16 April 2018 ~ 1 Comment

DP FICTION #38B: “Her February Face” by Christie Yant

In her youth the doors to the shrine of Elena’s heart were wide open for all to see. Some kept their hearts in private spaces, secret and hidden, but not Elena. She kept hers in the front room, because what good is a bright heart if it can’t be shared? 

Every morning she polished the shrine, and dressed her heart with fresh flowers that filled the air with the scent of jasmine and violet. She hung small crystals that caught her heart’s light and refracted it into every color, filling the room with rainbows. 

On the wall above her heart Elena kept her collection of smiles. Smiles for celebrations, for sunrises and sunsets, for soft sheets and warm limbs, for surprise and wonder at her extraordinary good fortune. It was an impractical placement; it would make more sense to store them near her vanity, but she liked having them out where visitors could appreciate them and where she could select exactly the right one at the last minute, before she walked out the door.

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16 March 2018 ~ 2 Comments

DP FICTION #37B: “Soft Clay” by Seth Chambers

I wander the Chicago streets unseen. I’m plain, drab, faceless. I’m a shadow drifting through the world of form. It isn’t all bad, being this way. I ghost into theaters and museums and concerts without paying. Guards see me bypass the lines and slip through the doors, but somehow I never quite register.

Being nobody has its perks but now I hunger to be somebody once again, to have a name again. To do this I must find the right man to follow. I wander the Chicago Loop looking for certain telltale signs of pain, longing, emptiness.

We live in a world of grief and so it doesn’t take long to find him. He carries himself with an undefined heaviness and peers through a fog of yesterdays. His emptiness drags me along.

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15 January 2018 ~ 4 Comments

DP FICTION #35B: “Brooklyn Fantasia” by Marcy Arlin

Griffin was an undocumented immigrant griffin from Cardiff, Wales. He lived with Bringer of Dreams, a semi-materialized entity from Albuquerque, and Fossil Leaf, an animate rock, on the first floor of a run-down salt box row house in Vinegar Hill, Brooklyn.

Griffin had golden fur and an emerald beak and was extremely vain about his fingernails. Rumor had it that he had known Richard the Lion-Hearted, but since he had started the rumor, no one believed him.

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01 December 2017 ~ 2 Comments

DP FICTION #34A: “Hakim Vs. the Sweater Curse” by Rachael K. Jones

For our one-year anniversary, my boyfriend Kit gives me a knobbly sweater knit in irregular rows of beige, dark beige, and light beige, studded with white yarn blobs shaped like aborted ponies. The left arm—clearly shorter than the right—is tourniqueted midway by red plastic gift ribbon knotted into a bad bow.

Everything but that arm gently undulates of its own volition like jellyfish tentacles, simultaneously guileless and sinister.

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15 November 2017 ~ 3 Comments

DP FICTION #33B: “Shoots and Ladders” by Charles Payseur

This is a game. There are rules that must be followed. Isn’t that what you told me when you gave me the gun, when you pointed me at the universe and fired? They are easy:
1. There is a reality where you are the winner. Where you never fear and never want and never lose.
2. The gun destroys realities.

Easy. But I didn’t learn until later, until after you were gone and I was alone, what you meant. Because who would believe it from a man you met at a hotel bar, a tired man with a fading glint in his eye who you still took back to your room despite the crazy shit he was saying? Or maybe I slept with you because of the crazy shit you were saying. Maybe that’s why you gave me the gun, because you saw that I was looking for something in you, something I couldn’t explain until you put that cold length of iron in my hand.

You were smiling when I pulled the trigger. Just for laughs, I told myself, just to make sure it wasn’t real, though the voice in the back of my mind was already asking what if? What if? The most dangerous question in the universe. In any universe. Click.

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01 November 2017 ~ 3 Comments

DP FICTION #33A: “When One Door Shuts” by Aimee Ogden

The whole family wants to know when Mia is going to walk through the door, but no one has asked her about it. No one will.

The front door of Mia’s parents’ house is painted emerald green on the outside, off-white on the inside, with a knob contrived to look like real brass. No one has opened it for six months. Mia hates that door, has hated it for its full half-year of disuse. Ever since the front door of every house on the street became a portal into death.

Or a portal to somewhere else, at least. But it’s the dead who walk through from the other side. The Garcias’ stillborn little boy was the first one to come back, crawling through their open door as a fat, cheerful one-year-old. George Bojanek, who died of a heart attack three years ago in May and who was buried in the military cemetery at Fort Custer, strolled through one day. None of them have anything to say about where they’ve been and how they came back, certainly not the one-year-old and not old George and no one in between.

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02 October 2017 ~ 1 Comment

DP FICTION #32A: “Lightning Dance” by Tamlyn Dreaver

Lightning Dance sat next to Willa Bernardi on the side of the road. Rain splattered down around them, damp and uncomfortable, and the heavy smell from the gutter wrapped the air. Dance balanced a cigarette between her gloved fingers; its red tip glowed in the dark street. Somewhere in the distance sirens blared through the city. The police, ambulance, fire brigade: everyone came, and also probably the media.

Dance had pushed her mask up off her face, and without it she looked almost too human. She was beautiful, but faint lines of cynicism marked her mouth and eyes.

Willa huddled further into herself. She tried not to shiver in the chilly air. The rain had plastered her hair to her face. She’d lost her shoes somewhere, and her frozen feet were scratched and muddy. Her blue satin dress, which she’d thought so beautiful — which she’d thought made her beautiful —was ruined, the material stained and torn. Willa stared at her toes and wriggled them.

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15 September 2017 ~ 1 Comment

DP FICTION #31B: “The Entropy of a Small Town” by Thomas K. Carpenter

I gave up the memory of my first kiss to fix the carburetor. It uncoiled from my mind like a constrictor that’d just figured out it was strangling a steaming pot of chicken soup, or the way an unclasped belt loosened and released a pair of tight hipster jeans from some skinny hips, maybe even Osmond’s.

Sitting in the attached garage surrounded by smudged grease, crumpled car parts, and a snot-filled rage that oscillated between “No, I’m fine” and “What the hell does it any of it matter” I pictured that kiss as it slipped free.

It’d been awkwardly delivered by a girl in seventh grade, behind Hamilton Elementary School, where they parked the buses they didn’t have the funds to fix anymore. Her name was Abby Silver. She’d kissed me with open eyes and rubbery lips, and whispered my name, “Phillip?” as she pulled away.

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01 September 2017 ~ 0 Comments

DP FICTION #31A: “Strung” by Xinyi Wang

The red string around Mom’s ankle does not lead to Dad, and Dad doesn’t have a red string at all. But she makes him laugh with his head thrown back, and he makes her smile the way I do at Ria Ruiz, the prettiest and smartest girl in not just my class but the whole first grade—so they must be in love, no matter what the Old Man in the Moon says.

“I hope I’m like you when I’m older,” I whisper one night, as Dad tucks me in.

He smiles and lifts his brows. “Bald?”

I scrunch up my nose. “No. I mean I don’t want a string, like you. I don’t want the Old Man to tell me who to love.”

Dad looks down at his unburdened ankles for so long I nearly fall asleep. Finally, he presses a kiss to my forehead. “Sweet dreams, Weilai.”

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02 June 2017 ~ 2 Comments

DP Fiction #28A: “The Existentialist Men” by Gwendolyn Clare

Kris has a talent for making toast come out perfectly every time. Never burnt. The rest of us yearn for a superpower so practical.

Ryan has incredible parking-space karma, but only after he has already parked. He’ll circle round and round the block, finding nothing and more nothing, and eventually give up and take that one empty space six blocks away. He’ll bundle up against the cold, scarf wrapped all the way up to his chin and hands shoved deep in his coat pockets, and walk the six blocks to the restaurant. And without fail, just as he opens the door, a parking space will open up directly in front. Once, he ran back to his car to move it closer, but the empty space had been claimed by the time he drove there. The parking spaces are taunting him.

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