Photo by Vivian Rubin
By Michael Brantley
A man is tasked with going through his grandparent’s desk after they’ve passed away, as the family cleans out their rural North Carolina home. As he looks through mundane documents like old shopping lists and notes and checkbook registers, he connects to who they once were and the turbulent times they lived in.
“And then, there it was, on the backside of the desk, partially open: an old checkbook. The way it was arranged, it looked as if a check had just been written from it, but closer examination showed the dateline as 193__, and the most recent stub was from the spring of 1938, the oldest, from the fall of 1937. Before I was done, I’d retrieved the family’s 1943 ration books, an old pocket watch, and a fountain pen, among other papers.”
By Jeff Burd
Seeing a young man jump onto train tacks, a man swings into action, but ultimately has no idea whether reaching out to the boy has a helpful impact or not. As an educator with more than one student who has considered suicide or tried it, he is haunted with guilt over whether he’s done enough to support his students through their issues, or if he’s been too detached. An insight into what our responsibilities are in an age where the suicide rate is climbing toward an epidemic.
“I look down the tracks toward the city and see a man in black pants and a black coat at the far end of the platform about four hundred feet away. He’s standing on the yellow caution strip at the edge of the platform where the train pulls in. The moment I see him, he jumps onto the tracks.”
By Melissa Face
Ready to live and work at Myrtle Beach for the summer, a fresh-faced college sophomore ends up staying there for years, discovering the darker realities that hide beneath the sparkling surface of the vacation destination, and learning some life-lessons the hard way.
“My “summer” fling with Myrtle evolved into an eight-year love affair. It wasn’t always beaches and palm trees, though. There were many dark times, and not just at night. Myrtle introduced me to poverty, addiction, and emptiness. I witnessed an overdose, lost a friend to murder, and learned to work any type of job that would pay my rent.”
By Joy Kozu
A young woman struggles with the end of her first love, walking the fine line between the pain of loss and the happiness of having loved.
“How do you write about pain and give it a happy ending? I always come back to you in the end. To the first night I met you and the first night we kissed. To the first time I told you how I really feel about you and the first time you told me. To all of the complicated times in between. You are my happy ending, even if I wish we never had to end at all. I am my pain and you are my happy ending.”
By Tom Vollman
For his fifteenth birthday, a boy’s parents have taken him to Washington D.C. We see, through his eyes, the discord in his parent’s relationship, and their self-interest above real interest in him.
“We pull up to a spot along the Potomac that overlooks the little inlet that mostly surrounds the Jefferson Memorial, and it’s clear, even to me, that there’s no way in hell anybody can ever park where we’ve stopped, much less on the Fourth of July. But it’s the Bicentennial fireworks display, and dad says this is something we’ll remember for the rest of over lives, so we‘ll park here because what’s America without a little civil disobedience.”