Zoetrope: All-Story

Winter 2019/2020

Vol. 23 No. 4

Guest Designer Mark Gonzales

On Growing Ferns and Other Plants in Glass Cases, in the Midst of the Smoke of London

Daniel Mason


Sometimes, during the night, she wakes to a presence, a creature sliding through the darkness, watching, waiting to descend. She doesn’t dare to look; to move even slightly is to risk waking the child, and it’s for him she knows the ghost has come. There is nothing she can do but remain in utter stillness, beside the boy, so close that she can feel his exhalations on her cheek.

Watching, as his blankets softly rise and fall, and the shadows stir around them, and the dim light plays against the pale blue . . .

First Encounter

David Means

“I guess I’m just thinking about the funeral. I’m thinking about how I still can’t remember seeing Marsha after she left the car, or even being aware of her presence in any way,” I said. More than a year had passed, and at that time we were still rehashing the tragedy.

On the bed Irene was up and over me, gazing intently with eyes grayer than usual, scrutinizing, as if looking for a clue. It was a look I’ll never forget.

“I’m thinking about how I know she was there, . . .


Thomas Pierce

Mostly we do what we did before. I do enjoy swimming laps in the pool, though I avoid the buffets with their elaborate tiered cakes and ice sculptures and bottomless shrimp cocktails. You could spend eternity eating shrimp, if you pleased, and some people do please. If you were to cut them open, you’d find shrimp.

Fifty-two thousand, one hundred thirty-seven minds, all told. Not so much a migration through space but time, our destination being a moment. The penultimate one. The one just before the Big One.

Plum Island

Uzma Aslam Khan

As a special online supplement to the Winter 2019/2020 issue, the editors present the prizewinning story from the 2019 Zoetrope: All-Story Short Fiction Competition, as judged by Tommy Orange.

Beach plums bloom in June and ripen in August. Yesterday, I found some in the sand and dropped them in a crooked blue bowl that my love, Ciaran, made when he was a child. This morning, in the kitchen, he slices one in half with a fillet knife. We each take a half and chew, waiting for the flavors to speak. “Salty . . .

Subscribe to All-Story
Subscribe to All-Story