Best of the Net 2015  


Jesse Goolsby’s “Vas Deferens, Bears & Jacob: Why I Listen To My Children Breathe” from The Journal

"I know you would. Relax. Besides, aren't you supposed to ball up?" "What does she know about bears?" I say. "I grew up around bears. Bears don't even like to eat people. Black bears a little. Grizzlies will kill you, but don't eat you. Does she know that? And I don't know of anyone who faints. Fainting isn't even on the table for reactions. And she tells me that after her intern welds my testicle in the wrong place. Shouldn't I get jumpy? Does she just want me to lie there and let them Picasso my shit?" "But you're supposed to ball up so they play with you instead of kill you. I've heard that."
Rachel Michelle Hanson’s “Education” from Storyscape
Just after your seventeenth birthday your mother returns to the house from the psychiatric ward of the hospital in Abingdon or Elizabethan, you aren't sure which. She stays in bed all day. Her presence stifles the calm of her absence. It had been easier for you to tend the babies without her around. They were at ease and so were you.
Saffron Marchant’s “False Alarm” from Sweet: A Literary Confection
"Keep going, buddy." "Not too far to go now, ma'am." But they didn't know then that the Fire Department can't always get to that room in the sky where you are. Our pace slows, we hit an obstruction. Someone below is carrying a suitcase, hugged to his chest like a baby. 'Put the case down, man, you're holding us up.' At every floor more people file into the stairs, unsmiling. "Just put the fucking bag down." If I could, I'd kick off my shoes but they have an ankle strap, a complicated clasp. I'm slower than I should be. I might die because of a buckled shoe?
Harmony Neal’s “Simulacra” from Eleven Eleven
Most people do not experience that sort of burning love, that long-lasting connection that spans decades. Most of us don't get that in this world. But in the other worlds, in those alternate universes, in at least one, each of us gets that. And isn't that what each of us wants, more than anything? In our deepest recesses, burning down in our toes, this desire for a profound, unending love.
Meg Thompson’s “Guns and Country” from Hawai’i Pacific Review
The one other time I held a gun went just as poorly as the first. I tried for ten minutes to see something, anything, through the scope, but it was hopeless. My dad helped me position the gun in different ways but every time I brought it up to my eye all I saw were black fields, nothingness. It was as if the barrel of the gun was aimed directly into the dirt we stood on. My arms started to ache, but my dad wouldn't let me quit.