Best of the Net 2019  


Kristen Arnett’s “Party at the End of the World” from Triangle House Review

"You don’t have any passion, Roni said when she left, and I maybe I don’t, but what I think is she could’ve had enough for both of us. Or maybe what I think is passion means change and I don’t want anything changing, ever. What’s so great about that?"

Liz Breazeale’s “Hysteria” from The Rupture
"I said, I don't want kids. The words, repeated so often and in so many variations, didn't seem real anymore. What did it even mean, to want? Was it a knowledge I held in my body, a thrumming baseline thought? Was it an instinct? When I looked at a baby, all I saw was a scrunched alien, a body too delicate to be real."

Lindsey Drager’s “Episodes toward an Elegy for Halley's Comet” from TriQuarterly
"The logic of the breadcrumb. There is something like poetry to the idea: to leave a bit here and there, a set of clues helpful only to one who knows to look. A set of clues that would otherwise go unnoticed."

Gabriela Garcia’s “Everything is Holding You Now” from TriQuarterly
"Jeanette wants to cry, too, but is always afraid that if she lets it happen, she will never stop. That if she lets the pain seep, she will need something, someone to stop the bloodletting. Only one way to kill pain. And then the weight of it: the daily exercise, sobriety. How it drags at her feet, keeps her chained to herself."

Saudha Kasim’s “Eviction” from The Temz Review
"On Quora, someone had asked about centipedes and good fortune and someone else—an engineer, an Indian Institute of Technology graduate no less—had explained the complex formulae combining the number of centipedes’ legs and the days of the months when they were spotted that resulted in varying degrees of good fortune. It read like a troll-ish response her cousin Towfeeq would come up with when high."

Constance Renfrow’s “The Urg” from Porter House Review
"The Urg took over Carrie’s basement that same summer Britney Spears took over the airwaves. We were nine, and Carrie and I had sworn to be best friends forever, an oath we marked by spending most afternoons at her house, skirting the bog in the woods that stretched beyond her backyard, or mining for fossils in the dirt pile. The Burkes had the more exciting property, the better snacks, and also a pool. But best of all, we could watch far more than my own allotted half-hour per day of TV—meaning the commercials for Britney’s first album, her schoolgirl uniform tied open at the waist, and those blond braids she wore low."

Evan Steuber’s “Pronoun Confusion” from Lumina
"They wanted the same friends, but on new terms. I am not who you thought I was. You thought I was he and so did I. I am now they, may soon be she. Can we accept that I have always been different? Now that I accept my difference, can you? Or did you already? Which one of us is late to this party?"

C. Pam Zhang’s “Five Questions for the Snake Charmer” from American Short Fiction
"I watch enough news to know: I'm holding a bomb. In a few seconds the wet red jelly of me, still smelling of last night's mint and Campari, will scatter the city streets like confetti."