Below is a list of fiction published in Per Contra since Issue 37. Older work can be found in the archive.
A man walks into a bar and decides that he will tell a joke beginning with those exact words--“A man walks into a bar.”
Dickie Pracht, Tommy’s favorite pitcher, admitted he hadn’t actually seen Tommy for twenty-five years. Anyway, at the last minute at the grave site, Tommy’s daughter invited Dickie to the family lunch provided by her church. Tommy had often spoken highly of Dickie and that seemed reason enough.
After the dreams have come, the mornings feel like glass around me. Everything looks too bright, too well preserved.
Our bellies are full of Easter, mine for the first time. I wonder what Neal is thinking. He likes to start and finish his thoughts with silence. I do the opposite.
Mitzi wasn’t her name; it was the name Dad had given her because it sounded like a movie star’s—more exotic—a nickname he had given her after they married, when she started working for him at the bar.
We were leaving Colombia. The driver was waiting. Dennis, my husband, a man of action, was downstairs with our baggage. I, just a woman, was still upstairs.
For the months I lived in the City, I worked in a small restaurant called Little Macedonia. The neighborhood had dirty brick buildings with little markets on street level, markets without splashes of flowers for sale out their front doors or exotic tropical fruits and vegetables lined up in crates along the sidewalk outside.
"Remember Tour of Duty?" Clyde asked. He filled his glass straight from the tap without removing his eyes from the bar’s TV.
Near midnight it was raining and everyone had left Brian’s going-away party. Brian was gone too, and no one ever knew how long he had been missing in his neighborhood of million-dollar homes.
From the journal of Solomon Godfrey, captain of the Industrious Cousin, a whaling ship out of New Bedford, Massachusetts:
Sat., Jul. 1. Early this morning, there was fighting below deck.
Of the indoor games we played in winter, Prisoner was one of Dare’s favorites. One late afternoon when I had been tied to the small ladder back chair in Dare’s room for what felt like hours, it became my least favorite.
Shiny by Tina Tocco
They were meeting me at school, Dad told her, so Grandma looked for her favorite shoes until she cried. Even if she’d found them, she could never miss what else had gone missing
Stinkman by They were meeting me at school, Dad told her, so Grandma looked for her favorite shoes until she cried. Even if she’d found them, she could never miss what else had gone missing
Then Jonathon’s up and over the railing, crimson cape flapping in the September breeze. He falls farther than he expects before hitting the warning track; on impact, he grunts, dropping to a knee.
For Serena, it was like a radio station drifting in and out over another channel – voices disappeared under the dissonance, and the piano keys turned into hammering.
Three deer have come out in the open to feed in alfalfa along the pasture woods, across acres of new-mown ground from the boy at the barn window. The cuttings are stubbled and strewn with yellowish chaff.
Lately, whenever I get up at night (for the usual reasons), I’ve gotten into the habit of writing down a line or two that spontaneously occurs to me as soon as I wake up.
In the soft light I see you breathing, blinking, your sights seemingly locked onto the waning crescent moon beyond the window.
Katelyn found the state finals trophy wedged between the wall and the back of the vanity. She'd knocked the box cutter back there, reached to catch it, and there was the trophy.
I hadn't planned on making a confession, but there was a pause in the conversation, and I impulsively filled it.
“I did an awful thing on the way here,” I said.
There was a black whirlpool in the Struma River which was not far from our house. The place was wild, overgrown with stubborn willows.
The day after the political rally in Athens, sunlight and the coo of a mourning dove opened my eyes. I was naked, next to Kia or was it Karina?
Blotches of rain slopping the windshield. Wipers smear them silly. The satellite radio is out. Forgot to pay the bill.
Before, if you stood at Ogwubudo you could see three of the five paths that lead to the five clans that make up Agulu. You could see these roads because Ogwubudo is what the educated ones now call the village square; the place where the sun seems the brightest, the hottest.
When I arrived at the secondary school in the Administrator’s grumble-storm of a village, he removed his brown-rimmed glasses and rubbed his eyes with two sharp knuckles. I took advantage of all his eye rubbing to pinch-wring water from my forehead.
My father’s remains were in an urn in a wall in a remote memorial park in the Imperial Valley. I had spent most of my life wanting to get him out of there, but my mother was his next of kin and refused to give her consent.
Somewhere past Lampasas, Paige realized that she had forgotten the directions to Glenwood cemetery. She’d been on the road for an hour and a half and was tempted to turn around.
They were older than they acted, but the three young women were being rather giddy. They had all recently graduated from a famous college in the Adirondacks, and now here they were in Florence, the first stop on the tour of Europe their families had agreed to treat them to as a graduation gift.
On the way downstairs, Borisov noticed once again how his neighbor was fearfully shielding her children from him on the narrow landing. "Disgusting! After all, I'm not a leper, those fools!"
There were only six passengers aboard the small ferry when it came about from the island dock and began to beat thickly through the cold grey November swells toward the main.
With God Evangelical Ministries—WIGEM for short—was founded six years ago.
Stranger than fiction was the newly discovered truth that there was more water under the Earth than in all the oceans on its surface.
“Think that hurt?” Dad asked, but I was rubbing my ear so hard, planning revenge, I could barely hear him.
Darren had never imagined Stephanie Lawson beyond the weather report. Okay, he might have pictured her in a bikini on a beach when she read the vacation forecast, but he’d certainly never imagined her house.
His mom slammed the door of the dishwasher and shouted, “They said we had to evacuate.
Sunday afternoon’s I sat in the backseat of my father’s car, books read and snacks crushed and Gameboy spent, waiting for the final hour my mother would come to the park and pick me up for the week
When Janet is dying, she asks for Eddie.
During the early years of the Ming Dynasty, one young woman in particular was praised for her beauty.
I moved south on Broadway, sucking down gulps of cold, dank air and stumbled into a crowd of tourists, their arms stretched taut around packages cloaked in brightly colored Christmas wrapping.
Carolyn read somewhere that in the ‘90s mothers were dropping their babies into public toilets.
I had only gone so far as to mention to an old friend that I was deeply troubled by this certain ailment, and with a snap of his fingers he was off to make a few telephone calls; half an hour later he had, much to his evident satisfaction, fixed me up a rare appointment to see Porcheria.
A few weeks later I saw her at Kroger near the red delicious apples.
I was standing at the snack bar window on a Saturday in 1980 when Jack walked up and told me that Adolf Hitler was alive and living in Pasadena.
I never stand outside the store for long. At least, it never seems long after the first kind stranger presses a five or a wad of singles into my hand.
The summer my fiancée Kylie and I finished up with grad school, I was lucky enough to secure a teaching position beginning in the fall.
At the age of thirty-five, Hazel finds herself living with her elderly mother in a retirement community called On Top of the World.
So many of them Naomi had never met, the people who populated Eric’s life.
You write the story in the second person. It’s your go-to point of view now.
The Chabadnik would not let Serino alone.
He just wanted his mother to come back and explain to him, again, how it was possible that she could love a man like Yohan.
"Excuse me, Cindy, but these people tell me their food isn’t hot,” Angelo said.
Señor José Fuentes sits with a folded smile today. You cannot read his eyes.
She knows her staff steals from the register. Not a lot—surprising, because stoners can’t always manage subtlety—but enough to be noticeable, even though she doesn’t actually balance the till.
When Jimmy said they’d spend a day at the races, Jaycee thought of the expression, It’s a dog’s life, and then, what the fuck is that about? Any dog she ever knew was layin’ in the dirt in a hole-strewn back yard on a short leash next to an empty bowl.
My parents cut my hair the day after I got my admission letter into Model Secondary School.
Martha liked blue hydrangeas. These were white. Anyone who truly knew her would have known that she liked blue
“The hill will break your neck, Claire Roux,” Mssr. Fabre would say.
On the one-year anniversary of Lasantha Wickrematunge’s murder, two weeks before Sri Lanka held its general election and Prageeth Eklinagoda, another journalist, went missing for good,....
I’m looking at my phone in a comfy chair at the mall, more or less unaware of anything around me, when a man sits in the matching chair to my right and starts in on me with his story.
Marcus saw the station wagon pull away from the shoulder of Route 25, leaving behind a pile of fresh flowers in the snow.
“I see Fahrenheit 9/11 is showing at the Bijou along with Princess Diaries 2. When did Brent Mitchum open a second screening room, anyway? The Bijou was always a single-screen cinema
Menno and Stacey had first run into Jacques and Coraleine at a fetish party.
My mom was forty-two years old when I was born, and my dad was forty-nine. They were unequipped parents and did not sign me up for sports or activities, which assured my status as interloper from a very young age.
Bing Crosby comes on the jukebox and now them silly little gets round the pool table are carrying on again, pissed out of their heads, singing along about how they’re dreaming of a shite Christmas.
It was gray and cloudy but hot as shit. We were sweating through our t-shirts as we rode our bikes alongside the gridlocked highway, a stretch overrun by stoplights and big-box stores and Korean barbecue joints.
“I can’t help it, listen to me,” I tell her.
When I consulted Audrey about my decision we were in a restaurant that smelled vaguely of parmesan cheese and old carpeting—a partly sweet, almost burning smell.
Christine is cleaning the kitchen for her mother when she turns around, and in the low evening light sees her neighbor, Nick Brower, at the back screen door.
She dipped the roller in the pan then smeared streaks of pink across the blue wall. Drops of paint ran down like tears.
On the stick two pink lines appear. The climatologist curses and throws the applicator in the trash before fishing it out and examining it again.