• Akiko’s Last Fight by Alec Clayton

    Akiko Durant held the women’s welterweight champions for ten years with a record of 86-2-0 until she was finally defeated by Dana Mitchell in a split-decision bout. Mitchell was tall, blonde, and called Dominatrix. At twenty-five, she was twelve years Akiko’s junior. Akiko at thirty-seven, the oldest woman still active in professional boxing, the same age as her hero, Sugar Ray Robinson, when he retired. A gorgeous woman with luscious lips and high cheekbones, and copper toned skin as unblemished as a baby’s cheek despite taking thousands of punches, Akiko was the most celebrated female boxer ever. She and her longtime manager and lover, Jimmy Joe Cranston, were worldwide celebrities…

  • Division by Zero by Christian Carvajal

    “Um…Mrs. Luntz?” Janet dragged her eyes up from People magazine and a serving of indigestible Healthy Choice turkey and dressing. It was 40 past noon in Room 217 of General Lafayette High School, where Janet allowed her students to work on their homework during lunch. The only person in the room besides herself today was Kim Cheever, a college-prep junior who had fallen behind due to basketball practice. “Yes, Kim?” Janet mumbled. She realized she was speaking with her mouth full of stuffing and gulped down a flavorless lump. “How goes it?” “I’ve been trying to figure out these quadratic equations? The ones from section 15.8?” Kim explained, her soprano…

  • Pepita’s Daughter by Daniel J. F. Wolfert

    I.   When Moschata Russet stepped into the Halls of Full Harvest Elementary School, whispers followed like a wind in her wake. “My mommy said that she ate too many carrots.” “That’s stupid, that would give you big eyes and hers are normal.  My daddy says that her papa must have been a squash or something like that.” “My mama says she doesn’t have a Papa.  Her mama grew her from a seed she found in her pocket one day, and that girl just came from the sprout.  Cross my heart, hope to die.” No student seemed willing to speak to her over the matter directly.  Once, however, a small…

  • What We Hide Beneath Our Coats by Christina Butcher

      Senseless and deeply Disappointing, our cities Are draped in gunfire.   The violence hangs across Our shoulders And   We wear it like a two-bit, Woolen coat Hard to shed amidst the rain And the endless pursuit of power And fame   And ‘unavoidable’ we say.

  • KISSMESS! by Jackie Fender

    “KISSMESS!” This “word” is exclaimed several times a day, sometimes half a dozen times in a moment these days by my two year old. She’s a precocious one. Wise beyond what her vibrant baby blues, stubby digits and Shirley Temple curls would lead you to believe. And she has discovered the Christmas spirit. I can’t put my finger on the precise moment this happened, I think perhaps it’s just in her nature. She sings Happy Birthday jubilantly. Greets each of us at the door with pure unadulterated joy. She squeals with delight, as girls are expected to and last year, though tiny, she was enthralled with the dazzling displays at…

  • The Santa Photo by Joshua Swainston

    Two years ago my son, River, was six. Like most children in America, he obsessed about Christmas and it’s bringer of goodies, Santa Claus. He learned about Saint Nick from cartoons, movies, commercials, and other children: an amalgamation of hearsay and commercialism. What my son knew of the Santa was limited. He knew about Santa’s wife, Mrs. Claus, and all of the elves building toys in the North Pole. He knew that Santa brought presents to good boys and girls. River also knew that he was petrified of the jolly old man. That a child may be scared of Santa is not unreasonable. As parents we tell our children to…

  • Dad, Listen by William Turbyfill

    Dad, listen, we need to talk. Look, this isn’t going to be easy for either of us, but it’s a conversation that needs to happen. I’m not going to beat around the bush; you’re not a child so I’m not going to treat you like a child. I’m going to come right out and just say it. Last night, underneath the mistletoe, I saw mommy kissing Santa Claus. I know, I know, I should have been in bed fast asleep, but let’s not lose sight of priorities. It’s true that I was up past bedtime but in doing so, I may have uncovered a scandal far more insidious than mere…

  • An Elfish Endeavor by Alissa Nance

    Kristy’s ears rang with laughter as she returned from her latest interview. A never-ending tune of “You want to be a female Santa?” played in her head. Dragging a red cap from her bag, she threw it onto the coffee table. The hat’s fluffy edges fell across an array of candy cane wrappers, pine scented candles, and frosted sugar cookies. She absentmindedly reached for a cookie. As she bit into a misshapen Christmas tree, green sprinkles dotted her peacoat. With a loud groan, she threw herself onto her couch. Crushed beneath her lay an open newspaper, with “Santa for Hire” printed across the top. The ad was circled in red.…

  • High Caliber Concealer Excerpt by Bethany Maines

    Kaniksu Falls • Tuesday Nikki paused at the four-way stop, considering her options. The problem with taking a road trip to find oneself was that she wasn’t really lost and now she had arrived in Kaniksu Falls and was heartily sick of the company, but still no closer to any decisions. It was 7:30 p.m. on a Tuesday, which meant that her grandmother would be firmly ensconced at the bingo hall for at least another hour. A flash of headlights behind her indicated that she’d taken too much time even by polite Washington standards. She took a left and headed for the tavern sign she could see cycling through a…

  • Captive! by L. Lisa Lawrence

    Early morning mist rising from the ground enveloped the shoddy encampment beneath the gray November sky.   It would rain soon, he could feel it in his bones and smell it on the air.  The ground still hadn’t dried out from the last storm and he was tired of having wet, muddy feet.  At least it hadn’t snowed yet; that was true misery in these conditions. Tomas stretched, joyful for the brief moments of fresh air as he wandered around the exercise yard, turning his face toward where he believed the sun to be hiding behind the clouds.  He stopped to gaze longingly through the well fortified fence at the…