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Samples of Workshop Fiction

Below are published samples of student fiction that were conceived, written, and edited in Algonkian workshops. These stories appear in Del Sol Review, The Potomac, In Posse Review, and Quick Fiction, all exceptional fiction publications. At least three quarters of these writers were novices at their craft and had never been published.


Sheherazade For Natasha

Jessie doesn't mention the way Natasha always gets cross-eyed drunk and starts a fight by hitting on someone else's boyfriend when they go out clubbing, turning their pleasurable outing into a guessing game of wondering what crazy situation they'll be dragged into next and which outraged person they'll be pacifying. The recent mall incident had involved Natasha trying to get some bored and increasingly irritated sales assistant to give her a discount on an exorbitantly expensive designer bag that she'd set her heart on. Natasha had haggled with innuendo-laden words and batted her eyelashes at the guy who definitely was not interested and was obviously--at least to everyone but Natasha--gay. [more]

          by Buki Papillon

Approximately Yours

Adam stopped by six days after the funeral, breaking my widow's quarantine. My eyes were so swollen I put on sunglasses just to open the door, but even Adam didn't look so good—his eyes more red than blue and his face sprouting a thick black stubble.
      "Any reason I can't come in?"
      I stepped back and wished I'd ignored the door, or at least worn real clothes or brushed something—my teeth or hair, or even the sleep nuggets from my eyes. I smoothed over the lapel of my robe and cinched the waistband, the way a drunken housewife might primp for the delivery man. I felt like I was having that dream where I'm naked and trying to pretend that wearing a scrap of paper napkin is a perfectly dignified thing to do.[more]

          by Kiera Stewart

Etzel's Piano

"Schubert ignites the light of emotion in my fingertips," Etzel would say.

He claimed I was the master hand of Bach, festooned and fastidious. I did have a harpsichord at home, stacked high with Baroque musical scores, which annoyed Etzel. My fingers were skinny and smaller than most men's.

I remember how we played Schubert for Four Hands by the hour in Etzel's living room--two old men straining to fit on the bench, until Etzel's illness loomed so large and his strength vanished so quickly we could only sit side-by-side on the bench and talk about musical moments of the past. Sometimes Etzel would rock back and forth to some unmeasured beat and sway his hands through the air, and I would watch the shadows bounce on walls and surfaces that he made with his massive hands in the declining light. [more]

          by Grace Mayfield

The Jihad of Agha-ye Rahimi

Although Agha-ye Rahimi did not appear armed with notes or underscored passages, his arm flew up like a misfired flare as soon as Mrs. Weston opened the discussion. Shireen looked at Mahtab, raising her eyebrows. During the entire first week, Agha-ye Rahimi had said little. When Mahtab had asked him if he understood what Mrs. Weston was saying, he clicked his tongue and jerked his head back with a vehemence that frightened her. Then, he drew the back of his coat sleeve across his lips and wiped away saliva drooling out of the right corner of his mouth. The next time this happened, Mahtab considered asking her uncle, a neurologist, to examine Agha-ye Rahimi without charge. [more]

          by Leissa Shahrak

What Levandar Means

"On Marcie Prescott's forearm is the green and yellow bruise from where Claudette bit her last week—no doubt angry Marcie had taken away the cookie she stole from Timmy. This week, Peter eats a spider, and Michael won't stop saying to silent Claudette, his voice way too seductive for an eight year old, "I like your teddy bear." As a bonus, the teacher across the hall keeps eyeing Marcie's clothes, making comments like, "I suppose at your age, you can get away with that." All this she can handle. It's Levander she can't." [more]

          by Sharon Bippus

NEW SHORT FICTION by Algonkian students Gail Baker, Phillipa Medley, Wendy White-Cserepy, and Karen Waller in THE POTOMAC.

In Search of Excellence at Taco Viva

While Grandma wasn't looking, Paula snuck jalapeno juice into her soda. She had learned that it floated, and thought it would add flavor to Grandma's Dr. Pepper. Susan saw her do it, but didn't say a word. When Grandma took a sip, her eyes lit up as if a wildfire swept through her mouth. She stuck her head under the soda machine, sucking on the spout while customers groaned. Then she rubbed her tongue with a rag, moaning.

"Which one of you tramps did that!" she growled at them. Perspiration pooled on her forehead and her beady eyes moved from one girl to the other ... [more]

          by Janice Lierz

The Beginning of Relief

Carol can't stop talking about the brain-damaged baby. I won't listen. I only hear the Alanon mantra: "You didn't cause it, you can't control it, you can't cure it." I realize that acknowledged helplessness lifts the burden of responsibility, though it can't cure the loss. Only why the guilt? Was it the confused relief after my husband's dead body was found? The question is by now mere habit and boring from repetition. Carol said to me only last week, "And it was one of the worst things I'd seen in all my years in Alanon, his drinking when alcohol conflicted with his medications. You know, Janet, it was his way of checking out. It was not about you." ... [more]

          by Barbara Snow

Less Than Empty

I wasn't always cocooned. In years past, after college, I was new, and full. But of what? I soon learned about the experience of others, and thus came to predict my own eventual metamorphosis at their insistence.

It began with Harry.

"Nother party tonight?" Harry, the grocer, asked, mechanically, while stuffing the grapes, pears, brie and baguettes into my flimsy bags. I was a bit surprised when he turned away to rearrange the cauliflower. Harry almost always wanted the full scoop. I tried to catch his eye, but it fell empty through my hands. [more]

          by Wendy White-Cserepy

The Chairs

“Wake up reptile!” I slapped the guard’s head. “Thieves are stealing the garden chairs.”

The awakened guard snatched up his stick and blew his whistle many times until spit was flying from his mouth. I confiscated his whistle. The compound was still asleep and I did not want their dreams disturbed.

“Not here stupid.” I yanked him up by his shirt collar and pushed him onto the lake path. “The terrible thing is this way!” [more]

          by Phillipa Medley

* Another Algonkian workshopped story by Phillipa was published in Quick Fiction.

We Was Flyin'

Oh, that night, hell yeah, I was there, the only one left who was, but if they was still here they'd tell you too bout that night when Lester and Cozy lit into it and the whole damn Lenox Lounge, I mean the building, stage, dance floor, all the damn pipes and people inside dancing, smoking and carrying on till the whole damn thing she just rips out the ground up there on St. Nicholas, just rips out and flies -- not a long distance mind you -- just two three feet--but it happened, yes it did ... [more]

          by Ken Krimstein

The Power of Saints

My father's four tiny dots on his left temple remind me of stars forming the Little Dipper cup. They are tatoos from his gang days and they glow indigo on his dark skin, make his face seem refined, like an Aztec king. People used to say I looked like him and it made me proud.

When he told me stories of his turf battles in Mendota, California, it was always a lesson in courage and the defense of honor. "Always pay back double every insult to you or your family," he said. I loved those stories. It was like the Wild West. When he spoke, I saw moonlight reflecting off a knife blade or the barrel of a gun ... [more]

          by Jill Stegman

Cherry's Mark

Cherry presses the .22 hard into the piggy forehead of the suit kneeling before her in the alley. "So, let me get this straight - is it John Wise-ass?"

The suit nods.

"Can I just call you Jesus cause you're gonna get me some loaves and fishes?" Cherry asks ... [more]

          by Brenda Glasure

The Wound

While Clarissa fumbled for a response, I looked over at the pock-marked wall of Fort D'Estrees in the distance, with cannon perched on top pointing out to the sea. I felt an eerie shiver in the 95 degree heat. "Look," I said, "that's where slaves were held until a ship was ready and then they left through what was called the 'door of no return'--about 20 million of them at least. But as your father might say, they were lucky. A free ticket, right?" ... [more]

          by William Shaw

Toon Red Nav Ardnaxela

It started last Christmas in Palm Springs. Cousin Orville, a minister of some renegade Protestant sect was visiting, down from Tuleri for the holidays. His eyes had that born again scan, as if searching for a tunnel in the side of a mountain, a safe place for an excavation. He was hunting for the weak spot, that vacancy where lust for Jesus might be planted - an innocent suggestion that would explode six or eight months later when all the earthquakes, tornadoes, insurgencies, and mass murders would solidify into one unshakable image of apocalypse. ... [more]

          by Lisa Thompson

Jake Wiley's Fatal Flaw

With the party just getting started, Dr. Abernathy studies her patient, Jake Wiley. She watches as he pivots away from an angry blonde in a red dress and crosses the living room to the bar. He speaks with Sid, the host-bartender, gesturing to the blonde as he does. Sid slaps a cocktail glass on the counter and drops in a shot of rum, some Coke, and ice cubes while Led Zepplin gets Jake tapping his foot. Jake says something and Sid bursts into laughter--probably one of Jake's sex jokes ... [more]

          by Robert Plant

Ventilating Shiva

Peter burst into the room pulling a sweater on over a white thermal shirt, his curly blond hair pushing through the neck hole, unevenly frizzed. He had evidently been asleep. Without a word he bent over Shiva, felt his pulse with one hand and gently curled up an eyelid with the other. The tissue was the color of cheap bologna. Peter swore and stood up, looking up at us furiously. He was half a head shorter than Drake. "I don't know what in hell you-all thought you were doing. Trying to buy cocaine in Asia! Jesus Christ!" ... [more]


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