KENTUCKY SHITS by Giovanni DeJaneiro

Steven lived alone in a small house on a cattle ranch at the bottom of a hidden valley.  He didn’t have city water, air conditioning, or internet. The kitchen stank. Empty beers crowded the table and counters and stovetop.  A flyswatter hung on the wall—flies hummed through the air. Dishes towered in the sink. Bright orange slime curdled in a dirty saucer, seemingly the source of the hideous reek. He inflated a mattress in the family room, where a floral couch faced a huge wood stove.  Grains of rice, toenail clippings, bottle caps, and dirty tissues overspread the coffee table….

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THEME PARK SUICIDE by Teddy Duncan

I’d been to six flags before and I knew that there was a ride called goliath that you could manually unbuckle the seat belt even after the ride had begun. I don’t fully understand what I was thinking at the time but I don’t think anyone does when you get away from a sickness like that, like when you have a stomach ache and forget what it feels like for your stomach to be normal and you wish and hope and pray for it to be normal and for the stomach ache to end, so that normal becomes a glorious…

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OPENING WEEKEND by Clare Nazarena Tascio

OPENING WEEKEND THE HARD PART IS THAT IT ISN’T HARD. TO GO ON LIVING. AFTER. THE LIVING JUST…GOES. JUST GOES ON AND ON! WITHOUT ME. AND I HAVE TO WATCH IT GO. AND I CAN’T CATCH UP TO IT. AND I CAN’T REALLY WANT TO. SO IT GOES. ON AND ON.   SOMETIMES I SIT IN THE FRONT ROW, BECAUSE NO ONE WANTS TO SIT IN THE FRONT ROW, AND BECAUSE IT’S LIKE SITTING REALLY CLOSE TO A BONFIRE. I WANT YOU CLOSER AND BIGGER. BUT SOMETIMES I SIT ALL THE WAY IN THE BACK. WHEN I’M THAT FAR AWAY…

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DROP SHOT by Louis Dickins

Sonia is ashamed of her husband. She’s sitting with a crowd of people at the local tennis courts in horror, as her husband Paul prepares to serve. He hasn’t won a game, and he and his opponent are deep into the third and final set. It’s a hot, windy day at the South Morang Tennis Club. There’s a barbeque sizzling in the corner and cups of cordial set up for the kids. It’s the quarterfinals of the local tournament, and Paul’s lifelong dream of winning the cup is being violently dismantled. At 48 years old, Paul is seriously overweight and…

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GRANDMOTHER by R.E. Hengsterman

A low metal growl rises, and I leap from the bed. Ten… nine. By seven, she’s reached the cornered hill of Fletcher and Fields. Her brakes protest with a tinny squeal. By five, I’m half dressed. At three, the throaty rumble of the eight-cylinder engine grows.  By the time I reach zero, Grandmother has arrived. She slides from the bench seat of her station wagon and navigates the piles of dog shit left by our beagle.  Her pink, black-strapped handbag drapes her forearm. Her coifed hair is motionless. She has pressed her clothing into fine lines of order.  Mother, Father, and…

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EXCERPT FROM “COLLEGE NOVEL” by Blake Middleton

The next day around 6:00 p.m. Jordan drove to the corner store near his apartment and bought a Peach Cisco. He drove down I-95 with the windows down and drank Cisco and listened to Propagandhi. In the song the lead singer sang about sticking an American flag up someone’s asshole. In the parking lot of Eric’s complex Jordan sat in his car and swallowed an Adderall then drank some Cisco. He walked toward Eric’s apartment. All the apartments looked the same. People were starting to come home from work. Jordan walked up the stairs to the third floor. He knocked…

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THE HYPOCHONDRIAC SOCIETY by Michael Prihoda

The Hypochondriac Society met every Thursday night in the basement of Knox Presbyterian Church. The church was like a Russian nesting doll: the Presbyterians on Sunday morning, some Mennonites on Sunday night; a children’s Montessori school met in part of the basement during the week or whenever the hell kids attended school nowadays and for a while I think Paul, this one guy I knew from somewhere (maybe he served me food at Shish, that Mediterranean deli on Grand near the university that I generally avoided because, well, undergrads) said Monday nights were AA meetings but I didn’t buy that….

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EYE BITES by Jenny Fried

What You Need to Know I cut off a rat’s head with a guillotine, and it told me I looked like someone who ate cereal for every meal, which was one I hadn’t heard before. I do not in fact eat cereal for every meal, but there’s no use fighting with a rat head. I learned not to argue when I tried to kiss someone and was so nervous I missed her mouth. At first she told me it was cute, but later she said she didn’t know why she bothered with me. I got lost in the forest once….

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FLIPPED by Zac Smith

Brad flipped his car after hitting a fire hydrant, right downtown, right on Fifth Street, right near our old apartment, the prefurnished one with the broken window and the red wall and the kitchen that had bookshelves instead of cabinets, he was driving, something happened, who knows, he hit the hydrant and the car went upward, upward, from the height of the hydrant and the height of the curb, and the car veered upward and over the hydrant, and the hydrant’s base cracked under the weight and pressure of the car and the angle of it, and the cracked base…

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MILK by Michael Mungiello

I’m on my way to mom’s apartment. * I’m at mom’s apartment. Wow, nice. She’s really spruced up the place. Mom? I’m in here! Down the hallway, wood floor, wood walls, wood doors, wood frames around photos (of me as a baby, me at my wedding, none in between); plants. Mom? Kitchen. Mom’s cluttered kitchen, Tchotchke salt shakers, detergent blue water sitting in the sink, a mini-TV in the corner and a little man saying in the Voice of Concern A Storm Is Coming. I look at the whole scene through the linty light coming through mom’s drawn translucent curtains….

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