on their house. Steve craves a rustle of leaves. Bossy cicadas will be searching for better accommodations in just three months.
STEPHEN LYNCH Dash There is a man running for the bus. He is wearing a suit and lugging a black briefcase also. This is not the attire suited to running. The man is neither thin nor fat, though he is bulky. He is running with a certain bounding clumsiness that suggests perhaps he is not used to running. I can see all this because I am sitting on the bus he is running for. I am sitting at a window seat on the right side of the bus. The man is running at a perpendicular angle to the bus, down the block I'm looking up. The driver has his eyes fixed on the traffic lights above and because of this I am not sure if he will see the runner before pulling away. Everyone on the right side of the bus is looking out the window at the running man. Nobody knows this man but we all watch him. We all know the feeling of seeing the bus appearing before us, just out-ofreach. We have all broken into the same desperate run. We have all put our lives in jeopardy, dodging traffic, blindsiding cyclists, nearcreaming fellow pedestrians for the sake of tardiness. We have all cursed the city's godforsaken transport service when the doors close and the bus departs. We have also thanked the driver when he spots us and waits. We have all taken our seats out-of-breath, armpits tingling, our clothes uncomfortable. Now we watch a fellow morning sprinter make the mad dash of hope. His chances are good but you can never tell with these things. What if he makes it and discovers he has no small change, that in his rush to leave the house he forgot to check he had some? What then? Maybe he has a pass. Yes, that is the run of a man with a monthly pass. He is not bothered by the inconvenience of change, he has been playing the commuting game too long for that. If the man makes it we will glance up to get a look at his reddened face as he passes us to take a seat. We will not nod at him though, nor will we pat him on the back though these are things he deserves. But it is a proud man who takes a seat on the bus he has run for. He has proven that even when behind the clock he can still catch up, he has not let age or workloads soften him, he can still exert
the necessary energy required to get what he wants when he wants it. He is a man not tied down by timetables and schedules. He has beaten the system. But for now the man is running for the bus. He is on the verge of either disaster or glory. We cannot tell. He is galloping with great intent, his tie flapping over his shoulder. He thinks he can make it.
KEVIN MURPHY Tuesday and the Day After That Baby had a tendency to cry. Extended and withered, like analysis of a filmography. Do you need it? She asked questions that were directed and pointless with a distinct smacking life separate from the reasons she asked. Her walls were a light blue that she liked because it reminded her of a windbreaker she occasionally wore as a churchgoer in Brooklyn. The windbreaker simply isn’t around anymore like most things from that period, hazy in structure and firm in nature that kept the seemingly useless trivia near the front easily accessible. Another space that could’ve been filled with objects more useful, more contemporary to one’s growth and substance with a commanding presence of forthright policy and empirical leisure. Or maybe the light blue had another connection, one more roundly commercial and dangerous to your ability to hold down a relationship with someone who loves the wind for its insistence on being wind. Its ability to fend off germs and fever with a simple Darwinian change in temperature. Or even its natural decision to be a natural selector of pages to be read in a book on changes. Twigs and cards and digital lines contain herein all you need with the proper interpreter or love affair; that Tuesday afternoon combat with someone just a bit stupider than you but with a nice smile that keeps you at home. He never really caught on, to him her problems were issues, to her they were problems. So it’s Tuesday afternoon and glancing at the clock and wondering where he is right now, or if he took his meds or if the pilot light is out. Another shower and complete understanding of how awful motels stay in business.
KEITH MEATTO Pranti The national anthem began and Pranti stood and put his hat to his heart. When he saw Jhalak was still seated, he pulled her to her feet and turned her toward the flag in the outfield. Then he sang the Star Spangled Banner while she stood silent. What, you don’t know the words? Pranti asked after they sat down. Jhalak shook her head. She had come last week from India. Her mother and Pranti’s mother had gone to Oxford and the two hens had set up today’s blind date. So Pranti had to call Steve and say he was giving away his ticket to Off the Boat Girl. She better be hot, Steve said. Doubtful, Pranti said and he was right. Jhalak had tried to look pretty, with the sari and the makeup. But she was still a chunky girl with fuzz on her cheeks. Pranti hailed a vendor for a hot dog and a beer and asked Jhalak what she wanted. Water, she said. She didn’t drink alcohol or eat pork. The game started. Pranti leaned forward, one eye on the field, the other on his scorecard. Soon he was so entranced he forgot Jhalak until she tapped his arm. There are no Indians, she said and pointed at the field. Not here, he said. But two boys from Uttar Pradesh have contracts now. Pranti didn’t say the boys played in the minor leagues or that they had won a TV contest against 30,000 Indian kids to see who could pitch the
fastest. They talked in the breaks between innings. Jhalak said she would start med school in the fall and train in pediatric oncology. Kids with cancer? He was ashamed to say he worked for a bank, trading credit derivatives, ruining the world economy. The crowd thinned after the Yankees took a large lead. In the eighth inning, a thick guy with a goatee cut through their row to take a now empty seat. He wobbled as he walked and on his way he spilled a beer on Jhalak. Sorry, lady, Goatee Guy said. But he didn’t look sorry. You ruined her clothes, Pranti said. It’s OK, Pranti, Jhalak said, blotting her lap with napkins. Yea, Pranti, the guy said. What is today, Terrorist Day? Pranti flushed and stared at Goatee Guy, big and thick and ignorant. He paused, then clenched his fist and swung. Before the punch hit, Pranti was on the concrete, his face mashed in beer and peanut shells. When the cops came moments later, Pranti’s nose was bloody and Goatee Guy was yelling about National Security. Two cops dragged Pranti down the exit ramp with Jhalak right behind him. They rode the subway in silence to Penn Station, where Jhalak would catch a train to Long Island. At the platform, she took his bruised hands. Let me make you dinner next week, she said. Do you like lamb curry? He smiled at the girl with the stained crotch. Yea, he said. It’s my favorite.
Franklin On the third night of the cruise, Franklin awoke to his parents having sex in the next cabin. Horrified, he ran down the hall and out to the passenger deck, still in his pajamas. Franklin stared at the Caribbean, as still and flat as pavement. Three days down, ten to go. Tomorrow they would land at Fredrikstad and tour a rum distillery. His mother would pester the guide with questions about the molecular composition of sugar and his father would flirt with the cashier in the gift shop. Thank god for piña coladas. A black man in a ruffled shirt came out to smoke. Franklin recognized him as the saxophonist from the band that played at meals. The man puffed in silence and then flicked his butt over the rail. Man, this quiet is glorious, he said. I’m used to sirens and car alarms, city noise. Me too, Franklin said. Nice playing tonight. The man laughed. Easy money, he said. I make more playing two weeks here than ten years at jazz clubs. I’m Terrance. You want some whiskey? They sipped from a flask. Then Terrance asked if he wanted to see the best spot on the ship. Franklin said sure. He wasn’t going back to his cabin anytime soon. He followed Terrance to the front of the deck and then down a ladder that ran outside of the ship. On the way down, his hands sweat and his legs shook. He passed rows of portholes and two stories of sleeper cabins, curtains drawn. Finally, he reached the bottom, a triangular deck the size of his kitchen. A sign read: Crew Only. No Passengers. Then Terrance grabbed two life vests from a hook and tossed one to Franklin. Franklin said he could wait for the beach at St. Croix
tomorrow. Come on, Terrance said. Live a little. Franklin blushed and before he could reply, Terrance jumped overboard. Franklin ran to the rail. For a minute, his heart tightened until he spotted an orange blob. Waterâ€™s warm, Terrance said. Come on down. Franklin wished he took risks. Then again, he was 43 and vacationing with his parents. He put on his life vest and jumped feet first into the dark. He plunged into the water and then the life jacket jerked him to the surface. It took a moment to get his bearings. Overhead, the ship loomed like a skyscraper on its side and in every other direction nothing but water and the heavens. They paddled and splashed and laughed and Franklin vowed to swim every night for the rest of his trip. Live a little. Then he heard a clatter from the ship. The sky brightened. Franklin squinted in the floodlights and saw the dinghies descending like black marshmallows. Up on the deck, he saw a crowd of silhouettes and heard hollow voices from a megaphone, first instructions from a crew officer and then pleas from his parents to be brave and wait for the rescue they thought he needed.
CAROL D. O’DELL Both Feet on the Brake “I’m leaving,” Jenna tried to unhook her cell phone from the battery charger. It wouldn’t budge. Brian didn’t look up from the computer screen. He was still in his Duke University t-shirt and plaid pajama pants. Class wasn’t ‘til three. Tiny men with swords and catapults scattered like ants. One last tug and the phone crashed onto the tile floor. The battery landed next to the baseboard. “Shit,” she gathered the pieces. “I think you broke it,” He took a battery in one hand, the rest of the cell-phone in the other. “No I didn’t, it just fell, why is it that whenever you drop the phone it’s nothing but if I do it—” “So, it was, an accident,” he chucked the pieces on the desk. Silence. “I’m going to be late.” She reached around him and grabbed the phone. She’d put it together at work. He stopped her, put one hand under hers, another on top. He slid the parts into his hand and began to assemble it. She took her keys from her purse and walked out the door. “Are we going to talk about this?” He followed her down the apartment stairs. She stopped on the last step and turned.
“I told you, he was drunk. It was a Christmas party. What was I supposed to do? Slap my boss?” She walked to the car. “What am I supposed to do?” “Forget about it?” She started the car and put it in reverse. He tapped on the window. “Here.” He handed her the phone, fixed. “Try not to have any more accidents.” She stared at the other cars and the way the sun reflected off their windshields. “Please, let this go,” she said, but the window was already up again. He watched her leave, his hands in his pockets. She stopped at the corner and let the cell phone drop to her lap, brushed her lips with the back of her hand. Both feet on the brake.
PAUL SAMMARTINO Il Campanaro† Throughout Christendom, the church is the symbol of God and the bell’s tolling summons the faithful. Therefore, it is no exaggeration to say that the bell is the tongue of God. There is also the famous Italian parable of the Christian monk known as il Campanaro. Each day he chimed a silver bell as the sun crested the horizon and again as it dipped below. So delicate was the chime that it’s been said a sparrow would not stir at its tolling. There was not one day when il Campanaro failed to toll the bell. Along with this parable, there is the saying, ‘Da molto tempo mori il Campanaro.’‡ She had gone with a man to his room at the Villa Rossa in Mestre. He told her about Fossalta and the bombardment of the trench, yet her fingers felt a lingering silence. It wasn’t unusual for men from the front to confide in her – to confess to her – while she caressed them. And, lying with her, perhaps they found forgiveness. It was as though she herself had been at the front. The man who had been shelled at Fossalta began to handle her roughly. It was then she thought of il Campanaro and the silence of the silver bell lay deep within her heart.
— † ‡
The Bell Ringer. It has been ages since the Bell Ringer died.
WRITERS & CONTRIBUTORS
Kelsey Blair Born: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada Now Resides: Toronto, Ontario, Canada Bio: Kelsey graduated from The University of British Columbia with a degree in Film Studies and will be pursuing a Masters at the University of Toronto in fall 2009. Between degrees, she spent two winters playing professional basketball in Sweden and writing. She's been published in several literary journals, including SWAMP, Inscribed, Toward the Light and Qarrtsiluni. She likes her coffee black, her tea green, and her strawberries in any form but jam. Ellen Prentiss Campbell Born: Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, USA Now Resides: Washington D.C., USA On-line: www.ellencampbell.net A compulsive eavesdropper and communicator, Ellen dictated stories to her parents before she could read or write. She remembers the disappointment of learning to read and still being unable to crack the cursive code of her grandmother's letters: as a writer and a social worker she tries to find the story between the lines. Her fiction has appeared in journals including The Massachusetts Review, The Broome Review, and Blueline. She lives with her husband in an old house with stories of its own and retreats to write her novel in an even older farm house in the Allegheny Mountains. Elizabeth Costello Born: Galway, Ireland Now Resides: Dublin, Ireland Bio: Elizabeth Costello recently abandoned a lifelong attempt to grow up and is now spending every spare second she has making up stuff. She could do with more spare seconds. Her work has appeared in the literary journals Southword and Loch Raven Review and has also been broadcast on Irish national radio. Last year she was shortlisted for the Sean O'Faolain International Short Story Competition. Danielle Davis Born: Columbus, Indiana, USA Now Resides: Los Angeles, California, USA
On-line: www.lessismorebalanced.com Bio: Danielle grew up in Asia (Singapore and Hong Kong to be exact) and after a ten year breaking-in period, now loves living in Los Angeles where she walks, bikes, and tends a container garden. One half of her writes simple, green living stuff and the other half writes picture books and creative fiction and non. Sometimes she combines her two halves and goes for a stroll. Night Train, Ghoti, and Carve Magazine have been kind enough to publish her work. William Farrant W. L. Farrant is going to make chicken for dinner this evening and enjoy a glass of wine. Catherine Graham Born: Hamilton, Ontario, Canada Now Resides: Toronto, Ontario, Canada On-line: www.catherinegraham.com Bio: Vice President of Project Bookmark Canada and the author of three poetry collections: The Watch, Pupa and The Red Element, I teach creative writing at the University of Toronto and the Haliburton School of the Arts. Dive in. Turn to water before it freezes. K. J. Hannah Greenberg Born: Ithaca, New York, USA Now Resides: Jerusalem, Israel Bio: As a rhetoric professor, Hannah was a National Endowment for the Humanities awardee, editor of Conversations on Communication Ethics, and a contributor to The American Journal of Semiotics. She gave up all manner of academic hoopla, though, to chase a hibernaculum of imaginary hedgehogs and to raise children. After two decades of belly dancing, home birthing, and herbal medicine making, Hannah and her family moved to the Middle East. Today, she's a reviewer for Sotto Voce, a columnist for Britain's The Mother Magazine, and a blogger for Israel's The Jerusalem Post. Her writing appears in print and electronic venues worldwide. Louise Krug Born: Denver, Colorado, USA Now Resides: Lawrence, Kansas, USA Bio: Louise Krug has an MFA from the University of Kansas and will be starting the doctoral program there this month. This piece appeared on July
10 in the online journal Fiction at Work. Stephen Lynch Born: Dublin, Ireland Now Resides: Dublin, Ireland Bio: Stephen Lynch has been writing on and off for a long time but has worked mainly in film and tv editing for the past few years. He has most recently returned from living in Toronto, Canada where he liked it a bit too much. He is working towards a collection of short stories. Jamie L. McDaniel Born: Heflin, Alabama, USA Now Resides: Shaker Heights, Ohio, USA Bio: Jamie L. McDaniel is a PhD candidate in English at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. His dissertation focuses on representations of property in twentieth century British women’s writing. Jamie's writing tends to focus on his life growing up in a rural Alabama town. In his spare time, he watches Dario Argento movies and procrastinates. Keith Meatto Born: Bronx, New York, USA Now Resides: New York, New York, USA Bio: Keith Meatto is a graduate of Yale College and the New School (MFA). He has worked as an English teacher and a newspaper and magazine writer. His fiction is forthcoming in Harpur Palate and one of his stories was a finalist in a recent Glimmer Train fiction contest. He is now at work on a collection of short stories. Kevin Murphy Born: Syracuse, New York, USA Now Resides: Columbus, Ohio, USA Bio: Kevin Murphy believes in daimones and the awe they whisper. Carol D. O’Dell On-line: www.carolodell.com Bio: Raised by adoptive parents of a fiery faith, Carol O’Dell spent her childhood steeped in Bible stories and bedtime stories. She is drawn to all things reverent and irreverent. Carol is the author of Mothering Mother: A Daughter’s Humorous and Heartbreaking Memoir. Her work has appeared in Kalliope Women’s Journal, Blue Moon Review, and Flash Fiction
Magazine. Carol’s latest work, White Iris, is based on a woman’s obsession to see all 864 Van Gogh paintings. Melanie Page Born: Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, USA Now Resides: Mishawaka, Indiana, USA On-line: www.nd.edu/~alcwp/MelanieCotter.html Bio: Melanie Page has sent her works to the likes of Playboy and FC2, but often places with smaller presses with talented editors who get zero pay, like Word Riot, JMWW, and The Helix. She writes metafiction, flash fiction, and, more recently, has ruined a Harlequin novel with her rues. Melanie Page is a graduate of Central Michigan University’s undergrad and graduate creative writing programs, where she completed Let the Cat Drive, a creative thesis. Right now, she’s at the “save point” in Notre Dame’s MFA program, getting experience as a teacher, editor, and fastidious writer. Jerome Paul Born: Colombo, Sri Lanka Now Resides: Toronto, Ontario, Canada On-line: vancroupe.wordpress.com Bio: I was born and lived in Sri Lanka for 16 years, after which my family emigrated to Canada due to the increasing violence and horror of the civil war that has raged in that country for more than 25 years. My childhood and adolescence, more than anything, has shaped my writing, and given me a sense of urgency in my work. I have a chapbook of my poems and I read regularly at venues around Toronto. I write because I have to write, because if a war can be waged over the vagaries of language, what else can be done? Kenneth Pobo Born: Elmhurst, Illinois, USA Now Resides: Middletown, Pennsylvania, USA Bio: My poetry chapbook, Trina and the Sky, won the 2009 Main Street Rag poetry chapbook contest and will be out later in 2009. In 2008, WordTech Press published my book Glass Garden. My fiction can be read at: Galleon, Verbsap, Word Riot, and elsewhere. I teach Creative Writing and English at Widener University in Pennsylvania. On Saturdays I do a radio show called Obscure Oldies from 6-8 PM EST at WDNR.com. Gardening is a big part of my life. I prefer flowers while my partner also likes growing veggies. We have three cats. My favorite games are Farm Town and ping pong. Flash fiction is a clear photograph with the edges missing.
Molly Prentiss Born: Santa Cruz, California, USA Now Resides: San Francisco, California, USA On-line: mollyprentiss.blogspot.com, mollyprentiss.weebly.com Bio: Molly Prentiss lives and writes in San Francisco, CA, where she is currently pursuing her MFA in Creative writing at the California College of the Arts. She is interested in the feeling of misplacement; her characters are often those who do not fit, in some way or another, into their surroundings. This brings up issues of culture and language, disability and trauma, and calls for an exploration of how these things enter into both emotional and physical realms. Molly also enjoys working in visual art. Both her writings and drawings can be found here: mollyprentiss.blogspot.com. Shannon Quin Born: Kanata, Ontario, Canada Resides: Toronto, Ontario, Canada Bio: Shannon's work has appeared in The Globe and Mail, subTERRAIN and Maisonneuve. She has a passion for radio and enjoys the company of cats. Paul Sammartino Born: Vernon, British Columbia, Canada Now Resides: Vernon, British Columbia, Canada Bio: Paul Sammartino holds a B.A. from the University of British Columbia and an M.A. in Philosophy from the University of Manitoba. He is the winner of FreeFall Magazine's 2009 Short Fiction Contest and â€œIl Campanaroâ€? is his second publication. He lives with his wife and three beautiful children Solomon, Antoinette, and Deacon. He is currently working on numerous short stories and a novel. John Wheaton Born: San Dimas, California, USA Now Resides: Seattle, Washington, USA Bio: John Wheaton studied English and physics at Stanford University. He is currently pursuing a law degree at the University of Washington. In his free time, he enjoys windsurfing, playing basketball, and writing stories and poems in the wee hours of the morning. Guy Wilkinson Born: Liverpool, England Now resides: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Bio: I am very pleased to have been published in Glossolalia -- by my count, this is my twelfth published short story. With each acceptance, I recall Edmund Wilson's phrase about “the dignity of seeing your name in print”. I have been influenced by the writings of Kafka, Italo Calvino, Witold Gombrowicz, and others who share an absurdist view of our lives and the universe in general. It is my privilege to be currently teaching English literature at Langara College in Vancouver, where I reside with my wife, three children, and dog. Theodore Worozbyt Theodore Worozbyt’s work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Poetry, Crazyhorse, The Iowa Review, New England Review, Po&sie, Sentence, Shenandoah, The Southern Review and Quarterly West. He has published two books of poetry, The Dauber Wings (Dream Horse Press, 2006) and Letters of Transit, which won the 2007 Juniper Prize (The University of Massachusetts Press, 2008). He is Assistant Professor of English at Georgia Perimeter College.
Kelsey Blair Ellen Prentiss Campbell Elizabeth Costello Danielle Davis William Farrant Catherine Graham K. J. Hannah Greenberg Junkyard Sam Louise Krug Stephen Lynch Jamie L. McDaniel Keith Meatto Kevin Murphy Carol D. Oâ€™Dell Melanie Page Jerome Paul Kenneth Pobo Molly Prentiss Shannon Quin Paul Sammartino John Wheaton Guy Wilkinson Theodore Worozbyt