We were sitting in the plane, waiting to back out from the gate, while the flight attendants prepared the cabin for takeoff. Perplexing airplane sounds arose from unknown locations–inside the plane, out on the tarmac, in the air. It was afternoon–through the small window the sky appeared blue and clear in a way that was both joyful and aggressive.

Leslie Epstein

Ernst Barbakoff went to the Cambridge Public Library, the branch on Pearl Street, every weekday morning as soon as the doors were open. Also Saturday afternoons. That was where the librarian, whom everybody called Miss Virginia, had posted his advertisement for piano lessons  .  .  .

Tiphanie Yanique

Papa’s hands are in my mouth. The pliers are frigging deep. He always starts at the back. That makes it worse at the end, which is the front. All confusing, but he’s that kind of bastard, my Papa. He twists the pliers.

Ryūnosuke Akutagawa
Translated by Ryan C. K. Choi

Duck Hunting

The last time I saw Professor Keigetsu Ōmachi was in 1924, on New Year’s Day, when we went duck hunting in Shinagawa Bay with a group of friends, Misei Kosugi, Taneaki Shindai, and Torayoshi Ichikawa.

Sergio Troncoso

Isidoro Acevedo has not been back to Olive Street in decades. The first thing he notices is that the tabby lingering by the front door of Apartment 1 floats in the air in the recessed alcove of a small patio.

Virginie Despentes
Translated by Emma Ramadan

Pauline is sitting at the kitchen table.

            She’d opened the shoe closet, nothing flat.

            At twenty-five years old, she has never thought to put on high heels .  .  .

Donald Hall

David Bardo was driving his wife, Beverly, to the hairdresser in Georgetown when he took a wrong turn. He apologized.

Joan Silber

My high school girlfriend wanted me to marry her. Who gets married in high school?

            “My mother isn’t even married,” I said.

Terese Svoboda

I lived in twelve houses in 1932. The Depression was all opportunity for my father, one house on the prairie foreclosed after another, the more for my father to fix up and resell. People had to live somewhere while they slid into poverty.

Kate Walbert

Maggie suggests they play the game the Obamas used to play in the White House at dinner. (She read it.) Roses and Thorns, she explains to Peter and Grace; the good things of the day the roses and the bad things of the day the thorns.