Johnny woke up on Saturday at 4:00 a.m. feeling the overwhelming need to take a shit. The evening before had been poker night — seven-card stud with a ten-dollar buy-in. Everyone brought a case of beer to the occasion. It was one of those increasingly rare nights of laughs between tokes of dope with old friends. Only a few of them still smoked. The others had moved on, acquiring minivans, bald spots, and ulcers in the meanwhile. A new decade was around the corner. The kids were getting big enough to make you wonder where the time had gone.


of sorts

Photo by James Pond on Unsplash

Face the blank page with courage
To always tell the truth,
Especially in fiction.

Dig to find the heart of the matter
That beats deep beneath the breast
Of each and every character.

Paint the walls of every room with vivid color.
Leave no important detail overlooked.

Describe the six senses with synesthestic delight.
Smell sounds and see thoughts,
Some of which taste peculiar.

Follow the arc the muse leaves in her wake.
Explore the myriad paths glittered with gold dust.

Continue the journey
On the days when she rests
Or disappears for days. …


Once upon a time
There was a boy
Who liked a girl.
He crushed on her from afar.
She was different from all the other
Cookie-cutter girls, unique and
Beautiful in her own way.
A force of nature, which
Left the young boy in awe,
But maybe also slightly intimidated,
Unsure how to approach
The girl of his sweetest dreams.

She graduated a year ahead of him
At the dawn of the new millennium,
Then disappeared into the haze of tomorrow,
Wanting to escape the past and follow her own path. …

By Stephen M. Tomic


She was a physical specimen, so gifted and so fast that some speculated scientists had made her in a lab. She never juiced or cheated, but she had feet like flippers and muscular shoulders the size of small boulders. Her childhood dream was to become an Olympic champion someday.

Nothing would stand in her way. She begged her parents to spend hours at the community pool. There, she swam countless laps, only exiting once her skin had wrinkled. One day, she caught the eye of a coach who took it upon himself to train her.

Thus began the strict regimen…

Photo by Mike Tinnion on Unsplash

Hello Dear Readers,

I hope that month XX of the pandemic is treating you and your loved ones well. I don’t send out these newsletters very often, preferring to reserve them for moments when we have actual news.

To that end, I have a few brief announcements to make:

Some of you may already know we’ve added a new editor. Let me introduce you to Sven Howard. He’s a good friend from my days in Prague, a voracious, astute reader, and a welcome addition to our team. Mike Sturm remains, as he put it, our “Editor Emeritus — roaming the…

Here’s what I said:

Author photo

Hi there, I’m the editor of The Junction, a publication that publishes high-quality fiction, poetry, and humor. In light of Ev Williams’s recent announcement of changes afoot at Medium, there are many editors such as myself who are concerned about the future of our publications on this platform. This ever-changing effort to find a viable economic model is frustrating for readers and writers because it gives us a sense of whiplash instead of stability. Medium can be a place for anyone to write but also has the ability to showcase exceptional and important writing. …


The slanting rain spit against the darkened window of Ronnie Simpson’s Winnebago. He was writing a story about a writer, which is something he swore he’d never do, and he hated himself for it. The mixture of his hatred was equal parts self-loathing, pride, arrogance, and disdain.

Ronnie had long plied his trade by toying with conventions. A hard-boiled detective novel set in space? Bingo. A romantic horror story? Aces. Time-traveling anthropomorphic aardvarks? Golden. A twelve-part fantasy cookbook? Bestseller list. But a story about a writer? God, that was just the pits, the absolute lowest of the low.

Retire already…


Roz and Ben were both band geeks. Roz was a senior and played the clarinet. She sat in first chair, the row ahead of Ben, all the way on the right. He played the trumpet but preferred goofing-off. Even so, he was good enough to be third chair despite being only a sophomore. That allowed him to sneak looks at her during band practice. Her cheeks reminded him of Red Delicious apples when she played.

The band director, Mr. Reeves, considered Roz his star pupil. She served as one of the drum majors in the marching band and guest-conducted the…

Stephen M. Tomic

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