tophotmovie

Be Careful

By William Cass

Tim got up early. It was Saturday. The trailer was still. He lifted the corner of the curtain with his finger and looked outside: it was snowing again, hard. Only the week after Christmas, and already the heaviest winter snowfall on record. He dressed, then walked down the short hallway, plugged in the Christmas tree lights, and started breakfast.

Austin woke up next. He came in carrying the new stuffed elephant that had been poking out of his stocking, holding it by the ear. He sat on the edge of the couch and looked at the tree. …

Revelations

BY MATTHEW CHENEY

War DevestationWhen I was a child, we lived inside the war.  Our parents went away sometime during the last year, leaving me and my sister, Olly, to fend for ourselves amidst the rubble.  Our house was old and solid, made of stone, and the shelling had mostly been to the other side of town, so all the walls of the house were still intact and there were only a few holes in the roof.  Most of the windows had shattered, but we covered our bedroom’s windows with trash bags taped to the frames, and that mostly …

Death Becomes Us

Requiem for Jimmy
The Community Choir of the Community
birds on a wireBY TIM KREIDER

The news spread quickly that he was gone. And while nobody could deny that a vast emptiness now laid claim to some part of the world, some later would suggest that he had been disappearing for a long time.

Now this needs to be qualified. Nobody really noticed this gradual and subtle disappearance until after he had died. Only then did a contingent led by Hank Mortibund, Old Man Mortibund’s youngest, put forth the claim that he had been gradually disappearing over …

Jen the First

BY BENJAMIN MATVEY

Suddenly, there is a scent in my nose that makes everything around me irrelevant: the perfume of the first girl who was ever foolish enough to have sex with me. I had been fingering through the latest contribution of Desmond Morris an instant ago, but now I am assaulted with wafts of that far too sweet, girlish, nonsensical scent; like a mixture of lavender, cinnamon, and citronella. I shove the book back into the shelf and spin around, startling an old man in a tweed hat behind me, but I do not see the culprit. …

The Hopeful Story People Want to Hear

BY CATHERINE CURAN

I. Faith

Three weeks before your twenty-fifth birthday you visit a well-known New York hospital to see a specialist, a kindly old blue-eyed doctor who is so pleased to meet you, who inserts a long thin needle into your throat efficiently, apologetically, looking for evidence of a malfunction you feel confident he will not find.

The odds are against it: you are young, you are healthy. More importantly (in your view) you are an intuitive person; if something were wrong you would have suspected a problem, felt a nagging unease.

In twenty five years you have seen ample reason …

Bone China

BY NEALE JONES

Everyone neglected to tell me that I had a house where my heart ought to be. Maybe they were unaware. Perhaps, on the ultrasound screen, it appeared as a tiny womb within my chest, an open throbbing gash, a wound. It will heal shut, just as any injury, the doctor must have assured my parents. Though it may leave a scar.

Only later did it coalesce into a house. The edges hardening into roofline, window panes, joists, scabs of shingles, little bone studs for framing, a structure pushing back against the press of lungs and muscles, holding open …

The Grand Inquisitor Comes to Tennessee

BY JIM BUTLER

Even while he was attacking his friend Walter Bob Feston, practically accusing him of being possessed by the Devil, Jackie Barron knew that he was out of control, sounding like a revival preacher he once heard, calling down hellfire and damnation. It was not like him.

Jackie went to church, of course. Going to church and loving Jesus was taken for granted in Cherokee, Tennessee; it was like eating supper, or loving your mother. Being a good person just naturally meant going to Sunday School in the church basement at nine o’clock on Sunday morning, then going upstairs for the sermon at ten o’clock, and—this …

The Thing About Luzhin

BY MICHAEL MORECI

An Excerpt from Baron’s Chronicle

Here’s the thing about Luzhin: from the night we met, I knew he was not an honest person. It’s an opinion never changed, even as we became what some would call friends. There was something about him that inspired me; here was a person who came to America in the early ‘90s when he was twenty, abandoning Russia in spite of its imminent overhaul. And by the way he tells his story, you can tell Luzhin wasn’t discouraged by the abrupt, life-altering move. After all, living in Russia, as Luzhin explained it to me, …

How We Remember

BY MIRANDA TRAIN

My grandmother has $7,000 under her mattress in case she has to flee to Israel. My father won’t go to Germany, and he especially won’t buy German made ovens. I grew up in a new era, the politically correct environment of an East Coast American suburb. As a third generation Jew of an assimilated non-religious family, it was my job to forget. Not only did I think my family was crazy for holding a grudge, I had German friends.

There was a great divide between my generation and the ones that had lived through the Holocaust. It was their identity. To me, it was a history lesson. …

Piedad

FeetBY LYNNE BAMAT MIJANGOS

Still in short pants, but tall enough to peer into a cradle of elaborately carved roble, a small boy watched an infant kick her pink-bootied feet and announced that when that little girl grew up, he was going to marry her. Four generations later not a living soul knows if Manuel Rovelo formally asked for Antonia Argüello’s hand in marriage before or after he held the deed to El Retiro, a cattle ranch near the border of Guatemala, just this side of the gem green lake La Esmeralda.

Only one other fact brackets the life of Antonia: she allowed no one to see her feet. …

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