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“New Hampshire Girl, 11, Vanishes,” by William Reichard

Magic Wand Sketch

It couldn’t literally happen like that, but language is imprecise, so the girl disappears in a flash, the way a magician’s assistant disappears, then rematerializes, on the other side of the auditorium. Or the girl disappears under supernatural circumstances, vanishes in real time before our very eyes, out of this dimension. Because energy never ceases to exist, she must be someplace, another world, an alternate plane, a space of which we don’t yet possess an adequate understanding. The New Hampshire girl’s family lives in willful disbelief. Despite what the police say, they won’t give up. Why should they? Isn’t hope better than knowledge?

My sister, who is terminally ill, was selected from the audience by a famous illusionist for a part in his act. He caused her to vanish from one box and brought her back in another. He made her promise never to reveal the secrets of his trick. So far, she has not. One day, she’ll disappear again, and we’ll know, despite our grief, that she’ll never return. They never do. She won’t give up her secret, but we’ll refuse that silence, go on looking.

About the Author:

William Reichard is a writer, editor, and educator. He’s published five poetry collections. He lives in Saint Paul, MN.

Image Credit: © Kreatiw – stock.adobe.com

“Girls,” by Debbie Vance

Water Splash

The ground is sinking quicker now, quicker than ever before, and all the people know it. Some leave, drive cars down river-roads, tires spinning without moving forward. Quickly, they abandon cars and steer boats, row or motor until the bow hits dry land somewhere else. But others stay, drink cheap beer, laugh as the water rises past their calves, knees, tickles their swamp-sweaty thighs. Their houses are set on stilts, but the water rises so high they must climb stairs to the second floor, to the attic. The water does not surprise them, but that doesn’t make it any more believable.

The water can’t hurt us, the parents say, as it fills their mouths.

Three girls stand on the roof of the house where their parents drink in the attic and watch the water rise, swallow fences, chicken coops, windows. Dogs try to keep their muzzles above water, but the girls do not try to save them—the fences, the dogs, the dollhouse in the first floor bedroom below—everyone has already drowned. The doll’s paper bodies disintegrate in the kitchen. Their paper molecules absorb into the water.

Do you think it’ll ever end, one girl asks. Probably not, the other two answer. Once the land begins to sink, it has nowhere to go but down. The water teases the shingles, cold on the toes of the girls, and like eels they slide in. They swim away from what was once their town, south toward the open ocean. They keep their heads above water, their eyes shut against the bodies buried below—the dogs, the dolls, the parents—it is enough to feel the molecules of them, dissolved, brush against their legs like seaweed.

In fairy tales, girls may undergo transformation. Here, they might become speckled trout or redfish or oysters. But in some stories, other stories, they do not.

About the Author:

Debbie Vance’s fiction has appeared most recently in Flyway, The Boiler, and Alligator Juniper. She is a 2015 Pushcart Prize nominee and an MFA candidate at Colorado State University, where she teaches composition and research.

Image Credit: © cherryka – stock.adobe.com

Contributor Update: Ingrid Jendrzejewski published at “50-Word Stories”

Ingrid Jendrzejewski has a new micro-fiction up at 50-Word Stories. Read her 50-word piece, “Monopoly,” here. Congrats on this latest publication, Ingrid!

Ingrid Jendrzejewski has contributed to The Conium Review on multiple occasions. Her flash “The Box of Skinny Women” appears on our website. Another piece, “Shampoo,” appears in The Conium Review: Vol. 4. Later this year, Ingrid’s “Rain Cloud” will appear in The Conium Review: Vol. 5.

Find links to more of Ingrid’s work on her website.

“Burnout,” by Kellie Karbach

Sneakers sketch

I plunged a spoonful of oatmeal into my mouth with one hand and cupped my hipbone with the other.

Prior to, my mother locked her hands around my arms. Her middle finger and thumb met with a keratin click. She sighed. I promised not to fall backwards.

Prior to, I towed my body down two miles of asphalt to the apartment stairwell.

Prior to, at mile eight, my left knee surrendered with a snap. A red Toyota swerved onto the leafy median with a rubber yelp.

Prior to, I imagined solar liposuction, melting adipose, how it’d smell like burnt oil, maybe sweeter, maybe more sour, if it’d dissolve my inner thighs first, or the pouch in my lower belly. I adjusted the mile goal on my app from eight to ten.

Prior to, the number 115 flashed scarlet on the screen. I glued a new piece of Velcro to my armband but it still slid to my elbow.

Prior to, I triple-knotted my shoes. The sun and the neighborhood and my mother hid their eyes under warm blankets.

About the Author:

Kellie Karbach is a highly-caffeinated writer and amateur photographer based in Southwest Florida. She curates and edits a travel and lifestyle website entitled Venturing East. Her work has appeared in Little Patuxent Review and Iron Gall Press. In the past, she has served as a freelance contributor to West & Grand, and as a baseball beat writer for The Claw Digest and MiracleBaseball.com.

Image Credit: © Akhilesh Sharma – stock.adobe.com