Clutched by Caroljean Gavin

There are two bald eagles, sitting on a log. One is looking over his shoulder; the other has completely lost his head. I’m eight months pregnant. I want to stick my fingers through the chain-link, soothe down the feathers of the headless bird, “it’s ok sweetheart,” I’ll sing, “Do you remember where you last saw your head?” Tony is clicking behind me, “Is that how they sleep?” he asks out loud to himself, snapping photo after photo of all the raptors in the center. He’s not talking to me, he’s pondering, and he’s practicing with his new camera, practicing taking pictures of wildlife because there’s no telling what kind of creature I’m carrying. Tony’s thinking she’ll be hairy and bouncing, just like him. “Fly birds. Fly!” he calls out, because he needs to be versed in capturing motion. What can I say? There was a limited choice in mates that season. Of course I hope she’ll be more like me. I turn around. I want to see the vultures. I step down hard on a branch crack, crack, cracking it. The headless eagle’s neck feathers ruffle, “It’s ok sweetheart,” I say, “Just the sound of the house settling.”

Two year later a red-tailed hawk hops around the clinic parking lot. Cocks its head in my direction. It’s a beautiful bird. I’m safe. I’m in a car. I’m ok right now. I’m ok enough right now to be handling heavy machinery. But the bird, the hawk, is so big, is so heavy. It should be in the sky. I can’t handle it hopping on the top of a bench, and eyeing the opening of a trash can, like how can it get inside? The doctor said…and later, after dinner, when I’m giving Dani a bath, piling bubbles on her head, she farts into the water and cries. “It’s ok sweetheart,” I say, “Better out than in.” She’ll talk when she’s ready, when she has something to say. “Hey baby, I want to show you something,” but as I’m taking off my sweater, a rubber ducky unicorn catches me in the jaw. Dani laughs, loses her grip, hits her head on the back of the tub and slips into the water. I pick her up, towel her off tuck her in, tuck in her father on the couch again, snoring, remote in his hand, and I pick up all the half naked dolls, all the ground up Cheerios, fix the toilet that keeps running, and then in the kitchen, scrubbing off the dishes, night air swirls over my hands. In between mice, the barred owl asks, “Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you all?” so loud I have to slam the window shut, my wings itching and itching beneath my bra strap.


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Caroljean Gavin’s work is forthcoming in Best Small Fictions 2021 and Milk Candy Review, and has appeared in places such as Barrelhouse, Bending Genres, and Pithead Chapel. She’s the editor of What I Thought of Ain’t Funny, an anthology of short fiction based on the jokes of Mitch Hedberg, published by Malarkey Books. She’s on Twitter @caroljeangavin.

A Song About Dogs by Hugh Behm-Steinberg

We’re in a meeting, a long, tedious, thorough meeting, the sort with breakout groups that never break out, and whoever isn’t paying attention gets the look. You text me a note, “We should be in a band,” and while making it look like I’m paying so much attention I’m actually taking notes, what I’m really doing is typing furiously, over and over, “Oh yeah oh hell yeah!”

I tell you about this guy I know who was terrified of success. Every time one of his bands started to click, he’d panic. The practices would get longer, and then he’d bring in more musicians, singers, dancers, light show dudes, etc. We eventually broke up when he tried to add this fifteen-year-old he met at some rave to play tambourine. “I’m not like that guy,” I say. “What sort of instrument do you play and please let it be drums.”

We practice and practice, recording everything and jamming until we’re able to do the same thing at the same time and then repeat that over and over. We take turns singing. We don’t give our band a name, we’re not ready for that part yet, and our songs aren’t really songs, just repeatable jams, half-spoken ideas, the musical equivalent of first dates that happen to go really well but nobody is saying love just yet.

You say, “There’s something I want to show you, I think you’re going to really like this,” and you take me to the arroyo. The riverbed is still damp, with a solid wet clay smell, and we fill several buckets full of earth, lugging them back to your truck one at a time. In your garage you turn on the heat lamps, but it’s still freezing.

“You still want to do this?” you ask.

When we’re done, after we’re both covered in mud and done shivering by the heat lamps just to dry, and we’re no longer ourselves, we come up with a song, about some dogs jumping through the fog, and how beautiful it is to watch the fog dancing around the dogs, and how the dogs can smell all of this, and their owners can’t, the dogs yipping in the fog, which is so much more than fog, that’s the bridge of our song, we’re still figuring it out. It might take a long time to figure it out, but we’re figuring it out.

The dirt smell underneath us, all around us; it’s durational, it’s so incredibly real, it’s a single note I’m hoping never stops, that it will keep going for days, slowly getting quieter, feeling that way. But when you make the song turn I’m there with you, I have ideas of my own, and somehow it brightens, forming chords. We disappear, our owners left wondering where we are.

This is a song about happiness.


 

headshotsmallHugh Behm-Steinberg’s prose can be found in Tiny Molecules, X-R-A-Y, Joyland, Jellyfish Review, Atticus Review, and PANK. His short story “Taylor Swift” won the 2015 Barthelme Prize from Gulf Coast, and his story “Goodwill” was picked as one of the Wigleaf Top Fifty Very Short Fictions of 2018. A collection of prose poems and microfiction, Animal Children, was published by Nomadic Press in January, 2020. He teaches writing and literature at California College of the Arts.

Something Old, Something New by Lori Sambol Brody

It was all over so quickly. The mumbled vows, the best man’s drunken toast, the broken glass, her princess dress tight around her ribs, her maid-of-honor caught in a bathroom stall with the Rabbi’s son. Her husband smooshed a slice of wedding cake into her mouth, the cake tasting of cloying buttercream. Husband, both a noun and a verb, to use sparingly. He shed his shiny rented tux jacket and danced, arms flung over the shoulders of his groomsmen, sweat stains under his arms and in a semi-circle on his back. Her mother told her friends, He’s a great catch, while the women danced circles around each other. When the groomsmen lifted her up on a straightback chair, she was scared she’d fall, gripped one corner of a yellow-stained handkerchief (the something old) while he held the other. At the Seaside Motel, the clerk leered, This way to paradise. The pushing and pulling, the absurdity of her legs in the air, her something blue painted toenails caught in the strafing headlights of passing cars, his moaning. A rectangle of sunlight from the gap between the heavy curtains creeping over him, clad in only a white shirt and socks, the skin on the back of his thighs goose-pimpling. The mauve polyester bedspread spilled onto the carpet. In middle school, she’d written in sparkling purple pen a new signature on the paper bag cover of her American history book: Mrs. Harry Styles. The hot shameful joy when Mr. Mori saw it and crooned “You Don’t Know You’re Beautiful.” Now, her eyes sticky from sleeping in the mascara she’d applied so carefully the day before.


LSB+photoLori Sambol Brody lives in the mountains of Southern California. Her short fiction has been published in Smokelong Quarterly, Tin House Flash Fridays, New Orleans Review, The Rumpus, and elsewhere. Her stories have been chosen for the Wigleaf Top 50, the Best Small Fictions 2018 and 2019 anthologies, and Best Microfiction 2021.

Stingrays in Captivity by Diane D. Gillette

4:34 A.M. Feinberg Hospital. Room 2524. The room is too hot to sleep. The ice has melted in the cup the nurse brought in a few hours before. I unwrap one of the sponge lollipops they gave me and dip it in the lukewarm cup. I pick up the TV remote with my free hand and flip through channels while I swab the inside of my mouth. I search for something to distract me, so I don’t just down the cup of water, disregarding the doctor’s orders and losing even the small relief the sponge lollipop brings me.

I land on Animal Planet. There’s a show about an aquarium. I’ve been there once. Years ago. I remember standing in a glass cave and watching whale sharks swim above me. I felt so small. My best friend stood next to me. Pregnant with her first. Glowing. Two more babies and some years later, I haven’t been back.

I watch the aquarium staff herd two female stingrays into an elevator tank so they can be taken up for their monthly exam. Wild stingrays mate constantly, holding their eggs inside their mermaid’s purse until the young hatch and burst out into the world to try out the tricky business of survival. As soon as they are gone, mother stingray begins again. Captive stingrays develop ovarian cysts without their constant stream of progeny.

I press my hand to my abdomen, oh so gently. Feel the staples beneath my fingers. Underneath the staples and the skin and the fat rolls is a distinct absence, pulsing, reminding me that my last ovary is gone. There will be no more eggs for me. Nothing to hatch in my mermaid’s purse. I’ll never stand under a whale shark and glow with a new life blooming within me. My cyst was the size of a mango. If it had been a baby, it would have been about 16 weeks along. But it wasn’t.

My mango cyst didn’t want to go. My body, so desperate to keep my reproductive tools, allowed it to reach out with long seaweed fronds, reaching and wrapping, grabbing whatever it could reach. My uterus. My intestines. My abdominal wall. It spent a year tying and knotting itself firmly inside of me. They cut it out of me and then cut me open again to take more. “Whoo, boy, that was a tricky one,” the surgeon told me when the anesthesia faded and the pain crescendoed.

A bloodsucker comes in to stick me for my morning draw. Her name tag says Tisa. I ask her if she knew about the stingrays, about how the lack of babies causes them a life of pain. Tisa says she didn’t. I close my eyes, wait for the pinch. I imagine myself gliding free and cool through the ocean.

 


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Diane D. Gillette’s work has appeared in many literary venues including the Saturday Evening Post, Blackbird, and Middle House Review. Her work is a Best Small Fictions nominee. She lives in Chicago and is a founding member of the Chicago Literary Writers. You can find more of her work at http://www.digillette.com.

Body of Water by S. S. Mandani

The psychic across from the dollar pizza joint on East 6th Street told Rohan he’d die at the age
of eighty-five.

His cousin Navya smiled terrifically in the corner of the room, having just been told she would be unfazed by the negative energy from the men in her life and have a hallmark year. Rohan had known Navya her whole life, since they were babies, and had met her boyfriend. Layla the psychic was, so far, one for one.

An oversized ruffled curtain hid the back of the room, which was clearly Layla’s residence. The smell of cheese puffs and jasmine incense hung in the air.

Layla said Rohan’s chakra was the color yellow outlined in purple. According to the universe, it meant he had lied more than usual that week and felt good about it. She opened the session up for questions. Rohan asked, “How will I die?”

“You will not have a single worry your whole life. Then, at the end, you will be in serious pain, and die as quickly as you existed.”

“But eighty-five years is a pretty long time to exist.”

“For whom?”

“For anyone.”

“Not for a tardigrade or a Greenland shark. Have you ever heard of an Aldabra giant tortoise? The honey mushroom is 8,650 years old. Gran Abuelo. Methuselah. Baobab and sequoia trees. I could go on, but you’re entering twenty-five dollar territory. Eighty-five years is a micro existence. A peanut, kid.”

“I’m not a peanut, and I’m not a tree.”

She sucked on her cigarette. The tar end glowed orange like an ancient Sun, “Tree, you are not. More like tree food.”

Rohan paid Layla twenty dollars before she milked more cosmic currency (the only accepted form of payment the purple pyramid sign listed) out of him, and left the shop. His cousin went to get a late-night seven-dollar burrito.

It was a thirty-two degree winter night. Rohan got a slice of pizza from across the street. He didn’t believe in clairvoyants. He hardly trusted the news to get today right. He called his dad to tell him the age of his predicted death.

“Rohan, why did you do that?”

“What?”

“Psychic. There is no such thing.”

“It’s just for fun, dad.”

“Now you will die at eighty-five. Maybe sooner.” Rohan’s mother yelled in Hinglish in the background.

He took a bite of crust.

“You will be consumed with thoughts of death. Beta, you will not be able to live.”

“Dad.”

“No, I am telling you. They say your great-great-grandfather, dada’s dada, went to a psychic in Mumbai. She said the same thing. He would die at age eighty-five.”

“That was a long life back then. So what?” Chewing, “It’s a long life now.”

“No, no. But then he could not stop thinking about it. He became aimless. The very same day he tripped on a rock and tumbled down the side of a hill into the Mithi River flooded by the monsoons. He couldn’t swim and drowned. It is not the psychic. It is your mind, raja.”

“I think I’ll be fine. You can’t really trip into the Hudson.”

“Do not go swimming anywhere.”

“Where am I going to swim?”

“I am just saying. Do not go to a pool.”

“Okay dad,” hanging up.

Navya appeared with a burrito in hand, wrapped in aluminum foil. They walked home. It snowed.

<>

It rained. The sun shone and the seasons changed. A year passed and Rohan walked back to the psychic on the corner of East 6th Street, but Layla was gone. The storefront had been turned into another pizza shop. He called his dad, recounting the story of the psychic. Again, his dad told him about his great-great-grandfather and how he had drowned, warning him to stay away from pools, rivers, lakes, streams, the ocean. His dad even cautioned him about New York City puddles. But Rohan knew he could not avoid the ocean forever. Someday, he would have to go for a swim. Someday, he would feed the trees, but today a dollar slice of pizza on his walk home would have to do.


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S.S. Mandani is a writer, runner, and coffee person from New York City. His work is featured or forthcoming in New World Writing, X-R-A-Y, No Contact, and others. Equal parts Murakami and Calvino, his novel in progress explores Sufi mysticism to tell the story of how a climate world war brings together a dysfunctional family of jinns spanning a hundred years. It envisions a murky, yet hopeful future. He radios @SuhailMandani.

If Tonight We Sit For Dinner by Abbie Barker

If tonight I stop working early enough to cook dinner, and I pull out the placemats and fill my glass with sparkling water instead of opening another bottle of chardonnay, and we sit together and pray, thanking God for all we have and don’t have, even if it’s hard to thank God for anything since your daddy died, and if tonight we spin noodles around our forks and talk, really talk, maybe I’ll ask about your day and maybe you’ll tell me about that boy Liam you’ve been hanging around with and how he goes through his mother’s drawers and shows you how to flick a lighter and strike a match, how he gave you one of his cousin’s pocket knives and made you swear never to tell your mom about the BB gun he sometimes sneaks from the basement and aims at squirrels, how once he even aimed it at you and said it wouldn’t hurt and you’d be a wuss if it did, how he led you into the garage toward a tall, locked safe and bragged that one day he’d know the combination.

And if tonight you told me about the safe, maybe I wouldn’t scream that I never want to see a knife in your hand—a lighter, a match­—because those things lead to worse things and boys your age shouldn’t touch anything that can slice/scorch/combust. Maybe I’d look at you, really look at you, and see your daddy in those eyes, in that smirk, in every alarming impulse I’ve failed to suppress, and maybe I wouldn’t turn away in fear/shame/grief, and instead I could tell you everything I know about friendship and loss, even if most of what I know is loss—even if it would be easier on you, better, if your daddy were here to guide you through boyhood instead of me.

And if tonight I tuck you in, whisper a bedtime story, even after you shrug me away, even after you say you’re too old, and if I linger until you fall asleep, and say more prayers, even if I don’t know what to pray for anymore, even if all my pleading can’t bring your daddy back or make it so he never turned down that icy road after a too-long day, after a too-long stop at the bar, and if tonight I don’t pour a third glass of wine or fall asleep on the couch, if tonight I don’t leave you to brush your teeth and find your way into bed alone because even your clammy hand on my cheek won’t wake me, and if tonight, I tell you that I love you and I love you and I love you no matter what…

Then tomorrow will you walk straight home after school instead of following Liam up his driveway and into his garage toward the tall safe, the one that this time will unlock, even if his father swears, really swears, he’s the only one that can open it? Or tomorrow will I listen to Liam’s father say that someone else must have opened it, that the lock must be defective, that there must be somebody he can sue? Will I listen and listen and listen until it’s no one’s fault, and I’m the only one left to blame?


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Abbie Barker lives with her husband and two kids in New Hampshire. Her flash fiction has appeared in Hobart, Monkeybicycle, Atticus Review, Gone Lawn, Cease, Cows, and others. She teaches creative writing and is a reader for Fractured Lit. You can find her on Twitter @AbbieMBarker.

A Predictable Nature by Tommy Dean

Rotting crab apples stuck sickly to her feet as she danced under the umbrella of the clustering leaves. Her parents’ voices crashed like waves on the beach followed by the low sizzle of water raking across the sand. She went to the ocean once. Santa Monica Pier, where they stood on the edge of a crowd, trapeze performers twisting into tight body rolls, her own tongue corkscrewing to keep herself from gasping as they appeared to fall only to be caught by a strong arm.

From this spot on the farm, the chickens clucking over the spilled feed along the gravel drive, the ocean, the sun, the waves were as lost as her mother’s ring. The diamond smaller than a corn kernel, bobbed on the girl’s thumb, sunlight stratifying across the upturned leaves. She quite enjoyed being the cause of their mystery, their shouted responses. At least they were talking. So many dinners her father ate over the sink; her mother waiting for a mumbled thanks as she made another endless grocery list.

The smell of sun, a mixture of water-soaked wood and excitement. The thrill of crowding voices rushed away by the wind scooping through the valley of unplanted fields carrying along the uninvited smell of manure. She promised herself she would return the ring soon, but she hated to confess. She didn’t know the word ransom, but she thought maybe she could get them to agree to a trade.

Anything to stand in the gap between sky and sea again.

She braced her feet against the base of the petite tree, her hands clutching the rough branch. She arched her neck, oak brown hair fanning down like foliage.

She’ll hold on until her father comes, his shadow a promise, daring him to catch her.


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Tommy Dean lives in Indiana with his wife and two children. He is the author of the forthcoming flash fiction chapbook entitled Covenants from ELJ Editions. He is the Editor at Fractured Lit. He has been previously published in the BULL Magazine, The MacGuffin, The Lascaux Review, New World Writing, Pithead Chapel, and New Flash Fiction Review. His story “You’ve Stopped” was included in Best Microfiction 2019 and 2020 and the Best Small Fiction 2019. He won the 2019 Lascaux Prize in Short Fiction. Find him @TommyDeanWriter.

The Editorial Says College Girls Should Just Stop Getting Drunk by Emily Banks

And when I peed on the floor at Pi Lam, I assured my friends it was fine because it was the study
room and no one goes in there. That’s what Sam said. He’d gone to find a condom and I’d already
undressed. At least I was being responsible—with the condom, I mean. I thought Sam looked like Rahm Emmanuel, who was Obama’s Chief of Staff then and made headlines for accosting Eric Massa naked in the congressional gym’s locker room to pass the universal health care bill. In a New York Times profile, he bragged his office was bigger than Joe Biden’s.

I’d met Sam during my brief stint as a reporter for the campus newspaper. He was the campaign manager for a Student Body President candidate doomed to lose. The candidate was hot so I primarily watched him at the debate I was supposed to cover and said yes when he offered me a ride back to my dorm, though it was only a five minute walk. Then Sam was talking from the passenger seat, fast and direct, hyped up on political adrenaline. His mother was from Brooklyn like me and he sang “Brooklyn Girls” by Charles Hamilton to me and I asked for his number under the pretense of future journalistic inquiry. My ethics were questionable, certainly.

That night I was out with a boy I loved who had a French girlfriend and his friend who looked like a bird of prey when I texted Sam, calling him Rahm, to offer him the newspaper’s endorsement in exchange for a good time though in reality I had no say over the endorsement. On a couch in the Pi Lam basement he asked why I was wearing a sweatshirt to a party so I took it off, revealing a v-neck tee, and he slid closer to me. I peed on carpet so it soaked up quickly. I don’t remember what the sex felt like. Mostly I remember walking out into the night, leaving the house aglow with its red cups, its lingering odor of sweat and Everclear, behind me as I tripped dancingly down West Cameron, proud the way a dog might be after peeing on a grand old tree. Here’s what I want: for all girls to be free.


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Emily Banks is the author of Mother Water (Lynx House Press, 2020). Her poems have appeared in 32 Poems, Heavy Feather Review, Bear Review, The Cortland Review, Superstition Review, and other journals. She received her MFA from the University of Maryland and currently lives in Atlanta, where she is a doctoral candidate at Emory University.

Zombies in the Bosque by Becca Yenser

You don’t want to park at the end of the trail where glass is smashed upon the pavement
twinkling like the presents you wish you could afford, but there is no point in parking in the
islands between the lanes where the New Mexican drivers try to stay within the lines. Up here
the air sparkles a bit too much, gets into your lungs but puffs out like glitter.

You don’t want to walk to the second duck pond, or even the first one, but the woman
you might love said she’d be waiting in the blind. You picture her now, her hair blending in with
the dying grasses while the oily black ducks dive beneath the surface of the water. They make
other-earthly noises as they fly overhead.

You walk by the tree where a man was nailed to the trunk through the backs of his hands.
He had just gotten off work and was still carrying his briefcase when he decided to walk between
the tall white cottonwoods. Rio Grande cottonwoods have been growing in the Bosque for more
than a million years. The path was between the main gravel trail and the river. You saw his
hands in the newspapers, and yeah, there were two black holes the size of pupils in the hearts of
his palms. They called themselves ‘Bosque Zombies,’ he was quoted as saying.

You walk up a short hill to where the water almost meets your shoe. The black diving
ducks are pochards, sea ducks that made their way South in the fall. ‘Pochard’ sounds like a bad
word, she’d said, the bruises on her thighs yellow in the middle like split peaches.

In the blind is the shadow of a woman. A group of young men come around the pond
from behind. Their hoods are up. They are silent. A pale middle-aged woman walks among
them, in the middle, and she looks scared. She gives you a Wal-Mart smile. The woman you
thought you loved might or might not be in the blind. Give me everything you have, she might
say, and you will lift your palms to the sky.


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Becca Yenser has an MFA in Creative Writing from Wichita State University. They are the author of the chapbook Too High and Too Blue In New Mexico (Dancing Girl Press, 2018). Their writing appears in Hobart, The Nervous Breakdown, Heavy Feather Review, Madcap Review, and elsewhere. Grief Lottery, their creative nonfiction flash collection, is forthcoming from ELJ Editions in December 2021. Find them on Twitter @beccayenser.

Beginnings by Anu Kandikuppa

She watches the weathered hands of the proprietor pour the ghee into the bottle and slap a label on it: Gowardhan Desi Cow Ghee, Since 1947. An inch of golden liquid over grainy goodness in the heat of Hyderabad, it would turn into a yellow cake in Chicago, yield to the pressure of her spoon. A spoonful a day in hot dal for her daughter Meena, through her to the baby.

The bottle grows in her mother-hands: trussed in pages of the Indian Express plastered with pictures of body bags and hospitals—bleak world for new life—then bubble-wrapped, tied with twine, bundled in a sari, and tucked in a suitcase. Joined there by papery methi-stuffed parathas, and packets of pomegranate seeds and dry red chillies, the heat and goodness of the country sealed into their powdery bodies. A bottle of hing snuggles in a brassiere cup, a baggie of ginger frolics in the blouses, plastic-sheathed parathas glint between saris, a serene green-flecked sea.

The baby is a girl, third in a line of women, starting with the mother. As blood thinned, so would ill-luck—that was the hope. The mother’s: a bad heart laced up with metal, early widowhood. And Meena, a sickly Lactogen baby—grief and stress had seen to it. Beginnings matter. She pushed away mother-made food, stood stock-still in pillowy mother-embraces, fled at eighteen to America, where she ate fries and burgers and pizza and ruined the lining of her stomach. Can’t eat wheat or rice or onions, she said on distant, infrequent calls. Can’t feed myself, couldn’t feed a baby, can’t have one. There went the mother’s second chance.

Anyone would think she was traveling. In truth, suitcase, mother, chillies, all were in service of the ghee—they were henchmen to the ghee—the ghee rich in butyric acid, a short-chain fatty acid that stimulates the secretion of gastric juices and aids in better digestion and smooth bowel movements, which is very important in new mothers, and, in addition, increases vitamin absorbency thereby strengthening the immune system. Her keen mother-eyes had read the words in a doctor’s office, her mother-mind memorized them. Three lemons, skin cratered like the moon, and several sprigs of curry leaves, flawless in their geometry, lurk in her hand baggage as do twists of turmeric root, to be ruthlessly boiled in water and honey for Meena. At the last minute, she thrusts in her suitcase small packs of basmati rice, yellow lentils, and dried chickpeas, her shoulders heaving with relief at having remembered.

Pokerfaced, she tells the uniformed man at O’Hare that she carried nothing, nothing at all. Masked, shielded, camouflaged, Mother and ghee roll through the green channel and into Chicago. The ground shakes, the city quakes beneath her mother-step. Then she’s with the American Meena married—enabler of the surprise baby—who twangs away at her. What is in her bag, why is it so heavy? “Gee? There’s gee in Chicago,” he says. “G-h-e-e. G-H,” she sighs. The cows were not the same, the hump made all the difference, research had shown. He starts talking about the flavored gees in Stop & Shop. She stops listening and stares at the traffic.

Then Meena, after fifteen years, sallow and rotund. “I don’t know why you came,” she says, clueless about mother-might. One sweep of her arm and out go the ketchup, the peanut butter, the mayonnaise. By evening they are sitting down to a meal, Meena, the baby, and the ghee.


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Anu Kandikuppa’s flash fiction has appeared in Gone Lawn, Jellyfish Review, and The Cincinnati Review, and her short stories and essays appear in Colorado Review, Epiphany, Michigan Quarterly Review, The Rumpus, and other journals. Her work has received Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net, and Best Microfiction nominations. Among other degrees, Anu holds an MFA from the Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. She worked as an economics consultant in a former life and lives in Boston.