Absurd of a Feather – Amman Sabet

I’m getting a note from my doctor that will keep me out of the pool for gym. It’s not that I can’t swim. Last year I came in third place for breast stroke. This is different. I’m uncomfortable with taking my shirt off now, and I’d rather spend the period studying in the library while the other kids do laps and cannonball into the deep end. “Terrence,” my doctor tells me in his examining room. …

Mean Streak – L’Erin Ogle

The air is dry and brisk, the leaves curled at the edges and hanging limp in shades of red, gold, and brown, dying as the sun edges farther away every day. It’s the kind of day made for hanging witches. That’s what Jasper says, at least. His father’s the law around here. He and his men found an entire coven of them, hunkered down in a house hidden in the forest, acting like they were …

The Bear Wife – Catherine George

The bear wife took the cub to mommy and me yoga. She didn’t look much like a bear without her fur, but somehow the other mothers seemed to sense it; when she came in carrying the cub they shifted away, drifting on their yoga mats closer to the windows, to each other. She was left alone in the middle like a stone dropped into a lake, each woman a wave rippling outward. In tree pose she …

The Soul Farmer’s Daughters – Kyle Kirrin

Thirteen souls flit about in mason jars on the mantle above my workbench. They’re bright—luminescent, even—but they’re not potent enough for the Duke. I glance at the ghostly light flickering within Vella’s abdomen, then pull another stool up next to mine. “Come, sit. I’ve got a surprise for you.” She joins me. “But isn’t—” “He’s still a little ways out. We’ve got time.” Seventeen minutes to be exact, I think, but never say. “Close your …

The Lightkeeper’s Wife – Amelia Dee Mueller

The first time Elsie Frasier tried to murder her husband, the other women of Auskerry called it a pretty meager attempt. Some insisted it might even have been an accident. He had fallen down the last flight of stairs in the couple’s lighthouse and only fractured the smaller bone in his arm. The next time, when he fell from his ladder while painting the kitchen cupboards, was nearly two years later, much too long when …

Snapped Dry, Scraped Clean – Setsu Uzumé

Once the corpse is ready to return to the desert, it falls to me to gather her memories. The house where they fester has good bones, but its guts are in turmoil. A stain that looks like bile has seeped through the floor. That means many hours taking up the boards and hauling them to the firehouse. Hours of exposure. Any strong back can haul for the death carts, but carters can’t do their work …