From the Fiction Editor

Melic XVIII marks the beginning of my third year as fiction editor, a good time to indulge, thought I, in a moment of reflection. When our esteemed Editor-in-Chief, Dr. Chaffin, suggested that I might take on Melic's fiction, I thought, not particularly seriously, "well, isn't that nice." After he convinced me that his offer was genuine and that Melic and I were made for each other, a little voice in the back of my head began chanting "what are you getting yourself into, honey, this Chaffin fellow speaks with a hummingbird's tongue."

As it turned out, I drove myself only a little nuts with my compulsive approach to submissions -- reading and re-reading, backups of backups, etc. Let no story be overlooked, let no author suffer in limbo, and while I'm at it, let there be light. But that was only one tiny aspect of the adventure. I immediately found myself working with extremely talented and responsive writers — much to our mutual benefit, I believe. As long as I continue to have the urge, each time I read a story that I know will make the cut, to rub my hands together in delight and exhale with utter satisfaction, filled up with all that a good story has to offer, you'll find me here.

This issue does just that. If I were looking for the inadvertent thread that connects the three stories, it would be the stages of man: childhood, young adulthood and old age. Beyond that, the stories are utterly different, from the straightforward unfolding of Mercedes Lawry's "All My Life" to the string of metaphoric pearls that comprise Tobias Seamon's "The Emperor's Toy Chest" and on to Helen Gordon's edgy, frenetic "Driving." There is a knowing, a somber acceptance in these stories. Read them, because my words cannot do them justice.

Finally, special thanks to poetry editor Sherry Saye who put so much time and consideration into this issue and to my unsung hero, Mark Melton, our webmaster, who has the patience of Job's wife. Thanks also to all the readers and contributors and hopefuls who make my job such a pleasure.