Karen Smyte’s story “Muscle” was a winner of the 2019 Short Short Fiction Prize and originally appeared in the Winter/Spring 2019 issue of The Southhampton Review.

The summer I turned sixteen, I slept with my rowing coach. It was the first time I had sex in the way it happens sometimes, as a surprise. We were at his younger brother’s funeral, my first boyfriend, then we were along the canal bank, on his suit jacket, me tightening my muscles around him.

Joe had his reasons, or didn’t. He reminded me enough of Mike, straight angles everywhere, cheekbones, rib bones, hips sharp. I needed to stop the loop in my head of Mike loping to the dock, four blades on his shoulder, and the impossible grace he displayed setting them down.

Read the rest of the story here: https://www.thesouthamptonreview.com/tsronline/2019/11/26/muscle