Favorites from Wigleaf’s Top 50

May is short story month! Along those lines, The Wigleaf Top 50 is always an exciting list to go through. Here are a few of my favorites from their selection.

“The Cities of Animals” by Autumn Watts, Guernica:

In Qatar, the birds have built their own hidden city. They live in the towers and stairwells of an abandoned palace. Their feathers carpet the ground. They build nests in the sinks of the empty bathrooms. Leave their clean, thin bones in the white sand of the courtyard. They say djinn live there, but this isn’t true. There is no room for djinn in that papery dusk of a thousand sleeping wings. The call to prayer wakes them, sends them winging aloft. I once stood in the wind of their passing. The blink of shadow and light

“The Speed of Progress” by John Sibley Williams, Corium Magazine:

The townsfolk and camera crews, even the mayor and his wife, gathered in weeping circles around the dried up well on the forgotten cusp between two families’ properties. The well does not belong to us, they both demanded. Our hands are clean. But the boy, named Charles (last name not disclosed given his age), cried up from its hollows all the same.

Bereavement by Alex Epstein, Electric Literature’s Recommended Reading:

Her parents reminisce: as a child, instead of using a bookmark, she would write in books with a marker: “I’m here.” “I’m here.” “I’m here.”

“George Washington” by Steve Himmer, Their Peculiar Ambitions:

What he can’t help but remember are the snows that swallowed a man to his heart if he stood still to let the storm rage. Those last silent seconds — save wind and save wolves and save echoing explosions of branches with ice in their veins, save tooth-grinding chatter and snorting hot horses and rattling canteens and rifles of a detachment at last come to rest — those last silent seconds he saved for himself.

ETA: This one isn’t from the Wigleaf list; it was a finalist for one of NPR’s three-minute fiction contests. It made me laugh: “Everything’s Under Control” by Eric Bronner.

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