Special thanks to Marc Corbier and Jessica Standifird for their editorial assistance. This week’s artwork is by Angela Maracle.
by Amanda Gowin
Your odds are one in three, there are two ugly stepsisters for every Cinderella. Used to be you could find a Prince by a tie, but now they all wear ties and say “ironic.” If you have to choose by tie, pick red not blue – they talk more, but at least think about gold, from the moment they’re born. Princes are weak, so make yourself weaker and smile. My big mouth lost your father to a stepsister. Put your heel in a crack and tumble, and if one of them catches your arm, don’t let go.
by Michael DeVito Jr.
There is no badge commemorating your 1000th rejection on yetanotherdatingsite.com. Yet Principal Garcia “strongly suggests” I give all my students false expectations by rewarding them with something.
“Life doesn’t work that way.”
“Here it does!”
So I make bright red “You Have Yet to Be Rejected” ribbons for every Jake, Josh, and Hannah.
At first grade assembly they stammer like newborn fawns on the stage.
I whisper, “Keep a hand over your heart. Protect your award.”
Don’t let anyone see what will be stripped away until it is absolutely necessary.
by Trevor Dodge
At halftime my sister pushed me into a stall and made me. She wiggled onto the pressboard toilet seat with grimy brass hinges and didn’t use one of those tissue things to cover it first. She told me to put my lips there. My knees groaned against the tile floor. When she caught the game-winning touchdown 20 minutes later I couldn’t be as happy as Dad so I didn’t even try. The ice cream he bought all us on the car ride home. My sister with her friend in the back seat. Mine just melting. Mom just watching.
by Nemma Wollenfang
The black waves are pitted with rocks, serrated razors that lacerate flesh from bone. Surf boils in a hectic froth; a maelstrom from which no heads surface. But I hear his cry, I hear his gasp and gurgle, and I wake.
“Is it the dream?” he asks.
Shivers roll through me as I nod.
“It’s not real, you know. I’m here.”
Arms like pythons tighten and I relax into his warm embrace.
The following night, once he has taken to the sea for King and country, I wake for neither thunder nor rain… nor the cries of the lost.
by David Sorensen
He’s standing outside my door again. If I looked through the peephole I’d see that sickly, flat-toothed grin, but I’m too chicken-shit to get up off the floor. This is the fourth time he’s come, and I’ve only been here five days. Sometimes it’s a bill through the slot on the door, sometimes a magazine, never a post card or wedding invitation or note from my secret admirer. I hear the flimsy catalogue paper flop on the linoleum and slither into place as his footsteps trail off. I should get a dog. I wonder if I can get one delivered.
Great stories! I really enjoyed ” Rejects “….can relate, having school-age children of my own.