He brought her flowers once every week. Velvety lilacs, pink carnations, red roses, and even lilies wrapped up beautifully in sturdy cellophane, held together by satiny purple ribbons. She accepted them with an unfaltering smile—a smile that crinkled the corners of her eyes and lit up her tiny face—before carefully immersing the stems in a water-filled Japanese vase which adorned a shelf in their living room. She loved them better when they peered at her from boughs, swaying to the rhythms of a spring breeze. A flower plucked from a tree or a vine or a bush was a dead flower in her eyes. And yet she knew the value of her smile and her approval, however insincere, in his eyes.[Read more…] about Flowers
The rain drummed on the glass roof of Glasgow Central Station. A man and a woman dodged through the crowd and entered a dully lit bar. They sat at a table beside a full-length window that looked out on the bustle. Their train to Carlisle was due in twenty minutes.[Read more…] about The Journey
By Suzanne Cushman
When Aunt Anne died at a hundred and one, I inherited her purse. It was the one she carried every day, not a gorgeous designer bag, although she had plenty of those, too. This purse was the size of a small suitcase. The once-dark leather was faded and stained. Anne carried it all the time, even from room to room in her own home. Old family photos show the same bag leaning against young Anne as she sits on the couch watching television in her living room.[Read more…] about Aunt Anne’s Purse
By Artie Kuyper
Asher wrote his suicide note on the back of an unsent love letter. The crumpled and re-crumpled notebook page sat in his bedside drawer beneath his freshman yearbook, bottle of Aleve, and worn paperback of Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe.
“I’m not supposed to feel this way.”
The ink grew smudged as the paper decayed, stained with sweat and tears. If he hadn’t written it himself and memorized every word, he would assume he was staring at an inkblot test.
By Mary Salisbury
Cheap perfume oozed from the Housemoms. Two had taken pains to doll up in flowery dresses for Father Rick’s visit. The head honcho, aka Cactus, had styled her bottle-blonde hair into a halo framing her face.
Three of us girls lived in the shelter with our babies, and we’d been ordered to our rooms. I lingered in the kitchen, but Cactus shooed me away.
The Housemoms acted like they’d never been alone with a man, giggling, twisting their necklaces like rosary beads, as if that’d make him materialize. I hid in the family room, waiting.
He pulled up in an ancient Ford Escort, white paint chipped around the headlights. He smoothed his hair over a bald spot, wearing glasses like John Lennon used to, back in the day. He carried a spiral-bound notebook, the kind I used in school.
By Sarah Schweitzer
We saw nothing. But the dogs did. A wave, a ripple. Something like that. Because they were off like a shot, Buster first, little Maggie behind, pulsing through the field. We didn’t think to call them off because we were distracted. My husband had had a day, and we’d been out trying to walk it off. We were almost to the house, the new spring light fading to crushed violet, when the dogs came trotting back—Buster’s face broken into a tongue-lolling, triumphant smile, Maggie behind, eyes big and scared, pleading, as if to ask: How could a world so wonderful have done this?[Read more…] about Quilled