BIRTHDAY PRESENTS by Gary Fincke

Sixth: Her Reborn Baby Doll Her promised sister, it wasn’t, but her mother had selected the model featuring the optional beating heart and carried the gift-wrapped baby home bundled in a blanket as if sleet had begun to slant from a terrible sky. “What will you name her?” her mother said. “Bernadine,” the girl whispered, knowing not to say Darla, as she felt the doll’s heart pulse against her body. As soon as she kissed its face, she packed away her other dolls like winter clothes. But one morning, only four months later, when she pressed her ear on Bernadine’s…

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OUTING by Serkan Görkemli

By the time I show up for our weekly outing on Thursday evening, my friend Yaprak has already ordered the first bottle of red wine. We’re meeting on the patio of Büyük Truva Oteli, one of the oldest and most expensive hotels on the shore of the Dardanelles in downtown Çanakkale in northwestern Turkey. She beckons me with her left hand to our quiet corner. Her right hand puts out one of the many cigarettes she has already smoked. The night is young, and I’ve brought two packs of Camels just in case. I’m a little late, and I already…

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AFTER NOT LEAVING THE HOUSE FOR THREE DAYS by Quinn Forlini

Anna’s mother convinces her to go for a walk. The weather’s getting warmer. Anna feels like she’s been living inside a tunnel, or an artery.   She’s thirteen. Last week she dyed her hair purple from a box at the drugstore and it’s ugly. She pulls her hair into a ponytail, feeling the roughness as it passes through her fingers from the cheap dye. Her mother tried to warn her, and that made her want it more.  Her mother reminds her for the seventh time that it’s a bit chilly out, so at the last second, Anna grabs her dad’s black…

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FIGHT VIDEOS 1-3 by Julian Castronovo

I.   The babysitter Bunny put me in the basement and locked the door. It was an old basement, a cellar. There was a torn up floral sofa and a boiler and a window that looked out at the bottom of a hole. The hole was maybe four feet deep and was lined with pieces of wood that kept it from collapsing into itself. I walked over and looked up through it. The sky was dark yellow. I went and sat on the sofa and watched videos of fat people slapping each other hard in the face. Then I heard…

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CAN’T DIE IN PORTLAND, MAINE by Scott Laudati

It was summer everywhere but Portland, Maine. From Brooklyn to Portsmouth road crews sat along I-95 and stared longingly into the finality of their existence. This was it. The winters too cold and the summers too hot. Fall was spoken about with the nostalgia of an old folk song, and spring, of course, ran shorter than a rainy weekend. The crews spent the entirety of these uncomfortable months working on the sides of roads while everyone sped by on their way to somewhere better, or worse. The only time the two groups interacted was when a motorist fell asleep and…

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BUNNY: A TRIPTYCH by Yasmina Din Madden

1. The rabbits come in dozens it seems. Nothing one minute, invasion the next. They crouch in the grass like tiny statues, gray fur flecked with white. Cottontails. Leaf-ears at attention. Waiting. Kits, short for kittens, now called bunnies, as if kitten is not cute enough for the tiniest of these rabbits. Bunny, diminutive of the Scottish bun, a nickname for a pet rabbit. Also, slang for a young, attractive woman. She’s a real bunny. A male rabbit is a buck, a female a doe. Before mating, the buck chases the doe until she turns and boxes at him with…

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EVIDENCE IN SUPPORT OF MY CAPACITY by Barbara Lock

One time I punched a wall that I thought was made of plasterboard but was in fact concrete. Either way, I would have broken my hand. The side of my fist near my pinky crunched up and my girlfriend told me I was a lunatic. Stop it, stop it, she said. Then she covered her face with a shroud, which irritated me to no end. I wore a white wool sweater in the style of Irish fishermen last year which placed me fifteen years too far in the past, or possibly the future. It’s hard to know. My appearance was…

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PORTRAIT OF A FLORIST IN THE DESERT IN PARTS by Dylan Smith

1 My van broke down on a mountain north of Marfa, so I had it towed back to Santa Fe where a mechanic named Ever repairs transmissions.  I talk to Ever every day. Every time Ever answers I have to explain to him it’s me—the kid with the tagged-up van.  My sister lives with an unemployed florist in this complex in the desert. The florist offered to pick me up from Ever’s; to drive me ever deeper into this desert to visit with my sister.  What a guy. In my portrait of the florist, he will be sitting at my…

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CAROUSEL BAR / DOWN IN HOLY CROSS by Autumn Holladay

Carousel Bar   I miss 99-cent margaritas served at the old strip from 6:00 a.m. to noon. I’d sit and sip and watch the sex workers rest on slot machine stools after their shift. Most tourists weren’t around at that hour—just the cleaners and the junkies and the loners, and I thought they were my kind of people. The bartender invited me to shower with her after her shift. I believed there was no better way to spend my last day in Vegas.  Her name was Holly. She wore a leather corset and when she took it off, tattoos took…

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VIRGINS by K-Ming Chang

Sixth grade was the year I met Melanie. She’d transferred from private school, Catholic, and around her neck was a copper locket with the Virgin Mary’s portrait inside it. It was the first white person I’d ever seen, minus the wasian in our class who had freckles even in the crack of her ass. The first time Melanie showed me what was inside her locket, we were changing together in the concrete-walled locker room, right in front of the window spattered with flies that spanned the gym teacher’s office. Everyone knew those were the worst lockers to get, the ones…

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