J Dan Francis

Charlie Dixon’s Last Ride It was the long, distant whistle announcing the Adirondack Flier as it approached High Rock Crossing that startled Charlie Dixon like he had woken from a bad dream. He was shaking and sweating, but strangely, as the train drew closer, he smiled and settled back. Nick Rodgers reached over with a…

L. L. Babb

Living a Little Julia had just been laid off by her tax preparation firm. Sugar—Julia’s mother preferred to be called Sugar by everyone, including Julia—was between husbands. “What better time,” Sugar cooed into the telephone, “for some mother-daughter bonding?” “How?” Julia said. Cautiously. Spending time with Sugar usually ended up making Julia feel less like…

Tim Jones-Yelvington

Divine Decree Because he is the fairest, wisest child in his fifth-grade class, Maxwell knows the seashell was destined for his fist. From along the shore, it beckoned, iridescent and ridged. Now, it pulses in his palm, which rests on the wide arm of the Adirondack chair where he lounges, watching his classmates play. Behind…

David Franklin

STRINGBEAN, ROOK AND HITLER His name was Ed, but nobody called him that, except maybe his wife, Trudell. To all who knew him his name was “Stringbean” although he was mostly called “Strang,” the southern Middle Tennessee derivative of “String.” He was a sharecropper and worked the fields and milked the cows of Billy O’Neal,…

Lexi Covalsen

Notes from the Free Clinic In Kentucky, I was blue and selfish like a child. We had lost our gloves on the river bank; along with the money and the meth, the memory: a brick house and a basement, must and lights and crying, cars and chairs and very nice ladies. I know we were…

Mickey Dubrow

Cult of Nancy “Nolan Smiles. We make it precious,” read the words painted on the glass front door. “Maybe if they weren’t so busy making it precious, they wouldn’t have screwed up,” Nancy said under her breath as she propelled herself through the door and into the lobby of the photo studio. On the walls…

Judy Ryan Hall

Glücklich Danny walked along the dirt path up to the guard shack, his red box under one arm and a tattered copy of Paradise Lost under the other. A small notebook with a pencil through the spiral stuck out of the back pocket of his fatigues which hung loosely on his thin hips.  At nineteen,…

Salvatore Difalco

THE FOREST The new forest had just opened to the public. As had been the case with prior such installations, reactions were mixed. Some people said they found it relaxing or stimulating, an excellent locus to hone or pacify the thoughts, or simply a good place to open up the lungs and breathe. Others complained…

Robert Gwaltney

The Deep Down A storm was coming. Way off in the distance, its inky edges began to spoil the late morning sky. A low roll of thunder grumbled from the ground tickling the bottom of my bare feet. “How many more?” Etta Mae said, holding the front of her dress out before her like a…