Special thanks to Jessica Standifird for her editorial assistance. This week’s artwork is by Anna Lea Jancewicz.
What with Daddy Gone and All
by Mathew Pereda
She keeps her eyes closed, not caring that she’s got to wear a dress that doesn’t cover her knees enough. Mr. Avery’s here with some papers. She hugs a corner of the house, arms out, gripping, as if that’ll prevent him shirking it right out from under them like a tablecloth—like those men on TV do it—leaving them all stalk-still and leftover, like fine china, she thinks. Her mother’s crying smells like whiskey. Mr. Avery has a face like an owl: a chin and jaws that skip a neck, with eyes that could just swallow her up.
by Diana Kirk
“You haven’t eaten your peas.” His fist would hit the oak table if my fork didn’t reach my mouth. I had about five seconds to make this happen. Meatloaf, potatoes, peas, meatloaf, potatoes, peas. I must have skipped the peas and he had seen. Scoop, bite, don’t look up, just chew. Thirty times, then swallow. Maybe he won’t throw our plates tonight if I can just remember. If I don’t mess up and look at her. Keep your eyes focused on this plate or he’ll throw her too. Just…chew. 1, 2, 3. Meatloaf, potatoes, peas.
by Alex Sobel
“Who’d want to live to ninety-eight, anyway?” she says, on his lap, six years to her name, sweetness in audacity. “Anyone who’s ninety-seven,” he says, an uncle. I eat pineapple chunks, pastries, drink soda. You’re in the other room, the casket, old stories that can get nothing but older, vaguer. “But she was loved,” he continues, “and she’ll continue to be loved.” I throw away my plate, uneaten pastries. I want to be that girl, have those questions, that lack of limitations. Instead, I leave to find you, wondering how strange it is that some death is worse than others.
by Nupur Balain
I knew little Timothy had been bullied again. I could tell by his shuffling gait, how he flinched whenever anyone neared him. I pitied little Timothy. His parents didn’t care about his situation; they figured putting him into a wealthy boarding school would make all their problems go away. They left it up to us, the teachers, to care for him. As he passed, I stopped him and asked if he was alright. He looked at me and said, “It’s fine. She said she’s coming for them.”
by Lee L. Krecklow
He asked if she had change for a five, and she said she did not, which was a lie, a small lie, but within it she realized a perverse power. She watched him go from table to table, asking the same and hearing the same, and she reveled in her control, understanding that it was a thing she hadn’t owned for years. It lasted until he found what he was after, from some naive teenage girl. He put his dollar in the machine, received his drink and returned to their table. “It’s not cold,” he said. Good, she thought.