Issue 21 Fiction
The Horizon is a Line Can’t Be Reached
by Betsy Seymour
you think of childbirth, of the length of time he sat in your gut, his bones growing denser, his fingernails hardening from soft pads to a thick mass he could chew on. You could feel the strength of his hands early on. Some boys kick, but yours fluttered, his fingers moving rapidly like he was swimming. When he was inside building limbs beside the rest of your organs, making himself into something separate from your hungry stomach, your winding intestines, you dreamed of him scratching his way out and you came to sweating. You woke up scared of what you were creating, knowing even then he'd be a force to be reckoned. His fits came quickly. You remember the first one, he was only a toddler after all, his blue eyes big, innocent, and intimidating. The contrast threw you. He was two. Dressing him each morning was torture. He hit, he bruised you, grabbed hold of your blonde hair, it swayed in his face and he latched hold. He turned three and the biting started, the spitting and scratching grew more constant. You blamed yourself, cried for hours, kept cursing your interior, wondering at your diet, your lifestyle, what you must've done to turn him into such a monster.
The Matchstick, by Charles Tilly
by Chaitali Sen
i was pleasantly intoxicated the night I found out about the story. My daughter and her husband, who is twenty-two years her senior, had invited me over for dinner at the brownstone they’d just bought in Brooklyn Heights. This was more comfort than I could have imagined for her, a three-story townhouse with an eighteen-foot coffered ceiling, the kind of place I used to linger beneath on the sidewalks of my youth, stealing views through picturesque windows of crown-molding and crystal chandeliers and, my God, is that a wall of bookshelves with a rolling ladder? She couldn’t have done it on her own, not at her age. Her husband is the director of an important New York cultural institution. I won’t say the name of it but it begins with a W. She was an intern there and without any intention or effort—I know this deep in my soul—she managed to end his marriage and begin her own life with him.
by Ethel Rohan
her son complained that everyone at school would laugh at the secondhand shoes she’d bought for him at Oxfam. The sun gawked in the kitchen window, as if also sizing up the black hand-me-downs. Ireland’s summer, the bitch, always saved her best for September and the children’s return to school. Her son wouldn’t stop whining, said the shoes were nipping at his toes.
She peeled and halved a potato and pushed the slippery pieces inside the tops of the leather shoes. “Wait a few hours, that’ll sort them.”
Her son protested, as though she’d placed shit inside the shoes.
The Defiance of Gravity
by Ethel Rohan
as a child, she could fly high in the sky, floating above her Iowa home, weightless. The head injury from the car crash resurrected these memories. She is convinced her superpower remains within her, however dormant, and she is determined to recover her wings. In the past three years alone, ever since she received the settlement money, she has traveled to eleven states, following hurricanes and putting herself smack inside the storm’s path, willing ascension.
You haven’t lived, she tells her fellow plane passenger, until the swirl of a storm lifts you right up and bears you along. During her last hurricane, in Galveston, Texas, she’d hung by her hands horizontally from a signpost, six feet off the ground.
“I felt like a bird,” she finishes, dreamy.