Monthly Archives: February 2016

What Happened

By Anney Bolgiano


It smelled like Tide Detergent in the upstairs classroom with the direct morning sunlight that made the teacher close the blinds. The light strips cut across our desks. I was sleepy then and I’m sleepy now, and I remember the skinny history teacher, how he gripped the edge of your desk. He was desperate; he said, “You need to know what happened, you need to know what happened,” and you stared, with your mouth shut, and blinked once.

Do you remember the last time they asked us what happened? I remember you pointed, at the wreckage, but you couldn’t open your mouth.


Anney Bolgiano lives in Maryland where she teaches English, knitting, gender studies, and other topics at School for Tomorrow. She holds a BA in English from Guilford College. Her work is published or forthcoming in the Greenleaf Review and Dirty Chai Magazine.

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Omniscience on Route 6

By Sarina Bosco                                                                         

Peacocks make a disturbing sound—almost nightmarish, even in daylight. How strange and tiring to come home and find an exotic animal perched on the gate to the backyard. Out beyond him, the maple with the branch ruptured by lightning and the stand of pines that is too quiet for my taste. I turn instead to the dishes.

Watching him pace the yard later I think it odd that I was aware of her death before he was. They are large animals, not easy to catch, as I discovered during a moment of weakness when I used the rake as a representation of my sympathy.

She was hit across the road from my driveway, in Bob’s front yard. Bob attends church every Sunday and has invited me to the potluck. He has a large white shepherd and a wife who doesn’t leave the house. The female’s body, unlike her noisy mate’s, is an unexciting dun color. I would have missed her if not for the length of her throat exposed on the curb. I wonder if the skin is pimpled the way a chicken’s is, if there is nothing more than meat, really, covering that small fist of a heart.

For two days he roams the area. At night he cries out from my neighbor’s roof, and I remember then—suddenly awake—trying to keep the cigar tree branches flowering in jars, on bookcases, in the windows. The white of them disappearing in the night. For a few days desperate and spreading the blossoms across my thighs. I move to the window to be sure that her body is still there, weighted under the constellations.

I am gone for most of it, but I hear his form weaving through the pines—the sound of his searching lost in the layers of needles. Walking back to the house at twilight I know that he will find her. His small black eye turning and catching the ruffle of feathers. Something will swell in his breast—not hope, but a primitive vibration. A soundless call. He will find her and try to get to her. And in doing so, lose his life.

I know the moment that he has seen her through the passing cars. The dishes need to be washed again.


Sarina Bosco is a chronic New Englander and part-time gardener. When not writing, she can be found pursuing academics, hiking trails, and growing tomatoes. Her work has previously appeared in The Missing Slate, The Cider Press Review, and The Little Patuxent Review

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By Jeff Bakkensen                                                                         

First went the naming rights to the schools. My own alma mater Desert View High School became Boss DigiTech Academy. Our crosstown rivals Arcadia were rebranded Universal Distribution Center. Then Consultative Edited Textbooks were approved, and suddenly Lucy – that’s our daughter – was telling her mommy and me how George Washington wouldn’t have been able to cut down a Lambert SteelStrong™ Cherry Tree or how, definitively, his crossing would have looked captured on a Nikon. That’s a phrase we’ve all started using to mean when something is true to life – captured on a Nikon.

Next the city parks were auctioned off and started charging admission. The art museum was liquidated, as were the instruments of the Symphony Orchestra. Obviously we weren’t going to disarm the police, but we did, for a time, allow advertisers to dress individual policemen at a rate based on arrests per month. Now we’re back to letting them dress themselves.

The City Council wasn’t so daft to miss the symbolism in renting out space in City Hall to corporate pirates, so they sold the building from the foundation up. Some suckers up in Canada bought it lock, stock and barrel, picked it up with half-a-dozen helicopters, and flew it away.

You probably wonder how things got to be this bad, but there’s no easy answer. Some poor decisions were made, to be sure. Monies routed into the wrong hands. Risks taken without heeding the signs. Advice was given and not followed, or followed slavishly. We’re not always sure which.

After the most recent elections, some of our elected leaders finally took responsibility for the mess, and bravely sold themselves into bondage. My neighbor the County Assessor is working off the vig for a Japanese gangster. I’ll never forget the tears in his eyes as he spoke from the steps leading to the toothless spot where City Hall had stood. When he was done, two men in Lycra suits came and stuffed him into a waiting Datsun.

We’ve promised ourselves to be thriftier, and we know this means that certain items will be cut. I just wish they’d kept a few of the garbage men behind when they sent them all to Nicaragua for the picking season. The trash is calf-deep along Alameda Street, and we have to shuffle to avoid breaking bottles on our way down to work. Surely, there is a way to get them back. This is still a free country, after all.                                                                                                                                                     

– Jeff Bakkensen lives in New York with his partner and, someday, a dog. You can find his most recent work in Smokelong Quarterly, The Antigonish Review, and Straylight Literary Magazine.

This piece was originally broadcast on the flash fiction podcast No Extra Words. You can listen to the episode here.

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By Hyl Norman


My daughter comes with three hot dogs and my sandals she fixed, and calls me back to earth. I count the thirty-two beads on the neckline of her shirt. A happy number.

She says, “The boys will be here soon.” She always tells me because I sometimes mistake one of them. His face, I’ve told her. It’s in everything.

“Is it almost the day?” the younger one asks.

I pretend I have to check.

A winter morning. I am twenty-three, prime. He works in the factory, the one across the road from this old house, my station. I have a night job, counting money. I wait in Lot C for him to come away on break. We sit in my rumbling powerful car and fog it up and share a little flask of Hennessy. He leans in to me and whispers that I smell like summertime. His face presses into my neck, molding its shape.

Now I count the squares with glass, then the squares where the panes are missing, the pigeon-holes. They are not in perfect rows. Some are slightly higher or lower or a different size. I count these separately and add them to the total. I begin to suspect before I finish that there will be 151. There are, exactly. A lucky prime. You can put yourself between its halves.

If I smoke a bowl while they cut the grass I can fly up to one of the pigeon-holes and go right into blackness where I will hear his voice. The boys pretend they don’t see.

I sit in one of the two Adirondack chairs he made. Its arms are his arms. When I have been away and come back, the lawn looks inviting with the chairs sinking into it, beautiful but heavy with symbolism, like a cross on a hill.

But there’s no savior. This row of factory housing is falling down. I am the last struggling fly on the windowsill, bodies all around me.

Add three for the stories of this house, five for other men, two for the chairs, one for our child. Add 1995, the year he left, the year the factory closed. Across other work, other men and all the years, reminders persist. Across the road, the peeling paint of the factory wall draws his shape, the big shoulders and bushy hair.

He comes today. He strides across the grass, toes wet and green. I rise to meet him. I am almost floating, big and powerful. And stoned. He is ruined. An eyelid permanently closed. He leans in, drops into the face-shaped hollow of my neck. I stand between the halves of my life, kissing him. Once for every month I’ve remembered to count. A happy number.


Hyl Norman lives in the Midwest. Her writing desk is cluttered with a pile of unpublished novels. Her short fiction has appeared in Midwestern Gothic and an anthology by Cat & Mouse Press. She recently completed a psychological mystery for young adults.  

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