Posts Categorized: Online Feature

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Fiction Feature: “The Girl Who Ate Her Own Skin” by Rae Paris

Cilia knew they were in for it when they found the mother on the good couch in the living room, sipping wine, looking at old photos in her college yearbook. “Look at that waist,” she said. “I was something.

The older daughters, Margaret and Theresa, looked over the mother’s shoulders at the photos: skirt below the knees, freshly ironed shirt buttoned to the neck, relaxed hair curled under. “Were you really that dorky?” they asked at the same time. They looked at each other and laughed, proud of themselves, as if they had planned it.

“I was something,” the mother repeated, not as strong. Her words slipped and slid into one another, like a train wreck.

Margaret and Theresa laughed again. They were “almost seventeen” and “almost sixteen,” as they liked to remind everyone. They spent most of their time on the phone, giggling, a sheet over their heads for privacy, which made them look like giggling ghosts.

Anne and Cilia sat on either side of the mother. They had seen the photos before, but each time the pictures startled and confused Cilia. The mother had gone to a segregated school in New Orleans. Even though she had been segregated, the mother looked young and happy. She had a nickname typed next to her photo: “Bootsy.” It was full of promise, like a pair of new, black, patent leather shoes. Cilia didn’t understand who this “Bootsy” woman was. “That’s you? That’s really you?” she asked. Cilia turned to Anne. “Can you believe it?”

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Poetry Feature: “Recovery” by Amy Meng

In those days thought hung
like one rotted bulb of light
quiet and cold past glowing.

I loved a man who moved
over me like a horsehair bow
bent on still and silent strings.

Each morning sour cans lined
the shelves and my eyes slid oily over.
We smoked naked at the windows

and swallowed oysters for breakfast,
greedy as salt biting tongue.
I lost track of myself, but nothing else

seemed to forget what it was.
The street remained a hard back.
The accident on my leg healed

into a muted seam.
I wanted love to be an end
to the days, which I kept

walking through,
door after door.
Some nights the man hauled

into wakefulness.
I looked in him for something
more than mere sensation

which is what ghosts are.
That searching was almost
like being seen.

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Fiction Feature: “Lake effect” by Ryan Van Meter

I don’t understand why he calls it a houseboat. It doesn’t look like a house, and it doesn’t look like a boat. What it looks like is a white box with windows cut out of the sides, railings clamped all around, and deck chairs tossed on the roof. The whole thing bobs in the lake, tethered to a dock post by a soggy green rope. Inside, everything is brown. The walls are covered in plastic panels printed with a wood-grain design, as if to remind us that wood floats and it’s perfectly reasonable that we’re loaded on this box for the next six days, instead of at home in an actual house. He, my Dad, is one of three Dads for whom this trip is now an annual thing, the third summer in a row that these college friends have brought along their elder sons for a week of fishing on a giant lake—this year, in Minnesota.

The kitchen in the houseboat is brown tile instead of brown carpet. I’m eleven years old and standing in front of the sink, washing every dish from the cupboards. The Dads and the other Sons are sitting on the slick white top of the boat, a deck on the roof above me. The sunset is beautiful, they keep telling me, but I keep doing the dishes, which is taking a lot longer than anyone would have guessed. We’ve already unpacked, already uncoiled the rope linking us to shore, already buzzed out across the water, turned off the engine, and started our slow drift around the lake in whatever direction the waves and wind push us.

Even though I’ve endured two previous trips, something about this houseboat idea unsettled me as soon as I heard about it. Maybe the intimacy of all of us aboard one small vessel, three Dads and three Sons in too close quarters? When my Dad announced our plan, I tried suggesting how disastrous my habit of sleepwalking might be on a houseboat, the way I could silently slip into the dark water before anyone noticed I wasn’t tucked inside my sleeping bag anymore. This was unconvincing because, to his knowledge, I’d only sleepwalked once—when I was five and stood in the hallway snoring and peeing in a corner before shuffling back to bed—and because it hadn’t happened since then, he wasn’t worried.

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Fiction Feature: “Looking for Eight” by Marcela Fuentes

Small enough to pull up in a plastic milk crate by a rope slung across a tree limb, I don’t think you wore those blue-footed pajamas anymore.  You insisted on taking the first turn in our makeshift elevator, because I was a girl and the first born, unfair in your baby chauvinist eyes.  An old rope and a very tall pecan tree, so my reasoning to test my weight on it seemed appropriate; I was heavier.  But I wanted to make you happy. 

I can still see your face peeking down at me, as I hoisted you higher and higher into the air, watching me, not smiling but serious, afraid but determined that yours would be the first glory. Read more…

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The Pentecostal Bridegroom & IR’s New Reading Period


The Blue Light Books partnership between Indiana Review and Indiana University Press has yielded two beautiful books thus far–Andrea Lewis’ What My Last Man Did and Jennifer Givhan’s Girl with Death Mask–and we’re currently deciding which of your short story collections will make our third. Because of the interest in that prize, we’ve expanded the partnership to include a reading period, exclusively for fiction manuscripts. To honor the memory of Don Belton, we named the reading period after him and would like to share with you his story, “The Pentecostal Bridegroom,” first published in Indiana Review 12.1.

Learn more about the Don Belton Fiction Reading Period here. Submissions open April 15, 2018.

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