Armadillo

So far, I had never encountered angels in the astral plane. There were no celestial bodies setting outside my window, no blue tendrils of light creeping into my cerebrum, jolting me with enlightenment. Personally, I felt the astral plane was a more domestic thing than that, not a small thing, but transcendent, like waking at night from a dream where you’re being devoured by squealing foxes and going to the window to see a dog tied to a post, yapping, like those two things could be the same thing...

The Art of Pipes and Faucets

Drew slipped out of the hospital last week and has been loafing around the neighborhood ever since. I spot him on my way to Pilates. If I’m late again, Diane will have me doing breathing exercises in the corner for an hour “to address your fear of hyperventilating.” This fear she singles me out for is actually acute and specifically involves a fear of acting on a stage or wandering into an improv group by accident where I am instructed to pretend I am someone I am not in a situation I am not in.

Postcards from Alaska

I’m sending you this mosquito to show you how small I feel. A clerk at a corner store mashed his thumb against this one when I asked what card was his favorite—pointed at the photographed guy, a real alpha male, I thought, holding the gun in one hand and the giant mosquito superimposed in the other. But he told me it isn’t the mosquito’s bulk that I have to worry about; it’s their abundance, like a cast of black dots coming over your eyesight the moment before you black out.

Strange Belief

My mom usually asked me to wait int he yard while she performed miracles. Sometimes, she'd come out onto the patio once it was all over, still wearing the purple bathrobe she embellished with sequins and beads, a cigarette wedged in her sturdy potato-stick fingers. The cloud billowed up into the cool vaporous atmosphere, sneaking off with the chimney smoke from the neighbor's house. She'd see me peering at her from the swing set and with her wicked red lipstick mouth she would say: "That's the miracle vapors floating away."

Interview with Micah Dean Hicks, Past Fiction Prize Winner

Our managing editor, Abbie Lahmers, interviewed Micah Dean Hicks, last year’s winner of the Arts & Letters Fiction Prize. His winning story, “The Deer,” can be read in Issue 33. Abbie Lahmers: It seems like you write a lot of magical realism/fabulism, or stories that take place in similar but slightly different universes than our own. How do you navigate world-building and coming up with, for instance, the idea of a deer boy?

The Cormorants

Jack’s wife, Willa, bought a pair of scissors and a book on salon practices at the thrift store around the time they realized there wasn’t going to be a winter that year, and she started cutting the neighbors’ hair—a few dollars for a trim, and free if they let her turn the chair away from the mirror and try out something new. She had her regulars, mostly women, who came to the house one morning a week to have their hair trimmed, washed, or braided.

Sloth and The Places It’ll Take You

Here he was a week after his funeral. Spry as ever and just dingy enough around the edges—salt and pepper, five o’clock shadow, and a holey pair of Dickies—to blend in with the road. Somewhere in the next county over was a ratty sofa bed expecting Dale, and all he could do was wait for his thumb to pull him there. Sometimes it got too hot to stand, and the sweat dripping to his toes dragged him down to the edge of the highway where he sat on the interstate’s dusty rock garden.
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