LOVEBIRD by Tex Gresham

Most people have no idea what goes on in retirement communities. They don’t care to know. When your kids dropped you off at Del Largo Sueño a few years go, they made tearful promises to visit, but you never saw a tear fall. They faked guilt to hide the happiness that they wouldn’t have to watch you die. Your son, Clifford, and his new wife didn’t stay long enough for you to unpack and hang your sweaters. Your daughter waited around, and then she asked for “gas money.” She’d been biting her cheek all day, her eyes sunken like little…

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“I’M TELLING YOU YOU’RE GONNA LOVE IT” by Eros Livieratos

“I’m telling you, you’re gonna love it.” “There is absolutely no way I’m going to like it.” “Come on, it won’t be that bad.” “It sounds awful.” “So?” James was always trying to get me to do shit. The first time I ate glass, they were there, egging me on. They posted a clip of it on their story while I was picking at my gums. I remember them saying,  “If Lucas Abela¹ can do it, why can’t you?” So, I swallowed some. We kept on hanging out. What else would I do? Their suggestions kept getting a little riskier,…

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TECHNO SHOW by Lucy Zhou

In a post-Covid world, we joke, the first thing we’ll do is go to a techno show. Yeah, like the kind in someone’s basement that smells of bathwater or underneath a freeway pass for better acoustics—remember that last show we went to? Where we had to slink ungracefully through a doggy door in the fence and squish through ferns that tickled our palms before we came across the path, illuminated by Carla’s bright-pink hair. There will be a Halloween-store fog machine, a drumline of clanging pots and pans, and those little umbrellas in everyone’s red Solo cup. Most people are…

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SECOND HONEYMOON by Michael Czyzniejewski

I met my wife on our honeymoons, the ones we were taking with other people. Both of us went parasailing when our newlywed spouses were too afraid. A storm came in just as we lifted into the air and we were caught in its path. Our lines got detached, sending us parasailing into the horizon. We woke up on a deserted island.  Two months later, firmly in love, we were found by crab photographers. Coincidentally, our spouses back home fell in love, too, assuming we were dead. At the press conference after our rescue, the four of us laughed about…

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JUST GIVE ME A FUNERAL by Greg Gerke

On Thanksgiving, the southbound 1 train stopped at 96th Street and, to the surprise of the few people in the last car, an older woman with a sunbaked face in a big-brimmed gardening hat blocked the doors with a fold-up shopping cart and started to load four large bags of possessions into the space. She balanced the rectangular cart front wheels in and back out, over the gap between the car and platform, to jam the doors while hefting the bags around it and safely inside. Where did this  rail-thin woman, probably 5’4”, get the strength? a young man on…

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OGOPOGO LIVES by Sheldon Birnie

It was Canada Day by the big lake and everyone was right fucked up.  After the fireworks show on the beach wrapped up, the crowd took to the streets. Things were getting messy. Drunk girls held on to each other, hiking miniskirts up around hips to piss off the wharf into the black waters below, howling. One fell in, came up splashing, laughing. Muscle dummies squared off in the road, blocking traffic, letting the blood out of each other. Strip clubs up and down the lakeshore were packed, dancers raking in the money hand over fist. A police helicopter circled…

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SPLENDOR IN THE CORN by Kate Jayroe

I am such a hot, sad wraith.   Open-mouthed, I sob in the park on quarantine walks. I listen to ‘Til Tuesday. I ramble as far as possible from every other person there. Fuck the Frisbee golfers. I’m processing the three most harrowing break ups of my life. I’d been with none of the people involved, save myself.   One is the man I’d been sleeping with. A hot, aging punk with a scarred nipple from self-piercing as a teen in his parents’ kitchen. I liked to squeeze the scar tissue in bed between two digits, other hand busy down…

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THE MASTIFF by Max Halper

“My life is over,” I said in the dark my first night inside. A full minute passed. “Shut the fuck up,” said my cellmate.  A month later I hanged myself. I did it from the bunk with my undershirt. There was no pain. My cellmate slept through it. When he woke up I was so dead I seemed more a facet of the cell than an occupant. He looked at me and nodded, as if my body imparted some keen insight. He determined I had managed to escape, had bored a tunnel through the only wall in the prison they…

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THROUGH THE LAUNDROMAT WINDOW by Rachel L.E. Klammer

Jane watches the world from across the laundromat. Her apartment window affords a view of the parking lot and inside the laundromat. Jane watches a plump and elderly man wash horse blankets for the third time that month. A sign near his machine says ‘please do not wash horse blankets.’ Jane has been watching the laundromat for three months, ever since she first moved to town during the ever-clinging winter. It is April now, and still snow and melting icicles crawl over building roofs. There will be snow lumped in the edges of some valleys and higher altitudes of the…

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BOY RACER WILL HAVE HIS REVENGE by Brendan Sheehan

Boy Racer fell from the sky, fully formed. He was born a lanky sixteen-year-old with perfect skin and a tricked-out car. Boy Racer couldn’t remember anything before 1996, the start of his junior year at Santa Carla High. He couldn’t remember buying his car—a purple Maxima with a super wing spoiler, suicide doors, and lime-green underglow. He couldn’t remember choosing his wardrobe—a closet full of wifebeater shirts, Cuban link chains, and Adidas 3-Stripes pants. He couldn’t make sense of why he always smelled of Cool Water cologne or why even after a shower his Caesar cut was still shellacked with…

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