• New short fiction, every week.
    The words you know and love . . .
    in a totally different order.

  • Archives:
    May 2011

    10. The Cure

    By Rahul Mehta

    I told the doctor over the phone I needed an appointment fast—tomorrow, if possible. Are you going to hurt yourself, she asked, or someone else? No, I said. I was burning money. She said, Tomorrow at three, and I asked, Do you take check or credit card, because obviously I can’t carry around cash, ha ha, but she didn’t seem to get the joke.

    I was at my best friend Yvonne’s house when I called. I had gone over there holding a yellow saucepan with the charred edges of three twenty-dollar bills. Yvonne was having dinner with her ex-girlfriend Juliette and another friend, Serena. When I asked what I should do, all three said, Therapy!, and began bickering over whose therapist was best, offering me their cell-phone numbers. I was surprised their therapists were so forthcoming with their private numbers, though perhaps they had cell phones especially for work. In the end, I chose the one who returned my call first: Juliette’s.

    When I met with the therapist and, in the context of a memory, mentioned Yvonne, her eyes lit up and she said, Wait, you know Yvonne, too? I could see her mind working. I suspected that, as Juliette’s therapist for years, she was far more interested in the drama between Yvonne and Juliette than she would ever be in me. . . . Read More.

    9. The Great Frustration

    By Seth Fried

    In the Garden of Eden, a cat steadies itself on a branch while quietly regarding a parrot. The air in the garden is heavy and mixed with the stink of all those animals resting below. No blood is spilled in the garden, and so the roles of most of the animals are greatly reduced. Though most of them are still, as yet, unaware of this fact. They linger in vague proximity to one another, marveling at their own bodies. The larger creatures recognize the strength in their new limbs, while others like the penguin and the guinea pig only wander clumsily from place to place, wondering whether or not they have been the object of some cruel joke. Near a small pond, the penguin waves the dull blades of its arms up at the sky, as if already protesting the existence of a dense and impractical God.

    It has been said that the air in the garden is heavy with the smell of these animals. More than heavy, it is unbearable and oppressive. However, it is a smell that goes generally unnoticed by its originators, except perhaps in the form of an occasional swirl of dander, moved on a breeze not unlike the one that now rustles the fur along the cat’s spine, causing it to hunker low on the branch and flatten its ears as it keeps its eyes fixed on the parrot from a respectful distance. The cat cannot help but observe the parrot with a particular interest. The cat sees it as ripe, but with what?

    Below, the lion does not lie with the lamb, but neither does it tear the lamb into a thousand pieces, neither does it eat the lamb’s head in a single bite, neither does it take the lamb into its jaws and, with all the force in the tremendous muscles of its neck, whip the lamb against a tree over and over again until the lamb is nothing but a skid of dripping slime on a tree trunk. Neither does the lion do any of the things that leap suddenly to mind whenever it sees the lamb. . . . Read More.

    Our Friends

  • They Come in Collections, Too

    New and Impending from Harper Perennial: