For the short story reader. Updated every Monday.

The Short Form


Alan Heathcock


Christmas Eve, 2007: Robert Joakes quietly sobbed, lips smacking as if from thirst, and asked to smoke just one cigarette. Helen considered it a moment, then untied his right arm. She carried the lantern to the cupboard and pushed aside a jar of pickled eggs, and there was the thin wooden box. The smell of tobacco came out strong. She kept the lid open, hoping the smell would overtake the odors of Joakes himself. She even held it beneath Joakes's nose. He shut his eyes and seemed to take solemn pleasure from the scent. Then he opened his lids and his red eyes drew onto her.

We read it in Volt.

Originally published in Virginia Quarterly Review.