Fiction

Feet First

I knew I had made it when I started neglecting my feet. My toenails had not been painted in months. The pale pink nails started to look gray, my feet sallow.

Maybe they had always been this way when natural but I just hadn’t noticed. They were, had been, always painted bright red. This was true since I was fourteen. Before then, I switched the color up. Not too much. But enough so that variety was routine. One week, mauve or a pearly shimmer. Hot pink. Neon yellow. Electric blue. White. Violet. Black.

Big Angelo's Place

The pizza always surprises people. First off, the sign out- side still says “Historic Stone Taverne,” which was here about two hundred years before we showed up and has been gone maybe a quarter that long. People going home to Jersey or Long Island or the City, they come in and find the back wall of the restaurant twenty feet closer than they expected—dad sealed the dining hall off after a rough Confirmation party back in the ‘90s—and me and my sister standing there behind the case of pies, asking what they’re having.

Sonder

When Colin opened his eyes that morning, he had no idea that he was going to die by evening.

The sun burned orange as it peeked through the cracks in his window curtain, voyeuristically drinking in his motionless form. He buried his face in the pillow like a child, in his mind passing beneath its gaze for a few more minutes.

The pillow was the same as well—off-white fabric encapsulated by a blue pillowcase. White stains littered the surface, drool splotched like the haphazard afterthoughts of Rorschach tests. 

The Path of the Wind

The geographical pilgrimage is the symbolic acting out of an inner journey. The inner journey is the interpolation of the meanings and signs of the outer pilgrimage. One can have one without the other. It is best to have both. 

-Thomas Merton

I.

Honest Broker

Our company’s founder who can be quite eccentric at times began almost a year ago now a system whereby once every fortnight she will step down as Chief Innovation Officer for a 24-hour period and be replaced by someone telecommuting-in from a developing nation.

In Session

As it had been with all the bad habits that she formed in life, she had only realized her dependence when it was far too late — too late for what? her therapist asked her, and she bit her nails to avoid a response, but in essence it had been too late to be saved from it. It was ironic — was she using ironic correctly? she never knew — that she had spent her whole life worshiping feminist narratives, but the whole time she had really thought of love as surrender. Maybe it was because she grew up religious.

Tad

Tad would come to each town and try to work. That was the idea as he passed through one-story motels or rentals near trailer parks, apartments with brown water in the tubs, toilets that did not flush and never would. He worked in three different Walmarts, each more gargantuan than the last, stores that could swallow societies, all with the acre of parking. He did his best thinking walking across these lots, to his car parked far from wherever he may have to utter words to another living person.

Women's War

Faruk Šehić was born in Bihać, Bosnia and Herzegovina, in 1970, just in time to experience the war (1992-95) as an officer in the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina, leading a frontline combat unit. A poet forced to be a warrior, he strives in his work to recover the value of life and literature destroyed by violence. His sentences are sharp because he wants to stab us with them so we too can feel the pain. They are relentlessly beautiful because the world does not need us to exist.

When the Staleys Came to Visit

Where Harry and Helen Staley would sleep was obvious; Winnie would give up her full-sized bed and take the couch. She scrubbed the grimy black and white tile in the bathroom. She shopped for sophisticated snacks that would appeal to anyone: figs; a wedge of brie; a can of salted mixed nuts; two bottles of wine, one red, one white, each under six dollars, which would stretch her budget at that; and some sparkling water. New York had the best water, she heard people say, and had learned to repeat it.