Archives

BUTTLOAD by Caleb Echterling

The king’s chief of staff flipped the display numbers. The occupants of the blandest room in the kingdom clutched their flimsy tickets, and sucked in a collective breath. Trumpets flared, and a crier bellowed, “Petition the King Day, now serving A377.” A group of well-dressed, barefoot gentlemen rose to their feet. “That’s us, move aside,” they said as they elbowed through the crowd into the throne room. “Your majesty, we are representatives of the Cloth-Sellers Guild. Look!” They each thrust one bare foot into the air. “We all have different sized feet.” King Rupert stroked his beard. “I’m afraid the

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PLAGUES AND OBLIGATIONS by Simon Henry Stein

After nine days of nights, I went. On each of those nights I hadn’t gathered more than four hours of sleep, adrift still-dressed from the previous day on a bed that used to boast plural ownership. On three or four of those nights, I twisted toward the ceiling and tried to mumble a prayer or blessing so quiet it wouldn’t bother anyone, not even me, but failed. Baruch atah Adonai––blessed are you, Lord. That’s as far as I would get. There’s even a prayer to wake up having slept without sleep greeting death halfway, the Hashkiveinu. I don’t remember the

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IN THE END DAYS YOUR FATHER COMES TO VISIT by Frankie McMillan

He wants a photograph of the baby in the bath. Or maybe lying on a sheepskin rug. You say you haven’t got a sheepskin rug and the baby’s already had a bath. Your father says, ‘ Well make up your mind, sweetheart.’ He wants a photograph of his grandson before he gets back on the plane.   He picks the baby up, holds him by the window for a closer look. ‘There’s nothing wrong with him,’  he says. You point to the baby’s hairy legs. ‘It’s nothing,’ your father snorts. He declares the baby perfectly normal. He unscrews the cap

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THE TURTLEMAN by Patrick Reid

The turtleman has dark green skin, a thick, spongy surface, like wet clay. The turtleman lives by the lake. The turtleman has long, smooth legs, and even longer, skinnier arms. The turtleman reads fiction. The turtleman writes screenplays, hoping he will eventually sell one to Hollywood, but he doesn’t let his hopes get too high, because he knows a lot of depressed screenwriters who have long since lost their creative spark. The turtleman has a mere bump for a nose, slits for nostrils, and two large eyes, cartoonish, mostly white. The turtleman has a shell. The turtleman walks on two

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shook

THE 11 SIGNS OF BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER by Carey Cecelia Shook

(According to the National Institute of Mental Health, and also Me) 1) Impulsive and often dangerous behaviors, such as spending sprees, unsafe sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, and binge eating.  When I was five, I’d sneak sandwich meat, pudding, cereal—anything quick and easy to snack on—into my room and hide it so my parents wouldn’t find out how much I was eating. I did this until I was nine when my mom cleaned my room and found moldy bologna under the bed. Since then, I mindlessly eat almost every time I eat. I can’t control myself. I’ve been doing it

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melissa goode

HERE WE ARE NOW by Melissa Goode

We play this game. You say something nice. I say something nice. You say something mean. I say something mean. We fuck. You aren’t so into it now. Your nice isn’t that nice—beautiful, really? That sounds like a lazy lie to me, but it’s my turn to say something nice. Your mean isn’t that mean. Something about my driving, like I care. You say, “Are we just trying to manufacture feeling here?” “Yes.” “Let’s keep it simple,” you say and take hold of my ponytail and pull it hard. “Better,” I say. “Make it meaner.” You do, making it hurt—I

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EXCERPT FROM “DRIFT” by Chris Campanioni

Born Under Punches The things I recall, I recall in zip pan, POV, a pullback shot without mise-en-scène. Or in darting moments, a brief flash, a passing scent, transposing and unblinking, and utterly distinct. Yet the whole of history favors similarities and slight anachronisms. The schism of time is in a class all its own, and even now I am racing through hallways of my subconscious without taking notice of the hall itself. The lino. A railing. Reverse angles by which you see your own self speaking. Everyday details. Everything passes. As a rule, I strive for lucidity in loneliness,

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BURGLARS by Francine Witte

I used to wish my parents were burglars. That would have been more honest. Instead, we had to live in a shadow. It looked like a house, but it was a shadow. All dark and hushed and Daddy about to lose it anyway. Always about to lose everything on some bad business deal. Some neighbor or something would tell him a mountain of lies, and Daddy would climb it like a stupid goat. One night, I woke up to my mother screaming. Daddy started pounding the piano keys. When that didn’t stop her, he pulled the vacuum out of the

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SHE HAS DISCOVERED COSTCO by Shannon McLeod

It’s Friday the thirteenth and day number four of your leave. You’re taking some time off work since “the incident.” You’re at the DMV because you’ve been meaning to go for months but you’re always working when it’s open. You’re afraid of seeing your students’ parents in the waiting area. You’re wearing the same Alf T-shirt and stretched-out underwear you’ve had on for the past two days. You’re pretty sure you stink. You glance at the people sitting beside you and determine they are too old or too young to have children in middle school. You may never return to

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CHERYL by Michael Seymour Blake

There was a loud crash outside the apartment. We were in bed talking about leaving the city just as we always had around ten p.m. every night for the past million years. I’d bring up a photo of some paradise with green grass and a nice big blue sky, no skyscrapers or office buildings in sight, and Terry would go, “Yep, that’s the place for us,” and then we’d settle back into our misery and forget all about it. I was delinquent with two of my loans, Terry took a pay cut to save her job, and we had a

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