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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THE STRAY SHAR-PEIS OF OHIO CITY by Meghan Louise Wagner

Every party we went to in the summer of 1999 was lit up red. Red drapes fell over windows. Red vinyl chairs sat in kitchens next to red retro tables. Red walls vibrated with red Belle and Sebastian. Red wine gushed from boxes on countertops. Red signs glowed in dive bars. Red Schwinn bikes got stolen off our friends’ porches. Red hair dye spotted our shower mats. Red Chuck Taylors tapped in bathroom stalls. We were only babies when we heard about the stray shar-peis of Ohio City. Mara, a thirty-something veteran of the scene who claimed to have once…

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WHEELS by D. T. Robbins

Fat-boy Brad, the same Brad who went, Hey, Cheese Factory!, to me on the bus because my teeth are a little yellow, stood in the middle of the street with Chris, the same Chris who almost drowned me in his pool last summer showing me what a washing machine was (you flip someone over and over and over and over until they can’t catch their breath and they start to cry and someone’s mom comes out and yells, What the hell are you doing to that boy?), looking at my bike, telling me how fucking gay it is because it’s…

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GIRLHOOD by Jodi Aleshire

A body washes ashore in the recommended section of my Spotify podcast radar. This isn’t the first or the fifth or the third time it’s happened and I’ve long since lost track of the tallies meant to keep them in check. Their faces have become nothing more than the black censored bars used with relish by shitty live television and their bodies, marionette pieces, hocks of meat articulated in a mockery of form. The podcast entices me to listen—a flashy title, a well-made header, a snappy byline—offer a glimpse into an abjection of innocence, voyeurism without the guilty intent. They…

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