By Jason Arias
A young man living in the shadow of his charismatic girlfriend watches her escape responsibility for her errant behavior over and over again until life finally catches her.
“I wasn’t this dude’s homeboy, but he was right about the other thing. I was out of my league. I was always out of my league. Why would I want to have anything to do with anybody in my league? I was just doing what I thought everybody else was doing: positioning myself as close as I could to people too bright to look at directly.”
Mountains and Their Relatives
By Stephen Comstock
A soldier walks the line between the living and the dead in the aftermath of a car bomb that transforms his body and mind forever.
“I saw him sitting on a pair of duffel bags, quiet and melancholy; a visitor out of place and time. I recognized my uncle’s eyes, but his face had lost its age. He wore a green dress uniform and shoes that shined with a matte, overcast glow. The air was charged with strangeness. I struggled to understand where I was, but my sense of place was caked with dreams like hard-water scum. I’m not one to believe in ghosts, but I’m not one to doubt a thing I see either.”
Cello vs. Foot Lawyer
By Mark Meier
High school band mates who bond over music and shared adolescent experiences are shocked when their friend takes his life.
“In jazz, you have to kill the future because that’s the thing most holding you back. You can’t think about it. You have to play in the now. Jazz can’t make sense, you can’t be great, except in the present.”
Paint by Mothers
By Joyce Polance
An artist grapples with memories from her past and her relationship with her mother.
“Through the slatted shelves, past the jars of turpentine, assorted light bulbs, haphazard stacks of paper plates and plastic cutlery, beyond the tin of old brushes, bristles bent, stained with cadmiums and cobalts that refused to vacate, floated the head.”