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Fiction: 2020s

Fiction of the Day

Trial Run

By Zach Williams


I pitched through the lobby door and then, as I caught my breath, stood looking back at the storm. It was bad out there. The city had been reduced to dim outlines and floating lights; snow moved down Nineteenth Street in waves. I beat it from my hat and coat, knocked my boots together. Under those high ceilings, each sound reverberated. Only the emergency lights were on, there was no one at the front desk, all the elevators in the bank sat open and waiting. And in a fit of hope, I thought there might not be, in all the building, even one other soul.

Though I hadn’t hit that button, the elevator stopped on nine: silence, nothing but cubicles in the faint light of an alarm panel. When the doors slid open again on fourteen I saw Manny Mintauro, our security guard, like a stone slab behind his podium. Half his face was in shadow. My heart fell at the sight of him.

“Sup, bro,” he said, deep and grave.  

The elevator doors closed behind me. “Hey, Manny.” Snow dropped from my jeans onto the carpet. “Thought it might just be me today.

I Feel It

By Paul Dalla Rosa

In Majorca, jet-lagged at the airport, Nathan bought a one-liter bottle of Tanqueray, and then, after an hour’s drive, their van stopping in a small, possibly medieval town, a second bottle of gin, soda water, limes. They drove farther, another half hour, the sea beside them, before reaching the house. The house was isolated, far from town, on the side of a cliff that plunged into water so clear that from the terrace Nathan could see fish swimming at the water’s base.

There was a woman waiting for them. She took them through the house, each room all sparse white walls, wooden beams across the ceiling. She had all seven of them cram into the bathroom, where she demonstrated flushing the toilet. It was how one usually used a toilet. She said, “This is very important. One flush.” The woman lingered, untrusting, then left them keys.

They had rented the house for a week, after which they would fly on to Tel Aviv, arriving on the second day of Pride.

Tomorrows

By Lakiesha Carr

The night, as most nights, was like a dream.

At ten, once I’d fed the dog the last scraps off the stove. Once I’d cursed the cat for scratching up my mama’s antique furniture, then welcomed him back into my arms. Once I’d slicked my hair into a ponytail, wrapping it up tight in my mama’s old, old scarf. Once I’d stayed in the bathtub a lil’ too long, letting the heat of the water do things my husband stopped doing years ago. Once I’d oiled myself down and up and down again with cocoa butter and reached for my housecoat hanging against the door—leopard print and silk—wrapping it around my bloated body, not caring if the water and oil bled through.

Then, soundlessly, I floated out to the garage and had a cigarette alone.

Mostly I listened to the blues. Lightnin’ Hopkins. Bessie Smith. Bobby Womack, if my mama was heavy on my mind, which was most nights. I nursed a lil’ Crown Royal poured thin over crushed ice. I smoked my Virginia Slims, pulling that cool menthol taste to the back of my throat before pushing it out—a thick plume.