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Dive into these spellbinding stories from our writers who have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize!
By Alys Key
“We meet at the Ten Bells, like always. The glow of it splashes out onto the street, and as we come inside, warmth hits us across the face so that our bones unknit and our layers unfold; gloves, hats, bicycle helmets come away like well-cooked meat.”
By Shelley Trower
“Always seagulls in this town, crossing the road, and we were in a rush too, but there was a big black car about to pass. Waited for it to go by but it stopped. So we stopped too, on the pavement with the seagulls. We stood there, me and the children and the seagulls, waiting, and I saw a couple of people I’d once known, waiting too, and I wondered if it could be you in that coffin, in that car.”
By Emily Harrison
“The announcement says there’s been an incident on the line. England is 18 hours into the hottest day of the year and outside the train carriage the June sun is scalding enough to set the air rippling. Inside a collective groan goes up. Beside me, the man whose knee has been pressing tight against mine since he sat next to me two stops ago drops his head to the table. There’s a line of sweat down the back of his blue shirt. A tiny blackhead below his ear lobe. My fingers itch at the thought of squeezing it. “
By Omar Imady
“She was wearing a denim skirt, a long denim skirt that one would have expected to reach her ankles. But hers ended suddenly, about three inches above. The sleeves of her tight white blouse played a similar trick, extending beyond her elbows but shying away from reaching her wrists. And on her head, she wore a white headscarf. A typical Damascene white headscarf, tied under her chin, covering her hair. Except that one or two strands had escaped the fabric and fell across her forehead, revealing its auburn colour. I shifted in my chair. What is it about in betweeness that plays with me? Short and long skirts don’t bother me, I hardly notice them. “
By Patricia Q. Bidar
“In the daytime, the air was filled with the smell of the nearby refinery and the discount bakery where Daphne worked. The crack of the bats from the little league field.
Nights were different. It was the year Daphne’s guy classmates became her lovers. At least that was how Daphne framed it to herself. They would come to her late at night, after frustrating sessions with their girlfriends. She collected and kept their semen in squares of aluminum foil, which she stored in the nightstand beside her twin bed. The yellow-lit air was punctuated by the sound of foghorns and the freight train’s moan.”
By Deya Bhattacharya
“I have the following in consecutive pop-ups on my phone: “Teenage girl assaulted in caste encounter,” “10 tips to boost ecommerce SEO,” and “Influencer displays tanned legs in the Maldives.” They say Google recommendations are based on one’s interests, but the last time I read up on caste was for a seventh-grade, deeply problematic assignment on Hinduism and it is a matter of principle with me to never set foot in tourist traps. From my window I see dumpsters and a man in a black slicker tipping bins full of new trash into them. Someone on a bike nearly runs into him – he stumbles, holds on to the bin by a whisker and screams “Fuck!” as half the contents spill out.”