Nowadays, we travel without leaving our screens. We’re in Syria, Washington, Nepal, Louisville, London. We’re in Lexington, Beirut, Antarctica. We’re in other people’s lives, at a moment’s notice, then back again in our own—a few swipes and clicks.
The work of a fiction writer is to make us feel these places. The smell and texture. The weight of memory, of strangeness. From the damp streets of Leeds to the sunbaked beaches of Mexico, it doesn’t matter where we end up on the page—just that we arrive.
Place can also be a body. It can be the discovery of something new within us. It can be the back of a van, the interior of a classic car, the feeling of floating in water; it can be the drainpipe we climb down to get away from home—or the drainpipe we climb back up.
Often, it’s the change in our perspective.
Welcome to the May issue.
Featured Writer: Estela Gonzalez
“At her chest, she seeks the protuberances Luisa just lectured her on. And today there is something new! A tenderness, like the sunburnt rawness on your lips after a day at the beach. That lightning bolt connecting her little chest to the rest of her body’s topography” – Estela Gonzalez, ‘La Perla del Pacifico’
In her short story, “La Perla del Pacifico,” Estela Gonzalez invites the reader to take a sensuous journey into Mexico and memory. This piece is alive with gorgeous details—and at its heart a yearning for discovery or rediscovery. In my interview with her, she discusses migration and displacement, and how we can never really leave the places we have left behind.
Featured Writer: Nod Ghosh
“El pulled her coat tight across her chest, and listened for telltale signs of activity from the dormant fairground. The Woodhouse Feast. The fair's name conjured up images of confectionary, the promise of something light and delicious. At that late hour, it nestled in the damp autumnal air like a cluster of dead fireflies” – Nod Ghosh, ‘Wrangthorn Avenue’
Nod Ghosh knocks this story and interview out of the park—then keeps chasing it down the road with a bat, just to be on the safe side. In her interview, we find out where flatulence-resistant underwear was invented. We learn the subtle difference between Mind Fuck and Find Fuck, and discover the sea creatures that look like “anatomically accurate representations of female genitalia.” Basically, we fall in love with this quirky-brilliant writer from India/the Black Country/Yorkshire/New Zealand (delete as appropriate).
“Mookie hadn’t been submerged long, just enough to feel two more hands pushing—and to see how being underwater will distort even the most familiar faces” – Lynn Mundell, ‘Hands’
Lynn Mundell’s micro fiction is something else. She cuts into scenes with a flourish, leaves us dazzled for a minute. She knows we like to laugh. She also knows we’re keen on a bit of funny, but not necessarily the laughing kind. With three hundred words, she makes sure we end up—like the characters in “Candy Cigarettes”—in a cage wearing werewolf costumes.
Sheldon Lee Compton
“She stopped smiling then. Her eyebrows pulled down toward the bridge of her nose the way they did when she worried and she put a hand on her back, felt the oldbones there. We all did the same in different ways, different bones” – Sheldon Lee Compton, ‘Oldbones’
Sheldon Lee Compton is a prolific writer and editor, with stories and poems all over the shop. He presents two flash stories here—each one buzzing with his trademark prose, set deep within the heartland of America. The effortless way he turns an ordinary scene into a moment of psychic illumination is what draws me time and again to his writing, and in “Persistence” and “Oldbones,” Sheldon does it so evocatively. Enjoy!
“The room was black as coffee, the moon milking in through windows until the moment was not too bitter to stomach” – Micaela Camacho-Tenreiro, ‘Cemetery’
When I discovered this story in the submission queue, it floored me. What’s more thrilling is that Micaela is usually a spoken word poet and she sent this flash fiction out on a whim, her first prose publication. Two characters and a room and one hundred words. A killer last line. No more needed.