Short Stories

I crumple over a snowy-white boulder carpeted in lichen. My eyes drift over the things around me; I see symbols, pictures written into white birch-bark, secrets left behind by moss lettering and fairy-feet. Patterns are etched into the soil beneath me; worn roots curl into spirals, and mushrooms, bearded with mold, make ancient villages in the shadow of the trees.


Homecoming—Frances Brindle

You are twenty-three and already you have two children, a boy of four and a babe in arms. You have a husband too, a handsome man with a moustache like a flourish. He is in Belgium now and you pray for him every night with the boy beside you, on your knees with your heads bent and your hands pressed together. The boy’s knees are plump and dimpled and when you bathe him, you kiss each knee and tell him you could gobble him up. 

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Gravity Has Left This House—Amy Stone

They tickle, those tiny bubbles, skimming up her skin. She imagines little pearls, escaping the closed shell of her mouth, through the smallest fissures. She never opens her eyes underwater. She doesn’t trust it. But she likes to lie under the bathwater, like this, for as long as she can hold her breath. She can remember being in the womb. She’ll never tell anyone, but she’s sure she can. 

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Why I Keep No Fire—Jonny Rodgers

Pushing the cottage door closed required all my meagre strength. Finally, with my shoulder aching against the grain, I wrestled it to and fumbled down the large iron bar. Thunder complained foully outside, the keyhole whistling as I caught my breath. No, Jeremiah Tinderton – your humble narrator – will never be acclaimed for his titanic constitution. My skills are in the sifting of soil, the cataloguing of stones, and the classification of rare minerals: modest gifts, I grant you, but they are my own and I take comfort in knowing where the streams of my talents flow freely and where they merely trickle tributaristically. 

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Par Temps de Pluie—Emma Timpany

I squeeze my way through the crowded lobby and down a passageway lined with marble sculptures to a bright white atrium and a curving marble stair. At the entrance to the gallery, I show my ticket for the exhibition and the guard waves me through. Upstairs, on the white walls, hang paintings of clouds, sprayed chalk on slate, simple and ethereal, traces of the scantest precipitation created by a desert-dwelling artist homesick for English gloom.

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The Dripping Thing—Cat Voleur

“This house is haunted.”

Of course, Louis hadn’t listened. It sounded silly at the time. He’d been too arrogant, and the price had been too good.

“Excuse me?”

Now, it’s too late.

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Homegrown—Sophia Adamowicz

Dirt sprays in Hale’s face as he yanks up the root. He spits earth, staggers back. Then, panting, he holds up the remnants of what once thrived in the vegetable plot. His eyes roam over the bulbous head, the curved spine, the diminutive limbs tucked into the body, and he almost drops the discovery. 

“Good God!”

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Nesting—Lyndsey Croal

Her jaw aches, like claws are pulling at her teeth, as if searching for parts, removing them one by one until there’s nothing left but a gaping maw, and there are stones in her throat so that she can’t breathe, then something tickles her cheek like a feather or a fine paint brush, and everything is dark, immobilised, like she’s no longer in control of her own body, time to wake up, time to wake up, but it’s not working and she wants to scream but all that comes out is a retch that echoes into the never ending darkness.

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Sigmund’s Stew—William Nuth

I am the last to arrive because I have brought the bread. They crowd around the windows and watch me come from the wood. Today is Sigmund’s Day and our meeting marks the year. And although today is a day of joy, a new kind of sadness has begun in me.

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Siren Song—Abigail Wright

I first remember hearing them when I was seven. They’re the reason no one goes swimming in Lake Tamesis. It’s a beautiful lake, with clear, deep blue water that goes green when the sun hits it just right, the foam cresting on the waves that kick up in the wind. The rocks that lead down to the shore have eroded into smooth, pale pebbles, and those who are brave enough to venture that far down do so barefoot.

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A Man of Science—Molly Skinner

I started drawing for my husband before he became my husband. 


So it began. Ramsey, out there on the beach, trowel in hand, hunting for fossils – myself perched on a bench or a soft patch of grass waiting for him.

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We Escape into the Recesses—Spencer Nitkey

The animals scurry. Their hairs twitch against the coming storm. The pressure changes. The air heaves, and it is almost unnoticeable. Lorena’s skin feels it. Lorena does not. Underneath a tree, between the roots, the dirt is pulled out and tunneled. Quivering noses and their trembling bodies bury downward. She knows it is going to rain when her ankle and pinky finger ache.

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Flutes of Iambe—Lisa Voorhees

The veterinarian passed his hand over the goat’s belly as he listened to her chest with his stethoscope. Through the dark slit of her pupil, she quietly seemed to assess him. The other goat in the stall rustled among the hay, wary at the presence of the tall man in his dark green coveralls. 

Dmitri studied the vet’s face for a reaction.

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We watch her from the corners of our eyes but say we’re looking elsewhere, somewhere. The neighborhood calls her the lady of the earth and pretend they don’t see her when they can hear her dancing.