“Crow Summer,” Woven Tale Press, December 2020
The baby crow is a storm under a Virginia sweetspire as it struggles to move out of view. We know it is a crow because the wildlife rehabilitator asked if its eyes are blue, which they are, and if its mother is somewhere watching, which she is. In fact, she caws at us from the top of a nearby tree with extreme frequency, so that we can hardly forget her. “The bird is probably fine,” the rehabilitator told us, though the angle of its right wing against the ground, flat like a hand getting a manicure, seems nothing like the left’s fluttering form. “Baby crows learn to fly from the ground. Honestly, they are just weirdos for a while. I wouldn’t worry about it.” He paused. “But if you want to bring it in…”
We don’t. There are bugs to think about, and pecks to our hands, and the drive, which will fill our Sunday night. Instead, we watch the crow until it finds a safe haven in the bushes and then walk home.
Still, we can’t quite shake the guilt, and so we each look during our daily walks. “I think it flew away!” one of us announces Monday afternoon. “Definitely gone,” agrees another on Tuesday morning. But on Tuesday afternoon, we find a wing by the barn. Dead, dead, dead, and likely our fault.
Then on Wednesday morning, during that hour when we drink coffee in our robes and pretend to read the paper, the crow makes an appearance in each of our yards.
“Always in Black” (Short Story) – Monkeybicycle, August 2019
My father is the one who named me; perhaps it’s his fault I fell.
En masse, we are the blank space around a black hole. Devoid of even dust, we stand stripped and wait for gravity to pull us down.
“Seashells” (Short Story) – Gargoyle, Summer 2019
When the woman at the door offered to turn my children into seashells for one hundred dollars, I didn’t hesitate.
She’d originally come with three pieces of travel luggage, all black with pale pink trim and stocked with Mary Kay products and discount coupons, in order to persuade me to “throw a makeover party.” I knew that’s what she would say, even though she hadn’t gotten the words out, because someone from Mary Kay came by almost every month. Maybe it was Mrs. Perkins’s yard flamingos—these women seemed drawn to all things pink.
This particular woman, whose name was Stella, wore a pink tweed suit,
even though it was mid-July, and smelled like all of the makeup counters at the mall rolled into one.
“Either/Or” (Short Story) – The Bookends Review, June 2018
Two years ago, Em killed her boyfriend. She doesn’t think that this defines her, merely that it defines her for everyone else. The murder has, of course, had certain effects on her: she won’t watch horror movies or tolerate people who yell. She won’t eat spaghetti with red sauce. She won’t let her new husband wear green, even on their honeymoon when he insists that the t-shirt is the only clean one he has, and really, it’s more of a turquoise.
Still, Em is about as adjusted as a murderer can get, which she reminds herself as she and Marco sit in their hotel bed listening to the argument escalating in the room next to them. Em can’t make out all of the words, but she hears a combination of English and Spanish, hears bitch and idiot and cunt, hears the monotone of a man who has put his train on full speed and removed the brake pedal.
A man like that has to crash into something to stop.
“Orientations” (Short Story) – The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, April 2018
I don’t know the food scene in Lexington, so the restaurant where I take Margaret on our first date is the result of online reviews and proximity to our apartment complex. The menu declares the food experience “relaxed fine dining,” which in the South means grits, fried oysters, and pecan-crusted everything served in a historic building and priced accordingly.
“Would you like something to drink?” our waitress asks us. She seems nervous; her pen shakes against her notepad. “A bottle of wine, perhaps?”
Wine. Beer. Scotch on the rocks. Hell, I’ll take a shot of Jose Cuervo and the accompanying judgmental looks from the grandparents around us.
“Just water for me,” I say.
“Dionysus” (Short Story) – Linden Avenue, September 2017
While the other gods complained about being stuck outside the city of Danville for the summer, Dionysus silently thanked Zeus for his choice. Sure, at first he’d had his doubts about the neighborhood and its lack of culture—after all, he was an ancient Greek, or at least, he thought of himself that way, and there wasn’t a single winery in sight—but then he had stumbled on two things that made this vacation tolerable.
The first was a girl named Terry, who wore cherry red lipstick and a pin on her apron that said “Bite me.”
The second was the miraculous liquid that Terry served from 6:00 A.M. until 2:00 P.M., Monday through Friday, with exceptions for holidays and smoke breaks.
The true ambrosia.
“The Uncommitted” (Short Story) – Northern Virginia Review, March 2017
Jacob stops at the first concrete stair and pauses, soda can in hand, to inspect one of his late blooming merrybells. The man at the gardening shop had been adamant–merrybells were tough, easy-to-grow plants that even a black-thumbed workaholic could keep alive, not that he was implying that Jacob was a workaholic or black-thumbed, being as they had only just met–and yet the evidence supports a different conclusion. The green stem lists to the right like a fishing line caught in the mouth of a forty pound carp, and the bells themselves, or what remains of them, dangle in spindly bunches. Read more…
“Correcting President Barnes” (Short Story) – Heavy Feather Review, December 2016 – Science Fiction in their #NotMyPresident Issue
We called him The Editor. He arrived from the sky—black briefcase in hand, suit cinched tightly at the neck with a black tie—and after a flawless landing on the roof, entered the building in a few short, purposeful strides. He looked like a man, and if you touched his skin, he would feel like a man, but you wouldn’t touch his skin, or even look him in the eye, if you wanted to survive his editorial hand. Read more…
“I AM The Tule Tree” (Short Story) – Northern Virginia Review, March 2016 – Winner of the Annual Fiction Contest
“This is the day the Lord has made,” the wall tells Abuela as she slowly turns her head. Outside, clouds move in slow, undulating steps, like elephants with their great gray bellies swinging between pillar legs. The sky’s only adornment is the green leaves of the Tule tree, which cannot possibly be planted there, yet blocks the light nonetheless. Perhaps the branches are not Tule, but oak or elm—but how to explain the thick trunk almost as wide as it is tall other than to name it a Montezuma Cypress, a Tule tree? Read more…
“Abroon” (Short Story), Swill Magazine, Spring 2016
Mako wakes to the sound of the phone near his side of the bed. When he picks up he hears the whimpers of Abroon, his eldest son, speaking in an intoxicated combination of English and Somali. Before Mako even opens his eyes his feet are already in his sandals.
“Where are you?” he asks his son, though he already knows it will be the name of a NYPD station where one of the nice guards waits by the door after dialing Abroon’s home number from his thick file. Abroon names his location and begins to cry again. When Mako took his first steps in America and imagined the life his first son would have, it did not involve a gambling ring in fifth grade or a drug ring in seventh, the late night after late night when Abroon returns to his bedroom soaked in substances forbidden by his father’s religion. Read more…
“Father’s on the Other Line” (Short Story)- Ray’s Road Review – December 2014
When Celia’s half-brother, Liam, called her on a Sunday night, Celia answered on the first ring. Liam rarely called, and Celia, a ghost mystery solver, was often otherwise occupied with skeletons, séances, and murders. Read more…
“Baby Girl, Play Your Drum” (Short Story) – Iron Horse Literary Review – December 2014
Even as a baby, I could hear the drums. My daddy says it began with two slightly skewed heart beats, one smaller set echoing the larger: bum-bum-bum-bum, bum-bum-bum-bum, like eighth notes. I say it began in my crib, when I discovered I could beat my hand on the wood laminate and my mother would come running into the room with her hair half-curled and crazy and would lift me up and hold me to her, because that’s the first and only thing I remember. Read more….
“The Floating Feather Cafe” (Short Story) – New Plains Review – Fall 2014
Theodore Mantis, or “Tent” as his friends at the trailer park named him after he hung an army green tent in front of his house, wakes with his cheek pressed against an antique bar table. A jukebox somewhere past his line of vision plays “Sweet Home Alabama,” and over the speaker song, a young man’s voice calls out, “Be there in a minute!”
Tent struggles to raise his head. A string of spit cobwebs his mouth and the table, until he shoos it away with a drunken hand. That’s funny, he thinks as he takes in the black vinyl booths, dim lights, and highway signs nailed up on the walls, he doesn’t recognize this place at all. Read more…
“Raven in the Grass” (Short Story) – Cleaver Magazine – September 2014
A single blade of grass. Long and thin, streaked like the drag of paint left behind by a brush. A singular shade of green, like the color of nothing except itself. Among others it is just a pinpoint in a larger plane, which we see the way a child draws grass, scribbled shape colored in with the nub of a crayon. But up close. Up close, near the nose so that your eyes draw inward and cross, that blade is one entity. Albeit picked and soon to be sun-withered, it is whole. Read more…
“The Whale Moves Forward Into the Storm” (Short Story) – Luna Luna Magazine – August 2014
Next to the speeding car, a smear of paint-brush-streaked stratus clouds follows. The five intersecting strokes form the shape of a large whale, longer and wider than the expanse of farms to her right, and it dips and rises in time to the rush of scenery and the hum of the engine in front of her. She marvels at its beauty like one would admire a real whale from a cruise boat, unable to tear her eyes away from the wave of its long tail as she almost hits a yellow sports car going for some kind of world record. Even the dorsal fin is there, right above the beautiful curve of its back that arches and straightens in an endless flux, pointing up up up into the bright blue sky. Read more…
“Carlos and Sylvia” – Prompt & Circumstance – May 2014
The printed photo of his mother was under a pile of shoes in the back of his grandmother’s closet. The paper was worn at the edges, crimped like his wife’s apple pie crusts, and he spent a few minutes rubbing it smooth over his pant leg before he could read his grandmother’s handwriting: “Janine Juarez, 2009.”
Carlos sat down on his grandmother’s bed, which smelled of her brandy nightcaps and the Bengay she used to rub on her neck before they realized the pain was actually cancer lumping its way through her body, and collapsed into its quilted comfort. He couldn’t decide which was more of a shock: that his mother, Janine, had aged into a sixty year old woman with dyed brown hair and a muffin top, or that she had aged at all, considering she was supposed to be dead. Read more…
“Three Ladies” – Union Station Magazine – January 2014
Marge, Judith, and Tibby spent most of their afternoons on the porch of the house they had shared since 1978 – the year their mutual ex-husband, Jimmy, divorced the last of them. When he had turned his back on his third wife, Tibby, he left her only three items: an expensive apartment in her name, a cat named Wilbur who had been a present to Judith the year before Jimmy met Tibby at the office, and one piece of jewelry she had smartly hidden in a shoe. Read more…
“The Dove” – The Writing Disorder – September 20, 2013
Sara is standing in the kitchen paging through her favorite cook book when the phone rings. The book was an early wedding present from her grandmother, Francine, who somehow knew she would not live to see Sara walk down the white-petaled aisle. The last time Sara saw Franny, her grandmother was cocooned in three crochet blankets, patiently waiting for death to bend down and kiss her cracked lips.
“Aloysius Makes A Friend” – Published in Promptly, Issue 2 Summer 2013 September 2013
Donny’s brother Michael was a geek. Not the kind of geek who is secretly sensitive, like in 80’s movies when a kid gets a makeover and wins over the heart of the head cheerleader, or the kind who does something productive with his smarts, like cure cancer – no, unfortunately Michael was a run-of the-mill, owl-framed, fact-spewing nerd. Read More… Page 24
“Grimwell” – Published in Hogglepot: A Science Fiction and Fantasy Journal September 2013
HFrom behind a curtain of snow comes an old man carrying a heavy bag on his shoulder. Seven street lamps light the block, all black with silver tops like floating ghosts in the blur of snow, and an extended display of white lights chorus behind the lamps in blinks and spurts. The houses, or what can be seen of them by the glow of lights on their windows, are mammoth structures of stucco, brick, and tan siding scattered like grazing buffalo over the streets. On top of each mailbox sits a sloped bookend of six inches of snow, little caps like the adornment of elves, not yet black from the exhaust of one hundred BMWs. Read More …
“Microfiction” – August 2012 Outside In Magazine – Online magazine
Her idea: a romantic picnic dinner in Central Park for their last night in New York. The field is already packed by the time they arrive, but after ten minutes of searching they finally find an open spot and unpack her basket like treasure: pre-sliced bread (12 pieces), a whole watermelon (cut into perfect, bite-sized cubes), vegetable tray, both red and white wine with accompanying plastic cups. In such a large crowd they are invisible, one wild flower in a field; she will miss being able to kiss or yell or cry among them without notice when they are transplanted to suburbia. As the Philharmonic players raise their instruments and begin, a reedy old man in a straw hat stands up among the seated crowd and begins to dance. His swanlike hand movements attract a sea of imitating children who follow him around the field, and later with glow sticks in their hands they remind her of individual stars. -Kelly Jacobson
“Three Minutes and Twenty Seconds” May 2013 Published in The Exhibitionist
“Mr. Magnificent and His Disappearing Act, take one!” Adrien yells as Tom, his best friend, steps into the frame in a black cape and top hat. His eyeliner mustache looks like soot, but it gives him an air of mystery essential for his role. Read More …
“Bradley Dunn” – August 2012 The Exhibitionist – Online magazine
Bradley Dunn tended to pick up and then collect women the way most men buy new video games but keep the old ones in plastic tubs under their beds. As a well-known playwright and director for a prominent theater company in Washington, DC, he was an anomaly to most women he met yet successful enough to create a following of beautiful women around him.
Read More …