“Her Calm Voice” by Krysta Tawlks (985 words)
A young man goes into a café expecting to commit a shooting, only to be talked out of it by a cashier who sees his mental health crisis and talks him out of the crime. I loved the ending line showing that sometimes, being compassionate and stepping up can be the most terrifying thing we ever do. At the same time, I’m not particularly impressed by the premise of the story, particularly after we find out that the narrator wants to commit the shooting because of a breakup. The piece may work for some people, but I just don’t gravitate to fiction that maintains the status quo.