LIPSTICK BOTTOMS (CHICAGO, IL – JULY 2008) by Taylor Byas

It’s past 2 am on the southside of Chicago when my aunt Danielle, my father’s older sister, brings me and her daughter Ginai along for a late-night alcohol run. With each step, every part of my aunt ripples. Her hair is half-pressed half-shrinking from the dry summer heat. On her right thigh, clear packing tape covers a hole where she says a spider bite ate away at the flesh. I am too young to know that “spider bite” is a euphemism for an infected track mark. “Damn girl, you wore those shorts just for me didn’t you?” a white man…

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SEISMOLOGY by James Sullivan

In 2011 I was in a 3-tatami room.  * That means a tall man can lie down only in one direction.  * How do we measure a room? A living space? I don’t know the square footage of my Minnesota apartment. Only that it’s the smallest in this building, maybe the smallest anywhere in town. But when my neighbor moved out and my landlord offered me his place (“It’s a lot more spacious, maybe $10 more a month.”), I didn’t even look before deciding against it. * You never know when you’ll need that money. For supplies. For an extra…

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THE BEEP by Jason Schwartzman

I am his tutor and he is trying to tell me about an unknown variable. About X. But he has forgotten that it’s called X.  “The mysterious thing,” he says, laughing.  I love him for this. I will tell everyone I know about the mysterious thing.  During one session we’re in his apartment and I hear a beep. Just one beep. The microwave, probably.  “I’m really sorry,” he tells me, tensing up.   Sorry for what? It feels like I’m missing something.  “Totally fine!”  On the walk home I wonder why he was so on edge. Then I forget about it,…

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DOGWALKER by L Scully

I  Once, when you were still a girl, you loved another person. At the time, they were a girl too and you relished in your mutual girlhood from the roof of the funeral home in which you lived. You stayed in the funeral director’s suite and put up strings of tiny lights and a record player your girlfriend restored from the 70s. You would lay in the park with this friend of yours, heads on each other’s chests, nights spent giggling and intertwined. When they were a girl and you were a girl they were magic. You would crawl out…

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THREE QUARTERS by Steve Campbell

My uncle lost his leg in a motorbike accident. It wasn’t his whole leg, just half of it. And it wasn’t lost either, the doctors cut it off, but that’s what everyone whispers: He’s lost his leg, and then they cock their heads to one side and sort of smile. As I’m buying grapes for the hospital visit with my step-mother, the lady at the check-out makes the same head movement. She comments on how much my step-mother and I look alike. When I open my mouth to explain, my step-mother prods me so the lady can’t see. “Oh, I’m…

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TO THE RESIDENTS OF NINETEEN-SOMETHING WEST NELSON by MK Sturdevant

To the Residents of Nineteen-Something West Nelson, I had sex in your living room. At the time, it was a fetus of a room, a zygote of a house. Your living room had just been set on its paved frames and caissons like a mother hen about to lay some furnishings. You know those tall, narrow windows trending in the new builds around ’07? The streetlamp light was gushing in, there was no glass, just these wings of Tyvek flapping like a slack sail at midnight on the open sea.  We had gone for sushi in Bucktown. We were both…

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ANTS by Mary Mattingly

There’s an ant infestation in my bathroom. They are relentless. Everyday, more squirming black dots swarm the sink, the countertops. Me, I’m fearless. I launch attacks on them with a safe-for-pets Ant and Roach Killer spray, twisting the green cap counterclockwise to cock it, holding it close to the sink to use the pesticide since at some point, the useless aluminum bottle broke and it no longer sprays confidently, just reluctantly pisses spray out. Still, it’s satisfying to watch the ants slow as the chemicals hit them. They drown in poisonous pools. I work methodically, chasing them to their home…

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ALWAYS AND ONLY JUST ALMOST by Felicia Rosemary Urso

Strangers came by to give you gifts: a fresh fish on ice in a styrofoam cooler, metal frying pans, a machete, two bottles of rum, a bunch of bananas the size of my torso. At night, we played gin rummy, shared liters of Kava and waited for a full moon. In the daylight, you showed me the jungle and explained every root or plant I could use for sunscreen or gelatin shampoo. I woke up picking my scabs, legs stuck to the leather couch on your porch. Nineteen and sick for you. You were two hours late when you pulled…

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ADULT-ORIENTED by Kala Frances Wahl

I was seventeen with braces, bright pink rubber bands looped around the brackets in my mouth, when God appeared to me in a dream. He told me it was my destiny to be a porn star. I was peroxide blonde, big-breasted and flexible. I readily accepted God’s proposal. Once without direction, my life now had purpose, meaning, something tangible that I could grip onto and ride like a mechanical bull. The horns felt good in my hands. I attended Catholic school, but I didn’t believe in God. I wasn’t sure what I believed in. I wanted to believe I was…

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IN-BETWEEN SIRENS by Davon Loeb

The in-betweens are like waiting for something to happen, like flashes of red and blue sirens pulsing through my car, while searching for the police officer about to step to my window. And I watched from the rearview mirror, and would say and act exactly how my mother told me—to call him or her sir or ma’am, to be polite, to keep my hands on the steering wheel, to have my paperwork ready. And that my stomach was buoyant, and that my eyes blurred from tracking the sirens, and that I felt the spotlight sizzle on the back of my…

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