Flash

GONE BABY GONE by Patricia Q. Bidar

Arthur and I are lucky. A client of mine on 110th and Broadway—I clean houses—had a family thing and needed to leave the country for a few months. Arthur and I could stay. It’s late morning. The door buzzer sounds and Arthur springs up. His old friend, Joey Chestnut. What we know so far is that Joey’s gotten clean, or at least a lot cleaner than the last time we saw him. He has a lady now. Maybe she’s a calming influence. Now Arthur and Joey are going on a fishing weekend. They’re traveling light because just yesterday Arthur’s Pacer

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LAST-DITCH EFFORT: A FAMILY DRAMA TOLD IN NINE CHAPTERS by Torrey Kurtzner

Flip a Coin Christmas morning, 1999. My mother and father were seated on a couch in our living room. Neither seemed to acknowledge the other’s presence. Instead, they both stared lifelessly at a nearby wall. Holiday festivities be damned; it was just another day in matrimonial hell for my folks. My father awkwardly turned to face my mother. “Merry Christmas,” he said begrudgingly, holding out an envelope. “It’s an Applebee’s gift card.” My mother glanced at the envelope and sighed. “I don’t think I love you anymore,” she said. “Oh?” “Yes. You’re not surprised, are you?” “No, not at all,”

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TELL ME YOU’RE A HOT MESS WITHOUT TELLING ME YOU’RE A HOT MESS by D.E. Hardy

I should have known it was a bad time to have a friend over. I was 15. My parents were divorcing, the house divided into a his/hers venn diagram, the kitchen being the overlapping space. I should have foregone the offer of a snack, and led my friend straight to my room that was squarely situated on the her-side of the floorplan. Better, I could have suggested my friend and I walk to her house where we could have eaten whatever we wanted. Even in before-times, my family rarely had anything good in the fridge.  I should have shut the

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THE DOCKMASTER MUST NEVER SEE THIS by Claire Hopple

Gretchen starts with ditching her cell phone. She connects a landline and absconds with an old friend’s answering machine.  She receives a message from a wrong number telling her to meet at a houseboat by the river tomorrow at nine. The voice doesn’t specify whether that’s A.M. or P.M. She plays the message over and over, repulsed. The following day, she settles on a bench beside the river. There’s only one boat. It’s docked directly in view of the casino. It’s not a houseboat. Not at all. Regardless, this must be the place. Hampered by the stranger’s lack of specificity

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MEN WHO CAN’T HUNT by James Cato

Who but Leatra would sashay onto my lopsided porch late for a 6 PM appointment, her pink top with ribbons tied tight across the front. I didn’t correct her when she called me a masseuse but felt the beginnings of dislike before she lay naked with a towel slack at her hips on the table. Resisting the urge to yank her platinum braid, I ran grapeseed oil on her back in a drizzling loop.  Who but Leatra would tighten at the mention of my brother Ely. I told her how this therapy studio had been his bedroom before he vanished,

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THE EARTHWORM by Jennifer Ritenour

Earthworm unfurls from an egg. No siblings. Only this one worm of two sexes. E wiggles in fluid and then presses herms face against the soft wall of the cocoon. A beat comes from the other side. Aware of hermself, E is now alive. E thrusts and pushes until the wall tears. Darkness, slick cool mud. The cocoon is now deflated behind herm. The lub dub, lub dub, lub dub is the pulse of Mother Earth and also the beat of herms five hearts. Earthworm slides through the dirt. Stomach pangs. E opens herms mouth. Soil flows in and through

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ON THE TOILET MAKING UNWINNABLE DEALS WITH GOD by Garth Miró

“I’ll be right there!” I called out to my girlfriend.  I’d just stuck my cooking-oil-lubed arm halfway up my asshole when her friends arrived for lunch. Someone’s birthday. Heard them out there, smiling, kissing one another. There was clinking and keys and hellos and I was supremely fucked. When you smoke a lot of heroin you get really constipated. When you get really constipated you sometimes get impacted. Then you’re an animal.  I was sweating. I jammed my arm up further, and really, it was probably only my hand, but I heard something rip. No. There was no turning back.

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SWEET GIRL by Regina Caggiano

The difference between her and me is that only one of us is sweet.   There may be other variables at work but none of them weigh nearly so much. I have learned this in a month and a half of living beside her blue bedroom. Case A: she is always walking around the house in ball-busting heels. Case B: when cooking for guests she is undaunted by expiration dates. What she wants and what she does are often in 1:1 ratio and she will always tell you the necessary truth, but no more. When we go out to neon bars

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THE HUMMING MAN by Rachel Laverdiere

I know better than risking the mall, the Salvation Army Santa’s bucket near the bus stop, but they’ve got a two-for-one on frozen pizzas at the E-Z-Mart, and I’ve been craving pepperoni all week. Santa’s jingling coins follow me into the store, but I’ll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams…blares overhead and soon enough I join the long line of paunchy, middle-aged men and wonder how many have a Christine who left when the ruts cratered. I unzip my parka, press the frozen pizzas against my cheek and try to figure out what’s making the hum I’m

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THE TREES by Melissa Reddish

One of my crushes, a male professor with whom I work, is texting one of my other crushes, a second male professor with whom I work. The first one never speaks above a whisper and the second one has bushy eyebrows I’d like to grind between my molars. They are texting each other snide comments about my taste in fashion and music. At least, that is what I assume. Sometimes I imagine laying with each of them, but we keep our clothes on. Sometimes I imagine coating each of them in polystyrene to keep them from shedding their beauty like

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