portion of the artwork for Chris Haven's stories

Terrible Emmanuel Renews a Library Book
Chris Haven

Let’s not be coy about which book: It’s Chicken Soup for the Soul. He’s on his third renewal, the last before he will be required to return this copy. This one has a gold medallion on the cover, mimicking a label of actual soup. Only the truly insane would mistake the book for soup; Emmanuel grins at the primitive effectiveness of the design. He has finished the book and has no real need for renewal, but every night he reads the stories through again. He reads them as a fat man reads mysteries: thoughtlessly and as an amateur detective. Sometimes he pauses from the book to read the reviews online, subject headings such as Makes You Feel Good and I Feel Like a Better Person. He has left reviews himself, under three different personae, praising the wisdom in the book. He feels that he disguises the reviews well, so that readers cannot tell how insincere his are. —These stories will lift you up! —Not just for the religious. —Will soften the hardest of hearts. These humans, on the other side of a wall—same house, no door. Always knocking.

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FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 53 | Spring/Summer 2019