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In the Post Office

by Joshua Calloway

I stand in line, a thousand people in front of me. We serpentine around counters and shelves stacked full of boxes, envelopes, card stock, watermarked stationery, and collector edition stamps adorned with Christmas bells, Dreidels, antique cars, movie scenes, and influential women throughout history. We shuffle on, one foot at a time, prisoners in a chain gang. I came here directly after work in an attempt to save some time. I immediately regret this decision, as I can feel the eyes of all the other customers fall upon me, sizing me up in my uniform, from head to toe. Some look at me with disgust and turn away, oddly this doesn’t bother me. Others shoot me a quick smile or nod and with this I feel myself starting to have a mini panic attack. I wish I had a fucking Valium! I inhale deeply through my nostrils and pinch the bridge of my nose with the thumb and index finger of my left hand.

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Steel Beach Picnic

by Joseph Couillard

I can smell the salty, sea air from the bottom of the trunk.
I let it fill my lungs, breathing life back into my oxygen-deprived muscles.
I look up.
The ladder-well is like a telescope, magnifying the holy blue sky above.
I begin my climb.
With each rung I shed a layer.
Watch.
Drills.
Briefs.
Training.
Boards.
Inspections.
Manuals.
Qualifications.
Exams.
I reach the top nearly weightless.
I rub my eyes, coaxing them awake.
The waves fall gently against the side of the boat.
The sun has already baked the deck dry.
I stagger before I find the horizon to steady myself.
I sit down on the tough, textured deck.
It digs deep into my skin, but I don’t mind.
Someone is playing classic rock over an amplifier.
The cooks are flipping burgers on a charcoal grill.
Almost everyone is smoking.
The captain looks down from the bridge like a proud father.
I look to the east, knowing that is where home is, but for the first time in a while it doesn’t seem to matter.
I look around.
They are singing, laughing, dancing; all the things that just minutes before had been surrendered to the shadows of the boat.
Sitting there, with the sun setting all around us, we talk of love and of family and of how at that moment we would pay just about anything for a six-pack.
I take a deep breath and let it all wash over me.
I smile.
For a second it almost makes it all worth it.

LTJG Joseph Couillard is a Submarine Officer stationed in Bangor, Washington. He earned his commission through the NROTC program at Iowa State University in 2013. In his free time he enjoys writing, reading, playing basketball, and spending time with his girlfriend.

One Year

by Jesse Frewerd

This is just wonderful, absolutely wonderful, just hang on a little while longer, man. Can you believe they fucking extended us for another three months when we are already a year into this deployment? We were in Kuwait, for Christ’s sake; washing our trucks of the desert’s paint and just a couple days from going home. It’s the equivalent of being on the verge of climax only to find out it was just a dream, and you’re alone, on a shitty cot, in a room with ten other guys.… I would have just preferred the damn orders before we got to Kuwait. Extend us while we were still in Baghdad, not with every bag packed ready to go home.

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I am pretty far from being OK

by Alfred Abbondanza

[Scene opens: total darkness, an adult male voice is heard rambling:]

I spent a year driving through Improvised Explosive Device [IED] infested roads, survived one ambush, drove over one land mine, drove by who knows how many hidden IEDs, carried a locked and loaded rifle, with the intent to use it if needed, I was face to face with all sorts of unknown Iraqis outside the wire, I listened and bit my tongue when soldiers in MY unit say they should not have to go outside the wire because it is not THEIR job or they have small children, I wondered with great guilt why “them” and not “me” when I heard of a convoy ambush or I was sitting at a memorial service for a few fallen comrades and you ask me if I am OK?  I am pretty far from being OK.

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Bully

by Julia Pritt

Running was a big part of my elementary experience—usually in the form of races from the lunchroom to the blue ladder. In my kindergarten eyes, it was a large and stable thing to behold, whether looking from a distance basking in its glory, or being at its top breathing in fresh air. On many instances, my journey to this coveted spot was interrupted by an array of classmates who took it upon themselves to enlighten me. One boy in particular decided it would be fun to berate me with gags about my mom. Ranging from fat jokes to ones based on her so-called lack of intelligence, which I supposedly inherited. Thankfully, he added an extra level of class by saying “Yo’ Mama…” before each dig.

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We Are Not at War

by Emily Yates

“Fall in!” came the command from the front of the Sitting Bull College auditorium Saturday night, and as hundreds of my fellow veterans and I took our places in formation, I fervently hoped that we weren’t about to witness the end of a peaceful movement.

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It Happened in October

by Maggie DeMay

It’s October again.

Fall is in the air. My birthday’s coming up.

So are the memories…

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What’d They Call You That For?

by Jeffrey Paolano

“That your name?” asks the one the bartender welcomed with “Hey, Galucci, how you doin’?” Galucci swipes a handback across his foam-filled mustache after a satisfying guzzle from the frozen schooner and thrusts his midlife belly against the bar, rubbing with his marqued polo the ancient wood massaged to ruin by thousands of such bellies.

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The Fraternity of Death

by Dean Ray

My heart was pounding as the orders came through my helmet’s headset. I knew the blast earlier was a rocket propelled grenade, and not a signal flare like I had considered. Leaning out of the left side of the helicopter, my bulky, bulletproof flight vest banged clumsily on my massive black chainsaw of a machine gun. I tried to get a closer look at who just tried to blow us out of the sky, while simultaneously listening to the frantic transmissions coming through the radio.

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Dolphins and Kite

by Thomas McDade

I had a bit of a scare. The Leadership Exam was much more difficult than I expected, hadn’t studied worth a shit. I thought I might have failed but lucked out with a seventy-six. I worked steadily after, caught up with commissary ledger postings. I wanted to get off the ship but didn’t want to take a taxi or bus trip up to the Naval Air Station at Sigonella. Around one I showered and threw on civilian clothes. Wore for the first time a madras shirt I’d bought at the Norfolk Naval Base Exchange. Close examination revealed no irregularities that were common in threads purchased there. Morgan, the uptight Jack of the Dust, caught me as I was leaving the Supply Department berthing area. “Hey, Bill Dean, there’s a #10 can of peanut butter gone missing.” I returned to the office to make a note of it. Was it mischief, tossed over the side, or love of the stuff? Morgan would be pounding on the Commissary Officer’s stateroom door next.

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