Creative Nonfiction

MY MAMMAW’S BOYFRIEND by Dalton Monk

He looks like Stan Lee. And we call him that behind his back. Stan Lee’s real name is Marvin. Right now I’m in Marvin’s truck and we’re parked at the grocery store. He goes inside, and I stay in the backseat of the truck, which is old, the fabric cutting loose in the corners. It’s full of long cucumbers and cobwebs and ants. And a putrid smell that can only come from an old man, specifically an old man that looks like Stan Lee and wears Stan Lee glasses. This is an old man I hardly know. I sit in

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SONG FOR AN EMPTY WORLD by Miles Coombe

The road is lit with street lamps. It’s weak, bulbs on the edge of giving out, but the glow is still there. I am in his bed, a fresh bruise over his eye this time, and curled into his side. He feels smaller with my arms around him. My eyes are closed and I see an explosion of grey in a room too white to be real, and where I know there should be screaming, my own included, there is only static. He wakes, with a hammering heart and a cry on the tip of his tongue. Something inside him

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HAM SANDWICH, DRY by Caroljean Gavin

One day, in the middle of the week, a Wednesday or a Thursday, in the humid summer, with the air conditioner broken, and the ceiling fan so feeble, I fell asleep under my down alternative comforter and had a dream of walking through a lush field, thick blades of grass slithered against my legs, dandelions swung in the breeze, little hammocks for lazing bees, and when I woke up, covered in a loose sweat, I walked down the stairs step by step, blinking my eyes open, open and closed, flexing my fingers, balling my fists, and I went to the

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VEGAS by Mackenzie Moore

I shudder, feeling the heat as I approach the straightaway where all you see are the shells of casinos looming. Blink-182 cranking, asking me what my age was, again. I keep ticking past billboards that tell me when the buffets will return. I jam my foot down on the accelerator. Tempt fate with out-of-state plates. I think about five months earlier when we peeled away, me from the curb at Terminal 2, and him off to the Mirage for the weekend. It feels like years. I-15 north is an unavoidable corridor, but I hadn’t considered that I’d get a visual

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DEAR ALISON by Stephanie Parent

I’ve used you so many times. In college application essays, you were the tragedy I experienced early in life, the loss that made me wise beyond my years and allowed books to speak to me so deeply I was determined to become a writer myself.  (I wasn’t wise beyond my years, and I never wanted to write as much as I wanted to read.) I recycled those same essays for graduate school applications, but when I actually made it to a master’s program and depression snuck up on me like a springtime drizzle, then slammed down all at once in

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SITTING ALONE by D.T. ROBBINS

I had a dream about you. I sat in a pew that only had enough room for two people. Its red velvet had faded, its wooden frame splintered.  Someone played piano, sang a song for you, about you. The congregation sent up a crescendo of angel voices, enveloping the atmosphere, like a child wrapped around her father’s leg.  And me? I lost it. I bawled, wailed.  I’d saved that seat next to me for you, but you never came.    The dream-song, a melody I’d never heard before, stayed in my ears after I woke. I considered whether or not

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HEAVENLY LAKE by Kristen Loesch

It might be June, or it might be July. I can no longer keep track of the days. It’s that halfway point of a Hong Kong summer, when the heat turns everything soupy. The days and nights run together, and the usual strictures of time and space begin to crumble. How long have I been with my British boyfriend? Long enough for him to have bought a new camera. He’s an avid photographer, one who’s always itching for a worthy subject to capture. One day he finds one: Let’s go off the beaten track, to Xinjiang, China’s westernmost province, to

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GOD VISITED ME IN BALDWIN, NEW YORK by Ryan Norman

A sad poem picked me up at the train station. I missed my stop and he was annoyed that I wasn’t paying attention. It was my first time traveling alone. The day was long. I traveled two hours into Grand Central Station and had to get to Penn Station to catch the LIRR. This was before Waze and Google Maps. I was lost before I started, but there I was. Eighteen, standing in front of someone I met at college orientation. I melted in his eyes—already a puddle from five hours of train travel—making connections, walking in the summer subway

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INCANDESCENCE by Evan Senie

We set the fire up in your backyard with only three logs, two on the bottom and one perpendicular across the top. I was quiet around you then, cautious. I’m afraid I still am, forever worried about possible endings. The fire burned for hours once it got started, but initially it was stop-and-go. We fed pages from the phonebook into the empty spaces, watched the flames cause each to curl inward, the ink running down in a purple wave until it burned itself out and was replaced. When the logs caught, it was just their edges, little strands of wood

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FOREIGNER by Rachel Laverdiere

When the cockroach and I lock eyes, I’m almost relieved. You’ve half convinced me that I’m neurotic. You say I imagine the scrutiny of the old ajumas at the outdoor markets, the side-eyed stares on the train to Kimje, the personalized attack by the orangutan at the Taegu Zoo. Yet, I’ve caught these glossy black orbs peering at me from above the window overlooking the hall. A hand’s-breadth from the closed classroom door. My only means of escape. I twist the pinching wedding bands your mother had made for me when we came back to Korea to exhibit our newborn

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