Citizens of the Real World

The woods spat Thomas into a clearing, and there they were: four men, one standing on the frozen lake, the others huddled around a smoking grill. Muffled reggaeton sounded from a portable radio buried halfway in the snow, antenna gamely perked.

The Wire Mother

Let me tell you about my precious son, Harry, who at one time occupied the body of a grown man and went to school where he was hailed as brilliant and ingenious by his peers.


I knew Israelia because she and I came from the same little hometown in Florida, a “podunk” place out in the middle of the state, where a truly beautiful and graceful girl like she was really means something to the whole community because they only come around maybe once in a generation.


The end of this story is when Angela’s best friend from high school, Madeline, is dragged by a bull shark beneath the sunrise-dappled waves and carried out to sea on a riptide.

Amish Girl

The Bird-in-Hand Farmer’s Market is busiest on Saturdays, Anna Lapp’s day to help her mother at Lapp’s Canned Goods. Their stall is in the far right corner, one of about forty surrounding the perimeter of the former warehouse.

Mrs. Dalloway’s Meeting

Mrs. Dalloway said that she would walk to the office herself. For she knew the way; and the secretary already had his work cut out for him, without having to escort her.

Learning French

The American had a heart attack in French class: that’s what they wrote on his chart at the hospital in Carcassonne when they rushed him in. His teacher went along because she knew he could barely speak the language, and right then he couldn’t speak at all.

The Trachtenberg Speed System

An hour before dawn on the day after they shot his friend Tomas Ziniewicz, Jakow Trachtenberg saw through the greasy dormitory window a pigeon tumble to the ground, imperfectly refracted, near the spot where the guard had spilled the day’s soup a month before.

An Assumption

I was alone, on my knees, in my closet-sized bedroom, dutifully running through the rosary, when my prayers were disrupted by that most sensual of pleasures—the aroma of a well-cooked dinner.

The Boy Who Stabbed People

A boy in the neighborhood had become a problem for Rella. For years he had shouted names like “Knucklenose” and “Vat,” names whose significance she could not determine, whenever their paths crossed and he was in the mood.

The Last of the Icemen

I knew a wedding DJ once who claimed he could reorder any space based on the songs he chose to play. It’s all just an algorithm, higher math, the music of the spheres; if you know the right sequence, you can move anybody anywhere.

Ruby Lake

Minus fourteen degrees. The cold has strange effects on the landscape, on the forest and air. It renders the world motionless and silent, brittle. Ice-covered and frosted in snow.