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Fiction: 2020s

Fiction of the Day

Trial Run

By Zach Williams


I pitched through the lobby door and then, as I caught my breath, stood looking back at the storm. It was bad out there. The city had been reduced to dim outlines and floating lights; snow moved down Nineteenth Street in waves. I beat it from my hat and coat, knocked my boots together. Under those high ceilings, each sound reverberated. Only the emergency lights were on, there was no one at the front desk, all the elevators in the bank sat open and waiting. And in a fit of hope, I thought there might not be, in all the building, even one other soul.

Though I hadn’t hit that button, the elevator stopped on nine: silence, nothing but cubicles in the faint light of an alarm panel. When the doors slid open again on fourteen I saw Manny Mintauro, our security guard, like a stone slab behind his podium. Half his face was in shadow. My heart fell at the sight of him.

“Sup, bro,” he said, deep and grave.  

The elevator doors closed behind me. “Hey, Manny.” Snow dropped from my jeans onto the carpet. “Thought it might just be me today.

I Feel It

By Paul Dalla Rosa

In Majorca, jet-lagged at the airport, Nathan bought a one-liter bottle of Tanqueray, and then, after an hour’s drive, their van stopping in a small, possibly medieval town, a second bottle of gin, soda water, limes. They drove farther, another half hour, the sea beside them, before reaching the house. The house was isolated, far from town, on the side of a cliff that plunged into water so clear that from the terrace Nathan could see fish swimming at the water’s base.

There was a woman waiting for them. She took them through the house, each room all sparse white walls, wooden beams across the ceiling. She had all seven of them cram into the bathroom, where she demonstrated flushing the toilet. It was how one usually used a toilet. She said, “This is very important. One flush.” The woman lingered, untrusting, then left them keys.

They had rented the house for a week, after which they would fly on to Tel Aviv, arriving on the second day of Pride.

Tomorrows

By Lakiesha Carr

The night, as most nights, was like a dream.

At ten, once I’d fed the dog the last scraps off the stove. Once I’d cursed the cat for scratching up my mama’s antique furniture, then welcomed him back into my arms. Once I’d slicked my hair into a ponytail, wrapping it up tight in my mama’s old, old scarf. Once I’d stayed in the bathtub a lil’ too long, letting the heat of the water do things my husband stopped doing years ago. Once I’d oiled myself down and up and down again with cocoa butter and reached for my housecoat hanging against the door—leopard print and silk—wrapping it around my bloated body, not caring if the water and oil bled through.

Then, soundlessly, I floated out to the garage and had a cigarette alone.

Mostly I listened to the blues. Lightnin’ Hopkins. Bessie Smith. Bobby Womack, if my mama was heavy on my mind, which was most nights. I nursed a lil’ Crown Royal poured thin over crushed ice. I smoked my Virginia Slims, pulling that cool menthol taste to the back of my throat before pushing it out—a thick plume.

Backsiders

By Kathryn Scanlan

We lived in a poor part of town but we had the greatest entertainment. We had the goldfish ponds, we had Motorcycle Hill, we had the dump and Bicycle Jenny. We made rafts for the creek. We lived off the land.

Down the street was a family who’d moved off the reservation—grandfather and kids and grandkids. The grandkids were our age and we spent a lot of time with them. The grandfather liked to tell me about his religion, his beliefs. I loved his stories and his tales. I called him Grandpa.

The old man—he was very well loved but he liked to drink. His daughter and her husband locked him out of the house when he got drunk. I’d say, Grandpa can stay with us—I’ll sleep in my sister’s room so Grandpa can have mine. So the old man would stay in my room and he’d go home when he sobered up.

This Then Is a Song, We Are Singing

By Sterling HolyWhiteMountain

I
ăamai•o'yii


***this is for all those wicked NDN bros out there up at ONE AM on a FUCKIN TUESDAY who are thinking about doing that thing they thought about doing for a long time but never had the fuckin COURAGE OR NUTS to do every one of you pricks every one of you cocksuckers knows what im about right now specially those bros who are FUCKED UP in that GOOD FUCKIN WAY the way i am right now ho jokes im plum gutdamn sober haha jokes i aint and you know this maaaaaaan i know you are out there right now really wanting to know what is going on in my life so here it is you BITCH that is the purpose of a site like this enit to share what is going on in our lives it is even right there in the button thing “click share you fuckin asshole” so fuck yeah you bet your bottom white man dollar im gonna share what is going on in the life of one WAYNE “FLURRY” WINTER THUNDER JR that guy who is your all time hero class of 15 fkn rulez that one youre always dreaming about the one with THA BIGGEST NUTZ hahaha enittttttttt i jokes i aint a queer quit lookin at my nutz haha also sister and mom and my 72 AUNTIES haha 4real2 im sorry you got to see this but u need to SEE HOW IT REALLY IS with her i know i been telling u for years but now u will “REALLY SEE IT”

and just one more thing there is one thing i really need to say so all those naa-bee-ko-akes i made “friends” with during that one and a half semesters of school in clarkston before i realized i didnt need no white man school to tell me how life is every one of those fuckers can just get off this DICK haha jk jk fuck i love those white men who know everything and are always ready to tell us about us well how about this motherfucker how about i tell YOU something about US hayz im just FUCKIN around this aint even for you but you can listen in bcuz YOUR GONNA ANYWAY ENIT and when its all over with you can go write a paper about it haha i remember how you looked at me “professor hadley” when i told you in class you didnt know what you were even talking about and im telling you again just like i did in your office that one day after you failed me that you dont know nothing about this place you dont know fuckin NOTHIN but there you are gettin paid those good white man dollars to talk about us and tell ndns like ME that you know but i dont know.. and how fucked is that you fuckin bitch so just check this out you want to see something real ima show you what the “REAL REZ” is about and you can write whatever you want just make sure to put my picture next to it but make sure its that one good photo of me from when i was a firefighter two summers ago before i failed that WHITE MAN drug test and found myself in a “difficult situation” haha and yeah i know i didnt do most of the “work” for that class hadley but i dont fuckin care bcuz how does a ndn fail a ndn studies class haha peace out 4 real tho hey..

Brothers and Sisters

By Chetna Maroo

Passing through the hallway on their way out, her sisters tipped their heads in the direction of the statue of the goddess Durga. They did it automatically, almost imperceptibly, and with wide, innocent eyes, like spies letting their handler know they had seen him and he should hold his position. Oma did the same, but with less conviction. It was one of many casual gestures of defiance on the part of the sisters. Their parents, aunts, and grandparents had offered unsatisfactory and conflicting answers to the question of why, since they did not believe in gods, their houses were filled with Hindu icons. Oma disliked it when her sisters interrogated their parents and shot glances at one another waiting for the elders to flounder, but she reluctantly played her part in the rituals her sisters established to confound them. She tipped her head to the goddess and moved along. The goddess both frightened and fascinated her, with her eight weaponized arms and peaceful expression.

Walks

By Caleb Crain

As soon as Farley’s collar was unhooked, he took the nearest, steepest slope down into the dell. By the time he reached the bottom, he was fishtailing a little, his looser back legs having descended slightly faster than his front ones. He fetched up between a black Lab mix named Scout and Scout’s owner. To get between a rival dog and its owner was strategy. Cut off the opposing army from its supply.

“Seen anything good?” Scout’s owner asked.

Jacob was in the habit of bringing his camera to the park, and it was around his neck. “A wasp’s nest, but it’s too high. Did you start that job at the hospital?”

from Infinite Life

By Annie Baker


APPEARING HERE


SOFI, forties, lives in Los Angeles, California
EILEEN, seventies, lives in Wichita, Kansas
ELAINE, sixties, lives in Dublin, New Hampshire
GINNIE, sixties, lives in Rio Vista, California
YVETTE, sixties to seventies, lives in Midland, Michigan


SETTING


The courtyard of a medical clinic two hours north of San Francisco.
Two rows of outdoor chaise longues.
May 2019.


A “/” indicates that the next speaker’s dialogue has begun.

SCENE 13


Everyone is onstage lying on their chairs. Elaine is holding a green juice and Ginnie is reading a Thich Nhat Hanh book.


GINNIE
Here’s a provocative question.


YVETTE
Ready.

We All Fall Down

By McKenzie

They sayed she had gotted a white mans education. She had climbed the jet and flied across the ocean to read abroad. They sayed she had a big house in the big town of Meru. A big house and big car like a Prado that all the rich people driving in town. They sayed she had one children. A boy children that go to big school for rich people. They sayed she had a law degree but all she did was obey the orders of the wardens and pray. She prayed a lot. Some of the times she used to cry small small when she was praying. Some of the times she would kneel down but not that many times. The wardens would beat us when we showed funny behavior. Mange never showed funny behavior. Mange toed the line.

A Summer Party

By Christina Wood

Rosemary looked over the party; her parents and her parents’ friends down below on the sod lawn. Seersucker and espadrilles; white cotton dresses; Brazilian jazz; the costumes of their heyday. They drank beer and Long Island iced tea and white wine punch, a recipe Rosemary’s mother had clipped from a magazine. Two pitchers on the patio table, under the shade of an umbrella, and two more, waiting in the fridge. Ice cubes slugged into the ice chest; smell of window screen like rust. There were Mr. and Mrs. Carson; Mr. and Mrs. Wentz; the Pattersons in matching hibiscus print; Patricia, who cut Rosemary’s hair; Lauren’s father and his nameless new wife.