Archives

TWO MICROS by Grace Q. Song

MAGICIAN’S HAT You find an upside-down magician’s hat on a table. It’s made of velvet, smooth as moonlight between your fingers, and a stripe, broad and white, wraps around its base. No one’s around. The first thing you pull out is a wand. Next, a deck of fresh cards. Pigeons and rabbits who disappear into the dark corners of the room. These are ordinary things you’d expect to find in a magician’s hat, nothing too surprising. So, you keep pulling and pulling, magic trick after magic trick, until things finally begin. The twenty-fifth item is a red Starburst, followed by

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THE EARTHWORM by Jennifer Ritenour

Earthworm unfurls from an egg. No siblings. Only this one worm of two sexes. E wiggles in fluid and then presses herms face against the soft wall of the cocoon. A beat comes from the other side. Aware of hermself, E is now alive. E thrusts and pushes until the wall tears. Darkness, slick cool mud. The cocoon is now deflated behind herm. The lub dub, lub dub, lub dub is the pulse of Mother Earth and also the beat of herms five hearts. Earthworm slides through the dirt. Stomach pangs. E opens herms mouth. Soil flows in and through

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MEPHISTOPHELES by Emily Kiernan

Judging by the state of his teeth, the vet estimated he was five years old, but Ella thought he was older than that—a persistent street-cat scrawniness, knots they could never comb out of his long, black fur. She’d had pets before, but he inspired a desperate love in her the others had not, a need to hoist him up in her arms and wrap his skinny body in hers, to protect him. The friend who had found him in the alley behind the Get Go station called him FluffFluff, but Ella had been reading Faust, and she named him Mephistopheles.

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ON THE TOILET MAKING UNWINNABLE DEALS WITH GOD by Garth Miró

“I’ll be right there!” I called out to my girlfriend.  I’d just stuck my cooking-oil-lubed arm halfway up my asshole when her friends arrived for lunch. Someone’s birthday. Heard them out there, smiling, kissing one another. There was clinking and keys and hellos and I was supremely fucked. When you smoke a lot of heroin you get really constipated. When you get really constipated you sometimes get impacted. Then you’re an animal.  I was sweating. I jammed my arm up further, and really, it was probably only my hand, but I heard something rip. No. There was no turning back.

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SWEET GIRL by Regina Caggiano

The difference between her and me is that only one of us is sweet.   There may be other variables at work but none of them weigh nearly so much. I have learned this in a month and a half of living beside her blue bedroom. Case A: she is always walking around the house in ball-busting heels. Case B: when cooking for guests she is undaunted by expiration dates. What she wants and what she does are often in 1:1 ratio and she will always tell you the necessary truth, but no more. When we go out to neon bars

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THE HUMMING MAN by Rachel Laverdiere

I know better than risking the mall, the Salvation Army Santa’s bucket near the bus stop, but they’ve got a two-for-one on frozen pizzas at the E-Z-Mart, and I’ve been craving pepperoni all week. Santa’s jingling coins follow me into the store, but I’ll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams…blares overhead and soon enough I join the long line of paunchy, middle-aged men and wonder how many have a Christine who left when the ruts cratered. I unzip my parka, press the frozen pizzas against my cheek and try to figure out what’s making the hum I’m

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THE TREES by Melissa Reddish

One of my crushes, a male professor with whom I work, is texting one of my other crushes, a second male professor with whom I work. The first one never speaks above a whisper and the second one has bushy eyebrows I’d like to grind between my molars. They are texting each other snide comments about my taste in fashion and music. At least, that is what I assume. Sometimes I imagine laying with each of them, but we keep our clothes on. Sometimes I imagine coating each of them in polystyrene to keep them from shedding their beauty like

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THE WOODHOUSES, THE MARITAL BED IS LAVA, SLEEPWALKING by Ariel Clark-Semyck

the woodhouses “greensleeves” floats through the halls of the high-rise & stops in for the showing.  the new tenants are young & comely.  they pay no mind to the plea of the piano or the hospital stretcher rounding the corner.  the woman’s blonde hair curls inward at the ends, teasing the tip of her heart-shaped face.  the man wears a powder blue linen suit & slaps her ass while the realtor isn’t looking.  they each excrete a gasp when they see the living room.  they make a show of admiring the antiques, the burgundy drapes.  they take a thoughtful glance

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ACTIVE SHOOTER TRAINING by Jason Peck

We’ve attended such lessons before, briefings that point us to hiding places and escape routes, drills that teach us quick action and suspicion toward our coworkers. But this seminar is different. This is the best workplace shooter training this company has ever had. People who attended the first sessions this morning still recall them with awe on their coffee and smoke breaks.  Life-changing, they say. An eye-opener, they say. But mostly—very good. We can already see their transformations. They walk straighter, talk bolder. Evelyn in accounting says she will hear the training again. Roberta from legal holds her calls in

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POLICING HEAVEN by Fred Pierre

To worship the leader is to worship our god, say cult members before they’re arrested. How does religion make you feel? Certain death, stake chips on the hereafter, or spin earth for a sunrise tomorrow? Truth is, you’ve been duped by your broker and hoodwinked by your minister out of your promised immortal treasures. “You’ll see your whole family in heaven, my friend,” said the minister as he lay dying. Certainty grows when we parrot dogma. To get into heaven, the test is quite simple: Choose kindness before your self-interest. Only one in ten makes it. So many sublets in

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