Short Fiction

“Red Cedar” in The Rumpus (2023).

A living tree is a dare. Jordan had a favorite, a western red cedar, that lay just a few minutes’ walk into the woods behind his house. It was his favorite because purple streaks shot down its side like scars, or like the stretchmarks that appeared on Jordan’s belly and thighs last year, when he turned twelve. Read more.

“Readings” in the Southern Review (2022).

… In the year she’d been on the DigiSpirits team, Alex had grown accustomed to the online comments from men on each of their episodes. Kevin, Max, and Jason didn’t get them, just Alex. Most were pathetic pleas for attention, praising her lips or her hair and wishing they could meet her—harmless, really, but disconcerting in their consistency… Alex didn’t read the comments anymore. But last week, she’d opened her Twitter to find dozens of mentions from one account, each message spilling out vile scenarios, promises, threats about what would take place in the dark corners of an investigation if he, this man, were on the team, desires to sink his teeth into her body. Read more.

“Anonymous Donor” in Alaska Quarterly Review (2018).

… As some time went by, she stopped protesting, even half-
heartedly, when he threw a package of her favorite fancy
chocolates into their grocery cart when they shopped for dinner
ingredients. She stopped noticing, even, when he brought three
bottles of wine instead of one to their nights in at her place (one to
drink and two to leave “for the house”) – until she caught herself
and made herself notice anew, told him to quit it already, this was
the second time and she didn’t want to have this conversation again. She doubted herself. Read more.

“The Muscle and the Eye” in The Southeast Review (2015).

The gym was like the factory floor to Camilla—mostly women, working the equipment made up of conveyer belts and levers and pulleys, working with this collective compulsion that swirled about in the air like fluffs of cotton, all of them red in the face with either a look of resolve or of strain. Camilla felt a connection with all of them. Their silent striving together felt like the bond of an army corps, but she was also isolated, alienated, contained and cut off by her own ever-inserted earbuds blasting out encouragement and the polite forward stare she adopted so that no other women would feel like she was looking at them with jealousy or contempt. Read more.

“Good Faith,” originally in The Cincinnati Review (2013), anthologized in The O. Henry Prize Stories (2014).

That night, as my rattler filled my palm with its snout, its tongue darting between my fingers, I began to smile as I felt the Holy Spirit coming. Some of the handlers would flail and loll, even as their snakes coiled around them, but I didn’t like that. I kept completely still as the Holy Spirit settled upon me like snow, filling my eyes with whiteness, making everyone and everything around me disappear, bringing down sweet silence. My snake had become a rope of fire that didn’t hurt me to touch, and then the fire melted into me so that I was empty-handed and unafraid. Then I began to melt away too. The Holy Spirit was blotting me out, taking me in. Read more.

“I Know Who Likes You” in the Monkeybicycle podcast (2014).

As a child, your power was immense.  It was silent and invisible to me when I was a child alongside you, but now that I have grown up, it is frightening.  I remember the day that I fell in love with you, which was the first day of kindergarten.  Out of the muddy stewpot of prepubescent memories, this one is clear: walking through the door, shorter than the knob, out of the bottle-green hallway into the red-carpeted classroom, and seeing you sitting on the circle marked in masking tape on the floor.  You had a crew cut from the summer, and through your translucent fuzz of hair I could see a mole on the side of your scalp. Listen and download here.

“Weight Loss” in Used Furniture Review (2012).

When she gets congratulated on her weight loss now, she half-wants to shake people and ask for it back. She looks good. Now her body is good. And that makes her think about bad bodies, and what makes them bad. What makes them bad is that the body is for other people, and they will say to her and show her that it is bad. It colors every single interaction and every single emergence from her doorway. She is the Christmas ham sitting with the other hams in the deep, boxy freezer. There are so many picky shoppers, clutching coupons and assessing her with squeezes. Read more.

“Shapeway” in Monkeybicycle (2012). 

… When I say I’m not concerned about Fred Vincenci, you really do have to believe me. Edie and I have been married for twelve years, and she is severe, and I am the only man on this earth who likes her. And I am fairly certain that I am the only man that she has ever liked, other than maybe her father. Fred Vincenci, if he really knew Edie, wouldn’t like her. That is not really saying anything against Edie. She is just a very strong coffee, a five-alarm chili, and I have the only palate that can enjoy her. I think it is a particular blessing from God that Edie doesn’t like anyone else, and I’m not even talking about love—I am saying that I am lucky that Edie doesn’t even like anybody else, because just to be liked by Edie is something unequaled. Listen to the story here.

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