What do you do when the thing you most need isn’t what you thought?

The narrators of these thirteen wildly original and unforgettable stories all know what they want, and are surprised to find—in poignant and sometimes painful ways—that what they need is something else entirely. Whether starting a romance or ending one, raising babies or rescuing a friend, running an advice column or the most powerful country on the planet, their worlds fall apart and then get rebuilt, in startling and tender ways, on the new discoveries rising from the rubble. Bold, sneaky, sometimes bewildered, and always jumping in feet first, these characters will steal your heart, turn it upside down, shake out all its contents, and give you back what you most need, polished, clear, and whole.

The Necessaries: Stories
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Christiana Langenberg, author of Half of What I Know:

The women in these 13 stories are a lucky number. Urban deftly reveals their wants and needs in such a way that readers feel compelled to keep turning the page to find out what’s going to happen, where they will go, what they will say, do and, perhaps most importantly, what they will think. Urban draws you in to the circumstances of their lives through prose so keen and almost unbearably lovely that it feels both mysterious and familiar. She creates complex characters who embody seemingly conflicting ways of being and yet, by the story’s end, you can’t imagine there’s any other way for them to navigate their lives.

Sarah Gerkensmeyer, author of What You Are Now Enjoying:

Traversing the ordinary and the extraordinary (and everything in between), Misty Urban introduces us over and over again to our most human desire: to find connection with someone else.  Her stories explore the tenuous threads of her characters’ relationships with humor and grit, humility and abandon. When we’re desperately looking for others, we are sometimes lucky enough to find ourselves. With The Necessaries, Urban has kindly allowed us to borrow the map.

Tom McKay, author of Another Life and West Fork:

The messy emotions of love and longing spill off the pages of The Necessaries in equal parts of razor wit and tender honesty.  The stories unfold in beautiful language that treats the ear, tests the mind, and touches the heart.

Mary Howard, author of Discovering the Body and The Girl With Wings:

Taken together, the thirteen stories in The Necessaries rise to the level of a worldview: our longing for loving connections, which so often seem elusive, may be satisfied in unforeseen ways if we persevere and open ourselves to the unexpected.  Vividly drawn characters speak their minds and reveal their desires on these pages as their journeys lead to quiet, stunning possibilities: love in all its varieties, romance without sentiment, gratitude as a kind of happiness, a buoyant grace.


From Rob Cline in the Cedar Rapids Gazette:

. . . reaffirms [Urban’s] gifts while extending her range . . . Even as Urban tries new approaches from story to story, she maintains her focus on characters and their longings. The Necessaries is populated with individuals every bit as memorable — for their hopes, their disappointments, and their unique voices — as those found in A Lesson in Manners. Urban’s new collection is exciting not just because the stories found within it are strong, but because this collection demonstrates that she is a writer intent on pushing herself to stretch in new directions.

From Robin Throne in Gold Coast Almanac:

. . . dialogue is a strong suit, and The Necessaries . . . lays out this strength across the page to fold you into these seemingly familiar conversations . . . read [these stories] for Urban’s conversational exchanges and stunning surprises of language: We leapt together, and the sky caught us. Spend time with The Necessaries and let Urban’s sky catch you.

From Jodie Toohey in Midwest Book Review’s Reviewer’s Bookwatch:

The Necessaries takes readers on a journey through the human experience with all of its varied heartbreak and universal desires: death, disease, love, connection, and belonging . . . Each of the thirteen stories features fully-formed, nuanced, and distinct characters, each with his or her own personality, ambition, voice, and story to tell. . . . Urban’s poetic style, literary language, and detailed descriptions [will] leave you feeling like you are there, witnessing, and forever carrying these characters with you.

Table of Contents

“The Necessaries” – first published in Oklahoma Review 5.2

Ben told me that the top floor of the Sears Tower moves anywhere from seven to thirteen inches in a good ripping wind.

“Ficus” – first published in District Lit

“It’s true,” the woman said. “I think I’m ready.”

She crossed her legs at the ankle. She touched the handles of her heavy shoulder bag and then patted her knee, like she was putting something into place.

“Tandem” – a favorite in the River Cities’ Reader 2016 Short Story Contest

The jumpmaster hitched the strap around my waist and buckled it. I felt his hand brush my hip. “Tighter,” I said.

“That’s tight,” he said. Brandon said, “Mom.”

“Bay City” – appeared in part in the anthology DOMESTIC (Willow Press, 2017)

The trouble began when Blanche jumped out of the convertible at the first wayside. It was Parker’s fault; neither Simon nor I cared for boiled peanuts, but Parker considered that she needed a North Florida souvenir.

“Smoke Inhalation” – first published in Forword (Cornell University)

You go to the bar because he wants you to; he always wants to go to the bar, it’s one of the few places he can smoke and he knows you dislike it but he smokes anyway, heavily, malevolently, lighting the next Marlboro with the one already clamped between his teeth, while the exhaled smoke curls back toward his mouth, towards those lips that for a while you thought of as belonging to you. His hands are shaking again.


It starts out as a burn across her forearm, a small thing in itself, about two inches long. When I notice she pulls her hand back, hiding it beneath the café table.

Like this story? Read the extra ending to “Unsaid,” available here!

“The President in Rome”

 The President of the United States is learning Italian.

“River Bottom” – first published in Fiction Attic

She sat on the deep wooden porch in the chair her grandfather had made, and she rocked.

“Happiness” – first published in The Cerurove 1

At twilight, two heavenly messengers appeared on my doorstep.

“We’ve come to bring you happiness,” they said.

I thought about it. “I’m already happy.”

“This is How to Hold”

This is how to hold a baseball: light and easy, knuckles curving around the sphere, balancing it on your fingertips. Think about your wrist dropping back and snapping forward, your arm a grand arc, the ball hurtling like a small planet straight at the catcher’s face. Don’t think about Billy Johnson, that jerk, scowling from the dugout, got a girl on his team.

“Bedtime Fairy Tale”

—So in the kingdom in the mountains there was this princess—

—No, that’s not how it begins.

“Flight” – first published in Grasslimb 4.1

I admit it’s been a long-awful day for both of us. What did it I guess was the crayons, though the dinosaurs were close to breaking me.

“Welcome to!”

Finalist for the 2015 Novella Contest held by Minerva Rising Press

April 24. So, girls. Have you noticed all the new fashions this spring are in pink? What is this, the 1950s? It frightens me, ladies, it truly does, to see what the hetero world is doing to its women. This is third wave feminism, my friends and followers: we are now free to express our inner pinkdom?