LOW VISIBILITY by Jillian Luft

We’re in a blizzard, the sheer white of it haloing our Nissan Maxima as we careen across the northeast interstate, miles and miles away from the tropical green swelter of our backyard, the cicada buzz of Florida. Starting somewhere in New Jersey, the weather blots out the roads, swallows exit signs, engulfs my parents, younger brother and me in its silent magic. Our burgundy sedan skidding slightly as our mouths open in unison to the light falling soundlessly outside. For the first time in our lives, we feel like the lucky ones. Sole witnesses to a quiet miracle, a record-breaking…

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C by Lisa Lerma Weber

It was another sweltering summer night in our godforsaken little town, the odor of cow dung and hay heavy in the air. My maroon Ford Escort was sitting in a dimly lit corner of the McDonald’s parking lot, a bunch of misfits standing around it, trying to figure out what trouble to get into. You and I were lying in the trunk next to a pile of scratched and scuffed skateboards. I turned towards you and smiled. You smiled back. You were always smiling, something I liked about you. We leaned into each other, our lips meeting for a brief…

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I DEFINITELY NEVER LOVED YOU by Cory Bennet

It’s that time of year when California burns. It will peak in the Fall when the shadows begin to grow longer. There was a lightning storm across the Bay Area last night and fires today and ash falling from the gray sky. My knee is torn up from skating but I’m restless tonight so I cruise the neighborhood inhaling the poison air.  Once the fire had torn through my parents’ neighborhood, we tried to return but the cops had all the roads closed. My stepdad knew a way through an orchard. We came upon the house and it still stood….

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GRIEF IS AN EMPTY SHELL by Robert Julius

When I left for California in the summer of 2013, I knew what I was leaving behind. I was abandoning a home that had grown toxic over the years, from my mother’s addiction and the ensuing fights between her and my father. I was leaving behind the rural countryside of western Pennsylvania. I was leaving behind two best friends, two brothers, two parents, and a sister who had been in and out of prison for the last five years. I was also leaving behind an old me, and all my old pastimes, including my terrarium of land hermit crabs that…

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LACERATION by Victoria Buitron

When an iguana’s tail falls off after a scare, I’ve wondered if it feels the pain of a halted human heart or the shame a woman feels after being sexually assaulted in public. On many mornings, I’ve rested on a hammock below robust mango trees hoping an iguana didn’t fall on me. If a branch buckled under its weight, the crack of thin bark would reach me before I could see a green smear plop onto the ground. I’d cover my head with my arms or a book in startled anticipation. Once, my dog woke from a nap beside me…

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ALTO by Kathryn M. Barber

We’ve spent this summer in your house, the one that belongs to your father, the one that’s brimming to the top with a hundred thousand ghosts. Memories haunt this house: your parents, still together; your brother, asleep down the hall; your college girlfriend, alive, her laugh echoing across the staircase. We sleep beneath a framed photograph of that girl you loved so much, the one whose car went off that bridge we drive  across every day. She’s the only thing that reminds me you’re capable of love, that it can even exist inside you. The way you grieve her is…

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CONDEMNED by C. Cimmone

My mother smoked her favorite cigarettes in the kitchen. Smoke billowed out into the living room and crept down the halls. A small television muffled the evening news as the three of us chewed away at overdone meat. Splatters of hot bacon grease slid down our throats as my father hurried through tough threads of roast. He ran the tractor after supper; and my mother splashed hot water around in the sink as she yelled at me for not finishing the black-eyed peas. “Black eyed peas are good luck,” she’d belt.  Holiday evenings were much the same. “Too much sage…

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NORA LIVES IN PIECES by Mason Parker

Everything crashed into its true form following the blackout in New Orleans when Nora missed her flight and we drove to Little Rock, buzzing as trashy manic fairies. The Ozarks flopped and rolled, redefining themselves every few miles. Nora had proposed to me after pissing on the fence of an electrical transfer station somewhere outside of Austin where the grass grew through the chain link. I laughed at her, and she said, “I’m fucking serious, mate.” “You wouldn’t want to marry me, Nora.” “Fuck man, I love America. We could get dual citizenship.” “It wouldn’t be worth it. I’m a…

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LISTING by Michael Todd Cohen

MARBLEHEAD, MA — ESTATE SALE BY YOUNGEST SON 4 bedroom / 4.5 bath with 5,679 sq ft. of ample space for nuclear family on .26 acres. Below listed are the items for sale and a description of the property. Not listed but offered for the specific buyer: being told as a child you would be disowned if gay. BASEMENT Offered in sale: workbench at which father and youngest son built miniature soapbox derby car for Cub Scout competition. Mostly father—who hip-checked son saying, “watch out, watch out,” as his hulky frame jostled miniature car parts into a sleek red bullet….

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A MOST DEPRESSING WEEK by Chris Milam

Monday I tell my therapist that her milkshake brings all the depressives to the yard. She laughs. I laugh. I don’t tell her I spent hours the night before trying to think of something funny to say to her. I also think: I love you. I think: you plus me equals happiness. I think: when does this session end? I think: I want to sleep with you to help murder the pain. She goes on about reframing or something. I’m still focusing on my joke. Time’s up. Fuck. Tuesday A murder case on Dateline. A beautiful wife is found dead…

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