In April, America celebrates National Poetry Month; from June to August, beach reads occupy long summer days. Nestled nicely between, there’s another seasonal celebration of literature: National Short Story Month.
Short stories ― works of fiction that are smaller than a breadbox, but bigger than a double haiku ― are too often overlooked by book buyers and those responsible for literary awards. But the entire month of May is dedicated to the form, so it’s as good a time as any to dip into the huge body of good work available online.
Below are some of our favorites, from both emerging and established writers.
1. “Three Friends in a Hammock” by April Ayers Lawson
Three women observe a party and reflect on their relationships with one another. This story was later published in her collection Virgin: And Other Stories.
2. “The 37” by Mary Miller
Anthologized in Miller’s recent collection Always Happy Hour, this story follows a girl trying to get home to see her mother in Mississippi.
3. “Mandatory Carry” by Caleb March
Part of Motherboard’s fiction project highlighting inventive takes on near-future scenarios, March’s story, as its title implies, is set in a world where carrying a gun is not only legal ― it’s required.
4. “Hall of Small Mammals” by Thomas Pierce
From Pierce’s collection of the same title, “Hall of Small Mammals” follows a man on a trip to the zoo with his girlfriend’s preteen son.
5. “Sports Night” by Rebecca Schiff
From her collection The Bed Moved, Schiff’s “Sports Night” centers on a teen reporter who’s disenchanted with the performance of ambition the job entails.
6. “You Are Happy?” by Akhil Sharma
A boy observes his mother’s decent into alcoholism in Shamra’s story, which will appear in his collection out this summer.
7. “Settling” by Jenny Zhang
A girl named Lillian fixates on a childhood classmate who seems ― according to her social media posts, anyway ― to have found an enviable partner. Zhang’s first book of fiction, Sour Heart, is out this summer.
8. “Jackalope Run” by CJ Hauser
Hauser’s “short short” centers on a woman’s friendship with a restaurant owner in Connecticut.
9. “You Are Here” by Victoria Lancelotta
A teenage couple flees to a motel equipped with junk food and a hope that they can raise their baby there ― or somewhere else beyond their small town.
10. “A Hundred and Twenty Muscles” by Rachel Heng
In another great work of flash fiction, a young girl plays with her class pet ― a rabbit named Domino ― a little too violently.
11. “A Bruise the Size and Shape of a Door Handle” by Daisy Johnson
Collected in Johnson’s new book Fen, this story follows a girl, Salma, who moves in with her father after her mother’s death.
12. “The Drownings” by Brenda Peynado
When a new girl, Rosa, comes to town, it sets off a series of drownings and near-drownings.
13. “Rag” by Maryse Meijer
Maryse Meijer’s first short story collection, Heartbreaker, came out last summer. “Rag,” which isn’t in that collection, is narrated by a weapon a man uses to kill a woman.
14. “We Are Other People Tonight” by T Kira Madden
A couple visits Boca Raton for their anniversary and absurdity unfolds. Madden’s first book ― a memoir ― is coming out in 2019.
15. “The Girl I Hate” by Mona Awad
“The Girl I Hate” is from Awad’s connected stories, “13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl,” and explores jealousy between two women who met at work.