Latest Stories

Can You Blame Me for Holding On?

It was the first of November. We sat in the drizzling rain on the hood of your broken-down Malibu. Parked outside the Taco Bell at the intersection of Secor and Central, I’d just overdrafted my bank account to buy you dinner for the last time. You ordered a Crunchwrap Supreme and cinnamon twists; I ate from the dollar menu. You wanted to share a drink, I wanted to share the past. The temperature set to drop any day, it was no secret what the end of autumn would bring: broken records and cell phone screens. The sharp chill didn’t stop you wearing a green dress, denim jacket. You wanted the night—the season finale of our failed history—to be cordial. The sun began its retreat behind the silhouette of the revival theater. Above us, a small patch of light in the clouds. A dry moment. An onset of violet and raw sienna. Fresh nails, Jack-O’-Lantern pattern, you sifted through the packets of hot sauce and read aloud their messages with the reverence of a fortune cookie prophet. “Do it with passion or not at all.” “I’m not just another pretty face.” “Can you blame me for holding on?” You couldn’t look me in the eye; I couldn’t release the breath trapped in my lungs. We waited for the dark. We waited for the rain to return and redeem us.

Nathan Elias is the author of the novel Coil Quake Rift and the short story collection The Reincarnations (Montag Press 2021/20).

Why read flash? Why write it?

We’re not here to convince you to write flash fiction, nor to read it. But you should. Upon first learning about flash fiction, it seems full of possibility for being annoying, fun, thought-provoking, and just maybe satisfying, for both readers and writers. At the very least, it can be a daily reading or writing ritual without requiring a major time commitment.

For a writer, flash might seem like an easy way to get published. But it’s not. Flash pieces must grab, arc, involve, connect, and conclude in an uber short story. It is a tall order.

At the same time, writing flash can be very productive, regardless of whether you intend to publish the works. It presents the opportunity to express the stories (or even just phrases) gnawing at the back of your mind without forcing a long-term time-suck.

For those who dislike writing traditional short stories, flash offers an appealing way to tell a story and inspire new perspectives. Plus, it provides the chance to explore different styles or craft techniques without messing up your in-progress book’s voice or flow.

Pre-reading flash pieces for another journal, I recall our team earnestly reading submissions, each person giving equal consideration to every story. Some stories connected, many did not. This is why flash is not necessarily an easy ticket to being published (which is where it can be annoying, especially if you think you eloquently hammered out something really good), for as with longer literary works, flash can be largely subjective. It either connects or it doesn’t.

We do our very best to choose pieces based on literary merit rather than subjectivity. Craft plays a role, as does heart, and by heart I’m talking about connection. And that’s the rub, the hard task of keeping subjectivity down while listening to your heart and mind, and feeling stories for connection.

That’s what Short Beasts wants. We don’t so much go for wow. We go for feel. Because we believe feeling is what makes flash work, what makes it worthwhile.

You decide what feel means. Adrenalin-inducing, heart-stopping electromagnetic word shock, romance or bromance or girlmance, mind-bending simulation, or what have you. (Just don’t be interesting.)

Short Beasts is open for submissions.