Photo by Vivian Rubin

Hajer AlmoslehDangling Modifiers

By Hajer Almosleh

A young girl tries to make sense out of her relationship with her mother over the years—a mother who lacks maternal warmth, who loves words and her own independence more than anything (or anyone) else.

“I was eleven when she said au revoir to me at the airport the first time we ever parted. A word chosen carefully, deliberately. Goodbye would have been questionable. Would have hurt more. Why not see you soon? But au revoir was laced with mystery. I hadn’t fathomed its guillotine-like sharp finality until later when I understood that my mother wasn’t coming back home. That my home would never be hers again.”

Lindsay A. ChudzikThe Self-Righteous Brother

By Lindsay A. Chudzik

Genevieve takes a stand when the band her loser boyfriend has hired doesn’t show up for their party, and when the band ends up rolling in much later, she finds a voice of her own, letting her talent shine through.

“Pull yourself together and take advantage of scientific advancements,” she’d told a friend after a pregnancy scare. “Loretta Lynn would’ve popped birth control pills like candy as a teen if she’d had your options.” When Jensen told her he was having trouble getting his band to focus, she’d echoed Kathleen Hanna’s sentiment that, with so many great artists doing incredible things, it was a waste of time to focus on boring people.”

Robert EarleOrientation Day

By Robert Earle

A young girl in the rural south goes to to her college orientation, and just one day in a new world begins to change who she is and what she learned growing up in a backward, racist family.

“Already I was thinking about him by his name—as Lonny, not as this guy helping me out—and wondered if he was thinking about me as Sheila. As if we knew each other—as if I was bending his way now, not a spoon anymore, a tine of me grazing his skin—Burke too much, East Village more real—children chasing one another on a dusty playground, a barber poll turning and never ending, men pitching pennies at a stoop, a restaurant called The Sauce House, a young girl in pink Capri pants and a red top and an old man hoisting his trousers up on one hip then the other, and an old woman with a little white dog hoisting its little leg almost the same way.”

Alex McGlothinFor Some Context

By Alex McGlothlin

Stunned to find out his ex-girlfriend is getting married, Jay McAllister finagles his way from the Outer Banks to the Richmond wedding, hoping to talk to her before she goes through with it, hoping to change her mind.

“It was 11:30 pm on Friday night, and I had stolen a friend’s Triumph motorcycle as soon as I heard you were getting married. Throttling the clutch to 80 mph, tie flapping madly, the wind whipped the cufflinks from my shirt immediately. To my right was the desolate ocean, to my left were an infinity of darkened beach houses, aging from years of punishing sea salt and hosting rowdy extended families.”

Rebecca Moon RuarkScooter Kid

By Rebecca Moon Ruark

Aaron is haunted by the apparition of a child as he and his wife struggle with years of infertility.

“Of this hallucination of yours?” She whispered like she had a hand cupped over her mouth. “Your wanting, your appendage-like apparition, is haunting you now? Is this what you’re telling me?” She laughed, a curt exhalation. Her chair screeched as she rose from their window table.”