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Sunday, July 14th, 2019

by W.T. Paterson

It was a silly thing to say, he meant nothing by it really, but his daughter found the idea to be horribly wretched.

“But Dad, I already swallowed a watermelon seed,” Heidi said, her ten-year-old eyes swelling with tears under the late June sun.  The neighborhood barbecue was teeming with people stuffing their faces with juicy hotdogs, sizzling burgers with slices of cold yellow cheese, and cans of soda popping open like an arthritic knuckle.

“Uh oh, Heidi” Louis told her. “Looks like you’re going to have a watermelon grow inside of you.”

Louis should have told her it was a joke, he later realized.  Kids didn’t know any better, but also wasn’t that a bit of the fun?  A single father raising a daughter wasn’t exactly the job he had hoped for, but it was the job he had been handed after his wife Alma had died of an unexpected aneurism on a flight back from London a year ago.  She was the one who had done the bulk of the childcare while Louis was off consulting with growing business on how to create stable employee infrastructures. On days when he was home, more often than not, Louis felt like he was less of a father and more of a casual acquaintance to Heidi, his own daughter.

They had been invited to a neighborhood barbecue after moving out of Chicago and into the suburb of Evanston, Illinois.  Neighbors saw the moving trucks and slipped an invite – a bright green photocopy of the fun details – under their door.  Louis mentioned the party to their therapist who loved the idea and recommended getting back out there, that new friendships were often the key to overcoming tragedy because on the whole, people were welcoming. 

It was true.  An hour into the event and Louis had already gotten the phone number of three separate single mothers and was on his way to a fourth when Heidi butted in slobbering on a piece of watermelon, her lips bright pink and shiny with juice.

“Are we going to do anything for Mom’s birthday?” she asked.  It was an innocent question, they had discussed potentially heading to the cemetery with cake and flowers, but out of context it made Louis look like a dirty dog.  The single mother scoffed, folder her arms across her bosom, and walked away mumbling about how all men were the same.

“Don’t swallow any seeds,” he told Heidi, slightly annoyed. “You don’t want a watermelon to grow in your tum-tum.”

In truth, he felt that Heidi was a little too old to believe that a watermelon would actually grow in her little belly.  She’d already debunked Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy that year when she’d caught Louis in the act as he put sloppily wrapped presents under their Christmas tree, or loudly came clomping into her room with a fistful of singles to slip under her pillow.  But for some reason, the idea of swallowing a seed stuck and the little girl looked as though she’d been handed a death sentence.

Heidi lowered the remaining chunk of melon and rind back towards her small paper plate and placed it on the chipped wooden table beside them.  She placed a hand over her stomach and looked up at Louis.

“I don’t feel well,” she said.

“It’s probably already starting to grow,” Louis joked, looking to see if there were any other women around without husbands that he could schmooze with.  It wasn’t as though he was glad his wife was gone, it actually pained him horribly, severely even.  It was that getting attention from someone new made him feel like he was in high school again where the idea of romance instead of pain was as wild and magical as sitting on the hood of an old beater car watching the sunrise with the captain of the girl’s varsity soccer team.

Heidi rubbed her eyes with the back of her wrist and wandered over to a tree to sit by the gnarled stump in the shade.

“Not feeling well?” a woman asked, walking over holding a silver tray with a pyramid of rice crispy treats.  She had close cropped black hair with angular bangs swooped across her face and tucked behind her right ear.  A low cut maroon v-neck revealed an array of beaded turquoise necklaces against perfectly mocha skin. Gold and silver bracelets dangled off of her arms, one of which had a dream-catcher tattooed just below the crook of the elbow.

“She’s fine,” Louis said.  “Stress of the move.”  He craned his neck to look at the plate of treats and felt the sides of his tongue begin to water.

“Take two,” the woman said.  “I’m Navi.”


Navi held out the shining metal plate while Louis took two squares that were stuck together.  He nodded a quick thanks before shoving the first into his mouth and chewing without closing his lips.  Crumbs sprayed out like sand from the back of a shoe after a day at the beach.  

“So where are you from?” Navi asked.  She placed the tray down on the chipped wooden table and politely sat on the accompanying bench.  Louis instinctively followed.  The day was unusually warm, something more in line with late August than early June.

“Chicago,” he said, licking his fingers of the excess sticky marshmallow.  It reminded him of the time that he had lost his mother before Heidi was born, back when Alma was new to the picture.  Hesitant, he broke the news in an awkward phone call so filled with pain that he could barely keep his thoughts together.

“My mother is gone,” he said, startled by the pain of saying it out loud, let alone to someone he been dating for only a few months.

“Gone how?” Alma asked.

“To get cigarettes, like those dads that go get cigarettes and never come home,” he said, wincing at his own spiraling narrative.  She’s dead, he needed to say.  Just tell her she diedPeople have strokes all of the time.  But the words wouldn’t come.

“That’s weird,” Alma said.  “I didn’t know she smoked.”

Louis thought about smoking, and then imagined his mother getting cremated. It broke something inside. The deep roots of strength that he believed existed at his core were nothing more than seedlings poking through the ground during the first rain of hurricane season.

“I’m not doing this right,” he said, and his throat let loose a primal groan that seemed more appropriate for a zombie movie than a phone call with bad news.

“Oh…Oh lord” Alma gasped, realizing what he was trying to say.  “I’m at a gas station right now, but I’ll come over right away.  Work can do without me for an evening.”

Fifteen minutes later, Alma showed up at Louis’ door with a thin plastic bag bustling with chips, candy bars, ice cream and soda.  Louis fell to his knees and allowed himself to cry, to really accept the loss, and to let Alma see him as the broken man that he always knew he was.

Instead of passing judgment, Alma sat with him on the couch running soft fingers through his hair while the Chicago Blackhawks played on TV.  They ate the junk food together burning through bags of salty chips, gooey chocolate, and fizzy drinks.  They split a rice crispy treat, but as Louis ate his half, he caught Alma watching him.

“Take my half too,” she smiled.  Louis took the piece from Alma’s tender hands. He knew at once that he was deeply, madly, crazy in love and refused to imagine a future without the two of them together.

Now at the barbecue, the June sky hosting cotton candy clouds as a gentle wind skipped across the green grass chasing butterflies, everything began to sink back in.  Life had continued to push forward even as he silently begged for it not to.

“I love Chicago,” Navi said.  “You ever go to Second City?”

“Can I ask you a question?” Louis said, interrupting.  “If a person swallowed a watermelon seed…”

He started to trail off realizing the lunacy of his question.  Navi looked at Heidi who had moved to a different side of the tree.  Neighborhood kids had gathered and were giggling, interested in befriending the new girl.

“My father is Native American,” Navi started.  “He honestly believes that we cycle through life experiencing the same events in different ways until we learn what we’re supposed to learn.  Then, once we learned that lesson, life will change and start a new series of cycles.”

“My mother died of a stroke, my wife because of an aneurism, and I made my little girl’s head explode because I told her that eating a seed…” Louis paused again.  Saying true things out loud was harder than lying.  Being vulnerable wasn’t something he came by naturally.

Heidi got up from the side of the tree as a trail of kids followed behind.  She was clutching her stomach like she was carrying something heavy underneath.

“Daddy, you were right,” she said, lifting her shirt to show a swollen belly.  It looked like the little girl was pregnant. The protruding rounded skin was solid and turning green. Red veins traced the sides like tiger stripes.  Louis shot upright, shocked.

“What did you do?! How did this happen?” he asked, the same way he did when he found out Alma was pregnant.  Alma was smiling while Louis was terrified that their life together would be irreversibly changed.  He was right, just not in the way he had feared.

“I ate the seed,” Heidi said.  The girl seemed far less concerned than Louis.

“Children find ways of making real the things we say,” Navi said, reaching forward and tickling Heidi’s bare belly with the tips of her fingers.  Heidi chuckled and stepped back.  

“You don’t see…” Louis started, pointing at his daughter’s engorged, green stomach feeling horribly confused.  “I feel like I should get her to a doctor.”

Heidi shrunk away at the idea and turned to rejoin her new friends as they scampered back to the shade of the tree.  A dog barked in the distance.  Someone threw a yellow flying disc to their friend.

“Am I insane?” Louis asked.

“You’re shouldering a lot of responsibility,” Navi said.  “It’s natural to feel disconnected from time to time.” She pulled one of the treats from the tray and bit into one of the corners.  “What do you do for work?”

“Consultation for growing businesses.  We help them build infrastructures.  HR, accounts receivable, logistics, support, things like that.”

“That sounds helpful,” Navi said.

“For a growing business, absolutely.  Otherwise it’s chaos.  People get very bitter.”

“So it’s important that these growing businesses listen.  It’s important that they believe you.”

“That’s the idea,” Louis said.  Something about Navi reminded him of Alma.  Maybe it was the dark hair and mocha skin.  Maybe it was the way she listened without judgment and had an uncanny way of putting him at ease.

“My wife quit her job at a packaging plant to work for my company,” he said.  “She was our intake extraordinaire fielding phone calls, scheduling consultations.  It was perfect.  We sent her to conferences, let her work from home to be with Heidi.  But that’s what killed her.  It was a work trip abroad and…pop.” He made a bursting motion with his fingers near the back of his head.

“Did you tell her that you loved her?” Navi asked, taking another slow bite of the rice crispy treat.

“Not nearly enough,” Louis answered.

“And your daughter?”

“She knows,” he said, and watched as the children began marching back over to the bench.  Heidi was holding something in her arms that was wrapped in a beach towel.  The children cooed and whispered with hands cupped to their mouths.

“Look Dad,” the little girl said, unfolding the towel. “I had three watermelons.  Aren’t they cute?”

Louis was so startled that his whole body jolted backwards.  The small watermelons were the size of chocolate Easter eggs, but more than that they appeared to be breathing and nuzzling against each other.

He grabbed the bottom of Heidi’s shirt and lifted it to look at the girl’s belly.  It was no longer swollen and green, but rather back to the ten-year-old pudge it had always been.

“They’re beautiful,” Navi said.  “You must be proud.”

“This is Nina, this is Pinta, and this is Santa Maria,” Heidi said.  She looked at the small watermelons with large, loving and eyes.

“Who gave you those?” Louis asked.  His voice was stern.  “What have I told you about strangers?”

“I know you’re scared, Dad, but I swallowed the watermelon seed.  It is I who must bare the consequences.”

Louis stood up ready to snatch Heidi and leave the barbecue.  Whatever game she was playing, it wasn’t funny.  That phrase, it is I who must bare the consequences, was something that Alma had said over and over when making big decisions.  He overheard her say it when she spoke with her boss over the phone when she left the packaging plant, at the OBGYN when she discussed the legacy of hemophilia in her family, and when she told Louis that she was in love with him.  It was possible that Alma had also said it to Heidi, but he had never once heard her utter that phrase after their daughter’s birth.  He wondered if all that time away had done something irreparable to his relationships because he constantly found himself in the land of not knowing.

Navi extended a gentle arm and blocked Louis from stepping forward.

“Such a strong girl to go through this all by yourself,” Navi said to Heidi.

Heidi looked at her father and frowned.  “Sometimes we have to,” she said, and then walked back over to the shaded roots of the tree.  The other children joined her.

“The first language a child learns is story,” Navi said.  “The second language is games, things like risk/reward, probability and chance, and what if.  Their third language, which is spoken, becomes their native tongue.”

Louis felt crazy.  Was no one else aware of the bizarre game his daughter was playing, let alone how she was pulling it off?  Shouldn’t he be putting in an emergency call to their therapist instead of sitting on a bench eating homemade desserts? He looked at Navi who didn’t seem concerned at all and so he drew in a long, deep breath and exhaled.  

“Did it hurt?” he asked.

“I’m not an angel, if that’s what you’re implying,” she said.

“Your tattoo,” Louis said, pointing to her arm.

“Oh, I thought you were using a pick-up line.  You know, fell from heaven. Sorry.”

“I’ve always wanted one but could never commit to one design.  I’m too afraid I’ll regret it somewhere down the road.”

“The thing about permanence is that we adapt.  Our choices become our lives and so imagining a life without those choices is fruitless,” Navi said, looking at Heidi.  “The things that are actually important to us, we don’t wear them on our bodies.”

After Alma died, Louis had considered getting a tattoo of her name on his shoulder so that she’d always be with him.  He’d gone so far as to show up to a parlor and talk with an artist – a woman with tattoos up and down both arms and neck – but backed out when it came time to make a deposit.

“She’s with you regardless,” the woman said, un-offended by the last second cancellation. “Be well.”

Shocked, Louis left the parlor wondering how many of his life perspectives had been misaligned, misinformed, and shaped by pain.  That night, he swung by a pizzeria and grabbed a deep-dish pepperoni so that he didn’t have to cook.  He and Heidi ate it on their living room floor sitting side my side and leaning against each other for support.  They put on a movie so that they could both share something else, and twenty minutes in, Heidi fell asleep in Louis’ lap.  He pushed some strands of hair out of his daughter’s sleeping face and felt the terrifying pressure of raising a child alone. Alma had left him with such an enormous responsibility, but in watching his daughter sleep, he saw that she was still a part of them both in ways that he could have never imagined.

“Thank you for talking to me,” Louis said.  Navi stood up and brushed a few renegade crumbs from her hips and knees.

“You’re a good man, Louis,” she said.  “I hope you’re able to see it, too.”

“Hey, you wouldn’t want to maybe go out sometime, would you?”

“The cycle continues,” Navi said, this time with a hint of a frown.  “Heidi doesn’t need a mother right now.”

They looked over and the young girl was walking back.  She was carrying a full sized watermelon like a football.

“This is the only one left.  It grew up faster than I was ready for.”

“Yeah, that’s kind of how it goes,” Louis said.

“I’m sorry I ate the seeds, Daddy.  I didn’t know this would happen.”

“There was no way to know.  It’s impossible to know.”

“I’m in charge of this watermelon now, and I can’t pretend I’m not.”

Louis pulled his daughter into an enormous hug. Scents of barbecue were locked in the fabric of her shirt and the back of her hair. The sun beat down casting their shadows in slender stretches behind them. Louis felt the seedlings inside of him start to sprout and blossom in spite of the hurricane.  He needed his daughter as much as she needed him, and that was how they would both survive the storm.

“I love you,” he whispered so that only she could hear.  “You know that, right?”

“Yeah,” she said, the watermelon pressing into both of their bellies. “It’s just nice to hear it sometimes.”

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Sunday, July 7th, 2019

by Simone Martel

Maddie darted across the bedroom carpet in her baby doll PJs, jumped up onto the chair and threw her stuffed pony into Carlotta’s face. “I won’t, Mommy. I don’t want to get into the box.”

  “Get in, sweetie, and tomorrow we’ll have more and more fun.”

Maddie grimaced, showing off the new gap between her front teeth. “I don’t like the Babybox.”

“Maddie, silly! You’re lucky we can afford twenty thousand dollars a month for this box.” As Carlotta spoke, she scooped up Maddie in her arms and lowered the little girl into the box, laying her out on the white cushion. “Ooof! When did you get so heavy, baby?” 

Maddie reached up out of the box and wrapped her arms tight around Carlotta’s neck. “Don’t go, Mommy. You’re my best friend.” 

“You’re my best friend, too,” Carlotta said, struggling to break Maddie’s grip. “Good night, now.”

“Okay.” Maddie sighed. “Bye-bye.”

Carlotta snapped the lid into place, and the girl in the box went limp, her face draining to the color of skimmed milk, her eyelids reddening as she ceased to breathe—or very nearly ceased. Carlotta dragged the box into the home gym between their two bedrooms, sliding it over the smooth bamboo floor. With her shoes laced up, she stepped onto the treadmill and ran, looking down at the unconscious child. From that angle, the bone structure of an older girl seemed to press up through the childish face; a trick of the light, perhaps.

Ten minutes later, Carlotta’s phone beeped, and she answered without breaking pace, coming into the middle of a fuzzy conversation and drunken laughter, not directed into the phone, followed by an explosive, “Hey, Carlotta!”

Carlotta panted a greeting.

“I’m at Juvenescence with–Charlie,” Carlotta’s friend stressed the man’s name as though to prove to the company around her she knew it. “He has this friend, so—”

“—I don’t leave Maddie in the box to go clubbing. That’s not what the box is for.”

“Oh, fine, Ms. Perfect. Just don’t pretend you don’t use it as much as the rest of us. If not more. Charlie, stop it.

Carlotta beeped off, shaking her head. The box was a gift to children, not to their parents.  It spared Maddie from dreary hours with a nanny or a tired, distracted mommy. Of course, the box rewarded Carlotta, too, not because she used it selfishly, to go out with men, but because she could turn off the clock, gaze down at Maddie and hold on to this precious time.

And still, the girl grew older. Just that morning she’d lost a tooth, marking her baby smile—those two rows of even chicklets—with a black gap. The tooth looked tiny, spat out onto the breakfast plate. Hard to believe years had passed since that white serrated edge cut through Maddie’s clean, pink gum. The whole teething process seemed as recent as Carlotta’s last facial. Maddie had hardly fussed, was an easy baby in general. Carlotta always planned to have another, but time slipped by, and now she was too old.

On the treadmill, Carlotta ran faster, though her thighs and buttocks burned. The phone beeped again, loud in the quiet house, punctuating the hypnotic rhythm of the machine and Carlotta’s breathing.

“Opportunity calling.” It was her agent’s voice. “You’re set for the Daytime Emmys ceremony. It’s a milestone in your career to be presenting an award.”

“Thanks,” Carlotta said, though she’d rather be the young actress receiving it.

Motivated, now, to drop a few pounds, she forced herself to run even longer, envisioning herself on television, sleek in a clingy gown. Pearl-gray silk seemed appropriate, dignified yet sexy.

Carlotta ran until her legs shook, then stepped off the machine and into the bathroom. After her shower, she stood in the dim, moody light slanting through the steam and gazed at her reflection with half-closed eyes: not bad. She’d buy a gown to show off her boob job, taking the audience’s eyes off her neck, which was a tad ropey. The boobs, though, were perfect. She cupped them in her hands, leaning forward. 

With her white terrycloth robe lashed round her waist, Carlotta dragged Maddie’s box into the bedroom, where it lay like a bassinet beside the bed. There, reclining on throw pillows, Carlotta sipped water and paged through scripts. Theoretically, she’d like to do another film, though she wasn’t yet resigned to playing the mother-in-law. Acceptable offers came to her rarely, lately not at all.

When her eyes grew tired of reading, she pushed up her glasses and rested her head back on the yielding pillows. Across the room, a square of picture-glass reflected the opulent bed floating in the mellow lamplight, but not Maddie in semidarkness on the floor. Feeling judgmental eyes upon her—so many people denounced the Babybox—Carlotta asked these imaginary critics what else the girl would be doing right now. Watching television? Playing on the computer? From an early age Carlotta had walked home from school to an empty house, hung out on the street with other unsupervised kids, watched her parents watch television at night, listened to them yell at her brother to come out of his room, ate carrot sticks and cottage cheese alone on her bed, Glamour or Cosmo spread on her knees. In contrast, she and Maddie sat down to a home cooked dinner every night. Though she could have afforded a personal chef, as well as a nanny and a driver, she adored doing all those jobs herself for her little baby doll. As a girl, she’d never played house; lucky her, lucky Maddie, they got to play now.  

The next day around ten, dressed and coiffed—no reason to scare the girl with bed-head mommy—Carlotta removed the lid, and Maddie popped up, grinning her gap-toothed grin. “Park?”

Inexplicably, Maddie had fixated on the public park, a grungy place of metal, sand and dirty, cracked plastic. To Carlotta it simply was not on the map, but stood outside the circuit she and her daughter made through their happy, cotton candy-colored world.

“No park today. But we’ll have fun.”

After lunch they drove out along winding streets, past pink and beige and cream Mediterranean-style homes, toward the gate. As they passed under the stucco arch, Carlotta waved to the guard, but the young man stared past as though she were invisible. Carlotta smoothed her hair, then gripped the wheel again. So many wrinkles ringed her wrists. If babytech made boxes big enough for adults she’d get one, damn the cost, though she’d have to hire someone to haul her out of it or she’d lie there forever.

A few blocks on, the tall gray Nordstrom building slid out from behind a row of eucalyptus trees, and Maddie began to pout. Carlotta drove into the mall, reassuring her, “We’ll have fun. We always do.”

After two loops round the parking lot, she found a place beneath a leathery-leaved magnolia tree. Hand-in-hand, she and Maddie crossed the asphalt, walking toward the monumental glass facade of the PlayDaySpa. Inside, they left their shoes in cubbies and padded into the vast central room.

“You go play, while Mommy gets a manicure.”  

Maddie walked away in her purple socks toward the enormous play structure, while Carlotta signed in with one of the uniformed play-associates. She left Maddie climbing the big green net and strolled toward the manicure tables near the wall of mirrors. Once enthroned in a padded black leather chair, she checked back across the room. Maddie had reached the crow’s nest at the top of the structure and stood looking out toward the manicure stations. Carlotta waved. The little girl didn’t see, or pretended not to, turning away and crawling into a big red tube. 

After her manicure, Carlotta started toward the consultation booth to reserve a chemical peel for the following week, passing on the way the door to the massage room.


Carlotta looked into her friend’s flushed face. “You’re…relaxed. Nice massage? Never saw the appeal myself.”

“You’re too tense, Carlotta. You should’ve come out with us last night. His friend was thirty—and hot.”


“I know, your little girl comes first.” The woman made a sour face as her own daughter ran up to her side.

“Can we go now, mom?”

“Don’t rush off.” Carlotta prolonged the conversation long enough to let drop that she was presenting an award later that month. “I’m glad I got that eyelid lift last spring. The lighting at those awards thingies isn’t as forgiving as on the set.”

“Christ!” her friend exclaimed, as though Carlotta had jogged her memory. “Have you seen my ‘soap husband’ this season?”

The impatient daughter, grimacing, braces glinting, tugged on her mother’s arm, pulling her in the direction of the shoe cubbies. The woman called back to Carlotta. “Check him out at” 

Carlotta turned to the play-associate who’d silently appeared at her elbow. “Ma’am, we have a situation,” he said.

Carlotta’s smile tightened as she looked past him to the play area where two toddlers stood blubbering at the sides of the plastic ball pit, while Maddie sat in the middle, waist-deep in blue and red balls. All three mothers reached the scene within moments. The first, a squat woman in gray sweats, swooped out one of the sobbing toddlers and scowled at Carlotta.

“Is that big girl yours? She dived in and squashed my son.” Clutching the little boy to her freckled chest, she glared down at Maddie. “This place is for little kids.”

In the car on the drive home, Carlotta asked, “Did you have fun? Before the problem?”

“I want to go to the park next time.”

After lunch Maddie galloped around her bedroom, skidding over the smooth floor and crashing into her canopy bed, before lying down in the Babybox for her nap. Carlotta snapped the lid in place and sat back in the sudden quiet, breathing hard. She stood and wandered through the cool, dim house. In the living room she passed the fireplace, with its scent of cold ash, and ended up at the computer on her desk.

Within seconds, she’d logged onto the plastic surgery website. First standing, then sitting, Carlotta scrolled down past poorly lit photographs of boob-jobs, collagen injections and facelifts. Some of these people she knew; most were in the entertainment industry. She had to laugh at her friend’s soap husband with his orange tan and raised eyebrows jutting to the corners of his forehead. Going down farther, sometimes wincing and moving on, sometimes pausing to stare, she scrolled until she caught her breath and touched her hand to her mouth.

Actually—and this was funny—she recognized the blue dress first. She’d worn it to the Vanity Fair party, where a tabloid photographer must have snapped this picture. But though the dress seemed familiar, the face was not. That could not be her.

It was, of course. Below her photograph, the caption read: “Sure, wrinkles are a bitch, but so is having a face made of wax.” Carlotta leaned closer to the screen. In such lighting even a teenager would look bad, especially shot from below. Still, her face was as tight and shiny as a rubber doll’s.

Carlotta clicked off, stood up, and turned to the gilt mirror above the fireplace, brushing her fingers across her cheek. Her friend must have known the picture was there. Perhaps she’d mentioned the soap husband to lead Carlotta to the website. Carlotta reached for her phone, started to punch in the number, but stopped herself in time and threw the phone onto the chair. She wouldn’t vent. Mentally, she crossed that friend off her list, though. It was a shame.

Carlotta moved to the window and peeked out through the Venetian blinds at the California afternoon, the sprinklers showering her emerald-green front lawn. She turned to check the clock on the mantel. Not much time had passed since she put Maddie down. She slipped across the shiny floor to the door of the workout room and stood with her hand on the frame, regarding the metal machines with their weights and shin-bruising bars. While she hesitated there, the muscle under her left eye twitched, once, twice. She smoothed it with her index finger and turned away. One day off wouldn’t hurt. The effort seemed somewhat pointless, now.

With nothing else to do, Carlotta strayed back into Maddie’s bedroom, where her daughter lay stretched out, gangly, on the white cushion in her box. She’d towered over that pair of toddlers. Perhaps she really had outgrown the PlayDaySpa. Then Carlotta would have to do without its convenience. Maddie’s happiness mattered most.

For ten more minutes, Carlotta paced the living room, straightening cushions, aligning the edges of stacked magazines: what to do, what to do. Their lives were changing. Adjustments must be made, not just to this afternoon but to the next and the next. After staring into the refrigerator and at her computer, knowing they both offered diversions that could harm her, Carlotta restarted Maddie earlier than usual.

“Want to go to the park?”


Twenty minutes later, Carlotta slid the car into a parking place parallel to the park’s chain link fence.

“I just worry so much about you,” she said, as she popped the door lock, releasing Maddie from the car. On the sidewalk, Carlotta squatted to rub sunblock on the little girl’s cheeks and nose. “No jumping off the swings, okay?”

Carlotta swung open the gate and followed Maddie into the park. The little girl looked from the monkey bars to the slide to the teeter-totter, before spotting a friend playing in the sand.

“Hi, Maddie!” The enormous giraffe of a girl, with knobby knees and elbows, waved a stick and grinned. Her two front teeth had grown in freakishly large for her face. The girl stabbed her stick into the sand and ran to the swings with Maddie. The two began pumping, building up higher and higher until their legs pointed straight out into the air and then even higher, flashing their underpants and the backs of their legs.

“Let’s jump!” Maddie hollered.

“I can jump farther.”

“No, I can.”

“I’m not sure that’s a good idea,” Carlotta called out. She looked around for support, but the girl seemed to be on her own.

The two girls bailed out at the same time, landing in the sand on their knees. At first Maddie giggled, thrilled by the danger she’d survived, then she noticed that the other girl had touched down three feet farther from the swings. Carlotta remembered those big front teeth. Maddie’s friend had passed her by at least six months, though she’d been born a year after Maddie. Maddie cheeks reddened. The friend, unaware, ran back to the swings.

“Let’s do it again.”

Maddie climbed the slide, pretending not to hear. At the top of the ladder, she sat down with her legs splayed on the metal slope and gazed out at the playground.


Carlotta turned toward the voice, placing the face, if not the body. She recalled this woman lying on a mat, breathing out through open lips like an angry gorilla. 

“Lamaze class.” Carlotta stood and reached over the chain link fence to shake hands with the woman standing on the sidewalk. “It’s been awhile.”

The woman had put on weight, probably weighed more now than she had nine months pregnant.

“We were passing and I saw you here. Danny, say ‘Hi’.” She spoke to a teenage boy standing behind her.

That’s Danny?”

For either financial or ethical reasons the woman had let the boy grow naturally.

“Where’s Maddie?”

Carlotta pointed to the little girl on the top of the slide.

“Oh, honey.”

“I know. I’m trying to cut down.”

With her eyes still on Maddie, the woman raised her hand in a goodbye salute. “Nice to see you.”  

“We should do coffee again,” Carlotta said, as the woman walked away.

On the playground, the tall girl squatted in the sand digging with her stick, while a new, smaller girl, Maddie’s size, knelt on the bottom of the slide, looking up at Maddie, who came whooshing down, using the rubber soles of her shoes to stop at the bottom, inches away from the new girl. Both of them giggled. Soon they were climbing on the play structure with their eyes closed, trying to catch each other. Though Carlotta winced whenever they neared the edge, they managed to stay on the structure, probably by peeking through their eyelashes.

Carlotta found a bench in the shade of a big pine tree where the air smelled resiny, like Christmas. She brushed away the rough needles before she sat down. Underfoot, more needles mixed with the sand. She slipped off her mules and poked her toes into the coolness, remembering through the soles of her feet something her mind had forgotten years ago.

Carlotta considered the day. She really did want to have coffee with that woman, just as she actually did intend to cut down on Maddie’s hours inside the box. It was true; adjustments must be made.   

Maddie was quiet in the car driving home. 

“Whatcha thinking ‘bout?” Carlotta asked in a sing-song voice.

“Her. That girl.”

“Your new friend? I like the way you make friends, Maddie.”

“I don’t want to come back to the park next time and have her be bigger than me.”

This was new. Maddie never used to care who she played with. If one child passed her by, she settled for another.

At home half a dozen envelopes stuck out of the brass box on the front porch. Carlotta flipped through them while Maddie jumped down from the porch to the flagstone walkway.

“Watch me! You’re not watching.”

Maddie stomped up the three steps to the porch and jumped again, while Carlotta considered the pay slip from the modeling agency for a life insurance ad in which she simpered at her “daughter” in a bridal outfit. How had she come to this? The money was hardly worth the humiliation. However, she and Maddie had an expensive lifestyle to maintain.    

Carlotta looked up from the pay slip as Maddie caught the toe of her shoe on the top step and fell into a nosedive, landing hard on her hands and knees. Carlotta leapt after her, hitting the sidewalk almost as quickly as her daughter. Maddie sat back on her bottom to examine her scraped palms and skinned knees. Blood welled out of an inch-long cut on her left knee.


“Oh, baby doll, this is Mommy’s fault. Mommy wasn’t paying attention.” Carlotta led the little girl into the house to the powder room, where she washed the cut with a soapy washcloth. “Now we’ll get something for this boo-boo.”

The medicine cabinet door reflected her face, a face of wax. That the awful picture was going to hurt for some time. In a way, though, the pain didn’t matter. She could ignore her private hurts, though perhaps not the deepening heartache of her life with Maddie.

She opened the cabinet. “Where are those Band-Aids?”

Carlotta’s thin hand riffled through the crèmes, lotions and toothpaste in the cabinet, batting them about. There were no Band-Aids. She’d never bought them, though such an oversight seemed impossible. “Oh, sweetie, I’m sorry.”

However, the cut had stopped bleeding.

That night Maddie refused to brush her teeth and fought as Carlotta dragged her toward the box.

“Tomorrow, after your classes, we’ll go to the park again, and your new friend might be there.”

“No. I don’t have any friends,” Maddie objected. She stepped into the box, though, and sank down, defeated. As Carlotta reached for the lid, she pushed away the hope that the little girl would fight harder, the possibility that she would cave in to her daughter’s rebellion.

Alone again, she poured herself a tumbler of red wine and sat at the computer, returning to her photograph on the plastic surgery website. The wine soon washed heavily though her size-two body, while she scrolled down over the parade of freaks. What had they all been thinking? The same mistakes repeated, over and over. Carlotta laughed at the first young girl with boobs like cantaloupe halves glued in place, but after six examples, wondered what kind of body image problems those gorgeous young women had. Before and after pictures showed round-faced lovely girls changed, with the help of cheek implants and nose jobs, into chiseled beauties who, oddly, weren’t as pretty anymore. Many of the before pictures dated to when the girls were local celebrities in places like Australia or Spain or England.

“Look what we’ve done to you,” Carlotta said to an Irish girl whose lovely mouth—with a delicately carved upper lip, and tender curving lower lip—had recently ballooned into a duck bill, a cartoon mouth, better to be seen from a distance on the red carpet.

The older women were worse, of course, even when the surgery worked. A smooth-faced actress of sixty had a cheek she could bounce a dime on, but when Carlotta, thinking of Maddie, tried to see the six year old in that face, she knew this face had never been six years old. This face was a surgeon’s creation.  

Carlotta slammed the laptop closed and cursed her friend. She hadn’t needed to see this website. She smashed her face into her hands, elbows on the desk, baggy skin be damned. Maybe she should get fat, like her friend from Lamaze class—the woman who would never call about going out for coffee. Carlotta wanted to yell, “I have no friends!” like her daughter.

Poor Maddie. If her new playmate passed her by like all the others, she’d be sad. No, she’d be angry. Angry at Carlotta. She wouldn’t see that her mommy had meant well, had only wanted to give her a long, wonderful childhood.

Carlotta got up, hand flat on the desk, and went to Maddie’s room. The lamp was on, glowing through the pink-pleated shade. The light could not disturb the child’s unnatural sleep, and besides Carlotta liked to keep Maddie visible, close by, though perhaps the girl deserved some privacy now, since she seemed to have different desires and new demands.    

Through the glass, the reddish slug-mark stood out on Maddie’s pale knee. It would heal to become her first scar. Carlotta sat down on the carpet, drew up her knees to her chest and leaned against the box. She lay her hand on the cool glass, asking the universe for guidance. After a time, her unfocused gaze fixed itself on a shiny, aspirin-sized mark on her wrist. In another life, she’d burned herself baking a birthday cake for her mother. Scars. Everyone has them. On her manicured index finger, a silvery hyphen mark reminded her of Ginger the guinea pig, who once mistook her finger for a carrot. On her elbow, a white crescent recorded a fall from a scooter thirty, thirty-five years ago. And she bore a long, thin, silvery scar on her shin from running through a rosebush during a neighborhood game of tag. Birthday cakes, guinea pigs, tag. A tumble off the front porch. These were the things that scarred young girls. Not so terrible after all. 

Carlotta looked again at her daughter’s cut knee, still glistening red, not yet darkening into a scab. Of course not. If Maddie did not age in the box, she also would not heal. If she did not heal, she would not scar. Carlotta rose to her knees and leaned over the box, reaching for the latch. Carlotta raised the lid. She lifted out the little girl, one arm under her knees, the other around her shoulders. Carlotta’s daughter would age, heal and scar.

Maddie woke at once when Carlotta set her down, but wavered woozily on her feet. 

“Stay here.” Carlotta hurried into the living room and stood, looking around, until she settled on the andiron in the fireplace and lugged it back to the bedroom.

“Stand back.” She raised the andiron, so heavy her biceps shuddered and her wrists buckled under the strain as she brought it up and let it fall, swinging down, cracking into the side of the box, destroying further temptation. 

Maddie yawned.

“No more box,” Carlotta told her.


No box, no financial burden, no foolish advertisements, no frightening red carpet photographs, all good; an alternate future eluded her, though. Imagining tomorrow, or the next day, an old-timey home movie played in her mind, a flickering image of Maddie climbing up the slide at the public park while Carlotta sat under a pine tree with her bare feet in a messy mixture of cool sand and prickly, half-rotten pine needles; she heard happy laughter in the distance and saw decay at her feet.

more 2019 !Short Story Contest!
home/ bonafides

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Riding the train

Sunday, June 30th, 2019

by Terry Smith

So…I had to take the train today. I was heading to New York to resurrect the after-birth of a magazine called “The National Lampoon”… idea was to call it WTF  …..the train was packed tighter than Celesta Geyer in a tank top and bicycle shorts…..I noticed however there was one seat that was inexplicably empty…..except for a solitary man sitting quietly with a hood covering his face, I assumed for privacy ….I squeezed my way over to him and asked if I could sit….he replied ” be my guest.”…to which I said ” As your guest could I ask you to please clear out the foyer?”It’s like an orgy out there and even Caligula wasn’t interested in the talent pool….. I thought I heard him laugh but the din was so penetrating that I was hearing thoughts that belonged to other people… I sat down I noticed he was playing solitaire with a deck the likes I had never seen before….the cards looked fragile and well worn like he had been playing for centuries…they seemed to be made of a material like the wings of butterflies or the petals from angels trumpet…..the diamonds glistened as if they were real, the hearts were upside down and appeared to be oozing ,the clubs all had the symbol for six to the third power and the spades….well I won’t even go there……the kings were all Henry the eight and the queens four of his wives…there was Catherine of Aragon…Anne Boleyn…Kathryn Howard…and Jane Seymour….all with their heads in their hands…literally …the jacks were ..Dempsey,Kerouac.Nicholson and Benny….and the others were all naked bodies bound and writhing in agony in numbers correlating with the numeral beside them….I sat down and started rambling as is my want to do about the magazine and that no one was off limits…no rules… an article about how when a man ages his penis goes from making a bad decision every five minutes to going to the bathroom with the same frequency….and one on feeding rapists to the sharks so they won’t bother the beach goers …and how they tried to use Lincoln as the first piggy bank…only pennies of coarse…..he listened quietly and never said a word ….then I pulled out my trusty flask and lit a joint…[ I offered of coarse but with a waive of his hand he politely declined ]….the weed made me hungry so I pulled out my briefcase full of cheeses and strawberries coated in chocolate to look like the kids game hangman …..he sat up at this point as if to gaze intently at what I was doing but I could not tell as his face was still obscured by the hood …just as I was laying everything out like some picnic in hell  I heard a voice as sweet as honey dripping off of chocolate coated ice-cream on a hot summers day….I was becoming a diabetic just listening to her…..finally I focused on the words she was saying….” May I ?” and I replied ” Of coarse!!” My heart was racing faster than a midgets at a tall women’s convention or a meth-addict sky diving with the FBI ….she sat down next to the man when somehow my pheromones covered her in a fine mist …her nostrils flared and nipples hardened like two bullets from a .38 special against the fabric of her dress….she bit into one of the strawberries , juice oozing down her lower lip….I had to adjust myself and noticed I had gum on the crotch of my pants from the underside of the table…when I felt a foot sliding up my thigh ….she smelled like the air after a thunderstorm and the iris’s of her eyes looked like the pupils had studied orgasms all their lives…and had totally destroyed the bell curve….she said she was a contortionist for a traveling kama sutra company in an off off  broadway play…I told her I was going to try to start a magazine…..finally we came to a stop and the mysterious man leaned over towards me and said…”You better get off here.”..”And take her with you”…there was something about him that made me feel as if I should do as he said so I took her by the hand and we exited the train….we were standing inside the station checking  the schedule for the earliest connecting train when all of the sudden there was a loud explosion …just out of sight of the station the train had crashed…killing everyone aboard ….realizing we were lucky to be alive we decided to share a hotel room for the night..and do all the depraved things one would do if they had just cheated death…..we took a taxi to the nearest Hilton … walked up to the desk where the clerk informed us that the hotel room was already paid for….as was the concierge.

back to the 2019 !Short Story Contest!


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Meet the Finalists of the 2019 !Short Story Contest!

Saturday, June 29th, 2019

Terry Smith is a writer and artist living discreetly in The Great Atlantic North East . Terry has three books of poetry published Bathroom Graffiti …Angel Vomit…and Sid & Mary (Opal ) a journey into the wasteland. His fourth book Restaurant Days will be out later this year.

Simone Martel is the author of a novel, A Cat Came Back, a memoir, The Expectant Gardener, and a story collection, Exile’s Garden. She’s a 4thgeneration Berkeleyan. According to her family, Simone was teargassed on her way to nursery school in the late ‘60s, though she doesn’t remember that. After studying English at U.C. Berkeley, Simone operated an organic tomato farm near Stockton, California. She’s working on a new novel based on that experience.

W. T. Paterson is the author of the novels “Dark Satellites” and “WOTNA”.  A Pushcart Prize nominee and graduate of Second City Chicago, his work has appeared in over 50 publications worldwide include Fiction Magazine, The Gateway Review, and The Paragon Press. A number of stories have been anthologized by Lycan Valley, North 2 South Press, and Thuggish Itch. He spends most nights yelling for his cat to “Get down from there!”

Sue Mitchell is a disabled retired primary school teacher with a double degree in English Literature & Media Studies, and Education. She has always been fascinated by the written word; at two years of age she demanded reading glasses so she could read “like Daddy”. Together with her Yorkshire born husband, Sue now lives in Tropical Far North Queensland, where she is able to devote herself full time to developing her novel, writing short stories and poetry.

Nikki Jain: If you will ask her to describe herself, she will say that she writes stories. That’s the only thing she has ever known to do. Her stories can be structured or they can be flowing here and there but they are always beautiful. She is lost but maybe you can find her in her stories. She reads books and thinks about every other character as herself. She may or may not show but she loves her readers the most.

At school, Elaine Abery was in trouble for concentrating less on the teacher and more on the poem or short story she was writing at the time. Her love of writing became her career and you may recognize her style in federal legislative material. Keen to give back to her community, Elaine enjoys mentoring, taking people bike-riding, teaching English to new migrants, and whatever else her local community needs.

Nickolas Urpí is the author of the literary war fantasy novel The Legend of Borach and has been published in Tell-Tale PressPage and Spine,The Copperfield Review,HCE Review literary journal, Ripples in Space magazine, amongst others. A Hispanic author, his writings fuse his studies of ancient history, literature, and philosophy with his crafted prose to immerse the reader in the world of his fiction through vivid settings and characters. An alumnus of the University of Virginia, he resides in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Retired after four decades’ prizewinning print and broadcast journalism in Hartford CT, Don Noel received his MFA in Creative Writing from Fairfield University in 2013. He has published more than four dozen short stories, but still has three longer works to place.

Back to the 2019 !Short Story Contest!
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Finalists now announced for the 2019 !Short Story Contest!

Sunday, June 23rd, 2019


Coming soon:

meet the finalists

all eight finalist stories

Fan Voting

Winners announcement


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Last few hours to submit to 2019 !Short Story Contest!

Saturday, June 15th, 2019

Well, Lovers of Literature,

Submission period for the 2019 !Short Story Contest!
is almost over.
We know what it’s like to want your submission to be perfect, so,
we’ll give you till, oh, let’s say,

6:08 am EST, June 16th

before we close the submission period.

Equally exciting, at that same time,
Submissions will open for the

2020 FLASH SUITE Contest ONLY on .

Submissions for this contest will remain open until
October 19th, 2019.
Our Winter Contest publishes across November and December,
and winners will be announced MLK Day (US) which is
January 20th.

Guidelines for the !Short Story Contest!
!What’s New!
home/ bonafides

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Seeking a New Co-editor for

Sunday, June 9th, 2019

Most sadly, our long time monitor and co-editor, our own Wild-Wild-West Gunslinger and policy maker in general

— who calls herself simply eatstuf

is hanging up her ePistols and retiring from her duties at — effective immediately after selecting the Finalists for this Summer’s contest.

!So let us make Lemonaide! Turn this into an opportunity for some sweet new voices on the site.

We are seeking a new co-editor to read submissions and co-select the Finalists for our two annual fiction contests on . As we seek balance in the two voices making aesthetic decisions on our editing staff, we hope to maintain a diverse gender dynamic. Since owner, remaining co-editor Paul-Newell Reaves self-identifies as a Male voice, we are only seeking Female or Trans-Gender voices for this position.  Fiction does not happen in an Identity vacuum. Sorry guys.

This will henceforth be a paid position. See below.


Reading, as soon as received, all qualifying submissions to both annual fiction contests on : the !Short Story Contest! reads from April- June, and FLASH SUITE Contest from June- October.

Along with co-editor Paul-Newell Reaves, coming to an agreement on the selection of three to eight Finalists for each of the two annual contests. This must be reached within two weeks of close of each reading period.

Workload does vary from reading period to reading period, and also fluctuates year to year. For this reason, compensation will be based on number of qualifying submissions per reading period. Contact us for prior submission statistics and our budget for site staff. Selected co-editor will also receive a small bonus for each contest at the time that Finalists are agreed upon.

No long term commitment necessary. may choose to ask selected co-editor to return. Selected co-editor may choose to leave after any contest, only after all duties are fulfilled.

We are a small– though still quite popular— operation: we require no reading fees, ask for no donations, refuse to run ads, and are not approved as Non-Profit. Basically, what I’m saying, this position won’t pay your rent; but, maybe, a decent dinner for two?– if you don’t drink too much?– twice a year?– (since we host two contests every year).

If interested, please send resume or CV– along with any and all questions, comments, complaints or anecdotes– to:
— that’s,
PNRenterpriZes [at] gmail [dot] com

Most importantly, carefully prepare a few links to or files of your favorite writings– published or not, either written by your favorite authors or by yourself.

And please do surf our site some–
especially our very specific guidelines for each contest (see burgundy links above),
and, perhaps, these finalists from 2016 and 2013.
Also, check this recent post for our traffic numbers the last week of May, 2019.

Go home
includes some longer-term traffic statistic averages

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Summer Updates, 2019: Returning Judges Confirmed + High Traffic for May 26th-June 1st

Sunday, June 2nd, 2019

or, welcome back,
to .

Our returning Judges have all confirmed for the 2019 !Short Story Contest!
Read their bios, here.

We are also very pleased to announce some
high-traffic figures heading into our
2019 !Short Story Contest!

This last week,
145 unique IPs
surfed through ,
hitting us some 588 times–
for an average of 84 visits each day.
That translates to:
either 145 people stopped by at least once–
each IP address might visit any number of times and be counted only
once, hence the uniqueness of said IP addresses– or,
fewer people moving between 145 different places (with unique IPs) did so.
And if, over the course of this week, let’s say that
half of them only visited once,
then the remainder hit over seven pages in one week– or,
the same page at least seven times– or
some combination of.

On May 31st, alone:
152 hits
from 67 unique IP addresses.

And on June 1st,
the root address, —
our publication scroll, also known as
!What’s New!— received 95 hits by itself,
while the page for
!Short Story Contest! Guidelines
was visited 92 times.
Although our Masthead and Bonafides/home pages
combined for only 11 hits, the individual address for
Importance in Editing— the post from yesterday,
with tips from us co-editors and one of our
contest Judges Glenn A. Bruce–
got more than twice that many. However, as many as 95 more
IPs were exposed to this most recent post in this one day, as the post is also
visible in totality on the !What’s New! scroll.
Such will be the case for each publication of the
Finalists in
the 2019 !Short Story Contest!– namely,
an individual publication address,
and entire visibility on the !What’s New! scroll–
found at plain, ol’ .

So, we’d like to thank you for continuing to support us,
Lovers of Literature.
Keep surfing through, as Finalists for
the 2019 !Short Story Contest!
publish weekly throughout
July and August.
And don’t miss your chance for
Fan Voting
— beginning August 19th at 12:01 AM
on .

Finalists will be announced
in three or four weeks.
Winners will be announced
Labor Day Monday– which is September 2nd.

Importance in Editing
Contest Guidelines
!What’s New!
Bonafides/ home

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Importance in Editing

Saturday, June 1st, 2019

Have you edited enough?– probably not.

So, here are some tips:

Substantive Content Editing

Substantive Content Editing:
Major changes– often deletions– that make a piece of writing better.
-Is this scene necessary?– would the piece flow better without it?
-How realistic is this bit of dialogue, or that character’s decision?
-If this entire character were deleted, would that strengthen the piece?
-Is the ending as impactful as it can be?
Break-out the black Sharpie marker, because these types of edits make contest winners.

Toying with language to maximize your desired voice.
-Reorder words in a sentence. In a sentence, reorder the words.
-Exchange words– usually the verbs.
-Delete words.
-Prepositions: substituting a different preposition can be endlessly generative in prose– not recommended for dialogue, as it can sound unnatural (importance of editing becomes, importance in editing).
-Save old drafts and compare the effects.

WARNING: this part becomes obsessive.
It has been said that writing is never finished, merely abandoned. I am inclined to disagree. There is a point when writing becomes as good as it can be. At that point, any changes do not improve. Identifying that point is the trick.

Identifying and eliminating errors. 
-The process should be as such: Read through your manuscript, entirely, marking any errors you find. After you have read through entirely, correct them, then read entirely through, again. Hopefully, every time you read through, you will find something new to change. Repeat this process until you do not find anything to change. Then read through once more. Then, print it, and read again. If you change anything in the printed version, re-print, re-read (don’t worry, printer paper is recyclable). Only once you have read the printed version twice without changing anything, should this process be complete.

And, straight from the pen of Glenn A. Bruce
— one of our esteemed !Short Story Contest! Judges

“Cut every damn thing you can cut before submitting. Make it as clean and sparse as possible without taking away from the story, characters, flow, or (minimal) descriptions. Some disagree with this ultra-clean kind of writing, but it is what I strive for and what – I believe – most of today’s readers seek. I.e., they don’t want to spend a lot of time reading extra “stuff.” Tell me the tale, do it efficiently, and give me a solid ending. It’s not easy! But it can be done.

“Also, I strongly recommend using the red/blue/green underlines in Word. They aren’t always correct – i.e., they adhere to grammar norms which might be broken in, say, dialogue – but they catch a LOT. I have never used Grammerly, but I know people like it for that reason as well. Basically, use anything available to make sure you have caught everything that can be caught. Typos are inevitable, but lazy editing is a sin.”

more of his thoughts on:
Working with an Editor

Even– or especially– if you have already submitted, you have until the end of each reading period to submit new drafts.

Finalists will have an additional week or two to revise before the contest begins.

Is it as ready as can be?– then Submit:
!Short Story Contest!
Weekly Posts

!What’s New! at
Bonafides/ home
(and, in case you doubt our own editing, we do know that “bona fides” is usually two words)

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New Publication from 2018 FLASH SUITE Contest winner, Salvatore Difalco

Sunday, May 26th, 2019

We our immensely proud to announce that Salvatore Difalco
— two time contest finalist at
and winner of the 2018 FLASH SUITE Contest–
has published both the works
originally appearing on ,
in a new collection of Short Stories, out now
from Truth Serum Press:

The Minotaur and Other Stories

So, hearty congratulations to Salvatore, and
to Truth Serum Press for their excellent choice in publishing.

READ NOW: the 2018 FLASH SUITE Contest Winner

READ NOW: a finalist for the 2018 !Short Story Contest!

Although originally published as “Squid Soup” on ,
Embark Literary Journal has published the finalized story as it appears in the new book, under the title “Enter the Night”.

BUY NOW: support the artist–
and by extension, the entire family
— available as ebook or in paperback

!What’s New! on
Bonafides/ home

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