Creative Nonfiction

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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WHEN YOU THOUGHT YOU WERE A GUN AND NOT A TARGET by Sutton Strother

He’s the only other person you know who loves David Bowie. Not like your friends tolerate David Bowie for your sake or how your mom only knows the radio hits. He knows all the albums you talk about, every deep cut. “Modern Love” is his favorite Bowie song (killer drums, he says right before the first verse kicks in), so on days when there’s a test in his class you listen to it while you dress for school. It reminds you not to hate him, no matter how difficult he makes the questions. There’s power in the not-hating. And when

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LIVER MUSH IS AN ESSAY ABOUT MY MOM by Graham Irvin

I want to talk about liver mush. Liver mush is a breakfast meat from Western North Carolina made of boiled pork parts and corn meal. It’s my favorite breakfast meat. It’s my favorite word. Liver mush is more than pork parts and corn meal, though. There is also sage and black pepper. But, liver mush is more than breakfast and sustenance too. It’s something close to that, but not exactly. It’s home but not home, but not exactly. Liver mush is more than a piece of fried pork parts and corn meal. Liver mush is more than old white dinner

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MOUNTAIN MUSIC by Michael Seymour Blake

All kinds of warning lights are flashing on the dashboard, and the front bumper is mostly held together with duct tape. Chelsey and I are driving my cousin’s car through the Catskills, searching for a trail that leads to an abandoned hotel at the top of a mountain. It’s supposed to be crumbling and overgrown, a long-ago meeting place for communists. It’s getting late, but we figure we have time to hike out, see this thing, and get back to the car by sundown. The GPS has us turn up a narrow, dirt path that circles the mountain in a

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PET by Danielle Chelosky

The night we met, I showed up at your apartment with fishnets shoved inside my bag. I was too nervous to wear them as I walked from my car to your door. I got catcalled three times anyway. Catcalling is really bad over here, you told me while we ascended the stairs. You took the lead; I followed timidly. I couldn’t take in your apartment as we stepped inside because I had too much going on in my mind. Your room, though, came across as beautiful—the light soft and careful, your bed sheets floral and muted, your walls white with

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THAT’S ALL YOLKS by Alex Juarez

I think about crawling into Arizona’s skin. It would be easiest to go through her eyes. A few years ago, I read an article about a girl who while on meth performed self-enucleation. Her pastor found her screaming, “I want to see the light,” while holding her eyes in her hands. I don’t want to hurt Arizona, but I think if I could slip inside, we would be easier. Before our alarms go off, she has a headache, so she presses her palms against her face and groans. I mirror it to make her feel like our emotional bond is

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