“Valentine’s Day,” Recorder Magazine, forthcoming 2017.
I had just finished covering another trial when I got the news that my childhood friend, Valentine Day, had been charged with the murder of Judy Wentworth. He still lived next to my father back home in Wisconsin, and I had little doubt he was guilty. He had always been obsessed with Judy. That day, my new editor called to tell me she wouldn’t run my latest article. “It’s boring,” she said. “Where’s the blood and sex?”
“A Habit of Seeing,” Fifth Wednesday Journal Spring 2017, 25th Anniversary Issue, Spring 2017.
The energy of the baby shower reminded Julia of Twelve Angry Men. They were sitting around the dining table in Betsy’s townhouse in the suburbs of Ann Arbor, discussing Julia as a future parent. Besides Betsy, there were several colleagues from the private high school where Julia taught acting and musical theatre. Julia’s sister Sloane was in from Connecticut. And Sharon. She was back from Europe for the summer and looked like she wanted to hang herself on the line of baby clothes strung across the room as decor.
“Advice for the Haunted,” VICE Magazine, November 2015.
Any other couple would have thrown away the former owner’s things and moved in, but two months after buying the apartment, Nick and I were using it as a playhouse. The former owner’s name had been Natalia. We didn’t know how she had died at first. It’s like our own secret fallout shelter, Nick said, as we peeled back her dotted white bedspread and crawled under the sheets.
“How to Walk on Water,” The Missouri Review, Spring 2015.
I’ll show you the backside of your soul. That’s what Arvel Wilkes told Nolan’s mother, Sigrid, the night of the attack. Nolan had found a manila envelope with a smeared carbon copy of the original police report inside. She had been just twenty-six when it happened, much younger than Nolan now. […]
–“How to Walk on Water” received the 2014 Jeffrey E Smith Missouri Review Prize in Fiction.
“Drone,” Black Warrior Review, Spring/Summer 2015.
That was the summer the boy’s father bought him the drone, and his mother shipped out to Basra. Shaped like two infinity symbols, the tiny craft was armed with a camera and came with two plastic hulls. The boy lived with his father in his townhouse in the burbs, and they launched the drone over the parking lot and down the road. […]
“The Night Between Us,” American Short Fiction, Fall 2013.
I have the urge to eat postcards of famous paintings. I have purchased hundreds through the mail. I even have one of those dogs playing poker. I bought it for the felt of the table, the velvet of the dogs’ ears, the cigars burning down. Tonight I’ll have a taste of Chagall, his bride swooping above a darkened city. […]
— To read the accompanying ASF web feature on vintage postcards and childhood,
“The Only Thing Missing Was the Howling of Wolves,” Kenyon Review, Summer 2013.
How could my sister, crazy as they come, still coerce me into doing things that could come to no good? She had her two-year-old grandson, Wendell, in her arms, and he was wearing a baptismal gown, and she was saying, Just this once, Harlan. I got it all worked out. No one will ever know, except me and you and the good Lord. You won’t have to do a darn thing except drive. […]
“Edith Under the Streetlight,” The Massachusetts Review, Winter 2012.
When Sandra couldn’t come up with her rent that summer, she turned to Edith who lived down the hall. Edith, who stopped by Sandra’s apartment several times a day to complain about the young women who lived in the apartment between them. Edith, who was so gaunt and swollen-jointed, so narrow in the face, she reminded Sandra of a wigged praying mantis. […]
“Boys on a Veranda,” Connecticut Review, Summer 2012.
Their brownstones were nearly identical, and he could peek through the curtain in his dining room into hers. She must have been about his daughter’s age, in her mid-thirties. She rarely had visitors. Instead of sitting down for a simple bowl of soup or a sandwich as she usually did in the evenings, the woman set the table each night and lit a candle. Then she brought out a silver platter stacked with what he discovered were picture postcards. […]
“Mitz’s Theory of Everything Series,” Agni, Vol. 74, 2011.
It was Mitz who was in Ona’s drawings, over and over again. See? That’s Mitz lying on a bed, her arms detached at the elbows and reaching up to Ona from the floor. That’s Mitz with her narrow hips, and her hair falling out in monstrous, feral clumps. And look, there’s Ona. The old Ona. Wholesome Ona. Mitz’s Midwestern Apple Pie Girl. Mitz’s Peaches and Cream. So tall, her arms reach out of the frame, her breasts balloon to the ceiling. […]
–“Mitz’s Theory of Everything Series” appeared in the anthology New Stories from the Midwest 2013.
“Felina,” Mississippi Review, Vol. 38, No. 3, 2011.
When Felina told Arthur she could arrange a woman’s hair to resemble a waterfall or a parking garage, that she could arrange fruit like a woman lounging in space, he wasn’t really listening. He was distracted by her short skirt and grey fedora. He had noticed her all the way across The Factory nightclub, stacking candleholders and cocktail glasses into an elaborate tower. […]
–“Felina” received a Special Mention in The Pushcart Prize XXXVII: Best of the Small Presses 2013, and the 2011 Mississippi Review Prize in Fiction.
“At the Bottom of the River of Unsung Heroes” and “This World is Not Conclusion,”Quarter After Eight, Volume XVII, 2011.
What I have to tell you, you must remember, though you have tried to forget. Your sister is here under the river by your old family home, and she needs your help. You must fly to her. You must remember those first years after the war. The day the two of you discovered what adults would not speak—that the river was haunted with more than bullfrogs and wooly milkweed. […]
Witness, Volume XXIV, 2011.
Someone was in the closet. Gina heard a voice, or more exactly a whimper, when she tossed in her shoes after work. Then someone said her name. She grabbed the nearest object, a silver lamp from beside the bed. Larry would have told her not to open the door. He would have told her to run and call the police. […]
“Castelo dos Mouros,” Flyway, Volume 13.1, 2010.
The American girl arrived at the inn wet and feverish that drizzly spring in Sintra. Benito led her up to a room where she dropped her backpack and pulled a chair under the ceiling window. He tried to explain in his limited English about the window, how it leaked during rains, how it had to be propped open by a piece of wood, but she just gazed out at the castle ruins. […]
“Woman in Blue, 1919,” The Literary Review, Summer 2010.
Fury brought me alive, not the artist’s stitch. Nine months I spent in the womb of Frau Moos’ hands, my swan skin pricked and stuffed, my tongue and sex shaped, and all the while dumb and void. For that unknowing, I am grateful, although I dream sometimes of a journey in a crate of wood shavings, my unmuscled legs cocked around my ears. […]
–To see a self-portrait of Viennese painter Oskar Kokoschka with his life-size doll, click here.
“Notes to a Shadowy Man,” Cimarron Review, Summer 2009.
Vera has seen so much film noir that sometimes, if she squints and holds her breath, she can make daytime dark and indistinct, see the image of a shadowy man on the building across the street. The Illusion is unlike any theater she has ever been to before. Its one small projection room is crowded with worn velvet loveseats and chairs, and sometimes, if she arrives too late, she has to sit pressed close to a stranger. [More]
“Strangers Among Us,” The Missouri Review, Spring 2007.
Here she was again, in a strange apartment, at a party, alone. The first glass of wine gulped too quickly. Later, she would be certain that it was the backless couch that caused her to drink too much. Positioned in the exact center of the ivory room, upon a fur rug over a parquet floor, it was more sculpture than furnishing. […]
Excerpt from “How to Walk on Water,” The Missouri Review Soundbooth. The Missouri Review Jeffrey E. Smith Editor’s Prize Reading, April 18, 2015.
Excerpt from “Felina,” NYU Creative Writing Program Reading Series, September 21, 2012. 2012 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers Award Reading, NYU Creative Writing Program Reading Series, September 21, 2012.
“Notes to a Shadowy Man” and “At the Bottom of the River of Unsung Heroes,” The Knox Writers’ House Recording Project.
REVIEWS / INTERVIEWS / NON-FICTION
“Creativity and Constraints: An interview with Kellie Wells and Yvette Kaiser Smith,” Combustus, November 22, 2015.
“The End by Salvatore Scibona,” Third Coast, Spring 2009.
“Skin by Kellie Wells,” Third Coast, Spring 2007.