by Evan Guilford-Blake
There is mist falling through the chilly Saturday afternoon sky, and the still-stark trees tilt from the wind. There are small pits, small swells in the old road. Now and again, the old shocks fail to cushion her and with one hand she holds to the dash to keep from bouncing. With the other, she touches her stomach.
The roundness is just-visible to Walt, still invisible to nearly everyone else, though she has seen it for weeks, felt it, she’s sure, for longer than that. She runs her other hand over it, watching the road, the rain, thinks the baby, the baby.
“Are you cold?” she asks Walt.
“Me? No. ’re you?”
Megan nestles herself tighter into the seat. “Little,” she says.
“Turn up the heat.”
She does. “Seems chilly, even with it on.”
“We should get it checked again anyhow, huh?”
“Uh-huh,” he says, as the car bucks once again, this time with more force. “Walt,” she says, “be careful.”
“I am,” he says. “It’s this road.” He leans over the wheel, hands together at twelve o’clock, chin atop them, eyes fixed. “You okay?”
“Yeah. I guess.”
He smiles and nods. “How ’bout … ?”
She runs her hands over her stomach. “Yeah, just, I can feel it
by Diane Kimbrell
Othermama’s biggest fear in life was death. Her second biggest fear was that she would be buried in potter’s field—a bleak burial ground for paupers located about a mile outside our hometown of Quicksand, North Carolina. To make sure she didn’t end up there without so much as a stick to mark her grave, Othermama, my maternal grandmother, took out an insurance policy with the Quicksand Mutual Trust Agency. She had no intention of being buried in an “ole cold, pine wood box,” as she put it. Her monthly payments to Mr. Mosely, the tall, thin insurance man, ensured that she would be laid to rest in a satin-lined coffin with a lid. Although she couldn’t bear the idea of being closed inside of anything, it was preferable to being exposed to the elements and eaten by worms—worms, which by the way, were her third biggest fear.
Othermama had always lived with us. To this day, nobody in my family will admit it, but we all dreaded her death as much as she did. I never understood why she was so afraid of passing on to her final resting place. Perhaps she feared being cast into the Devil’s lake
by Frederick Charles Melancon
“And then, she cheeked me.”
“Cheeked you? What does that mean?” Gabe asked as he wiped the sweat from his forehead.
Louis put the shovel down against the huge oak tree with ancient meandering branches as he thought. “Well,” he finally began, “We had a great night. We were outside her front door. She was smiling. I thought that now was the time for a first kiss, and when I went in for the kiss she turned her head. And I kissed her cheek instead of her lips. That has never happened to me before.”
Gabe shook his head knowingly. “One time I kissed a girl, and she slapped me.”
“So what did you do?”
“What do you mean what did I do? I didn’t kiss her again that was for sure. And I think you could use that advice.”
“But we had such a good time,” Louis protested.
“But did she kiss you back? No. So you need to move on.” Gabe all of a sudden pointed at the sign on the ground. “It is just like the story on that sign and the whole reason we are sweating our butts off out here moving this sign: to keep people from touching something
by Donna Smith Fee
I left him in the oven with his feet sticking out like a turkey too big for the pan. Giggling at the thought of Hansel and Gretel and the nibbled house of sweets, I felt like a good witch.
Driving south on 441 from Athens, Georgia, I matched my breathing to Naomi’s slow deep breaths. Roommates at the University of Georgia twenty-plus years ago, she and I had always gotten each other into and out of trouble. I wasn’t sure who was in more trouble this time. Me, for pushing her husband into his bakery’s oven, or her, for leaving the hospital despite her broken ribs, miscarriage, facial contusions and I.V. drip.
“What?” she looked so weak in her hospital gown and stolen scrubs.
“It is just a little funny. A baked baker.”
“What if he’s dead? How am I going to explain that?” Naomi sought the order in things, looking for the whys. I mostly struggled with the why-nots. We slowed down as we passed through Madison with its streets lined with antebellum homes supporting fabulous porches and Boston ferns bigger than tubas. The town claimed they were too beautiful for Sherman to burn on his march to the sea.
by Julie M. Stephenson
“Where are you from?” It was a normal question, but a question I dreaded nevertheless. I didn’t like to lie. “Sumter,” I answered. My new fourth grade classmate smiled, “Oh, yeah, I’ve been there. You can sit by me at lunch today.” Technically, I hadn’t lied. I was born in Sumter. I lived there until Daddy took Mamma and me home from the hospital. After that, I lived in Lamar, and I certainly couldn’t tell anyone that.
Lamar, a tiny town in Darlington County, South Carolina, surrounded by cotton and tobacco fields, had been the greatest place on earth. One of my favorite places was school. Red-bricked Lamar Elementary for grades 1-6 was connected to a matching Lamar High School by a cement breezeway. I had been walking those gray-green halls for as long as I could remember. Mamma was the kindergarten teacher, so I went to kindergarten when I was three, four, and five. Daddy was the high school principal, so after school I could walk over and see him. His sturdy rectangle of a desk was where, to my later dismay, I carefully printed, “Form, Julie” on twenty-eight of thirty cartooned Valentines. On the way to
by Julie Britt
As soon as I discovered that nasty thing the grownups called “sexuality,” I just knew it would get me in a lot of trouble some day—with Jesus, my parents and some yucky boy—so I hid it. But my Mama and Daddy noticed my sinful sexiness way before I knew I had it, not to mention what I was supposed to do with it.
I was only 10—too young to be thinking about boys, sex and chastity, a real important and mysterious word they talked about in church all the time.
One night I was filling the tub when I realized we were out of bubble bath. I turned off the faucet and briefly considered taking a bath in plain old water. No. That wouldn’t be good enough. It was summer, and I had spent most of the afternoon playing in the woods with Josh, my pesky little brother. I needed the extra clean that only Mr. Bubble could bring. I figured Mama had a fresh box in the pantry.
“Mama!” I called through the bathroom door.
Daddy probably had turned up the TV so he could hear his western above the racket from the kitchen, where Mama was busy preparing our
by Shome Dasgupta
Greg sat at a booth inside the Cottage – a poorly ventilated bar and coffee shop, where one puff of a cigarette can make your eyes water, your hair smell like ash, and your skin wrinkle. Nonetheless, it was one of the few places in Lafayette, where people can smoke inside an establishment.
He sat with his elbows resting on the table and his head between his hands. He looked at the glass ashtray, full of yellow cigarette butts. He looked up and saw Circus standing at the bar, in front of the video poker screen, unbuckling his belt and unzipping his pants.
“No, Circus,” Greg said. “Don’t.”
He didn’t hear Greg and started to pull down the front of his boxers. Greg shouted his name and walked towards him, putting his hand on Circus’ shoulder, who was, at 6 feet, a few inches taller than Greg. They were both slim guys, but Circus had a bit more muscle than Greg. Circus was one of those guys who could eat plate after plate of foods full of fat and never gain a pound. Greg had gained some pounds since his freshman year of college and just recently was able to
by Vanessa K. Eccles
Okay, so I am a stock boy at the University in Baton Rouge. My job pretty much consists of putting up, sorting, and cataloguing books and files. Most days are monotonous, but sometimes it gets interesting. But none of which were ever as incredible as the day that I happened upon the file.
I was tasked the file room. It is unbelievably boring. I have only done it once before, but I would not wish work up there for my worst enemy. First of all, I can never find anything in that room. I had to take a double look when my boss gave me a list of over forty files to pull. I simply rolled my eyes, put on my big boy face, and got to work.
After successfully finding about 11 files, I noticed that one file was sticking out just a little further from the rest. It was more of a yellowish color too. For some reason it caught my attention, enough to pull it out and look. I wiped some dust off, and I saw that the file had some writing on it. It was in thick bold cursive letters that said The Kinisey File.
by Connie Vigil Platt
I had company over the holidays. I have a large extended family that will use any excuse to get together. Don’t misunderstand me I loved having them visit. They all came loaded with baskets of food and problems to share. It seems that my house is more centrally located, bigger, more available or something like that.
But it reminded me of a Little Jimmie Dickens song “Sleeping at the foot of the bed:”
It was always fun when the kin folks came
And the kids brought brand new games
You could see how fat the old folk were
And learn all the babies’ names
We got chicken and biscuits
And custard pie
We all got Sunday fed
But when night time came you knew
You were sleeping at the foot of the bed
Fortunately nobody had to sleep at the foot of the bed but there were some strange sleeping arrangements. Chairs, love seats and couches were put into use. I have always been a collector of quilts in anticipation of such an occasion, so we had plenty of blankets. No one seemed to mind sleeping on the floor but it was wall-to-wall people, you had to be careful where you stepped if you got up in the