fiction, poetry & more

Honorable Mention
$25 Award


by Sarah Marie Kosch

Damn she looks good in a suit, that 007 waistline. Killer curves. An ass to die for. Let us bow down in worship of her crisp trouser lines, her dainty ankles. How does she run in those heels? Her voluptuous tresses hang down her back, salon-perfect even after strangling a man in a stairwell. She only pins it up for special occasions.

When the cards are down, she heads for the bar in her eveningwear, orders a martini. Why yes, she’d like some shake with that stir. She’s dressed in some sleek number she put on the company card after her last outfit was strategically shredded during hand-to-hand combat. Her new dress is superbly cut, angles for angels. Diamonds caught in her breasts, gold on her fingers. Reflections glimmer on slivers of skin, the inevitable bruises and scrapes healed by sheer vanity.

She sips her drink, takes in the room without turning her head—exits and entrances, good guys and bad. On the other side of the bar, her unlikely novice partner pretends to look aloof. The wide-eyed Bambi on his first big break—the Jane Bond, can you believe it?—he wonders when she’ll take him to bed. Whoa, slow down there, Agent. All in good time. First there is the necessary dance of danger, a look across the bar, a raised eyebrow, a glint of half-smile. Play the part, Bambi. Put on a front of resistance before you give in. It’s not fun without a fight.

The backstory is tangled, but the important thing for you to know is that deep down beneath that poise and cool untouchability, there is a sensitive soul in need of comfort. She was in love once, a long time ago. Give her your body as a talisman to ward off bad dreams. You are just filler, but my god, you will flare so brightly when you rake your fingernails across the moon and watch the light pour out of the scratches.

And even when the villain finds you, because the villain will always find you—alone and naked, dozing, dreaming, splayed in the sheets, silk on silk satisfied, content in Jane’s whispered promise, “wait here,” because you always knew she’d have to leave—even when the gun nuzzles your temple or the knife tip grazes your throat or the plastic bag smothers your lips in a kiss, be satisfied you’ve done your part; this is all expected. Don’t be frightened. Don’t cry. Thank you for your sacrifice. She may never think of you again, but she sees specters on nights she can’t sleep—when the moon is full, and the world is not enough.


Sarah Marie Kosch is a fiction writer pursuing her MFA at Oregon State University in Corvallis. Her work has appeared most recently in Rappahannock Review, Knee-Jerk Magazine, and Print Oriented Bastards. She is an editor for Anomalous Press and the fiction editor for 45th Parallel.

November 2016