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“The Conium Review: Vol. 7” now available for order!

The wait is over. This year’s issue has been sent to the printer and is ready to order. Orders will ship in early January, 2019. This year’s issue features work from Suzanne Burns, Chelsea Harris, Emily Wortman-Wunder, Sonal Sher, Matt Kolbet, Bridget Apfeld, Anita Goveas, Alison Closter, and Christopher James. Readers will find a mermaid addicted to over-the-counter supplements, a never-ending race, disappearing limbs, and other wildly imaginative tales. With deft prose, these stories reflect on obsession, longing, and loss.

This volume includes “The Endangered Fish of the Colorado River,” by Emily Wortman-Wunder, winner of The Conium Review‘s 2018 Innovative Short Fiction Contest. The contest was judged by Maryse Meijer, author of Heartbreaker and Northwood. Maryse says “‘The Endangered Fish of the Colorado River’ is a moving meditation on parental and ecological grief, an exceptionally accomplished examination of losses big and small. Restrained, precise, and wise, the author shows us how, in the attempt to save something, we risk losing everything.”

Get a copy of the issue directly from our website, and keep an eye out for it at your local bookstore or through your favorite online retailer. For large quantity orders, we use Ingram Book Group for distribution.

About the Contributors

A native of Wisconsin, Bridget Apfeld holds an MFA from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, and a BA from the University of Notre Dame. She lives in Austin, TX and work as a production assistant at the University of Texas at Austin. Her previous and forthcoming work is featured in various journals, including So to Speak, The Fem, Dislocate, Midwestern Gothic, Dappled Things, Newfound, Brevity, and Verse Wisconsin. She is currently editing her second novel.

Suzanne Burns writes both fiction and poetry in Bend, Oregon and Paris, France. The Chicago Tribune recently published her short fiction.

Alison Closter teaches high school students literature and writing near Boston. She has previously published a short story in Flying South Magazine, and she has a flash fiction piece forthcoming in Monkey Bicycle.

Anita Goveas is British-Asian, based in London, and fueled by strong coffee and paneer jalfrezi. She lurks in libraries and her local independent bookshop, Bookseller Crow. She was first published in the 2016 London Short Story Prize anthology, most recently in Pocket Change, Haverthorn, Moonchild Magazine, Riggwelter Press, Anti-Heroin Chic, former cactus mag, and Litro. She tweets erratically @coffeeandpaneer

Chelsea Harris has appeared in Literary Orphans, Smokelong Quarterly, Minola Review, The Fem, The Portland Review, and Grimoire, among others. She received her MFA from Columbia College Chicago.

Christopher James lives, works and writes in Jakarta, Indonesia. He has previously been published online in many venues, including Tin House, Fanzine, McSweeney’s, SmokeLong, and Wigleaf. He is the editor of Jellyfish Review.

Matt Kolbet teaches and writes in Oregon.

Sonal Sher was born in Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir and did her education in Delhi, pursuing a bachelors in Physics from Hindu College. She worked for a not-for-profit organization Hippocampus Reading Foundation and as a journalist for Deccan Herald and Hindustan Times. Recently she wrote her first feature film, Chidiakhana produced by Children’s Film Society of India. She is an alum of the UEA Creative Writing Course organized by University of East Anglia and was part of the first edition of New Writers’ Mentorship Programme in Jaipur Literature festival 2017.

Emily Wortman-Wunder lives in Denver, Colorado. Her work has appeared in Vela, Nimrod, Terrain, High Country News, and many other places.

Leesa Cross-Smith has a new essay at SmokeLong

Leesa Cross-Smith headshot (683x1024)Leesa Cross-Smith (upcoming judge of our Flash Fiction Contest) has a new essay at SmokeLong Quarterly today! Leesa’s essay “Just a Flash. Did You See It?” is part of SmokeLong‘s ongoing “Why Flash Fiction?” series, wherein writers and editors explore their experiences writing and reading flash.

Leesa talks about a favorite flash from author Scott Garson, she recalls the process of writing her piece “Sometimes We Fight in Wars,” and she reflects on her editorial role at Whiskey Paper. Throughout this discourse, she muses about time (or lack thereof) and considers the accelerated narrative pacing of most flash fictions. Check out the full essay, “Just a Flash. Did You See It?” here.

“Salvage,” by Marsha McSpadden

 

doodle cloud with rain

1.)

First of the month, sirens startle and scare. Even though he says, one of them drills, that’s all, her eyes go black with worry. Then the wailing. That old familiar dread. He runs for the hatchet. Sturdy, sure where wood dips into blade. He hacks and hacks until the plywood comes free. Look, baby, nothing but bluesky.

How long has it been? The rescue teams have cleared out. All manner of debris sorted and carried off. Signs for free counseling folded and stowed away.

Still, she’s on her hands and knees. Shaking. Shivering. Crawling to the closet.

Matches in her mouth.

2.)

Down at the diner, talk’s turned to runningbacks. Linemen. A different kind of safety.

3.)

He stands in the drive, squinting. Downright mesmerizing, how the sun sparks up the roof. That terrible tarp gone. He pushes the door, ears still screaming, thinking on new beginnings. Of everything hammered down.

And there she is. Ghost of the girl he gave his heart to. In the kitchen floor. Nails bitten to bleeding. Wrapped in that blue plastic nightmare.

4.)

Somewhere the grass greens. Birds chirp. Spiders knit webs lopsided and mean.

But here, days stretch and bend, motheaten with memory. Not even a dog left to yap.

5.)

A full day put down, he lays out for bbq he don’t even like. But he does his part. He tries.

Inside smells like sadness. Like sawdust. Like everything else. The walls hurried into place. Makeshift and bald.

Grayhair at the counter, her hand over his trying to melt calluses, asks, Shug, how you holding up?

 He stares at the sack. Hard to talk on holes that don’t show.

6.)

In the night, an empty rut on her side of bed. He trips over boots. Fumbles, room to room, flipping all the lights.

Finds her pressed in the shallow of the bathtub, under a mess of dirty clothes, clinging to sleep.

He watches, missing her heat. The way their hands would meet in the dark. Seeking. The pulse of that memory nearly dead.

7.)

That wind been going all damn day. Pushing everything about. Impossible to work.

Huddled on barstools, everyone inside thankful for thick smoke and woodpaneling. No windows to be scraped by limbs. To be blown out. To remind him to get home. To her. Where she’ll be crouched in some corner. Crying into the hem of her dress. Waiting for sheetrock to pull away.

He orders another beer. Ready to drain the day.

 

8.)

Dark creeps earlier and earlier. A day’s work slipped between.

His headlights sweep the yard. A flash of silver where she stabs her shovel. Clots of red dirt at her feet. Finally had her fill of that neighbor dog.

He slides from the truck, slow to remember how that dog’s been gone. How everything is.

Leaves, brown and wet, stick to the shovel. Like skin.

April’s coming, she says, smudges on her cheeks. Hair all a tangle. Frantic for a stormshelter.

Across the street, pitch black. Nothing but mud anyhow. Far as the wind goes.

9.)

Thinking on that trailer out at the county line, he scares up the courage to call his cousin.

He snorts. Says, That old thing. Some tweakers blew it straight to Jesus. Everybody wanting to get sideways, I reckon. Why you asking?

Nothing particular.

Thought you was stronger than all that.

 

10.)

That damn sky darkens, colored with smite. Her eyes feral at the tumble of thunder.

All the world ready to rage.

Girl, don’t you do it, he says, sweeping behind, pinning her arms. A terrible noise deep in her gut. Barking. Bucking, going for his shins, trying to yank away, until her shirt rips. He clamps tighter and tighter, a snake around dinner.

Raindrops fat as eggs against the roof. Slide down the window. Witness.

He kicks the door open, slinging them both onto the porch.

Beyond the mangled treeline, lightning opens the sky like a shiv.

Drops fall on their bare feet. Cold as nails. Nails ripped from floorboards. Nails licked by the first frost. Snowed upon. Left to rust.

He hauls her down the steps, into the yard, to that spot where grass is afraid to grow.

Look. See. He lifts her chin to the sky. That weird light they both know. Growing greener.

Still here. We’re still here. His voice slick with wanting.

The rain runs down, onto their skin, trying to wash them both clean.

About the Author:

Marsha McSpadden’s flash fictions have previously appeared in Shenandoah, matchbook, SmokeLong, and NANO Fiction.

Special Note:

This story was a finalist in The Conium Review‘s 2015 Flash Fiction Contest, judged by Laura Ellen Joyce.

Image Credit: © dule964 / Dollar Photo Club