Two Tigers

Earlier today, Jade’s mother had taken a whole steamed halibut from the selections lined behind the serving glass. She brought it to the table at the corner of the restaurant nearest the bathroom and called her daughter over, separating the fish into two pieces, one for her and one for Jade. Jade had stared at the tender, white meat of the steaming fish against the black bean and ginger sauce, excited for a meal that wasn’t just rice and vegetables.

A Shed Is a Shed Is a Shed

We hike through the woods, looking for any section that’s been miraculously cleared for us. Tennessee’s braid bounces up and down. She lifts her boot and the braid swings up and out and with every step it slams against her back.

Gerd, the Girl with Too Many Arms

She grows up hearing all the rumors about her mother’s death, about how the girl with too many arms forced her way out of the womb with her many hands and split her mother in half. But they have been taking the measure of her since she was a tiny baby, wondering how so many limbs could pass easily out of the same woman, and they have drawn their own conclusions. The girl with too many arms doesn’t think much about it.

Warning

My brother arrives from Chicago with a mustache and a toothache. From a reclined position on our living room couch he enumerates the benefits of being able to walk to the grocery store, the bar, library, to the doctor, the train...

FAY WRAY

There are people who believe they have quills growing beneath their skin, she says. They can feel them. What if I had sharp quills on my knees and elbows, spines on my wrists. I can’t stop thinking about that device they invented in South Africa to punish rapists—it fits inside an orifice and has teeth that tear apart a penis if it penetrates. What if my body could destroy anything that entered it.

Natural Endowments

You are ten years old when you buy your first training bra. They come in 5-packs at the TJ Maxx, and your mother sighs when you plop it into the red basket. The bras are pink and decorated with flowers, something that would normally satisfy you, but the pink is just not the right shade. You buy them anyway and wear one to school on Monday.

Getting Off

He hadn't even touched me yet, nor I him. Which wouldn't have bothered me had I not now been thinking of porn for the last twenty-nine minutes we had been sitting in his car. When we said our fifteenth goodbye, he slipped past peripheral and came into focus. The way he parted my lips with his, almost made me forget about the blaring saxophone.

Una and Coll Are Not Friends

I’m not going to sit in here with Coll. They can’t make me, they just can’t, and they say it’s because I’m distracting but that’s not fair because Coll is distracting too, so why should I have to look at him? Shut away in this wee room together, like we’ve got foot-and-mouth or something. It smells like old porridge and permanent marker in here, and everyone else gets to sit in the big airy hall that’s got windows and radiators that actually wor

Grandma Kat in Outer Space

She had seven daughters, all working single mothers taking care of her twelve granddaughters; the men in our family tended to die young or slink away in the night. We didn’t have time to watch her ourselves and we didn’t have money to pay others of our human disposition. So when they opened the first nursing home on the moon and asked for volunteer residents we signed our matriarch up.

3 Short Stories

The fiddler on the roof has a preexisting condition. He’s been keeping his balance for a thousand years. Apparently, that’s a serious condition. He just wants to see the doctor.

Monument

My mom wanted to be buried under a boulder. It might have been a Jesus thing. Ma was unique, or trying to be. She picked it out years before she died and U-Hauled it onto our lawn herself. After we’d had the thing a few months, I sort of forgot about it. It was nice to sit and lean against for shade in our treeless subdivision, and it had a mostly flat side that you could sort of play wall ball with so long as none of the neighbor kids were stupid enough to miss. After a while, it was more or less a fact of life, and kind of pretty from certain angles.

Nothing But Monsters

I was passing through Fort Dick with a truckload of swine for slaughter, when I made a stop at a roadside diner, Lou’s Steak Shack or something. It wasn’t that long since quarantine, and I was still savoring every last breath of open air, like sea in those parts, settling on the skin.

Foreclosure

Sometimes I drive from downtown Grand Rapids to the suburbs. I like to return to the house I grew up in. At 7767 Hidden Ridge Court, there is a two-story brick home with a white balcony. Hidden Lake Estates is an affluent neighborhood. There is an association. Everyone has the same brown mailbox

Halloween Dads

When the alarms go off, we abandon our children on strangers' porches. Our Tigers, our Big Guys, our Champs watch from behind hollow eyeholes as we flee into the night, screaming and free. They cry out, "Daddy, daddy, wait!"

from Songs for Dead Girls

Zombie Girl can't cook. Can't look at the TV. Can't find the remote for all the singing in her head. The blankets singe against her skin. The thin membrane of her wearing away like a blister at her heel. The real beginning of the story not death, but disengagement. 

What We Expect To See

After snaking one-by-one through narrow passages, we come to what Felix calls a room. We’re sixty feet below Earth’s surface, and he says that this is it. When he turns out the lights, we will experience pure darkness. But first, we must sit, he says, so that we don’t wander and plummet to our deaths.