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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LAND LEGS by E.D. WELCH

Bittersweet day, this final one together. Frighteningly agenda-less, we wander through the aisles of small, art-filled stores, awkward in each other’s company, unaccustomed to hanging out like this. “Do you want to go into this one?” I ask him at each store.  “I don’t care.” His only reply. I learn he likes art galleries—oil paintings, to be exact. I didn’t know. Our aimlessness leads us eventually to the beach, where we find our land legs again. The beach: yes, we spent many, many hours at the beach together during his childhood, so this we know how to do. He shows…

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LETTERS TO MACKENZIE by Blake L. Bell

I We were wild girls. Raised with dirty feet, tangled hair. Our dogs followed us down the roads we walked, but our mommas rarely did. We played hard, fought hard, loved hard. Fate cheated us from being sisters, so we bound ourselves together with blood ritual. We couldn’t go downstairs to the kitchen to get a knife, afraid of waking momma. Instead, we broke a jar in the upstairs bathroom and sliced our thumbs open; our skin peeled back, vessels bursting and spilling over. We pressed our cuts together and imagined our blood forever combined. “Soul sisters,” we said, sucking…

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MY MAMMAW’S BOYFRIEND by Dalton Monk

He looks like Stan Lee. And we call him that behind his back. Stan Lee’s real name is Marvin. Right now I’m in Marvin’s truck and we’re parked at the grocery store. He goes inside, and I stay in the backseat of the truck, which is old, the fabric cutting loose in the corners. It’s full of long cucumbers and cobwebs and ants. And a putrid smell that can only come from an old man, specifically an old man that looks like Stan Lee and wears Stan Lee glasses. This is an old man I hardly know. I sit in…

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SONG FOR AN EMPTY WORLD by Miles Coombe

The road is lit with street lamps. It’s weak, bulbs on the edge of giving out, but the glow is still there. I am in his bed, a fresh bruise over his eye this time, and curled into his side. He feels smaller with my arms around him. My eyes are closed and I see an explosion of grey in a room too white to be real, and where I know there should be screaming, my own included, there is only static. He wakes, with a hammering heart and a cry on the tip of his tongue. Something inside him…

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HAM SANDWICH, DRY by Caroljean Gavin

One day, in the middle of the week, a Wednesday or a Thursday, in the humid summer, with the air conditioner broken, and the ceiling fan so feeble, I fell asleep under my down alternative comforter and had a dream of walking through a lush field, thick blades of grass slithered against my legs, dandelions swung in the breeze, little hammocks for lazing bees, and when I woke up, covered in a loose sweat, I walked down the stairs step by step, blinking my eyes open, open and closed, flexing my fingers, balling my fists, and I went to the…

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VEGAS by Mackenzie Moore

I shudder, feeling the heat as I approach the straightaway where all you see are the shells of casinos looming. Blink-182 cranking, asking me what my age was, again. I keep ticking past billboards that tell me when the buffets will return. I jam my foot down on the accelerator. Tempt fate with out-of-state plates. I think about five months earlier when we peeled away, me from the curb at Terminal 2, and him off to the Mirage for the weekend. It feels like years. I-15 north is an unavoidable corridor, but I hadn’t considered that I’d get a visual…

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DEAR ALISON by Stephanie Parent

I’ve used you so many times. In college application essays, you were the tragedy I experienced early in life, the loss that made me wise beyond my years and allowed books to speak to me so deeply I was determined to become a writer myself.  (I wasn’t wise beyond my years, and I never wanted to write as much as I wanted to read.) I recycled those same essays for graduate school applications, but when I actually made it to a master’s program and depression snuck up on me like a springtime drizzle, then slammed down all at once in…

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SITTING ALONE by D.T. ROBBINS

I had a dream about you. I sat in a pew that only had enough room for two people. Its red velvet had faded, its wooden frame splintered.  Someone played piano, sang a song for you, about you. The congregation sent up a crescendo of angel voices, enveloping the atmosphere, like a child wrapped around her father’s leg.  And me? I lost it. I bawled, wailed.  I’d saved that seat next to me for you, but you never came.    The dream-song, a melody I’d never heard before, stayed in my ears after I woke. I considered whether or not…

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HEAVENLY LAKE by Kristen Loesch

It might be June, or it might be July. I can no longer keep track of the days. It’s that halfway point of a Hong Kong summer, when the heat turns everything soupy. The days and nights run together, and the usual strictures of time and space begin to crumble. How long have I been with my British boyfriend? Long enough for him to have bought a new camera. He’s an avid photographer, one who’s always itching for a worthy subject to capture. One day he finds one: Let’s go off the beaten track, to Xinjiang, China’s westernmost province, to…

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