by Willem Myra
Gray. On the ground, in the air, sticking to their bloodied faces. In their eyes. Volunteers trying their best to save those under the rubble–they dig with bare hands, nails broken, skin peeling, pain elsewhere. They breath the dusty air, these saviors, and sweat and cry and yell, “Don’t give up, don’t give up.” I admire their tenacity. Sat on the memory of her house, a girl holds her pet bunny to her chest and weeps. I wander aimlessly. An observant. An intruder. And for a millisecond I hate myself for thinking, At least they had something to lose.
Pamela Road, Lake Zurich, Illinois 1957
by Shoshauna Shy
Home from the carnival at my brother’s school, I am pulling an inflatable car sporting Mickey Mouse in the driver’s seat through the dark kitchen when one wheel catches on a chair leg. Too young to use words, I open my mouth and scream, tug at the stupid car on its string. Father, after a long week commuting by train, turns on one heel and yells. I don’t burst into tears. I grab the faux diamond necklace he won for me at the beanbag game, yank it from my neck, grind it under both feet.
This is just the beginning.
by Michael Kulp
The last human on Mars tossed another water-smoothed rock down a red gully. He had four minutes to live. He had sent back a detailed report, but he would be dead when they received it. He grabbed another polished rock. Once, outside his family’s river cabin, he had skipped stones like this. Thunder rumbled; his grandfather beckoned him inside. But he had kept skipping stones like “a willful child.” Willful. He smiled hypoxically. Why stop now? “I love you all,” he said. “I wonder what Mars smells like.” He pulled off his helmet and skipped it a long, long way.
by Megan Parmerter
My mother pushed the payphone into my hand. I accepted it like I would a poisonous snake. Into my other hand she pressed a piece of paper. The booth was stifling with us crushed together. “Now when John answers the phone, read this in Italian. I’ve told him how much you’ve learned.” The call went to voicemail. I recited the lines woodenly and hung up. “You could’ve tried not sounding like a robot.” I didn’t want to speak Italian to John. I wanted to go home to where Dad and dinner were waiting for us.
He Drove All Through the Night, but All He Found Was Me
by David Hackett
He pulled me from the rubble, gave me water and a chewy bar, and went back to digging through the remains of my apartment. “My leg, I think it’s broken.” He kept digging. He was maybe sixty, but strong. I looked around. No one else in sight, just miles of debris. I looked back at his truck, the license plate was from two states over; he’d gotten here quick. The girl upstairs, where was she from? “There were others in the building,” I said, as if to be helpful, as if to reassure him, as if he didn’t already know.