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Issue 37, April-June 2013
Prime Number Magazine is a publication of Press 53, PO Box 30314, Winston-Salem, NC 27130
Prime Decimals 37.5

Flash Fiction

R.T. Smith
Two Owls

Lori D'Angelo
Dirty Dancing

Two Owls
by R. T. Smith
followed by Q&A


Peycho Kanev

Janeen Pergrin Rastall
Elevator Dream #93

by Peycho Kanev
followed by Q&A
Elevator Dream #93
Janeen Pergrin Rastall
followed by Q&A

When the elevator opens
A man with blood-crusted coat sleeves
Leans forward to hold the door
The girl in front of you
Steps in
You shake your head 
And wonder
What is she thinking
You wake
Take a sip of water
Rearrange the sheets
The elevator opens
A man with mud-crusted coat sleeves
Leans forward to hold the door
You search his pupils for your reflection
You wake
Look at the clock
Move the pillow beneath your head
The elevator opens
Two girls are about to enter
You lean forward to hold the door
Too slow
You watch it close.

Janeen Pergrin Rastall lives in Gordon, MI, population 2. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in various publications including The Raleigh Review, The Great Lakes Review, Heron Tree, Midwestern Gothic and The Way North: Collected Upper Peninsula New Works by Wayne State University Press. Visit for more details.


Q: What can you tell us about this poem?
A: “Elevator Dream #93” explores the possibility of changing the past by dreaming. It is part of a series of poems I have written for a collaborative chapbook on dreams and other evening adventures.

​Come up, Landrum. Hildy’s voice scraped like a froe on fresh oak. Come up and give me a cuddle. I’ll show you the owlets. 

You get down here, gal, and lay out my dinner. I’m in no state for your rusties. 

No joking, Landrum. You want to see these owls. 

He had been running the gangsaw all day, and the sawdust was in his beard and under his combinations, in his nostrils and making the snuff behind his lip coarser than nature had intended. He was bone weary, skinned in the sweat that had dried on him, his knobby hands sore of flesh from the many scratches and sore of bone from the gripping and wresting. Stipples of blood on his shirt and one boot. 

Hildy had known her man would be weary and ornery, but she hoped the young owls splashing in the washtub would lift his spirits some. The birds were strange like creatures from a fireside yarn, but they flew to and from the dead boughs with grace. She believed their antics in the twilight and the silence of their wings might move Landrum in a lovesome way before he could remember the weight of his labors, but she did not know that the Flowers boy had lost an arm to the widow-maker saw, did not know that her husband had been the closest by but could do nothing when the boy’s blood lashed upward, shooting out in three long bursts, cardinal red in the late sunlight, till there wasn’t enough force to spurt again. The mangle was high, near the shoulder, and when Doster and Landrum got there, both grabbing their belts for tourniquets, it was too late, and the boy’s eyes were silvering over. 

Hildy had grown acquainted with the barn owls over the course of ten days, had sat by the window listening to their whoots, sitting in the dark herself until they first entered the clearing. That was when she thought of the tub, and on the fourth evening the pair dropped to the apple tree’s weathered limbs, then took turns, one as sentry while the other drank, waded, splashed about like any wren. Five nights, and they never knew they were watched. 

Now she sprinkled tobacco along the paper and rolled her cigarette, thinking she would light it only if Landrum did not come up. She wished he would come up, weighting down the loose steps, then weighting her down with his yearning. Late March now. If they tried again and succeeded it would be a Christmas baby she’d have time to coddle before spring planting. 

But she knew he would not come up, though she did not know why. 

Pouring the coffee, Landrum was running his mind back to the mill for omens. Then Hildy was spooning up the stew, breaking the full moon of the cornbread. 

Yuns have you some eat. She struck her match against stove iron, and its brief blossom was the only light in the room.

R. T. Smith is writer-in-residence at Washington and Lee University, where he edits Shenandoah and teaches. His most recent collection of fiction is Sherburne (Stephen F. Austin U. Press, 2012). His stories have appeared in Best American Short Stories, Best American Mystery Stories and New Stories from the South.


Q: What was the inspiration for this story?
A: I’d been writing a series of short shorts (collectively called Chinquapins), all set in Appalachia and almost all touching on matters of love, so when a quartet of owlets started bathing in our yard in the evening, I quickly began to imagine them as metaphorical and their hosts as two people who stepped out of the shadows to take the job.

Available now: Prime Number Magazine, Editor Selections, Volume 1 and 2Learn more...
Chapbook Review

Bonnie ZoBell
The Whack-Job Girls

The end of my sleep is sneaking
between the light of the bulb and
the alcohol:

I saw you on the street, how you 
watched the painters working at the faces
of the passing people and the unbearable 
buildings, how they suck their pipes and
listen to the intolerable waltzes from their 
little radios.

Now, it is midnight,
and I am kissing your breasts. 
I taste your soul, as my hands reach out
searching for love in this room sodden
with stink of bread, wine and death.

We are walking on the steps of others
before us,
and we live within our small summer.

Now, we are shaking and awaiting the winter,
and you look me in the eyes;
(what a feeling), somewhere outside,
the dogs are barking, and cats are sleeping
by fireplaces:
you want to tell me something,
I light a cigarette and look into your 

I wait for the oldest curses 
of all.

Peycho Kanev is the author of four poetry collections and two chapbooks. His poems have appeared in more than 900 literary magazines, such as: Poetry Quarterly, Evergreen Review, Columbia College Literary Review, Hawaii Review, Cordite Poetry Review, Sheepshead Review, Off the Coast, The Coachella Review, Two Thirds North, Sierra Nevada Review, The Cleveland Review and many others. 


Q: What can you tell us about this poem.
A: I wrote this poem for the lost loves that every man has been through. Because we all know what that is. The trap is eternal and we keep on falling in. And yet, some of us like to call this situation a game. Maybe it’s a game. But there are no rules. Just pain and tiny flashes of pleasure and joy. 

The Whack-Job Girls 
by Bonnie ZoBell
Monkey Puzzle Press, 2013
Softcover, 60 pages $10.00

​Short on Words, Long on Thought

Flash collections, even chapbook-length, are often problematic. The reader of these collections is often left with the whirlwind feel of watching television with a hyperactive channel surfer, never settling into the author’s narrative rhythm nor falling into the story. For most flash, their climaxes and denouements occur far too quickly. ZoBell’s The Whack-Job Girls does not suffer the reader this condition, nor the breathlessness most indie flash collections leaves the reader feeling. ZoBell’s language and prose is paced, but paced with a fullness and lushness that develops her characters and carries the story beyond the page. You see, ZoBell’s stories cut to our existence and our desires to connect with others, whether this connection be in the communal approach to bedding with animals and a sleep apnea-machine breathing husband in “Deep Sea Dive” or the reduction of all the earth’s inhabitants to the violence of the animal world we all live in in “Serial.” 

Most of The Whack-Job Girls’s stories are finer examples of the indie publishing’s penchant for flash fiction—Frigg, The Foundling Review, Night Train, and Wigleaf to name a few. ZoBell’s work, in this sense, should be the exemplar younger flash writers should aim for. All of the stories are commendable, memorable, and prove for an eclectic mix of styles and voice, but one story deserves special attention. “Rockstar,” the story of a fashionista who finds herself going blind, stretches head and shoulders above the rest. In a voice reminiscent of Carver’s Where I’m Calling From, “Rockstar” takes the tragedy of encroaching blindness and the absurdity of losing it all and replaces the situation and sadness with a sense of hope for Jill’s loss of sight to reconcile with a distant sister and an estranged mother. The story conjures the lost and salvation of “A Small, Good Thing” and leaves the reader wanting more of this from ZoBell, not because her other stories are lacking, they don’t, but because the story suggests a brilliance that reflects an agile mind and a writer of keen observation.

Dirty Dancing
by Lori D'Angelo
followed by Q&A

When I hear that they’re making a remake, I start screaming, and the designer dude that we have over to remodel our house gives me a strange look. I can scream if I want to. It’s my house. 

Dirty Dancing was my childhood. We danced to the songs at summer camp where other people learned how to lead, and I, the shy girl, just stood back watching other people dirty dance. 

The designer whose name is Herman as in The Munsters—his words not mine—tells me to calm the heck down. He flips his black hair and sips the cool water I gave him. Suddenly, I resent the cool water. Maybe I should have made it lukewarm. 

I simply say, “Nobody puts Baby in a corner.” 

“Isn’t it funny how half the people in Dirty Dancing are dead?” 

“Patrick Swayze. That’s one person.” 

When the renovation is done, we’ll have an island. 

“Jerry Orbach,” he says. 

Who? I think but don’t want to admit that his Dirty Dancing knowledge may be superior to mine. 

“He played the father. He was also on Law & Order.” 

“That got canceled,” I snap. 

Paul and I used to watch Dirty Dancing when we first started dating. I was a freshman. He was the hall RA. We’d put the movie on and sing the lyrics to “The Time of My Life.” He didn’t wear male leotards, but he was hot nonetheless. Now, we just watch Dora the Explorer and Elmo. 

I munch a banana while Herman shows me the sketches. I want to be like Ronald Reagan, who is dead now, too, and say, “Tear down this wall.” 

“Rebirth,” says Herman with a burst of compassion, “isn’t such a bad thing. Who knows? Maybe the remake won’t be half bad.” 

Lori D’Angelo’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in various literary journals including The Bakery, Connotation Press, dirtcakes, disClosure, Drunken Boat, Everyday Genius, Forge, Gargoyle, Hamilton Stone Review, Heavy Feather Review, Juked, Literary Mama, LOUDmouth, The New Verse News, Pequin, Praxis, Red Lighbulbs, r.kv.r.y., Reed Magazine, Spittoon, Stirring: A Literary Collection, Stone’s Throw Magazine, and Word Riot. She is a fellow at Hambidge Center for Creative Arts and Sciences, a grant recipient from the Elizabeth George Foundation, and an alumna of the Squaw Valley Community of Writers Fiction Workshop. She lives in Virginia with her husband, son, dogs, and cats.


Q: What can you tell us about this piece?
A: Dirty Dancing was a memorable movie from my childhood. I set out to write a story around a movie title and came up with this. 

Bonnie ZoBell was born in Eureka, California, and now lives in San Diego, surrounded by dogs, cats, a husband, and many succulents in her sunny casita. She teaches at San Diego Mesa College where she is Creative Writing Coordinator, is Associate Editor at The Northville Review, and Roving Editor for Flash Fiction Chronicles

Ms. ZoBell has won a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship for her fiction, the Capricorn Novel Award, a PEN Syndicated Fiction Award for a story later read on NPR, and other prizes, and received an MFA from Columbia University on fellowship. In spring 2014, her linked collection What Happened Here will be published by Press 53. For more information, visit