SCURRY by Vanessa Chan

As a killer pandemic swept through the world, my mother died from cancer, alone in a Minnesotan hospice facility. A thousand miles away, also alone in my Brooklyn apartment, I held my breath as my heart caved into itself, salted with guilt. A week later, I encountered my first common New York house centipede. He winked at me from the white walls of my apartment, wobbling on his many legs. “HELP ME,” I scream-texted at friends, paramours, anyone who would listen.  The centipede began dashing madly up my wall, pausing as if to catch his breath, then continuing his ascent….

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THINGS TO SHIP TO AMERICA by Jessica Evans

Is heaven a proper noun? Here, I learned to love myself. To love the thick full shimmy of thighs against one another; to appreciate the height of my traps compared to the valley of my clavicle. I fell in love with butter churned from cream produced by cows who live only a few kilometers away. I learned to seek out the salted rotisserie chicken, its skin crispy and shimmering after hours on a spit. As much to bite into something with savage need as because there’s ownership that comes from eating simply to eat. But chicken is only good when…

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THINGS YOU DID AFTER YOUR BEST FRIEND DIED THREE YEARS by Mei Mei Sun

Things you did after your best friend died three years  and two personal renaissances ago. You mourn for six weeks, then use her death to excuse all of your shortcomings for the rest of the year. One night, your body full of hunger and youth, you carve her initials into your outer thigh with your father’s razor. Later, at a blazing house party, you trace over the scars with a hypodermic needle and black ballpoint ink. This is the memory you always go back to when you sob on the L.A. Metro on Tuesday nights, when even the security officers…

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YOU’RE LUCKY YOU CAME IN TONIGHT by Susanna Baird

Pickleball is a fun sport that combines many elements of tennis, badminton and Ping-pong, according to the USA Pickleball Association. Kids and teenagers play it. Seniors, too. I am middle-aged, but anyway, I play pickleball. According to me, pickleball is an okay sport you play with a paddle and a Wiffle ball. I play pickleball with my aunt in Arizona, the day before I fly home. She is a senior. She falls. *** The registrar in the emergency room looks like her name should be Gail, and she says You are lucky you came in tonight. Last night, 40 ambulances….

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JEWEL OF THE DELTA by Noemi Martinez

Once called the jewel of the delta, Delta Lake is a tiny man made reservoir where poor families would go and eat in the 80s, claim a table to have lunch or a picnic on the sand and have Easter Sunday cookouts. You’d get there by driving out towards Edcouch, a lonely stretch of a curvy road, tiny and desolate as far as roads go down here. Mom would take us some weekends when the truck was working and there was gas in the tank. As a treat, she’d say, “Pack the cheese sandwiches.” *** I couldn’t drive on expressways…

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DOING IT IN PUBLIC by Angela Miyuki Mackintosh

Joey likes to do it in public. Other guys prefer the privacy of a locked door, a secluded bedroom, drawn curtains. Joey likes to do it that way too, in the bedroom or the kitchen or the hallway, pushed up against a wall or shoved into the carpet, but he’s not afraid to do it in front of an audience. The first time he did it outside of our apartment was at a party, after he caught me looking at another guy. He said, “You want to fuck him, don’t you?” I guess it made him really hot, got him…

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BLACK HOODED NUN by Caroljean Gavin

Stunned, I took the subway and rattled off to work at the Starbucks on 51st and Broadway. My brain’s way of assimilating my mother’s news was to take customers’ orders while imagining plunging a knife into their chests. Would I have to struggle to penetrate their clothing? Would there be a slurp of suction when I tried to yank the weapon back out of their flesh and muscle to repeat? Would they fight? Would they be angry? Surprised? Terrified? What would they say? What would their eyes look like? What would it feel like to not turn back? To go…

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NO EASING INTO IT by Lori Yeghiayan Friedman

November 7, 1994: I sat on William and Luke’s bed, listening to the ring, ring in my ear, each ring getting fainter like a distant alarm. I was about to hang up when someone answered—a man. “Hello,” he said, startled, like maybe I’d woken him up.  “Hi,” I said into the receiver of the beige rotary phone on my lap. I scanned The Yellow Pages opened next to me on the faded maroon bedspread. I checked the ad: Did I get the number right? I looked out their bedroom window and up at the night sky: What should I say?…

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SECONDARY PROBLEM by Kate Lindstedt

Tell your mother you are going to see a movie. Ride with Hannah in her gold Honda Accord to the liquor store on Harrison, the one that doesn’t card. Watch the sun skirt behind clouds while she buys a handle of Malibu. Fling ping pong balls into cups of Tecate at Chloe Peralta’s house. Take shots of blue liquor until the night whirls in your stomach. Wake up crying on shag-carpeted stairs because out of everyone here you will be the last to find love. When your mom asks how the sleepover was, say it was fun. *** Fly 2,586…

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THE PULL by Ann Kathryn Kelly

I’ve felt the pull for years, to see what’s out there, how it differs from what I understand of the world. I’ve traveled distances to feed the pull. One destination, while still in the planning, thrilled me. Africa’s “Big Five” beckoned: lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, buffalo. I had my telephoto lens and a new bush hat—wide-brimmed, khaki-colored, with proper ventilation at the crown.  I pushed aside months of gripping headaches and growing fatigue, instead buying airfare, getting vaccinations. Nothing was going to sideline me. “You have a cavernous angioma.”  I looked at the doctor in his white lab coat with…

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