Scroll down to find out our Pushcart Prize nominees for stories published in 2019, and enjoy a brief excerpt from each story. Congratulations to these authors, and good luck!
"The Partisan and the Witch" by Charlotte Honigman
That elocution contest was two years ago, and even that recently, she had cherished some plans. She would go to university, somehow, and study agriculture. She and Rywka and Zivek would farm on a kibbutz near Haifa. There would be olive trees in the sun, and a language that was old-new and strong and did not leave splinters or phantom traces of sweetness on the tongue. But now her plans have come to this. She is standing in autumn woods, among birch trees, not olive or palm. She shivers in a rising night wind, and she stands before a fence made of human skulls.
Their eyes are alight, and they chatter at her from atop their posts with yellowed, weathered teeth, speaking no language that she knows. Skeletal hands clutch the long femur palings together. Fingerbones shift and twitch, clutching for purchase as the wind bangs the gate.
"Teeth" by Jessamy Corob Cook
There are all sorts of grannies in the wood. Some get eaten by wolves and others eat wolves. You can tell which is which easily enough—just look at the teeth. Are they soft and paper-yellow and crumbling with years of rice pudding and jam? Or are they iron hard and, apart from a speckling of rust, well equipped to slice through hot, canine muscle and crunch through bone?
Well, you have your answer.
“Circles and Salt” by Sara Cleto
The truth is that I’ve been dancing, moving, running since I was fourteen. Before that, I was a dreamier creature altogether, a girl who could sink into stillness like a bucket into a well. I loved reading. I loved the slow, methodical way soup came together in a pot if I stood beside it and stirred. I loved watching the leaves fall from the apple tree outside my window. My father called me lazy, though I tended all the animals on his farm and made three meals for us each day. The way I could stand still and look steadily at anything made him uncomfortable.
“Accidents are Not Possible” by Sarah Van Goethem
“You collect us only for experimentation,” I said, drawing my own finger over one of the routes. “Don’t think you fool me. I’ve heard of your Doctor Mengele, of his genetic studies on twins.” My voice had risen, and the girls gasped and covered their mouths, but I didn’t care. They should all know what we were in for. I moved closer to Eva and she backed into the wall, the world around her head like a halo. Sparks flew within me, and my palms burned, but I couldn’t stop. “Is your twin supply dwindling? Is that why you have to snatch us from across the ocean, now?”
“As The Spindle Burns” by Nellie K. Neves
We’re an elite group of agents created by what is left of the military departments as we knew them. Originally I suppose they meant for it to be men, but with the men on the front lines, the women are picking up the slack. Not all of us can be riveting the newest war machines on the scientist’s assembly lines. Those of us who were selected for this were picked for a reason.
“Make This Water No Deeper” by Blake Jessop
When the red-haired nymph opened her eyes, summer light broke and bent in slanted green sheets down from the surface and between the waving river grasses. She yawned silently in the deep water and stretched.
Her eyes, the same emerald green as the shimmering sun, caught those of the soldier. His were deep blue, and very wide. He drew no more breath than she did, and hung in the kelp just as lightly.
Awake, she slid through the murk toward the dock. She needed her dress back, and someone would probably come to search for the soldier. There were sins in her that the abbreviated flow of the river could not wash away, but she took her chances where she could.