All tagged Paper Darts Short Fiction Award Finalist

When My Aunt in Guangzhou Bought Sheep’s Placenta and Found a Fetus inside, She Buried It under the Huangpi Tree That Grew in Our Back Yard

— SHORT FICTION AWARD —  A nutrient-rich organ, the placenta, and she probably cooked with it often. Its presence in soup could have restored her life or brightened her skin. She might have added cubes of blood or scraps of liver too, but I’m sure placenta was the star ingredient, the pièce de résistance she built the recipe around.

Dangerous Man

I say, You are a very dangerous man, and he nods and says, It’s true. I am.

I say, Only you can’t be that dangerous, because you wear that cap. And you have eyeliner dripping down your face like black tears and your jeans are so ripped it looks as if your legs are sharp. And if you were a dangerous man, you would attempt to look less dangerous, in order to better do dangerous things.

The Wrong Sort of Woman

PAPER DARTS SHORT FICTION AWARD WINNER: Men used to be explorers; they used to hike a county over just for ink. Like my favorite Neanderthal with his pat of ocher. He mixed his own paint with animal fat and blew it through hollowed-out bones. He was thinking of posterity—of us—as he tossed hair out of his eyes and inked a row of horses on his wall.


Because bodies couldn’t cross the borders—bodies were unwanted. Bodies had disease and sweat and threatening biceps and strange-tongued languages, needed beds and jobs and maybe even women and lives, meant a future of preexisting bodies diluted by the sweat-flesh-stink-color of new bodies. No bodies. But what was okay, they said (they on the right side of the wall), was brains.

The Bearded Lady

The Bearded Lady has dyed her beard blue and threaded it with pearls and tiny shells. Her hip sails out from behind a wisp of blue voile like the prow of a mahogany ship, and her heavy hair, clasped with silver, lifts almost imperceptibly in the wind.

What Happens Next

a)  Ray up and hits me because I said the bad thing about his girl. As I’m passing out, Ray catches me by the leather lapels and lowers me tenderly to the sticky floor. Basically he tucks me in.                           


Marjorie woke that day with a distinct pain in her right ear—it was someone talking about her—isn’t that what they said? Your ears ring when someone is talking about you? But this wasn’t a ringing—it was a pain, deep. It seemed to radiate from her inner ear to the back of her throat and into the small glands of her neck.

The Sad Decline of the Sideshow

The first thing I thought of when my boyfriend gave his heart to me was this shrunken head my cousin bought at some carnival one summer when we were kids. It had that same creepy, wizened, you know, shrunken quality to it.

Sloth Complex

“Fear me, lowly sloths!” Gary says, though the words sound more like “aroohhroagoaruurrr.” You see, Gary is a sloth. Well, actually he’s a God, having rejected his inherent slothiness for loftier pursuits. Don’t ask him how he knows; he’s not sure. And you probably don't speak sloth. Few people do.

Stuck Landing

“I could see if your mother was at the wheel,” he’d say, a little slower and more nostalgic that time, because our mom was dead, and she had died in a car accident while he was driving. “If I see you boys even touch that strap,” he’d say. We’d inch our hands slowly back down to our sides. “That’s what I thought,” he’d whisper.

Saving Arthur

Both me and Billy love Happy Days. And we both love Fonzie. Before Mom went to the hospital, Billy told her we should name the new baby Fonzie, and she said okay. I stared at her with my mouth hanging open full of pancake, I thought maybe being pregnant made her crazy or deaf.