Issue 35, Final Fringe


The Cancelled Life

by Jon Chopan 06.24.2013

My father calls me on a Tuesday and says that they are razing some of the Kodak buildings on Friday and would I like to come watch with him. He is excited by the prospect of the explosion and the precision with which they will take the building down. A few seconds and it is over and all that is left is a pile, like snow plowed into the corner of a parking lot. Photographers know no building will stand forever. In a separate room designed to look like the future there are computers... more »

When I Lived in Manhattan...

by Sarah Einstein 06.24.2013

When I lived in Manhattan, we sat in East Side bars full of books and leather, smoking cigars and drinking Cosmopolitans. We wore our pearls without irony, our hair down long and straight, and our heels high. When I lived in Manhattan, my mother used to say, “Don’t come back to West Virginia and tell us how much better everything is in Manhattan because we don’t want to hear about it.” When I lived in Manhattan, Salman Rushdie was our Jay McInerney and we quoted his Fury like... more »


by Lyzette Wanzer 12.17.2012

My stylist, the soothsayer. Sugarcoater, not. She pulled no punches, warned me outright about the beginner phase, the in-between phase, the neither-here-nor-there-yet phase. The need for patience. She ushered me in one January, and we began. While we began, she shared stories about schisms amongst stylists who wear natural hair and those wearing weaves and perms. Within the natural collective, additional rifts cracked along client lines: if you service natural clients, but wear a... more »

Garbanzo Beans for Breakfast

by Marissa Landrigan 10.08.2012

Bob, all freckles and curly blonde hair, six feet Midwestern tall, squinted his blue eyes at me and said, “Please. Tell me you’re not a vegetarian.” I was. And so I had to endure a half hour of Bob’s sermon on the American culture of ranching and the nutritional benefits of meat-eating. I knew that Bob was from a ranch, and I knew that ranches in the United States were suffering, and I knew that Bob was just reacting emotionally, viscerally, to the idea that I was robbing his family... more »

Post Script

by Amy L. Clark 09.03.2012

If you had asked me, even a year ago, what my fantasy profession is, I would have said astronaut. Or maybe, house-sitter to the stars. Then I got what my family insists on calling a Real Job. Which means that instead of serving disgruntled, self-important people beverages for less than a living wage, I sit, disgruntled and self-important, at a desk. For less than a living wage plus health insurance. This all has enabled me to create a new fantasy profession. Now, when I grow up, I want to... more »

Growing Roots: Fragments of a Dislocated Schoolgirl

by Jean Hopkins 07.16.2012

My husband assured me that the small trees would be fine, that their roots would adjust. We just needed to be quick about it, and give them a good drink once they were in their new spot. I plunged the spade into the dirt and stood on its edge, feeling the roots snap under my foot. I tugged forcefully on the trunk, which was no bigger than my thumb, and felt the roots let go of the earth as the tree came away in my hand. I hurried across the yard to get it buried again in its new home, hoping... more »

Holding Onto

by Rebecca Schwab 04.23.2012

My father began to purchase things after my mother died. Large, rusting things. My mother passed away in August, and Dad parked the stake truck in our Silver Creek, NY driveway by April. We were horrified, my many siblings and I, at its crumbling frame, lack of a left-side door handle, loud engine, and the removable blue fencing that surrounded the flat bed on the back. “Got a good price on it!” he told us as he hopped out of the cab. It was the happiest he’d looked in... more »


by Laura Young 03.19.2012

I turn the jar, label to the back and regard the contents. A small handful of darkened, yellowed bone chips, most smaller than peppercorns, and I think of the relics that have been kept of saints. Bits of fingers, locks of hair, the odd toe or tip of the nose housed in grottos, shrines and embedded in altars and I want to bring those bone chips home with me but I can’t honestly tell you why. What is that impulse in me that wants to protect any part of you from being lost? more »


by Matthew Vollmer 01.23.2012

here lies a man who every time he took a walk after dark in his neighborhood always and without fail asked himself why don’t you go for a walk every single night of your life and what’s keeping you from doing this one simple lovely thing more »

Dick Move

by Sarah Einstein 12.12.2011

I dreamt that it was morning and you said, as if it was no big thing, “Hey, kid, why don’t you take the penis today? I’ve got a lot to do, so I won’t even really notice it’s gone, and it might be fun for you.” “This is what I love about you,” my dream self said to the you in my dream. “Nobody else would ever think to be that generous.” And I meant it, as both my selves. Ultimately, this is a dream about your generosity. “Okay, then. Let me keep it till after my... more »

Excerpts from "Shell-Shaped Pieces of Bone"

by Traci O Connor 11.07.2011

She says, “Don’t touch that bird or else the mother will never come back,” but I am already holding the baby bird cupped in my hands like my own beating heart. The tiny feet scritching my palms. I carry it home as carefully as a bomb and then my mother finds a box and a dishrag and the bird scrunches into the corner, away from the upside-down lid I have filled with water, away from my finger. “I’ll take good care of you,” I tell it. When we get home from the beach, the sun comes... more »

Lone Star Love

by Andy Ross 10.03.2011

Late one Saturday afternoon last October, I found myself standing in a Gonzales, Texas, rodeo arena talking politics with a man named Cary, the membership director of a group called the Texas Nationalist Movement. Cary’s focus was on secession – or independence, as he preferred to call it. Having spent the past hour helping lead a rally calling for just that goal, he had now turned to me, the skeptic with a notepad, and launched into the hard facts of why Texas’ freedom from the... more »

Bumper Stickers

by Nathan Wilcox 08.24.2011

Solid black with white letters scrawled in a jagged font. Bold and big are the words, “Kill Em All.” Below, in a smaller juxtaposition, “Let Allah Sort Em Out.” “Here’s how you solve this,” my father said over Christmas dinner, not… more »


by Emma Törzs 07.18.2011

They found a body in my river. Until I read the newspaper article my mother sent me from Massachusetts, I didn’t know that the river had a real name, but it does: Fort Pond Brook, a title I will use here and then never again, except to complain, because it is a terrible name: a man’s name, stodgy and staccato, and at odds with the water that floods my street when it rains too hard and withers down into a trickle during the droughts that come in the summer, those dry spells when the town... more »

Mississippi Freedom Summer in Eight Vignettes

by Michael Royce 06.06.2011

The train approached Meridian, Mississippi, at midnight. The train was half empty and quiet, but my mind raced, heavy and conflicted, contemplating the events to come. Who are they, these racists pulling you from trains and cars and homes in the night to shoot you and bury you in concrete? I was 18 and on my way to volunteer with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in the second Mississippi Freedom Summer in 1965. Was I scared? Yes, certainly; but also excited at the prospect... more »

My Expanding Map

by Jayme Russell 05.09.2011

I had just turned ten. The first day back from our summer break, our PE teacher asked us where we had vacationed. While waiting to be called on, I was holding the name Wayne National Forest in my mind and getting nervous about telling the class we went camping, yet again, about thirty minutes away from our home. We never had enough money to go farther. On my turn, I blurted out “Yellowstone!” It was too late to go back. more »

The Wind

by Gary Presley 03.07.2011

The wind in this place is still new to me, even after a year, a thing both understood and surprising. I first began to notice it because the room in which I write looks to the east, and there is a point in that direction where the land slopes downward in a dramatic fashion. The marrying of terrain and prevailing winds means a consistent updraft works its invisible magic outside my window nearly every day, a magic lifting and cradling of two birds common in this part of the world, red-tail hawks... more »

In Oquossoc

by Jessica Hendry Nelson 02.07.2011

We sing as we drive - a song we make up about moose. Going on a moose hunt… That's all we have, so we sing this chorus over and over and dance wildly in our seats, beating time on the dashboard. We lost radio reception a while back, soon after we pulled away from the cabin. Before we left, Nick filled three black trash bags with the wet leaves from the gutters while I carefully pulled large sections of broken glass from a splintered window frame and flakes of white paint settled over the... more »

All But Content

by Bridget Pelkie 01.10.2011

Along with the more famous PBS television programs of the late 80s, Reading Rainbow and Sesame Street, I watched a show called The Letter People. Brightly colored characters shaped like letters of the alphabet frolicked and sang together, all in the course of teaching kindergarteners to read. Classrooms like mine could stock up on the enormous inflatable Letter People, toys that loomed over us six year olds, grinning from atop their bookshelf perches. Distinguishing each character from... more »

J's AK

by Harmony Button 12.13.2010

Scene: in the backseat of a Jeep, the view cropped ragged by a gray wool blanket wrapped around the camera. Our view, shrunken into tunnel vision, moves in steps and lurches: we see the empty bucket of the driver’s seat, see the front dash and then out the windshield. A blur of color focuses into five figures: Ben, Ben’s contact Jean Claude, the Colonel, and two of the Colonel’s men. The Colonel is wearing an olive green beret, khaki fatigues synched at the waist with an ammo belt. ... more »