When He Calls – published by Across the Margin

Check out my short story When He Calls, published by Across the Margin. Here’s a brief excerpt:

Later, in a dream, a shadowy figure hovered over her, reaching down with his large, calloused hands. She didn’t push him away as he started choking her, nor did she struggle. Everything would be ok if she just closed her eyes and waited. She could feel herself floating off, to some quieter place. When she opened her eyes, she saw it was early morning, still dark out. Knowing she’d never get back to sleep, she got up to start the day, humming to herself as she went from task to task. In the bathroom, she paused to look at herself in the mirror. Staring at her throat, she wondered how long it would take to lose consciousness if someone squeezed it hard enough.

Click here to read the full story. Enjoy!

Inside – published by Welter

Check out my flash fiction piece Inside, published by Welter, Fall 2022. Here’s a brief excerpt:

With their bodies intertwined, beads of sweat drip down her face and sting her eyes, blurring the world beyond as she reaches out, desperate to catch a hold of something.  The full weight of his body presses down, hard enough to crush her.  When he pulls back, she can breathe again, but then he pushes against her, harder and harder.  One second she’s suffocating, the next she’s gulping down the rush of air, exhilarated by the fact that it can be taken away, so easily.

Click here to read the full story. Enjoy!

First Memory – published by Dead Skunk

Check out my flash fiction piece First Memory, published by Dead Skunk (Issue 2). Here’s a brief excerpt from my story:

This is what Hell is like, my father warns, stirring the embers inside our wood stove.  Lined up like dolls before him, my two older sisters and I wait for whatever comes next, afraid to take our eyes from the fire. The rising heat stings my baby-soft skin. I am still a baby, basically; small and wobbly on my feet, my hair is wispy and blonde, my cheeks are round and chubby, my world is the little red house we call home. Somehow, I grow up after all of this, tall and thin just like him. The son he always wanted, or so he thought.

Click here to read the full story. And check out all the other wonderful things Dead Skunk has to offer!

Stepping on Bees – published by Litro Magazine

My short story ‘Stepping on Bees’ was recently published by Litro Magazine.  Click on this link to read it now!  Here’s a brief excerpt:

I never believed in miracles until I witnessed one in the summer of 1989. Back then, my granny was always going on about how the end times were upon us while my mother said we should focus on the miracles that were all around. They both claimed I’d see the truth for myself if I bothered paying attention. I didn’t believe either one of them, really. But then I met the boy.

Click here to read the full story.  And let me know what you think in the comments below!

Last Night – published by Weasel Press

My flash fiction piece ‘Last Night’ appears in volume three of Weasel Press‘s anthology series Ordinary Madness.

Follow this link to open the pdf of the issue now. You’ll have to scroll through to find my story. Here’s a brief excerpt:

Last night, as my mother and I cleaned the dishes at the kitchen sink, my father paced back and forth behind us, biding his time. Each time one of his boots hit the floor in the living room, the sound vibrated across the house, warning us.

To read the full story, click here. Or, check out the Ordinary Madness anthology series – my story ‘Last Night’ appears in volume three. Let me know what you think in the comments below!

The Waiting Fire – now available online!

My short story “The Waiting Fire” is now available to read online. It was published in the 2019 edition of Slippery Elm – they’ve added the entire issue to their web archive. Follow this link to read the story now! Below is a brief excerpt:

This can’t be happening. I feel the colors draining from my body, leaving nothing behind but an outline of what might have been. I can’t feel my heart, I can’t find my next breath. I’m lost in a world burning bright. All I can see are the flames eating my house.

To read the entire story, click on this link now. Let me know what you think in the comments below!

Flecks of Red Paint – published by The Lumiere Review

My short story ‘Flecks of Red Paint’ was just published in The Lumiere Review‘s special Advocacy issue. In the story, a young boy fantasizes about how he might kill his father. It’s unclear just how serious he is until the end.

Follow this link to read the story now. Here’s a brief excerpt:

With my right hand, I scratch along the side of the house, scraping away tiny red flecks of paint, some of which get stuck beneath my fingernails. The further I drag my hand, the more it hurts. I stare down at my stained fingertips, thinking back to that day I helped my father paint the house. Even then, I was tempted to shake things up. What if I didn’t hold the ladder so tightly? What if I shook it, making him fall?

To read the full story, click here. And make sure to tell me what you think in the comments below. Enjoy!

Follow Me – published by The Manifest-Station

My short story ‘Follow Me’ was just published by The Manifest-Station. I really had fun playing with surreal elements while writing this story, which focuses on a young couple who are haunted by increasingly bizarre episodes of sleepwalking each night.

Click here to read the full story now! Here’s a brief excerpt:

The hot, wet tears falling down her face released the immense pressure that had been building inside her head. She calmed down, pulling herself off the floor to sit on the bed. She stared down at his leg still sticking out and felt a sudden urge to kick him, hard. That small flicker of rage disappeared before it could grow into something dangerous. I love you, she whispered, no matter what you decide. 

Follow this link to read the full story. And let me know what you think in the comments below. Enjoy!

Winking and Blinking – published by Stoneboat Literary Journal

My short story “Winking and Blinking” was just published by Stoneboat Literary Journal (Issue 10.2, Summer 2020). It’s a beautiful journal with lots of great prose, poetry, and visual art. Check out their website for a full list of contributors and information on ordering your copy today! Below is a short excerpt from my story:

The woman I lived next door to as a child just shot herself in the head. The news is passed along like the latest bit of juicy small-town gossip. I imagine my mother telling her friends at the beauty parlor, exaggerating her connection to the tragedy. When I hear the woman’s name, I drop the phone, barely managing to catch it before it hits the floor. I pull it back to my ear, to the sound of my mother rambling on. Typical of these Sunday night calls to check in, she’s already moved on to something else, hitting each bullet point of our mostly one-sided conversation. She likes keeping me updated, but not a lot happens back home, especially in the span of just one week. She keeps talking, but I can’t hear anything after that first piece of information. Something finally happened ..

To read the full story, order your copy today! Please enjoy, and let me know what you think of “Winking and Blinking” in the comments below.

Quarantine and Read: My Review of Samanta Schweblin’s novel ‘Little Eyes’

Samanta Schweblin’s novel Little Eyes might be the perfect book for our new Quarantine Times. Translated from the Spanish by Megan McDowell, the story feels eerily prescient in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. It takes place in a not-so-distant future where people connect virtually through a deceptively simple toy-like device known as a kentuki. Many of the users feel isolated in some way, looking to use this new virtual reality as a means of escape from their actual surroundings. If, like me, you’ve been cooped up for months in light of COVID-19, you might find yourself wishing they were real, if for nothing else but a fun distraction.

But, as the novel progresses and the underlying horrors play out, you’ll  be glad this is a work of fiction.

Kentukis are basically stuffed animals that have wheels, allowing them to move around freely; there are various types you can get, like a cute rabbit, a crow, a mole, or a dragon. Inside, there’s a “dweller” who controls the kentuki and sees everything through the animal’s little eyes. If you own a kentuki, you’re known as a “keeper” and typically treat the device as a high-tech pet. Each device has only one life, much like a real pet. It must be charged regularly or the connection is lost. Also, a dweller can disconnect at any time, which leaves the kentuki lifeless, meaning you can’t reboot and try again. Likewise, a keeper can’t disconnect the device and try again if they’re not happy with the dweller for some reason.

Schweblin presents the story through a series of vignettes, each involving different characters from across the globe. Some are dwellers, some are keepers. There are a few characters we return to again and again while others are relegated to only one chapter. The format makes the book highly readable once you get into its flow.

As a dweller, you get to watch someone go about their daily life, often on the opposite side of the world. There are different reasons why some choose to be a dweller as opposed to a keeper, but most jump into the kentuki relationship without thinking about potential consequences – just who is the person behind the little eyes? And how much does the keeper want to know the answer? As with other virtual connections, we often don’t really know what’s on the other end, which adds to the underlying tension through Schweblin’s book.

Some of the kentuki adventures are light and rather harmless – a young boy in Antigua mourning the loss of his mother secretly resides as a dweller inside a dragon much further north; he becomes obsessed with using his dragon to touch snow. An older woman in Peru who misses her son dwells in a cute rabbit kentuki in Germany; she quickly becomes attached to her keeper, but the relationship takes strange turns when the keeper’s lover intrudes.

Perhaps the most interesting keeper/dweller relationship concerns Alina who’s spending time at an artists’ residence in Mexico. Her artist boyfriend is preparing for a show, leaving her alone much of the time. Bored and on a whim, she buys a crow kentuki but remains intent on keeping the relationship as anonymous as possible. She fantasizes about who might be controlling the little crow, but she wants to treat the device as nothing more than a pet. Her behavior towards the kentuki gets stranger and stranger as she feels more and more isolated in the real world. Her story arc carries the novel forward and ends with a disturbing twist.

Little Eyes is perhaps not as creepy as Schweblin’s excellent first novel (to be translated into English) Fever Dream, but it’s just as compelling. I had a hard time putting it down and even had a dream about kentukis one night. I woke up disappointed that they’re not real – but, after shaking off the grogginess, I felt relieved that these strange little creatures don’t exist.

Not yet, anyway.