Fiction

BACCHUS AT LARGE by Avee Chaudhuri

For six straight days we drank bourbon with delighted urgency: men, women, and children above the age of twelve. The preacher was horrified of course. The Mayor betrayed no emotions. He simply knew what must be done to save the town. Twelve-year-olds were dancing in the streets and exposing themselves to livestock and wild animals. Many of the women had embraced the ancient, sapphic ways under this new regimen. The men were livid but the Mayor kept the peace. “It’s the whiskey, fellas. That’s all,” he said, knowing he was a liar. The Mayor was a man of the world

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BABIES DON’T KEEP by Janelle Bassett

I packed my blue kiddie-sized suitcase that said “Off to Grandma’s House.” In went the socks that I liked to roll down into ankle worms. In went the hairbrush with my spelling bee name tag stuck on the handle to claim it as mine—just like the dark greasy hair wound through it. Usually the suitcase referred to my dark-haired Grandma, because that’s where I took it. This time I was packing for a trip to my red-haired Grandma’s, but the suitcase was still right about where I was headed. I put in a wax air freshener shaped like a teddy

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UNFINISHED by David Osgood

My wife brushes her teeth in the shower and doesn’t spit, so the toothpaste foams around her mouth and drips down her chin onto her breasts. It reminds me of the two people I fear the most: my mother and my dentist. Tonya oversleeps again. She is starting to look like her mother. I burn my wife’s sprouted grains toast because I hate her new Vegan diet. She doesn’t notice because it is covered with half-ripe avocado. I crisp up a whole package of uncured maple bacon to give her something to complain about.  Tonya yells at her mom like

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MY LAST DINNER WITH THE CARPENTERS by Alyssa Asquith

The dinner invitation had not come at a convenient time. In any event, I wasn’t dressed; I couldn’t remember when I’d last been dressed. Most of my clothing had been eaten by moths or rats years ago, and the stuff that remained—leather, mostly—was brittle and dry, like old toast. Besides, my teeth had begun to fall out. I’d lost one the day before, and two more by the morning. I think I must have swallowed them. But I couldn’t refuse the Carpenters. The fact of the matter was that Mr. Carpenter had been looking forward to the evening all week,

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THREE MICROS

Sunrise House In the sunrise house walking on stilts, the snake-filled water rises. It’s Sunday morning. I am old, very old, my joints as conspicuous among my limbs as the lead strips between stained glass. I’ve lost my glasses. It’s not my house, but the house of a friend. You are not so concerned about what kind of friend he is to me because you are fixed on the snakes. They are not venomous, not large, not hungry, and though I have lost my glasses I can see the lovely bands of red and black and gold roiling through the

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MY BROTHER, MY MOTHER, MY FATHER, AND I by C. Beston

My brother asks if, when he is older, he will grow as big as our father. I tell him the best thing to steal from the supermarket is a glass pint of milk. You drink the milk, then return the bottle for two dollars. My mother asks me to stack plates and glasses in our high cabinets. Reach for vinegar at the store. Every year she shrinks. I wonder when she won’t be able to push a shopping cart. If I will set her in the child’s seat and hand her tomatoes and oranges to inspect, one by one, before

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THREE TRIPTYCHS WITHIN A TRIPTYCH, OR: SPINACH PIE by Benjamin Niespodziany

a multi-level triptych   [1] Woodsman’s Lint-Licked Pockets after Leśnik, the Slavik forest deity   [a] Woodsman protects the forest by writing messages into the rocks. Messages in clock talk Woodsman doesn’t understand. Messages in dirt. In fur. In bark. Important forest, he writes. Formative forest. Former corner, cornered form.   [b] With beard of grass and vine, Woodsman wears skin of reed and tree and string. His stomach is a lake of fish. The torch he carries bares a blue flame. It assists in guiding his moon, in practicing the magic of being alone. Silence hangs like a stranger

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AT A LEMON-COLORED HOUSE ON CALLE D by Ray Ball

The day before Myradis Guzmán died, the tropical sun boiled off some of the rainwater that shrouded and smoothed the cracks in Havana’s sidewalks. She sorted grains of rice and hung out laundry under the watchful eye of a statuette of Yemayá. She chatted with neighbors on her way to ETECSA. When she arrived, she secured her place as la última and slipped into a wisp of shade to wait her turn. After her heart suddenly stopped, her body remained in her house for over a week, while her brother Yordani navigated bureaucratic tapestries of red tape. Waiting was so

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HUNGER PAINS by Lindy Biller

Eating nacho-flavored cauliflower chips is like eating the crisp skeletons of dead leaves. Still, there are far worse things I could be doing with my mouth. I sit at a drop-leaf table, grinding the so-called chips between my teeth, and you streak around our apartment, rabbit-like. You’re terrible at acting cool, aloof, whatever you want to call it, and I will always love this about you. You are tender to the bone. “Why am I doing this, what if I fuck the whole thing up?” you say, although you’re not really asking. I stand up, ignoring the subtle aftertaste of

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SOUR by Wilson Koewing

To escape the midsummer heat, I ducked inside a bar specializing in sour beers on the fringes of Five Points in Denver. I ordered from the happy hour menu, drank sour pours then had my debit card declined. “I tried it nine times,” the shaggy hair bartender said. “Try it again.” “Won’t go through.” “I don’t know what to tell you.” Another bartender, one of those effortlessly beautiful women who always seem marooned in restaurants, came over. “Nice ink,” I said, noticing an eight ball on her wrist. “Do you have another card?” she asked. “I don’t,” I said. “Where

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