A Tropical Vision by Hunter Morris
White sand beaches. Drinking a martini out of a coconut. Palm trees. It took a lot of work to get here, but it all paid off. Looking out you scan the faces of the crowd and think to yourself if this isn’t the good life, I don’t know what is.
One face sticks out to you. She’s beautiful, with blond, curly hair, and the kind of face that seems like it was created just for you. A total babe, and she’s walking right towards you.
Your heart is racing, she’s three feet away from you and she opens her mouth to say “If you want a good time, click here.”
“Dammit”, you curse as you pull off your headset and the grey walls of your cell come into view, “not another bot.”
Pause… a shrug, you slide your laptop over and click the blue link on the screen.
The Air Up There by Eric Yocom
Thirteen-thousand feet in the sky and already you’ve figured out the chute won’t open. Limbs starfish, hair like a car-lot tube-man, you’ll wonder which words will pipe rueful and pacific down the phone line to your mother—We’re very sorry, ma’am!—and you’ll remember the ceramic bowl unwashed in the kitchen sink and won’t recall the last time you cleared your browsing history or did you leave the bathroom light on, and with sharper eyes you’ll make out the shapes of a million strangers below—their lives scrawled out in memories on the palimpsest landscape, advancing crossways, staid, beautiful; and where the world drains up to meet you you’ll wonder: Is there a God? Do you think they have small-talk in heaven? What sort of hours do angels keep?
And you will find out in about sixty seconds.
Send us a postcard when you get there.
Don't Mess With Texas by Tiffany-Ashton Gatsby
"We don't like long-hairs in these parts," she heard repeatedly whispered until she woke with a sharp gasp. She surveyed her surroundings: rusted metal bed frame, concrete floor with a drain in the center of the room, and her puppy Bowana, who couldn't stop yelping. She was alone for the first time in her life. She couldn't hold back the tears as terror climbed from the bottom of her gut up into her throat, escaping with a hoarse scream. She put on her hiking boots and her last pair of clean socks, threw her frame backpack on, and tied the rope to Bowana's collar and headed out into the damp pre-dawn Texas morning. The jail was an hour's walk, and she wanted to say goodbye to him before boarding the Greyhound. Hippies weren't welcome here. She had to leave before they arrested her, too. It was time to go home.
Fold by Richard West
Two tiny arrows on two tiny signs point out the two tiny paths at this juncture. It’s impossible to choose the correct one; both look categorically incorrect. One is too small by half, the other too small by half again. The way behind me looks impassible, too, even for a fraction of me. I’m too big for this enclosed space, like a ship folded to insert into a bottle and unfolded afterward. Can I fold myself small enough to fit down a rocky hole deeper into the earth in hopes of unfolding in a newer, safer, lusher place? With two arms forward, two legs back, two eyes wide, two lungs gasping, two lips praying, I dive into the unknown, expecting catastrophe and hoping for better.
Final Boarding Call by Lorelei Quenzer
Many travel stories immediately transport us with the word “first.”
Your first Broadway show! The stage lights, and the hush of the audience as those lights dim. Then your first after-show meal at a really-truly delicatessen, serving sandwiches stacked with paper-thin succulence. First egg cream. (First question: what’s an egg cream?) First midnight subway ride.
So many firsts: first MTA transit card. First time getting on the wrong bus, followed by your first two-hour cross-town traffic jam. First double-decker tour. First glimpse of Lady Liberty. First vision of Times Square’s ballet of chaos. The perfect pink sunset – your first in Harlem.
“Lasts” move us, too.
The standing ovation! The fresh air as you exit the subway. Emptying yourself of tears at Ground Zero. The bottom stair of your Airbnb brownstone’s brick stoop. The Manhattan skyline shrinking in your rearview window.
We need more stories about “lasts.”
Rainy Day Tryst by Jeanette Sanchez
It was raining again as he walked to work that day. He remembered his large umbrella and was cautiously avoiding the growing puddles while thinking about the morning's work awaiting him.
Suddenly, a petite women with bouncing curls that smelled like sunlight and coconut joined him under the umbrella with a shy smile. She matched his stride and they walked together. His heart beat faster as with every step he fell in love just a little more.
They walked through a sunlit forest, through a grim cityscape, up mountains and over rivers in his imagination. They gazed at each other in perfect understanding after a walk down an aisle where they kis…
She quickly leapt out and ducked into a building leaving him alone again.
Alternate Beginnings by Julia Ismael
It wasn’t the first step off the train that she knew she arrived. It was the smell. It started miles back, growing in thickness until it nearly clouded the window. Rotting. Dying. One way tickets knew this sticky smell. Looking out the door, she never saw parallel sets of tracks. One way.
“Move!” he shouted with a sharp jab to the back.
She could not.
It wasn’t the first step off the train that she knew she arrived. It was the smell. It started miles back, growing in thickness until it nearly dripped from the windows. Growing. Living. Round trip tickets never fulfilled, knew this sweet smell. Looking out the door, she saw musicians playing on the other track. One way.
“Dance!” he whispered with a gentle hand to the curve of her back.