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Excerpts from The Storm is Coming

     It's happening again. A familiar rage unfolds its sticky wings within the captive interior of my chest: a monstrous butterfly emerging gracelessly from its cocoon.
     It's the same every night. The taste of panic blooms bitter on my tongue. Swallowing hard, I wonder how much longer I can bear this charade.
—from "The Wait" by Farah Ghuznavi

     After her taillights disappeared into the gloom, Vittorio shook his head and turned away from the window. It would all work out. God willing. Of course, that's what he'd believed when they'd left their small village in Sicily a decade ago, thinking that California would be the answer to all their problems.
     But nothing had changed, even after he and Rose Maria and 18-year-old Chiara had become American citizens. They were barely getting by on his wife's income while Chiara went to public high school and worked an after-school job at McDonald's. Three years ago, Vittorio had been laid off by UPS, and while he drew unemployment pay, Rose Maria had started the job at Days Inn, leaving him to stay home to take care of Paolo.
—from "Pride and Joy" by Carole Bellacera

     Leaving the mugs behind he strolled down the corridor to the bathroom. He took a pair of latex gloves from his pocket and put them on. He didn't want to leave fingerprints here. Opening the bathroom cabinet, he located a bottle labeled Lunestra. They were Matt's sleeping pills. Back in the kitchen he dropped two tablets into his mug of coffee and left the open bottle next to the coffee machine.
     Taking both mugs he went into the living room and put them on the coffee table. He stood upright and glared at the body sprawled across the marble floor.
     "Don't bother to get up," he muttered, seeing the bruise on the side of Matt's forehead coloring up nicely.
—from "Sowing the Wind" by Alan Philps

     "All right, you guys! Let's hit the beach and let's hit it hard!" the sarge yells, waving us on. "Move your sorry butts like there's no tomorrow and you just might make it to tomorrow! Remember, fellas. Those who hesitate are the ones that won't leave this beach alive. Let's go!"
     With that, the tank lurches forward, surrounded by the landing party, with Corporal Wooten leading the way, Sgt. Johnson shepherding us from the rear. The coolness of the clear water feels mighty fine, shoving aside the heat that was radiating from all that metal aboard ship and sendin' beads of sweat down our foreheads.
—from "Poor Mama" by Tony Brown

     Clara focused on the sound of the shutter banging in the wind, tracing it to a bedroom at the front of the house on the second floor, a room she hadn't entered in years. The sound transported her back in time, back to that black day—the flash of temper, the crush of his fist, the pool of blood at the bottom of the staircase, the empty nursery.
     I didn't mean to hurt you…
—from "Weeds" by Suzanne Alexander

     Days passed and the drought came upon us. The children now spent long hours in a trance-like state, often while congregating together. They had become a close group, still speaking with the rest of us, but keeping their secrets to themselves. Even the other parents could no longer ignore that something was wrong.
     Unfortunately, there was not time to investigate the matter, as we were all much too busy just trying to keep our little colony alive. The entirety of my time was spent prospecting for new sources of water and helping to dig wells. They always came up dry, and I returned home every evening feeling a bit more exhausted and dehydrated than I had the night before.
—from "The Coming Storm" by Dan Devine

     Annie looked over to the pillow next to her, as she had done every morning for the past year. Usually, it was at this time that she whispered something to the empty space where he once slept. It was at this time, before the sun burned away the last vestige of the dark, that Annie told her husband how much she loved him, and how much she missed him.
     On that morning, she told him about the things he might have forgotten. Small things, like the time he kept the Thanksgiving turkey in the oven too long, burning it. Then the mad dash to the grocery store to find a bird cooked properly. Or did he remember the day he had overslept and was late for work. He put on one brown shoe and one black that morning. How does one do that, she had asked him when he returned home that evening. The question was answered as most were, with a kiss and a shrug.
—from "Eternal" by Randy Mixter

     Angela shook her head at them, moving to close the door. Malachi shoved against it, knocking Angela back. Octavia glanced around for onlookers, then followed on his heels as he forced himself into the apartment. He covered Angela's mouth before she could scream; the child made up for both of them with her terrified shrieks. Octavia crossed the room in three leaps, holding the child firmly enough to cut off her cries.
     "Taking the kid, too?" Malachi looked amused.
     "Do we have a choice?"
     "Not really. Just making sure you didn't eliminate her."
—from "The Rescuers" by Ransom Noble

     "If you don't let me off this boat right now, I swear to God, Brian, I'm going to jump overboard."
     She felt ropes tangled and knotted around her arms, her throat, cutting off her wind. She couldn't see them but felt their pressure, their pinching, strangling her throat, starving her lungs of oxygen. Her heart blew up like a balloon ready to burst.
     "Calm down, babe," he said. "Look at me. I'm calm now. It's my temper. God I need a cigarette."
—from "Prisoners of Storms & Tides" by T. Fox Dunham

     She sits back, takes him in. The boy looks harder now, like a man. He is eleven and violent. He has been taught this by his father. His mother is a wreck, a drunk, a waste. She doesn't see her son growing to fill a shadow, to walk in bloody footsteps. She will die knowing she let a brute destroy her family. Meanwhile, his father sleeps with two women; he has a choice.
—from "Turbulence" by Bruce Turnbull