August, 2012

Roses Grow
by Kate Poiro

When a fleet of sorties pass overhead, trailing plumes of colored dust, Kay Poiro’s narrator begins to hear voices repeating cryptic messages. “Roses Grow” is a strange, fascinating story of a town on the brink of destruction, and Poiro’s clean style makes it all the more plausible.

July, 2012

The Man Who Prepared Himself for Death
by Allen Kopp

A man turns his possessions over to his son, goes to a hotel on the ocean, and waits, watching from a distance as other guests come and go, one by one. Allen Kopp renders in subtle, carefree prose a tale whose darkness swells up beneath the surface before breaking loose in a man’s last moments.

March, 2012

Pomegranates
by Michael Bradburn-Ruster

Peter is sharing breakfast with his wife on a restaurant patio when a seemingly benign revelation unsteadies his world. In this lush, evocative piece, Michael Bradburn-Ruster puts a break in the familiarity cultivated between two people and shows the significance hidden in every detail.

Message
by Brian Miller

Plagued by insomnia, Don places a call from a cheap hotel, and when there’s no answer, leaves a message that spirals into memory before drifting away again. In this short, outwardly-simple piece, Brian Miller portrays late-night longing with an honesty that makes Don feel all the more intimate.

February, 2012

Shipwreck Sadie
by Daniel W. Davis

When an otherworldly caller urges David out into a storm to find his sister, he can’t explain it but goes anyway, taking to the snowy roads in his father’s old Jeep. Death and the transcendental nature of family permeate this story of search and rescue, and the effortless slide in and out of reflection draw together fragments of “Shipwreck Sadie.” Daniel Davis strikes a deeply human chord that lingers in the air after the piece’s close.

Blood Allies
by Josh Green

Lancaster smokes to stay placid while Freddy monitors him over Sunday football. As Freddy tries to balance his family of birth and the family he’s building, brotherly tensions flare, and Freddy is confronted with what lives in Lancaster’s psychosis-driven notebooks. Josh Green’s sharp, in-the-moment prose captures universal feelings in a situation both mundane and peculiar. “Blood Allies” is a short, potent study in brotherhood and insanity.

August, 2011

I like you, but you’re kind of weird
by Sarah Scoles

Sarah Scoles’ “I Like You, But You’re Kind of Weird” acts as a brief humanistic snapshot of two people in a fairly new relationship trying to connect with each other on a more meaningful level. Scoles’ prose masterfully balances the dichotomy of external human behavior and the internal unique intricacies and idiosyncrasies of the human mind as it attempts to decode the actions and thoughts of another as well as itself. Humor and profundity both dance and trade blows in this fantastic piece.

July, 2011

Immediate Unknowns
by Ben Nardolilli

Benjamin E Nardolilli’s “Immediate Unknowns” reads like an epistolary exchange between two women who grew up together, took very different paths in life and possibly share the affections of the same man to whom one of them is married. It is the word “possibly” that gives this read its intrigue. The grit and honestly that flows between the two women is craftily offset by the unspoken but hinted at possibility that there is an emotional and physical triangle flowing among the three of them. The idea of honesty is toyed with by Nardolilli as he deals the reader carefully chosen cards of his own design that somehow smack you across the face with subtlety and overtness all at the same time.

Buried
by Elizabeth Brazeal

Elizabeth Brazeals “Buried” strikes a powerful chord for those who can identify the exact moment in their lives when the magical carefree days of their childhood was changed by the complex, course altering events of reality. Brazeal’s narration is crisp, evocative and somehow familiar even if one has not experienced an event like the one that is a revelation for “Buried’s” little protagonist. A great read.

Travel Back
by Anne Thielman

Anne Thielman’s “Travel Back” is a fun, light and inventive short Sci-Fi time travel story about a secret agent named Carrie. When unexpected and humorous consequences result from a low-level time-travel mission, Carrie is forced to confront her loyalty to the patriarchal world and agency she spent her whole life training for, or to embrace the new flood of thoughts and feelings she has as a result of the time-travel mishap. Give “Travel Back” a read.

March, 2011

Last Casualty
by Jenn Blair

Civil War museum. The South. A cannonball. Jenn Blair creates a thoughtful narrative, with a powerful style and voice, while creating very real characters. This story calls into mind questions on separation, on division, on culture clash. Like something written by Flannery O’Connor, this story is a pleasurable read.

January, 2011

All the Variables
by Adrian Stumpp

The age-old premise of fraternal sibling rivalry and the array of tensions and misunderstandings that can arise between fathers and sons is masterfully brought forth into a modern-day, middle class suburban setting in Adrian Stumpp’s, “All the Variables.” Stumpp’s unflinching prose presents a complex, fractured and more importanly, believable family unit that collectively struggles with deciding the difference between right and wrong as divergent philosophies on life and love emerge and threaten to pull them apart. By tale’s end, the reader is left to contemplate and question the moral and ethical “rightness” of the actions of all the characters involved.

Robert
by Sara Durrett

Sara Durrett’s “Robert” holds the unique ability to seemingly act as an abstract unfinished story sketch, as well as provide a crisp and well-realized vignette of how self-doubt, life’s circumstances and missed opportunity can prevent two people very much in love from connecting with one another. The partial omniscient narration chooses to focus almost solely on the sociological restrictions that the character Robert places on himself while the reader is left only sparse glimpses into the mentality and choices of Catherine. However, it is perhaps in Catherine’s first line of ambiguous dialogue (is Robert working at a zoo? is he feeding pigeons at a park?) that the reader might conjecture about the nature of the two character’s relationship. The balance of brevity and weight in this narrative sketch lends itself to being read more than once in order to capture a fuller understanding.

Wedding Cards
by Siddharth Katragadda

An arranged Indian wedding, steeped in tradition spearheads the story of Sheela. Though initially the fearful and reluctant bride to her uncle Hari, Sheela soon takes advantage of the encroaching “strong woman” mentality and business-savvy technology of modernity while her husband’s old-world work skills and patriarchal mentality slowly flounder in it. In the events that ensue, Hari learns to love, admire and respect the self-empowered woman his wife is becoming while Sheela learns that her husband is capable of self-sacrificially challenging the reigns of tradition in order to show his true merit as a man, Siddharth Katragadda’s “Wedding Cards” succesfully evokes both the positive and negative affects of tradition giving way to a more liberal age.

Not to Pry
by Cara Miller

A nosy neighbor. Strange and mysterious happenings next door. A break in. Cara Miller draws a fantastic short thriller story in her humorous and ironic voice. “Not to pry” is hilarious, fun, and exciting at the same time.

November, 2010

In the Desert
by Kristina Zdravič Reardon

Kristina Zdravič Reardon’s “In the Desert” reads like an evocative polaroid of an archeologist’s state of mind as he contemplates his life’s work in the deserts of Egypt. Purposely leaving her piece absent of dialogue and plot-fueled action, Reardon plays the part of “omnipotent narrator,” delving into her sole character’s philosophic musings in order to comment on the sometimes dualistic and paradoxical nature of the universe and human relationships. Reardon’s tone is both reflective and melancholy, properly coinciding with the feelings of distance, isolation and self-discovery that a desert landscape presents to anyone who dares to tread its ancient terrain.

And It All Began
by Josh Greenfield

Josh Greenfield takes an interesting and unconventional narrative approach in “And it All Began.” Initially, an odd emphasis is placed on mundane details of the protagonist’s surrounding environment, portending a gradual yet decidedly satisfying thematic “reveal” that comments on the complexities and frustrations inherent in human relationships when one is dealing with a mental illness. Greenfield weaves between both the external and internal world of the speaker, relying on common yet relatable language that helps shed light on a topic that many may not have truly comprehended to the degree that is presented here.

The Faith Healer
by Anne Whitehouse

A city-minded and down to earth main character comes to discover and open her mind to the possibilities of the power of faith. Anne Whitehouse’s New York setting feels real. She is an accomplished author with a powerful yet subtle voice.

October, 2010

Tattoos
by Michael Henson

Tattoos are a marking on the skin, yet they can also be a marking on the character in some people’s eyes. Michael Henson creates fantastic and real characters in his down to earth story-telling style. An honest story, touching on our visual prejudices, dealing with the hardships of second chances and trust.

Blooms in Snow
by Conor Patrick

A gritty rite of passage story that’s punctuated with naturalist tones. Set in an other-worldly forest setting, a father and son carry out an ancient ritual together, learning from each other in the process. Conor Patrick’s minimalist dialogue and evocative settings create real characters in places that seem almost enchanted.

September, 2010

My Salieri Complex
by Marina Julia Neary

This story is a brilliant example of historical fiction mixed with science fiction. A unique and original piece with characters that drive the story arch. Ms. Neary’s prose is sublime, and her pacing and plot is riveting. A great read.

The Strange New Humanities
by Mike Sauve

“The Strange New Humanities” by Mike Sauve is a surreal look at the intricate dynamics of strained family relationships. The story centers on a young man who must come to grips with the demons of substance abuse that manifest themselves in an eerie and bizarre way.

August, 2010

Rouge Part 1
by Blake Campbell

Rouge part 1 is a noir story that doesn’t feel out of date or out of touch. Blake Campbell’s heavy handed style is punchy, nervy, and exciting. The first person voice carries the reader through the depths of descent the main character experiences.

Skin Deep
by K. Bond

“Skin Deep” is a whimsical and funny short-short in the vein of dark comedy. This story will make you smile. K. Bond has a smooth, natural style, with a flair for bizarre twists and odd details.

July, 2010

Memorising Pi To 120 Decimal Places
by Gavin Broom

Gavin Broom, our first Scottish contributor, brings us a story of a young man who wants to impress a young lady in a unique way. Broom has a great knack at creating multiple tensions within a story and uses the limitations of his characters to appeal to his readers.

Yellow
by Jesse Waters

The son of a Russian immigrant works at a pet store is the setting. Jesse Waters takes us into this blue collar world and shows us the American dream of the next generation being better off than the last. Then an ominous man enters the pet store… a great story.

June, 2010

Origin
by Katie Bowler

Katie Bowler weaves a tapestry of unheeded warnings and hasty decisions that greatly impact her main character later in life. Ms. Bowler deftly uses writing techniques employed by many Post-modern writers, using the emotion inherent in her writing style to carry us through her disturbing yet very identifiable tribulations.

Outside the Gate
by Robert Wexelblatt

Mr. Wexelblatt writes a brilliant story about a rift caused by faith, science, family and love. He captures the struggles so common to these issues, yet avoids being cliche in his writing, keeping the story fresh and innovative. A great read.

What I Mean to Say
by Harmony Button

Ms. Harmony Button presents a fascinating look into the mind of someone trying to communicate their final thoughts. Her gentle, yet urgent style of writing lends the piece a sense of poignancy.

May, 2010

The God Machine
by Jon Athmann

Tackling the potential evils of technologies and corporations who use them, Mr. Athmann leads us through a powerful Sci-fi piece. His ability to bring up the moral questions of modern science will leave you wondering about our own practices.