Creative Nonfiction

YOU WANT TO HEAR A LOVE STORY by Ashton Russell

He flirted with you at work. You were 16 and he was 23. He would hold his hands behind his back to mimic how you walked away from the server board in the kitchen. Because you were uncomfortable in your own body. Your ass felt too big, the way you walked too bouncy. Sitting at the bar at work eating before the doors opened, he sat down beside you and pushed his hand up your thigh not saying anything. He followed you out to the parking lot up the hill where staff parked. He asked if he could drive your

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BEAN HEADS by Mila Jaroniec

In the little free library was a hand-sewn chapbook with poems from all the poets who had read at Bean Heads. The open mic was every Friday and gray men would shuffle in to crinkle coffee-stained pages at the microphone. It was an Event. There were gasps and snaps and silence. I didn’t understand it. Here I was, fifteen years old and crafting big papers about The Count of Monte Cristo, and someone had written this: Amoral Amnesty A parliament of stalking butlers Deafening silence over the telephone The Pope flows like running water Calligraphy makes the Queen go blind.

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TO RIDER STRONG by Jade Hidle

You won’t remember me. It’s been twenty-nine years since my last letter.  I always did my homework alone, because my mother didn’t know enough English to help. I always finished it early, so that I could watch you on Boy Meets World. Your gapped-tooth mischievous grin, your chokers, your hair-flipping. I knew bad boys at school, but we didn’t have any like you. You were a white bad boy, which is a good bad boy. And you made being wounded look so cool.  I thought you would understand and that you would then elevate me to your level, turn my

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I THINK ABOUT YOUR COCK DURING TIMES OF CRISIS by Lexi Kent-Monning

The first thing I thought of during the coup was your cock. I think of it when I need comfort, and what I wanted to remember was the first time it saved me. We were on your bed, a Friday afternoon, both skipping work. I’d been bent over in the shower, but you know I faint easily so you moved us out of the hot water. Our just shampooed hair made dark blotches and streaks on your grey sheets, while stars encroached on my vision and echoes rolled through my ears, the two telltale symptoms I’m about to pass out.

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HAUNTING by Edee James

A ghost is a boy who always comes back to you. We were kissing in his car, which he’d initially parked by the side of the road so we could volley insults at each other responsibly. With his breath sweet and warm on my neck, and his tongue darting in and out of my ear, it was easy to momentarily forget why we were fighting. It was about another girl. I grew up learning that a man will stray. You shouldn’t kill yourself just because your man is a community penis, my aunt said. All I had to do was pray he

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SHOPPING AT TARGET WITH MY E̶X̶-̶L̶O̶V̶E̶R̶ FRIEND by Cat Dixon

You say you need to find an ointment that your father asked for, so we’re in the pharmacy department: shelves full of pain relief, allergy relief, gas relief, dietary supplements. Last year I heard that big brand companies pay more for eye-level shelf space; someone had studied how we shop, and then schemed and plotted for that cough syrup and nose spray’s spot. You’re searching the shelves closest to the floor, and I keep getting in the way. The aisles are crowded with carts and gray-haired ladies—excuse me—so I wander to the end-cap filled with bandages and Neosporin. I select

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GENIUS by T.J. Larkey

I’d been a process server my whole life. Well not really. I remember my dad driving me around a lot after school, leaving the car running as he knocked on strangers’ doors. At seven seeing his Vietnam Vet fearlessness for the first time, ducking a crackhead wielding a broken lawn lamp. At fifteen working in his house/office, and at seventeen feeling so lucky to have a job that didn’t leave me smelling like grease. And at nineteen using the savings to move away to California. So it really only felt like it. Like I’d never done, and wouldn’t ever do,

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THE SOUND OF VIOLENCE by Ryan Norman

Usually the orchard was all light, sunburn cooled by a welcome breeze, but not that day. Fog crept up from the river and swallowed every tree in its path, whetting its appetite for the too short grass that cut like blades, soaking the cicadas’ song. I sat on a cold cinder block and watched my boyfriend wash his car, questioning why he would shine it on such a gloomy day, but daring not to say it aloud. His phone rang and I looked at myself in the shiny apple red door. Winked. Shot some finger guns. Fell to the floor.

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COME HOME NOW by Danielle Chelosky

When apologizing to you for fucking up, I’d buy you flowers. The first ones were blue—not like the sky, but abrasive and ethereal like from a video game. I broke the stems so they would fit in my bag without peeking out, and the color dripped onto my palms and stained them for days. If it were red, it would have felt accusatory; this ultramarine was comforting, safe. * The risk for fucking up was lethal. Not for me, but for you. * I was seventeen. I fell in love fast, curled up against you while we watched movies. My

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UNDERTOW by Tara Stillions Whitehead

We pinned their name tags to our knitted sacks. Reynolds. Solomon. Childs. Kennedy. We wrote their room numbers on our wrists and waited for them on the cement benches near the commandant’s office. We sat with our legs crossed, condoms in our back pockets, while they marched the line in their parade uniforms. We tracked sand from dorm to bedroom sheets. Someone’s mother washed their civvies and kept them in the guest room or the pool house, convinced we were the ones doing the civilizing. There were boys whose names we couldn’t share. Boys whose names we’d seen taped inside

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