For the last fifteen years, Backhand Stories has published new short stories, flash fiction, non-fiction and essays by new and unpublished writers. The blog is currently on an indefinite hiatus, but will continue highlighting the many pieces that have been published over this time. Please read them, enjoy and share!

Jamaica Preacher Man by Jason D Hill

It is 1975. I’m sitting with my father in the sofa-like front seat of his father’s car which he’s borrowed to take me for a ride. Just the two of us. It’s a red car of some make; a 1960-something Vauxhall. I’m ten years old. My father smells of coconut oil. He always smells good—fresh, earthy and natural. We’ve just come from a long drive where he told me to just be who I want to be. “You were cut out to be a writer and a poet. Don’t get sidetracked into thinking you have to be a lawyer or any of that nonsense,” he says. He’s been on this mission to save my poetic soul. His mother has been… Continue >>

The Last Birdsong by Graham Murray

Weeks afterwards, she thought about something he had told her one day. He’d said that his mother was convinced that he could charm the birds out of the trees. She knew this was just a silly expression. And yet . . .Perhaps his mother had recognized something in him that no one else had. Her three-year old daughter had been tired all day and now lay sleeping on the sofa with her new Barbie backpack clutched tightly in her hand. On the day she received it, he had taken a photograph of her wearing it, almost as large as she was. Her first backpack.They had laughed at the image of her attending her first day of school not too many… Continue >>

The Understudy By Kelley Eberhardt

No one congratulates the understudy; the role given to the individual who could not make the cut for the lead. Just right for the part, but not as right, not as good, as the chosen actor. An acceptable backup; but not ‘the one’. Sure, while their name is printed in fancy font on the play bill it is only under the bold clear print; the main character’s name. Overlooked, overworked, over-committed; the understudy is no place to be. Being with you, is being the understudy; the girl behind the scenes. I am the lines, I play the part, I dance the dance, and I feel the feel. I give to the production as much heart as the main character, but… Continue >>

First Contact by Koe Whitton-Williams

Our child, Jilly Nines, will be starting kindergarten in September and last night we participated in our first parent’s night at school. We, and about eighty other parents, met the principal, the school psychologist, all five kindergarten teachers, the administrative director, two first grade teachers, the librarian, the art teacher, the physical education teacher, the night custodian, the director of the PTA, the PTA fund-raising coordinator, the director of bi-lingual education, the director of transportation, the speech pathologist, the director of the PTA communications office, four teacher’s aides and someone else. Almost all of the teachers were endowed with a charming, youthful silhouette. None looked like they could deliver the thunderous reprimands of the Sister Christopher of my youth. The… Continue >>

Visitation by Jennifer Walmsley

When the preachers came, they embraced you. When they entered your home, they smiled pious smiles. Then they said in reverent tones, ‘Let us pray for your forgiveness.’ But you were unable to tell them that it was your husband who had sinned. When you knelt, their fingers gripped your shoulders and their unified voices mingled with your whispered prayer for his return and they left, gratified with their godliness and you, watching their black coats recede, tied a noose around your neck and left your baby crying.

Avocation Calling by Peggy Duffy

A few years ago, when I taught English Composition at a community college, one of the first essays I’d assign students was “The Transaction” by William Zinsser. In the essay, Zinsser writes about a doctor who has recently begun to write and has experienced some publishing successes. He compares his way of working with the way the doctor works. Zinsser points out that to him, a professional writer, writing is a vocation, while to the doctor, it is an avocation. The assignment of the term “avocation” implies the doctor will never be taken seriously as a writer. At least that’s the impression I always came away with each time I re-read the essay in preparation for discussing it with a… Continue >>

The Man-Playing Guitar and the Guitar-Playing Man by Simon Thalmann

A guitar who had learned to play the man decided he wanted to form a band. He gathered up his courage and called a guitar-playing man and asked him if he would be interested in joining him. — Hmm, said the guitar-playing man. So you’re a man playing guitar? — No, said the man-playing guitar. A man-playing guitar. It’s hyphenated. — Oh I see, said the guitar-playing man. So you’re a guitar then? — Yes, said the man-playing guitar. — If you don’t mind my asking, said the guitar-playing man, what brand of guitar are you? — To be honest, I’m not entirely sure, answered the man-playing guitar. — Hmm, said the guitar-playing man. Why don’t you look at your… Continue >>

A Land of Make-Believe by Avis Hickman-Gibb

The sun was hot. That summer was a scorcher. I remember the sweat trickling down the sides of my face. I was always sticky and grubby – I spent most of my time outdoors playing with my new friend. We went to the park, played in my back garden, and roamed the local vacant land – a very mysterious and lonely place when you’re nine years old. The little plot was quiet and still – like a forgotten, empty writing book left over from school. It was close to home – I could see the roof of my house – and yet it was so different. There was a wild tangle all over it’s surface – a strange mix of… Continue >>

Silent Companions by Jennifer Walmsley

I sit in my small, one bed roomed flat above Sebastian’s Nightclub. Below, music throbs. Outside, drunks shout and brawl. Nightly, police sirens wail, disturbing my sleep, disturbing my peace. Daily, shoppers and office workers dash to and fro unaware of the constant disturbance that occurs well after the stores have closed. On a sofa, in front of the window, two dummies sit erect. One dummy, a male, wears a fair wig. The other, a female, has brown hair, fibrous to touch. Outside, down in the puke stained street, if someone cares to look up, they will see two dummies heads through flimsy curtains and, hopefully, presume I have company. Though my companions are mute, I can tell my their… Continue >>

Sewickley by John Bruce

He couldn’t recollect her name. What he remembered was the place she told him she came from. “I’m from a wonderful town called Sewickley.” She pronounced it carefully and distinctly, as if he were a slow second-grader. Perhaps if she’d said “My name is Suuusan,” he would have remembered her name, but the town was what stuck. “It’s near Pittsburgh. It may sound like it has a funny name, but it’s a wonderful town. A wonderful town.” It was like a little lecture. What was so special about Sewickley? She wasn’t explaining. Lots of trees, he guessed, lots of single-family homes, good schools. The sort of place everyone came from. Up to then, he’d spent his life moving with his… Continue >>