MY BEST FRIEND, HER BIG HOUSE by Jessi Gaston

I live with my best friend in a mansion. My room is a small box. Sometimes we go swimming in the mornings, other times only I do, in white underwear that’s small and classic and only gets caught up sometimes on the insides of my thighs. It’s purple outside when we finish swimming, and I use my grey towel to dry up so I can have wheat thins inside. We close all the windows and watch tv on my best friend’s tv set while we sit on hard wood benches. Then we go to sleep before the Sun comes, in…

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ASSASSIN by Colleen Rothman

Between bites of avocado toast, I tell her first. She sucks her breath and smacks the table, rustling the ridiculous pussy bow on her polka-dot blouse. Despite her vow not to cry, mascara clumps her lashes in betrayal. It must not be the waterproof kind I talked her into during our last mall pilgrimage. Better than sex, the glistening pink tube bragged, as though it knew something we didn’t. She asks what’s on my bucket list. Watching The Bucket List, I tell her. I’m on my third Bellini. She asks whether they have Make-A-Wish for grownups. Yeah, why should sad…

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TALONS by Ran Walker

Her story went like this: When she was three years old, she was playing with her brother in the backyard, when an enormous hawk swooped down, latched on to her, and lifted her from the ground. The only thing that stopped her from being carried away was her brother grabbing hold of her legs and snatching her from the bird’s grasp. The only evidence the incident had even occurred were the parallel, permanent scars left on her shoulders. We had been dating for a month before she told me that story. I smiled and tried to play it off, but…

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AND THEY WERE ASHAMED by Paul Corman-Roberts

Uncle Draco the dragon rolled on down from the star pool to get a gander at his brother Joe’s fancy new terrarium and visit with all his nieces and nephews so freely frolicking, feasting and fucking among the shimmering foliage of their world without a care or concern as to how or why they should be so lucky to do so. After a week had passed, Uncle Draco quietly led the kids to the grove of apple trees, which Papa Joe hadn’t really mentioned anything about other than to say it was still “under construction” and therefore “off limits.”  Uncle…

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THE FORMER DANCER’S HUSBAND by Cathy Ulrich

This man who’s in love with you, he’s married. You play in the symphony orchestra together. He’s a second violin. You play the oboe. What he likes best about you, he says, is the purse of your lips when you play. He is sharp elbows, good posture, freckling of gray hair at his temples. His hands are very soft with you. His wife used to be a dancer when they met. She doesn’t dance anymore. You know how it is, says the married man. How there were things you used to do and now you don’t, you know how it…

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ABANDONED TOYS ‘R’ US LOVE STORY/ABANDONED SPORTS WORLD LOVE STORY by Jordan Hayward

abandoned toys ‘r’ us love story stone cold steve austin sits unaccompanied by a military grade transport vehicle, unflinching in someone’s captured breath, hidden amongst a dark spot on a crowded aisle, watchful and waiting beneath elsa’s hollow glare and woeful pale complexion. piped music aches in surges from corners and unmarked spaces in the ceiling, whispering ‘so many times’ or ‘say you were the only / toy for me’ underneath ruptured squeezes from a presumably cheap keyboard. aisles creak with age, while skateboards precariously occupy spaces in plain view. the ghost walks with a wry shuffle from sports to…

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A WANTED WOMAN by Paul Beckman

I told him not to call anymore so he started sending me postcards. I had my lawyer tell his lawyer onay on the postcards or any mail. Then the texts started. This time we went to court and the judge gave him a restraining order and we left figuring that was that and no more and good riddance to bad rubbish but the planes started flying low and slow pulling messages—I Love U— I Miss U, etc. So it was back to court and the judge threatened him good and added planes to the list and threw in drones for…

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JUST MARRIED ON BRIGHTON PIER by Tomas Marcantonio

The two women with blood sprinklers in their eyes stood at the railings and looked down at the water. It churned about like great whips of cream under a lazy spoon, throwing petulant fountains of oyster salt over the groynes. Foam bubbled at the shore when it came in with the morning tide and seagulls barked at the brooding ceiling of grey. The flags along the pier whipped against their poles with heavy slaps. ‘The doughnuts are smaller than they used to be,’ Poppy said. She brushed the sugar from her fingers and fished the pebble from her pocket, a…

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MARBLES by Bram Riddlebarger

“Sit down and take a load off,” said Jack. “We’ve been working like the queen’s bees.” “Yeah,” said Tommy. He was tired. “Which one did you go out on today, Tommy? I thought I saw that #4 sagging a little.” Jack wasn’t joking. Tommy was real fat. He was tired, too. “No,” said Tommy. “I stayed on shore and flirted with that cute little Amy. The one with only one eye. Besides that, she’s real cute.” “Are you shitting me?” “Nope,” said Tommy. They drank warm beer out of brown bottles. Jack couldn’t believe this Tommy. “Hitting on the ladies,…

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SISTERS ARE NOT DOGS by Chelsea Houghton

My sister ran away when she was fifteen. She disagreed with my parents about something – she’d been a bad girl most likely, I don’t know, I was too young to be included. We’d never really got along. I was happy, it was quiet without her. No bitching or barking in the middle of the night. Always taking the best bits and leaving me with the scraps. We didn’t hear from her for weeks. She’d been sleeping in friend’s rooms, once in a neighbour’s garage. She was fed and cared for from place to place, until her friend’s parents found…

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