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Caitlin Scarano’s “Pitcher of Cream” selected for the Best Small Fictions anthology

Best Small Fictions 2016 coverCaitlin Scarano‘s “Pitcher of Cream” has been selected for the Queen’s Ferry Press Best Small Fiction anthology!

Caitlin’s story recently won our 2015 Flash Fiction Contest, judged by Laura Ellen Joyce. It was published on our website, and it will be re-released as a limited-run micro-chap later this month. The micro-chap will be available for free at the 2016 AWP Conference in Los Angeles, CA. Caitlin will be doing a signing at our exhibitor table (#1238) on Thursday, March 31st from 3:00pm to 4:00pm.

Last year’s Innovative Short Fiction Contest judge, Amelia Gray, also had her piece “These Are the Fables” selected for the Best Small Fictions anthology. Additionally, Amelia’s story “On a Pleasant Afternoon, Every Battle Is Recalled” was named a finalist.

John Englehardt‘s “This Is Great But You Don’t Need It” was also named as a semifinalist—this piece was originally published on our website and was made into a micro-chap for the 2015 AWP Conference in Minneapolis, MN.

Lastly, Daniel Aristi (former contributor to our website) had his Sand story, “Tempus Fugit,” selected for publication, and Mercedes Lawry (former contributor to our website) was named a semifinalist for her recent Cleaver Magazine story, “Was there transposition?

We’re excited to see so many contributors and friends of The Conium Review on the long list and short list for Best Small Fictions, and we hope you’ll all pick up a copy when Queen’s Ferry Press releases the anthology later this year. The full list of semifinalist, finalists, and winners is available on the Queen’s Ferry Press website.

Our 2016 Flash Fiction Contest judge is Leesa Cross-Smith

Last year’s flash contest was judged by Laura Ellen Joyce, and she chose Caitlin Scarano as the winner. We’re looking forward to unveiling the micro-chap for Caitlin Scarano’s winning story, “Pitcher of Cream,” at the upcoming AWP Conference in Los Angeles.

Leesa Cross-Smith headshot 2 (683x1024)So we don’t want to completely steal Caitlin’s glory here, but we’ve be aching to tell you that Leesa Cross-Smith will be the 2016 Flash Fiction Contest judge!

Leesa is the author of Every Kiss a War, and she’s co-editor of WhiskeyPaper. Her work has appeared in SmokeLong Quarterly, Little Fiction, Hobart, NANO FictionMonkeybicycle, JukedWord Riot, Sundog Lit, The Rumpus, and tons of other places. Check out Leesa’s website for more information on her work.

The Conium Review 2016 Flash Fiction Contest is open for submissions from October 1st to December 1st. The winner receives $300, online publication, publication as a broadside or micro-chap, and a copy of the judge’s book. Full guidelines are already available here.

We’re glad to have Leesa Cross-Smith as the judge, and we hope you’ll submit some fantastic flash to this contest. If you want to stay informed about this and other opportunities at The Conium Review, you can sign up for our e-mail newsletter here (we don’t spam you; just one e-mail per month with an easy unsubscribe link at the bottom).

“Pitcher of Cream,” by Caitlin Scarano

doodle stove and firewood

This winter, I live alone.

I collect dolls with marble eyes (ribbon core, oxblood, onionskin) and antler hands. I imagine they have bones and are not just stiff with sawdust. I keep the wood stove humming until the back of my neck is damp with sweat. Each day, I bake a loaf of sourdough, perfecting the ratio of sugar to salt to flour. But there’s no one around to eat it but me – by now, all of my children have gone missing or set out with their little suitcases and weaponless hands.

No matter. I still have all of their shoelaces. The sound of dogs howling from the next homestead over.

But the space between our houses grows while I sleep. The forest around me deepens. The trees fall in love and multiply. The snow an intoxicant. I pray the pines don’t get bolder, that they don’t grow organs and hands.

This winter, the sun only rises on certain days. I record them and carve a chart into my headboard. The townsmen would not believe me if I tried to teach them the patterns I’ve discovered, how things secretly align.

Like the woman I am, I keep to my house, my mule, my tasks.

One day I am out chopping wood and a little boy appears on the edge of my yard. He is not made of skin.

“There’s no one left to play with here. You should carry on your way.” I rest the axe on the splitting stump, but keep a hand on the handle. For some reason, I am afraid.

The boy doesn’t say anything. Against the snow, he is hard to see. He has no coat. I cannot tell if he trembles. I do not turn my back on him. His black eyes follow me. I try not to imagine how many rows of teeth he might have. I pull the axe from the stump and yell, “Git!”

I don’t see him again for four days. When he returns, it is on a day when the sun has not risen. On the edge of the yard, I scoop snow into pails to melt on the woodstove. Behind me I hear a little cough. In the dark, he seems smaller, less frightening. Maybe I imagined him wrong the first time. I invite him into the house but I do not touch him. After lighting the hurricane lanterns, I tell him to sit at the table like a good boy. He hesitates and then climbs into the chair where my husband used to sit. Some boys turn into men.

“Would you like some bread and butter?”

“Yes and cream.”

I keep cream in the blackest pitcher. I pour it into a bowl for him and he licks it as if he were a cat.

“Where are your people?” I ask.

“Will the winter end?” he replies while buttering his second piece of bread. His hands are dirty and rusty with old blood. His voice is so little it seems to get lost in the long corridor of his throat. But he is strong. I can see the tight muscles in his neck, and imagine how he’s come to hunt and scavenge.

“It always did before.”

“Does that make a thing true?”

After dinner, he fingers the hair of my dolls but does not take them down from the shelf to play. I give him my oldest son’s red coat. The buttons are missing so I use a bit of rope to belt it around his waist. In a blue lunch pail, I wrap bread and cheese between strips of cloth. I don’t give him meat. He doesn’t ask to stay. If we are both to survive this season, it will not be because of each other.

At the edge of the yard, he turns back to me, his black eyes inky with moonlight. “Where did they go, your children?” he asks.

“Does that make a thing true?” I reply.

 

About the Author:

Caitlin Scarano is a poet in the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee PhD creative writing program. She was a finalist for the 2014 Best of the Net Anthology and the winner of the 2015 Indiana Review Poetry Prize, judged by Eduardo Corral. She has two poetry chapbooks. This winter, she will be an artist in residence at the Hinge Arts Residency program in Fergus Falls and the Artsmith’s 2016 Artist Residency on Orcas Island.

Special Notes:

This story won The Conium Review‘s 2015 Flash Fiction Contest, judged by Laura Ellen Joyce.  It will also be made into a micro-chap for distribution at the 2016 AWP Conference in Los Angeles, California.

This story was selected for inclusion in the Queen’s Ferry Press anthology, Best Small Fictions 2016, guest edited by Stuart Dybek.

Image Credit: © dule964 / Dollar Photo Club

The Conium Review: Vol. 4 Collector’s Edition is here!

The gang’s all here! All nine stories from The Conium Review: Vol. 4 are available as part of this year’s Collector’s Edition. This beautiful box set is now available from our online store. Most orders will ship around December 15th. For a limited period, the Collector’s Edition will be just $30 (marked down from $32) with free shipping! It’s the ultimate holiday gift for the book lover on your list (or for yourself). These sold out rather quickly last year, so don’t miss your chance to claim one today.

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Vol. 4 Collector’s Edition Preview: “Passing,” by Rita Bullwinkel

Yesterday, we began previewing the The Conium Review: Vol. 4 collector’s edition with Kayla Pongrac’s “Chiroptera.” Today, we’ve got another peak for you! Rita Bullwinkel’s “Passing” is included in the collector’s edition as a micro-chap. This 7-page saddle stapled booklet is printed on 24-lb. natural linen paper with a 90-lb. bright white card stock cover. You can pre-order the Vol. 4 paperback here (which also includes Rita’s flash fiction), and the collector’s edition will soon be available from our store too!

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