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You Owe Me

by Shelley Blanton-Stroud

Forthcoming, February 2019, in This Side of the Divide: Stories of the American West, anthology, Baobab Press

One September night after picking, arms sticky yellow, tomato leaf smell of piney, bitter sunlight under her fingernails, Jane walked home along the river, which was finally slowing after months of running fast and clean with melted Sierra snow. In Indian summer, when the grass bleached white and the blue burnt out of the sky, Jane looked down as she walked, even at night, in case a rattler stretched fat across the path in the heat…

(Excerpt from work in progress, Harvest of Invention)



Birthing the Girl in the Bubble

by Shelley Blanton-Stroud

Forthcoming, in Aethlon: Journal of Sports Literature, print journal

If you want to know Bela Steinhart’s true story, not just what you’ve seen on TMZ or 30-for-30, or read in the unauthorized biographies—Love, Fault, Break or Big Time Loser, you have to start with Bela’s mother, Edie. No hero or villain emerges complete, herself, at birth. First there’s the womb and the prostate. Every Tiger has his Earl. Every hero, every villain, has parents, who were themselves heroes or heroines of their own fairy tales. For Bela Steinhart’s true story, you have to go back to Prague in the eighties…




Observer Effect

by Shelley Blanton-Stroud


I watch and record unobtrusively from a hard leather chair just behind them, invisible in my middle age, which I believe I have turned into an advantage…



The Bourbon Cure

by Shelley Blanton-Stroud


I fidgeted in the lobby of an arty Louisville hotel, waiting for the limousine that would take me on an eight-hour bourbon distillery ride, beginning at Buffalo Trace, maker of Blanton’s Single Barrel Bourbon…



Who’s In Charge?

by Shelley Blanton-Stroud

Cleaver Magazine

The dining room windows of Wendy’s Old Fashioned Hamburgers beam light onto the last cars in the lot—a pale-blue Pinto, a red Camaro, and a gray Buick Riviera, floorboard littered with Linda Ronstadt, Jackson Browne and Earth, Wind and Fire eight tracks. The Buick’s mine. I’m the manager. In two weeks I’ll quit to go back to college…




Wrong Choice Girl

by Shelley Blanton-Stroud

Soundings Review, print journal

Just after midnight on my thirteenth birthday, I woke in the Studebaker to a scream—Janie!—though I couldn’t say at first who it was, Momma or Daddy.




In the Warm, Salty Water

by Shelley Blanton-Stroud


“If a great white got into this cove, man, its jaws would chomp our whole family! All of us! We’d just be bleeding all over, screaming under water.” My oldest son, Seven, waved his arms in the air, writhing in slow motion. “That would attract a frenzy of sharks!” Now Seven whipped around, chomping his teeth, a shark devouring the boy version of himself.

Five’s face contracted. “Mommy?…



May 5, 1987


by Shelley Blanton-Stroud

Eunoia Review

No, the doctor says, when I ask, Is everything all right? His shiny bald head rises up between my wide-spread knees, a perfect red balloon hanging over the ball of my belly, his mouth in the shape of no