In February, I made a concerted effort to read more lit mags. I didn’t quite reach my goal of reading a different one every day, but I did find 12 stories that resonated with me for one reason or another. Enjoy this flash fiction roundup from around the internet!
1. “Imperfect” by Sudha Balagopal in Lost Balloon
This flash fiction centers around a girl at a Catholic school who embarrassingly doesn’t have clean shirts and has to keep borrowing shirts from the rich girl, Pia. The characterization is good, and the narrative neatly arcs to a satisfying ending. I love the line “I want to learn how how to faint” because I have thought that, too.
2. “Shapeless” by Chloe Clark in bad pony
I love how this story took a turn pretty quickly with the line: “Your baby’s a golem.” I love being surprised! I dig the emotional potency of the piece balanced with its slightly speculative/magical realism slant.
3. “Water is My Favorite Color” by Anna O’Brien in Cold Creek Review
I kinda love this story. The main character is fleshed out and real; I feel like I understand her even though I’m 20 years younger. The images throughout the story—water and watercolors and her kids’ color names—are well done and effective. I love how this mysterious Lindy character’s storyline twists at the end, revealing she’s not as perfect as she seems; in the last moments of the story, she’s both pitiful and still slightly unsympathetic.
4. “My Sister’s Aquarium” by Jennifer Todhunter in Cease, Cows
I adore the twist we get right away when we realize that her sister is an aquarium instead of holding an aquarium. That twist is the draw for me; I enjoy the rest of the dialogue and story, and the ending delivers.
5. “The City of Four Million Husbands” by Gillian Ramos in Cotton Xenomorph
Come for the title, stay for the realistic and relatable character that you either are or know. This story is the embodiment of the “girl who falls in love with everyone” character; Ramos crafts a dynamic character throughout a well-paced story.
6. “Sick Girls” by Lauren Becker in CHEAP POP
It’s short, but this story does some interesting things with relationships with others (especially when everyone in the friend group is dying) and relationships with food and body.
7. “Boston” by Matt Carlin in The Sea Letter
Here we have an interesting story about mask as mask, then as metaphor, then as shocking reality. I love the ending on this one.
8. “Take and Give” by Lauren Becker in Jellyfish Review
I like this one for a few reasons: First, the relationship between the narrator and her sister feels real. Second, the turn in the story felt unexpected, even though it’s echoed in the title; it’s an interesting turn because it makes that sister relationship so much more real—only siblings know exactly how to drive each other crazy. I love that the title hints at this twist, but doesn’t give it away.
9. “Now That the Circus Has Shut Down, the Human Cannonball Looks for Work” by Meghan Phillips in Wigleaf
This flash fiction captures how many of us Millennials feel when searching for a new job or at the beginning of our careers. I love the quick, witty prose: Lines like “She works on a cover letter, but isn’t sure how to talk about herself without exclamation points” and “Quick learner—She wasn’t always the Human Cannonball” are perfect.
10. “The Candle Farmers” by Rebecca Harrison in Paper Darts
Not only does this story have a super interesting and metaphorically rich concept, but it’s also got a good storyline and ending. I love the imagery of candle fields, and the story feels emotionally complete.
11. “Insomnia” by Hannah Rahimi in Carve
This story feels so real and genuine. There are lines in here that I love, like: “Gentleness tends to make me cry because it usually means someone has detected something breakable in me that I didn’t know was there. At least the camera’s off.”
12. “Story of a Witch” by R.A. Matteson in The Molotov Cocktail
I love how Matteson plays with the stereotypical flat characters of “witch” and “hero” here; she subverts them in an way that speaks to the current #MeToo movement and adds to the conversation.