Joyland

a hub for short fiction

Consulate

Becoming an Outdoorswoman

Welcome to the first story in our Pacific Northwest series, guest edited by Kim Fu. We'll be accepting submissions from Pacific Northwest authors throughout the summer. 

Kathryn filled her backpack with the essentials: a few t-shirts and pairs of underwear, climbing shorts that didn’t get in the way, her shoes and harness, coils of thick rope. Her partner, Jake, was still asleep. In their seven years together, she had learned he could sleep through anything. The month before had been her birthday--thirty-two--and there were still cards lining the mantel. She left their little blue house in a Boston suburb the way she wanted to hold it: sun rising and rooms quiet, everything in its place.

Broken Notes

During an unguarded moment, she’d wondered what it would be like to live with a man. Dawn to dusk, day after day, the presumption of shared confidences. The thoughts induced a panicked state.

So when Akira reached across the bed and laced his fingers through hers, his large thumb stroking circles on Cadence’s palm, her heart raced. “Move in with me,” he said in an unusual high pitched voice. “Please.”

Cadence withdrew her hand. “I’m sorry,” she said with an involuntary laugh, thinking it would be kinder to crush any stubborn hope. “This was never that kind of relationship.”

Akira’s face fell. “But Cadence, I love you,” he said. “I thought you felt the same way about me.”

Taking slow breaths, she stared at the white wall space above his head. There was nothing left to say.

Akira didn’t think so. Face flushed, he sat up in bed and waited. The silence lengthened. Finally, he stood and packed the few clothes left at her place.

Tiger’s Got Teeth

Ethel Rohan's new collection of fiction, Goodnight Nobody, is now available for preorder from Queen's Ferry Press. Here's a repost of Rohan's 2011 Joyland story.

Roberta refused to move past the antiques shop, its grimy front window crowded with Korean furniture, ornaments and bric-a-brac. Anna protested her immovable mother; they were on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Seoul and en-route to Chanddokkung Palace, why delay in a creepy antiques shop? Roberta pulled Anna past the colossal stone creatures on either side of the shop entrance. Anna couldn’t decide if the bizarre-looking statues were supposed to be dogs or lions. She and her mother separated immediately, Anna drawn to the rustic urns and Roberta elsewhere.

Essay: The Real Portlandia

Richard Melo's new novel, Happy Talk, is out this June from Red Lemonade.

I was half out of my mind if not all the way. One year, I became a single dad. Then a year and a half later, my kid’s mom died. My first novel, a book I had spent the decade of my twenties writing, was finally coming out, and while I should have been ecstatic at my first publishing experience, with so much sadness at home, my face felt too heavy to smile. George Bush was president and acting like someone who never met a war he didn’t like. These were dark times.

Some people in circumstances like these might have turned to drugs and alcohol, others to Jesus Christ. All I wanted was to take care of my four-year-old daughter and surround myself with as much laughter as I could stand until life turned back to normal. Lucky for me, I found LiveJournal.

Staccato

 

Here the men are different. Of course they are. They could not be the same as us. I knew that this would be so. Though, when I first arrived, I had not expected them to be like this. Of how they do things, of how they carry out tasks, it is not my place to say “this is right” or “that is wrong.” I cannot be of their ways. Who can inhabit another? But I can see them. I watch who they are. And I wonder if they ever watch me.

The Poetry Audition

Excerpted from Good Night, Mr. Kissinger and Other Stories, available now from UPL Books.

Bahram and Jamshed were dressed alike as children because their father believed it to be the best way of preventing sibling rivalry. Rather than make them better friends though, their identical wardrobes led to some petty confusion. The brothers often wore each other's clothes by mistake. In family photographs of the time Bahram appeared scowling in shorts that hung down to his knees, while Jamshed smiled bravely in collars that nearly choked him.

Hotel Palestine

CC image courtesy of Flickr

JORDAN

A few days after the fall of Baghdad in April 2003, Ann Prendergast left the hospital after a miscarriage. She slipped over the border from Amman, Jordan and after a tough and often terrifying journey across the western Iraqi desert ended up at the Hotel Palestine. Her bed was last slept in by a journalist who days earlier had been killed by U.S. troops. The city was on fire, almost post-apocalyptic, as looters continued their sweep.

Eulalie Laid

At forty feet on a weedy plain aglint with crushed beer cans, observed by pouting bass, he bumped her. She finned to catch her balance but he was enormous as a dirigible in his black suit and hood. Frictionless as a tumble through sky, she scared mindless — new to her gear, the water — until his gloved hand clamped her shoulder and he pressed his mask to hers, his eyes flushed. Weeping? With his other hand he jiggered the regulator in her mouth. For a second she sighed: now this? Then she snorted, breath-exhaust balling surface-ward. Could he be more in her face?

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