HALF-SISTERS by Kristen M. Ploetz

red + blue Her birthstone is amethyst and she has his blue eyes. At the fair, he buys her a purple balloon; when it slips from her grip, he buys her another and ties it to her wrist, winks as he promises, this one will always stay. When he reads to her at night he points to the lupine in Miss Rumphius and tells her about the importance of family. On sunny days he holds her hand as they meander through rocky tide pools where they look for the purple arms of sea stars under shimmering water. She steps barefoot…

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THREE SELECTIONS FROM MORE ANIMIST BABBLE (A WIP) by Bram Riddlebarger

The Hornworm and the Green Tomato   The hornworm had eaten the better part of the upper reaches of the tomato plant. The green tomato was petrified. It was already late in the season and now this. “YOU BETTER NOT EAT ME,” screamed the green tomato as the hornworm cast glances its way. “I’m so fucking horny,” said the hornworm. Its rear horn rigid. “I’ll BE RED IN A FEW DAYS,” negotiated/bargained/pleaded the green tomato with a faint blush. “You’ll be red-y now,” leered the worm. It ashed a cigarette as tobacco worms did. The cherry burned. The hornworm bit…

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IS IT OK IF WE DISCUSS YOUR SISTER? by Mitchell Duran

On the day of her funeral, twisted roots and ashen rocks jutted from the edges of the concrete vault. I had never seen a grave before. I had never seen a casket. I had never seen Earth displaced with that kind care and disregard. After carrying her, side by side with the family, our fingers stiff from the cold of morning, we placed her final bed on the mechanical lowering-device. A part of me wanted to do it myself. The impulse felt foreign, but close. A part of another part. After, I was told the help always did it, that…

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COURT MANDATED THERAPY by Sage Tyrtle

Bill is not having flashbacks to Vietnam. Even though the shiny-haired psychiatrist says there’s no doubt at all, even though the list of symptoms looks like his autobiography. Bill sits on the burnt orange couch. He looks at the palm frond wallpaper. He says in his most even tone, “No, I believe you’re mistaken,” and he’s being careful because if the psychiatrist decides that he’s a danger to himself or others then he could end up a Thorazine zombie like Harry Alessi up at the sanitarium. Bill clears his throat and makes himself look into the psychiatrist’s eyes. Makes himself…

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‘BLUE BANJO: THE HIRAM SADLER STORY’ DELETED INTERVIEWS by Bodie Fox

HAZEL COX (Hiram’s first wife): I was pregnant with our first the night he played the Russian Roulette. We was in a dive bar after a show in Lubbock, Texas—I’ll never forget the place, neither, ’cause it had a sawdust floor and the piano played itself. He was drunk, of course. Except for that first year we knew each other—from the day he walked into my music store to the night of our wedding—he always had something to sip on, whether it was a bottle of rye or a bit of sippin’ cream.  He lost. But, in a way, he…

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MOVEMENT STUDY by Amelia Scott

The only way they had was their nakedness. This and this alone delivered them through the many corridors of their pursuit: their innumerable stations of falling over and springing upright.  Their eyes, their pupils, were open, bright, darting: brilliantly black-on-white. They were silent—mutists—but too antic for the soliloquy over the straitjacket. They were turned out of the asylums as quick as they were caught, hopped then over hedges and fences, scattering the hills.  The realm of objects at all times tried to court them; its advances went unrequited. (That is what a prop is, said Marx: a thing that tries…

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GREAT BLOOD by Zee Carlstrom

Every day, during his half-hour lunch break, Horace Median Dahl strolls along the ornamental concrete pathway that cuts through the center of Grace Hill Cemetery. During this restive walk, he eats his usual brown-bag lunch: a snack-sized sack of Doritos and a chicken and cheddar sandwich with BBQ sauce, the way his mama always makes it.  Today, however, Horace strays from the ornamental concrete path and tosses his mama’s lunch into the garbage. Unencumbered by tradition, he strides down a weedy gravel walkway that takes him into a dark corner of the cemetery, devouring a tilapia salad sandwich and a…

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THE SHAPELESS by Gregory T. Janetka

When they told her how the body had been found thirty feet from the road by prisoners who were scouring the gutter for trash, the only thing she could think to ask was if there was any way to save his sperm. The police did their best to express their regret in broken English but she didn’t hear a word, lost as she was in the minute details of DNA harvesting. Months had passed since then, or was it years? Maybe it was yesterday, who could tell? His body’s blueprint might be gone from this earth but in its absence…

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CALCULUS by Calvin Westra

Last to first, his girlfriend dumped him, he did not get the job, his accent sailed out the window of my car, and he sneezed harder than I’d ever seen before. It was an incredible sneeze, the kind that has you spitting and slobbering over the windshield, catching your breath, feeling like something knocked the wind out of you. We watched as the accent flapped over the median, through oncoming traffic, and off among the tumbleweeds. I said, “Is that what I think it is?” And he said, “Yeah, that’s right. My accent.” It was a horrible accent and I’d…

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STORYTIME by Robyn Blocker

What’s up, beautiful people? So y’all know how when you type the first couple letters of an email address and a list of contacts pops up—all the ones that start with that letter?  Like, imagine it’s “D” for Dave, the guy you’re hooking up with. Not Hot Dave with the boat or Quik Lube Dave with the ink, but the Dave whose brother OD’d back in ’99 at the rock pit behind the Big House. Right, Sad Dave. The Dave you send naked pictures to as an inside-joke cue that you want to buy from him. (Rumor alert! It was…

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