Of Hair and Beanstalks – William Condon

25 December, being the Birth-day of Isaac Newton, Physicist: Madam, Your stepdaughter has arrived and been installed in the tower chamber, per your instructions. This has already led to the predicted difficulties, as my dinosaurian bulk cannot fit within the narrow tower. When she refused to descend for supper this evening, I was reduced to flying outside her window and poking my face in. I found her combing her long hair, which raises my second …

Sorry, Sorry, Sorry, and I Love You – L’Erin Ogle

The cave sits in a hillside, with its mouth yawed wide open. It is the kind of cave suited for raising the dead. Shadows move across dark spaces as the witch drags the shattered spines of small trees across the entrance. She stacks them high, leaving a small space to wedge herself through. Soon a fire is lit, its dull glow chasing away the lingering shadows. The fire flickers, and smoke curls in ribbons towards …

The Little G-d of Łódź – Evan Marcroft

On September 6, 1939, a Rabbi and Kabbalist named Yitzchok Falk sets fire to the Great Synagogue of Łódź. “The Germans will burn it anyway,” he tells his apprentice they drag a body out of the trunk of his car. “Let it burn without victims, and for a good reason.” The boy, Max, who holds the feet, only nods. They carry the body in and lay it out in the prayer hall. It is a …

Nana Naoko’s Garden – Michael Gardner

I pushed the little girl on the rope swing, guessing she couldn’t be more than seven, knowing she was my mother. The swing groaned as it arced forward, then back, the rope twisting against the bough of the mulberry tree. We were on the periphery of a country garden that surrounded a large, off-white homestead. Beyond the house were barren paddocks — dry grass, sheep, the odd gum tree. I knew this place from Nana …

Combustion – Kai Hudson

Jaxon has just finished doodling Captain Fiero’s victory pose when the math teacher explodes. Students scream as Mrs. Richardson flails back from the chalkboard, body suddenly alight. Her arms and legs make a bright windmill as she stumbles across the room, upsetting the fake plastic skeleton and catching the bookcase on fire. Jaxon shoots to his feet without thinking, grabs his jacket, and runs to her just as she collapses across Hannah’s desk. He’s too …

Familiar in Her Angles – E.A. Brenner

The trees in this part of the Dragonwood are thin and lanky, like growing boys, like her own willowy limbs, but Lina has no interest in the trees, or young men, or the body that conveys her, stomping feet falling where they will. Her thoughts are for the great lizards, those remote majestic beasts sunning themselves on the high rocks jutting from the tree line. She looks up to patches of hot blue sky through …