NEW CORNERS by Alexondria Jolene

The ocean goes unseen. Water scares her, she chokes as she sips it.  She stays in her room while new people load in. It happens every few days. The room doesn’t have a window. The feeling of waves make her sick; she can’t stand to look at them in motion. A tiny pastel painting of a palm tree reminds her of one she saw in a doctor’s office as a child. Coiled on her bed, the silence strains her ears until horns and fireworks make tiny explosions. They sound small. They sound far. She steps into the hallway for some

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A DIFFERENT KIND OF FIRE by Marina Flores

Firefighters in reflective neon suits stormed into the blazing Texas Thrift Store as helicopters circled the building in surveillance. The flames that escaped from the structure’s openings whipped and stirred together like vermilion lovers beneath a glassy black sky. A generator on the roof of the thrift store flickered—once, twice, like the first few seconds after lighting a sparkler on the Fourth of July—seconds before an atomic cobalt and orange explosion. Fire swallowed the structure in one gulp, almost offended by the attempt to save the remains of the building with hose water. That night, not much light was needed

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DEAD FLOWERS by Rasmenia Massoud

We didn’t know how to talk to Troy’s new girl. Then again, we didn’t know how to talk to the last one, either. Sunny, giggling girls flocked around him, their shiny polished nails drawn to his brown arms and the thick blond waves of hair that touched his shoulders. Things were that way. People came and went. Stuck together like it was life and death in one moment, an almost forgotten odd character in a funny anecdote the next. To a girl who’d had a few and met Troy for the first time, it might’ve seemed as if he’d been

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BODY OF BLOOD by Sarah E. Harris

The average adult carries seven percent of their weight in blood. Number of wonders and of sins.  Blood is a sacrifice and so is a woman, which I suppose explains some things. Like: the scar at the top of my head, from the hospital machinery when I was born. Like: loving the taste of a copper penny, acid and hard and bright on the tongue. Like: the vertigo that comes even now, standing suddenly. How hard it is to hold this ground.  When the pain started they said it was nothing, then they said to seek therapy, then they said

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THAT GIRL by Kathryn McMahon

If you’re going to listen to this story, you better really listen because that’s what it’s about: listening. You better scoot closer in case you miss something, in case a log pops, in case the wind picks up, because it’s bad luck to re-tell it, any part. The girl in this story will see to that. She could be almost anyone. She isn’t beautiful, or maybe she is, or maybe it doesn’t matter. She’s been watching you, waiting to meet you. To get close. To listen to what you have to say as she bites her lip or runs her

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NOTHING IS EVER MISSING IN THE TOWN OF MISSING GIRLS by Meghan Phillips

There is a town where all the missing girls end up. They wander in from the surrounding woods, dark-eyed and dirty, holding one bloody tennis shoe like a prayer. They thump in the trunks of parked cars, duct taped wrists sticky and raw. They appear in grocery store aisles, storm cellars. It always takes time to convince them they’ve been found. There is a town where no one can sleep. A terrible smell seeps into the homes at night, finds sleepers in their bed. No one cannot find the source. There is a town with a lake. Things wash up

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A CARDINAL SEEKS THE ORIGIN OF ITS CAMOUFLAGE by Zach Powers

I posed for weeks as the jacket of a lawn jockey, clutching his back and draping my wings over his shoulders. That was the longest I ever stayed in one place. I felt understood by the jockey and vice versa. Living life as an unwilling decoration. This was long before the mooning gnome’s conical red hat, but after the red-striped lighthouse in the flower bed. I don’t know what drew me first to lawn ornaments. Perhaps the reason for their inexplicable existences would relate to my own. I flew up and away from the lawn jockey, tipping my wing in

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GARDEN TOOLS by Amie Norman Walker

I crunch numbers on my Excel sheet and pause to reflect upon the decency of the dirt beneath my fingernails. I dug in my garden all weekend, pulled up weeds, ground plants, and potted them. Back inside my office, I question if gardener was the correct occupation for my soul to hang from. Using a business card, I carve the dirt from my crevasses over my one-lined to-do list. I was tasked with contacting the new business partner’s accountant by a woman who sat through the recent meeting with no contribution other than to nod and smile at the two

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EMPATHY! by Janice Kang

X MARKS THE SPOT. your larynx and syntax are open-winded, words flitting downwards like a map ever-expanding. here is the way to diamond treasure, to sparrow bones and mud. and thus these words are splintered halfway through: cherubic and chthonic — the diary of a child with a knife down their warm pulse. for, in an inventory of dreams, there is no spare air which you can hold in your palms. SHE REACHES THE X. she takes the other half. grey neutrality, she dons a grey turtleneck and sits among lone wolf sighs, wading in strange breaths. she cannot speak.

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SHOWERLESS by Chris Wilkensen

This train is a church in both its movements and its congregation. No one dares interrupt the silence. Metal rolling over rusted metal. Outside the scenery passes by like life to a teenager: fleeting but feeling never-ending. Most passengers wish they could be anywhere else to feel anything else, to feel something other than strictly operational. At each stop people straggle off, mostly alone, onto their next journey.  New passengers come aboard. She hovers over me. She breathes harder and heavier. No other free seats. Her pink hair raises my own arm-hair. I move my bag to the ground for

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THE BABY by Jamy Bond

One morning, she told me the story of how her friend’s baby died in a car accident.  “They were stopped at a red light. Someone came up from behind and slammed into them. My friend thought immediately of her baby in the back seat, but when she turned around to reach for it, she saw the baby’s head pop off, its arms and legs break, its chest cave in.” All I could think about at school that day was the baby. Its head popping off. We were supposed to practice writing our letters, but every time I came to the

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NEGAUNEE, MICHIGAN by Ron Riekki

I grew up in Negaunee. It’s a town you’ve never heard of. My ancestors are Saami. It’s an entire culture you’ve never heard of. My father was a sampler. It’s a job you’ve never heard of. He collected iron ore samples from the mines for testing. We live by a lot of mines you’ve never heard of—Empire, Tilden, Jackson. Upper Peninsula’s often misspelled Upper Penisula. I swear to God. Although God wouldn’t like me swearing about how the place I was born and raised is called a penisula by people who don’t use spellcheck. But this all happened before spellcheck.

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FRANK’S BOUGAINVILLEA by J. EDWARD KRUFT

“When Joey’s husband died,” Stefania stage-whispered to their guests, “he was out of his mind. You know, they moved here to begin with partly because of Frank’s house. Really! Joey’s been…what?…well, obsessed really isn’t worded too strongly. “You know, it’s only a half a mile from here, as a crow flies.” The outdoor speakers crackled and Stefania shook her head. “Gerry Rafferty! It’s his newest thing. Who the fuck is a Gerry Rafferty fan? I swear to God, I shit Baker Street.” Joey approached and Stefania placed a finger to pursed lips.  “Is she boring you with the bougainvillea story?”

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COYOTES by Dan Crawley

I find myself fading under ballooning khakis, a parachuting buttoned-down shirt. I let myself in Big Sis’s place through an open sliding glass door. Last time, I found a bundle of twenties in a kitchen cabinet drawer, next to the stove. I ripped out most of the blue paper from a pad on the counter, keeping a few twenties on top of the rubber-banded roll. This time, a million paper clips and batteries like polished coins and plastic measuring spoons litter the bottom of the drawer. I could weep four ounces. Then I hear another’s weeping and I see Big

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FAREWELL PROTECTION by Jordan Clark

The still sweltering sun’s kitty-corner to the late afternoon moon—similar to yesterday, but we didn’t go inside then either. Gravel crunches under the weight of a wheeling propane tank behind the brittle fence; little shuffles treading alongside it. There’s chatter, glasses clinking through a screen door, and a white folding table aggressively flipping and clipping into place. We listen to its prongs scuttle and then a grill igniting shortly after.  Standing in our dying grass, setting my paper plate down as I offer to smear her white from top to bottom. But she tells me it was chunky—cottage cheese-y.  She

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WOMEN’S RUGBY by Krys Malcolm Belc

We were big, and we were rough, with our tough hands our tough faces our knotted knees caked with dirt our mouthguards we spit into our hands to yell at each other between plays, and we found each other, all the women like us, here, where we could hit each other, were supposed to hit each other—again and again we hit—arms against legs, shoulders into torsos we ripped each other to the ground again and again, this hitting we’d been waiting for our entire lives, this conflict, this violence that our bodies felt like they were meant to do, violence

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WHAT I THOUGHT WHEN THE BEAR WENT OVER THE MOUNTAIN by Rekha Valliappan

The best way of being kind to bears is not to be very close to them. -Margaret Atwood What I thought when the bear went over the mountain: How green the earth looked on this side and on the other side too and if I could spot a wee brown movement through the canopy of green how much far less confusing it would be to not mistake the earth for a summer strolling bear; That the meaningfulness of my life had gotten bleaker when I was no longer the super-human I thought I was, most unwilling as it turns out

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TO MY SON AND ONLY CHILD: YOUR MOTHER IS CLOSE TO FADING by Nathan Elias

This may come as a shock, but since my death I’ve spent copious hours (each hour a lifetime) relearning the laws of the living. I rediscovered what it means to mourn when you wept capriciously at the side of my casket. I’ve also reimagined gravity as the weight of my sorrows sifts through the sieve of time’s welcoming hands. But now, my boy, my final hour is upon me. The hourglass drains, and so I must transmit, as well as the dead are able, these lessons I’ve procured since the time we spoke last: The dead’s days, too, are numbered.

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TOOAFRAIDTOASK by Steve Gergley

Posted by u/samuraijake14 – 2 hours ago Does anyone else have this problem or is it just me? ok so i know this is going to sound super weird and stuff but please just try to bear with me becuase ive never asked strangers on reddit for advice like this but i swear this is a serious question and im not trolling because this is a real thing that happens to me all the time now and i dont know how to fix it and im too scared to ask my friends or parents about it because of what they

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THE FIRST ONE by Michael Wade

I got the digging part off the Internet. You can use spray or bait, but I don’t use poison on my land if I can help it. I read how in Texas they just dig ’em and fling ’em. You want a big sharp shovel. You go out a morning with no wind, before it gets hot and they get too active, and you slide the shovel right up under the hill.  Then you fling the whole thing downwind, hard as you can. Let it fly apart. See, when they get separated from the queens, they just run around like

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CHAMP by Anthony Sabourin

Most days I would sit in a big jacket in my stall in the dark of the parking garage and I would open the gate for people when they drove up in their cars. When they were gone and it was quiet again, my brain would be full of this image of a spaceship screaming towards Earth, burning up as it entered the atmosphere. I wanted to shed all of the pieces I no longer needed. To burn away until I was almost nothing. I don’t know, other times I’d just watch pornography but not jerk off. I appreciated everything. 

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DEATH LAB by Howie Good

Air Like Poison Hey, did you see those sea turtles down there? I often see them, though not as often or as many as I did before there were boats, the bridge, some buildings, even a small amusement park. Wherever they go, the turtles seem to leave a trail of watery stools behind. The ocean feels a little sick right now. There’s actually too much sunlight. And it all comes from the same place, a place with air like poison, where you can view the millstones that early New Englanders used to crush Giles Corey to death for being a

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GLASS by K.B. Carle

I don’t remember the before. I’m not really sure I want to. If I went searching for a lost past somewhere in the recesses of a brain that dissolved when I died, would it really belong to me once found? I’m no longer the person I was. In fact, I’m not even a person anymore. Back then, I assume, I had skin, a tongue, a nose. A voice a family might recognize, if I had a family. Fingernails I could paint, or chew when nervous. Eat or spit out of the side of my mouth. People can be gross or

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WE THE PEOPLE by Nicholas Grider

    WE THE PEOPLE Hi there! Thank you for your patience as you adjust to our way of life. We are the people. We’re just like you, except our clothing is less wrinkled and our databases are better organized. We’re grateful you allowed us to ask you to welcome us in, and then kindly gave your consent to our decision to stay. LET’S JOIN HANDS IN THANKFULNESS We like it here. The reason we like it here is because this is where we are, which makes things a lot more convenient for everyone, especially us. That’s what we mean

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PRAYERS FOR PIGEONS by Chris Wilkensen

On a bright summer morning, Edith craved something different to do. In the 1960s, without school, TV or a radio, she went outside and peered at the pigeon coop, maybe the only clear possessions of value that her father owned. She decided to say hi to them, the closest things she had to pets.  Pigeons weren’t cuddly or pretty. But they were company for Edith, creatures that wouldn’t take out their frustrations on her and she enjoyed feeding them. Watching animals eat was almost like going to the movies. Edith picked up the cup inside the 50-pound bag of bird

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TUESDAY AT THE MONASTERY by Amy Barnes

We reverently chop up Brother Francisco.  Deo Optimo Maximo.  After morning prayers, that’s we do on Tuesday. Laid on the dining room table, our former dining partners resemble dinner chickens we used to eat together, reduced to skeletal bones. We carefully cut away flesh and organs and eyeballs and hair. Stripped of their robes, we leave only skulls covered in skin, brains removed as if we are Egyptian mummy makers, not religious brothers. I measure a place for my living hands on the arched crypt walls, bits of his skin clinging like gloves. Laid flat. Stretched out. A hand is

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MOTHER BUDGIE by David Cook

You push open the cracked old oak door and marvel as you step into the room. A whirlwind of budgies, of burnished gold, sunset red, ocean green and all hues in between, swoop down around your ears, chirping merrily, joy infused in each and every note. Others sing from up in the rafters while still more chirrup in colourful cages that line the walls from ceiling to floor. Being here lifts your heart. A woman approaches, clad in a shawl as bright as the birds that skitter around her. This is Mother Budgie. She is famous. Tourists come from all

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(IT’S NOT LIKE CLAIRE DIDN’T BRING IT ON HERSELF) by Jennifer Fliss

The indigo sky informed all of them that it would soon be time. That the children as clowns and superheroes and princesses would be stuffed full of Reese’s and candy corn and rolling in their little beds positively asphyxiated with the sugar. The teenagers were dressed in threadbare tie dye t-shirts, fringed leather vests. Claire wore bellbottoms and a crop top. She had been about to pull on a long-sleeved shirt. (Ben said don’t.) Doris’s house was not what you’d expect. A rambler, off-white brick and something that was not brick but just as ugly. The numbers, 10220, hung off

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ROOM 321 by K.C. Mead-Brewer

You’re late. That’s what he says when she sits down at the crowded hotel bar. She doesn’t recognize him, but his smile, well. All women recognize that smile. She smiles back, a curve plucked from a well-worn catalogue of Please Leave Me Alone Please Don’t Ruin My Night Please Stop Please  You’re late, he says again, leaning closer. But don’t worry, your ice hasn’t melted yet.  He slides a sweating glass of something red as a red red rose in front of her. The drink leaves a slime trail in its path that makes her think of slugs and snakes,

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HE’S USING A LANDLINE by Cyndie Randall

He tells me he’s touching himself. His breath is so dense, I wipe my ear and shift to obedient, a gargoyle holding fast, sparing the temple’s body from storm water. My thoughts answer inside like a limb jerk: Why would I be touching myself? No nothing is happening in my panties. I don’t use that word. How many people and objects is he betraying by calling me from work? One, his wife. Two, his buddy’s office where he’s hiding at three in the morning wiping semen from the buttons of the keyboard. Three, the keyboard. Four, his parents, who had

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BELL’S POND by Nathan Willis

Derby didn’t get out on his own. I took him. Yes, technically he was yours, but he liked me better and you didn’t take very good care of him. At least not as good as I did. Before you go waving this letter in front of the cops, I don’t think you really have a leg to stand on. I’m pretty sure crocodiles are illegal to have as pets. Anyways, Derby and I hit the road and I started to put on my magic act. The one you always made fun of me for practicing. I couldn’t exactly leave him

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QUEEN OF THE BEES by Juniper Tubbs

Today, naturally, I saved the bees. Let me be clear – today I read that the bees are going extinct. I also read on the internet that if you put a bee in your freezer, it won’t die, it’ll just become very, very tired and then go to sleep. Then, if you warm it up a little bit, it’ll fly off without a care in the world. I hope you can see where I’m going with this. I gathered the most beautiful lilacs and freesias, the most gorgeous orchids and begonias and zinnias; and threw them all in a pile

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THE TRUTH IN SOMETHING BLUE, AN ART LECTURE AT THE AUCTION HALL WITH MEDIEVAL ART SCHOLAR MARC LAFERNE ON THE R___BERG “MARIAN” IMAGE by Erika Franz

The picture tells the entire story of the court B___, Duchess of R___berg. It’s a strange language, though—the economics of color in the late medieval era, the templates of the religious, the indifference to women in love, and the varying devotion to the differing mores of Christianity, framed for you in Gothic arches. Most of you carry around a mere caricature of the medieval world. You assume Puritanical prudery—but the Puritans belong to a later age. So, to the picture, once tucked into a niche at the convent at R___berg. Surely, this is a religious devotional.  Here is surely Mary,

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THE ROSE by Joshua Hebburn

Driving back after the funeral, he stopped at a Target to get Starbucks and take a piss. He’d stayed overnight at a motel, and he left the motel early in the morning to make it back east by driving all day.  Driving that morning he thought of the black and white picture of a Joshua tree in the room. It was the only thing not reusable in the motel; it was the sort of picture somebody would take in an intermediate photography class, not something tastelessly good the owners would get in a bulk purchase of decor.  There was something

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BACKSEAT OFFERING by Janice Leagra

He’s just had a cigarette and a TicTac after doing a line on the console. His tongue tastes of tobacco and peppermint. The car is almost too warm. The engine’s running, the heat on full-blast. Still, goosebumps dot your skin. The light from the stereo shines lava red. It’s a raw, frigid night. The threat of snow hangs like a skullcap over Maple Lake. It’s the eve of your fifteenth birthday. He’s seventeen. He’s giving you your birthday present. Here, in the backseat of his Camaro. Fourteen isn’t so young. That’s what he’s told you for weeks. You thought sixteen

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A BILLABLE HOUR by Katherine Heath

In the time that it takes him to park and unload the maintenance van into the freight elevator of the American Angus Journal, I’ve just rolled over to swipe right on the morning alarm.  The receptionist, Sharon, escorts him past the framed photographs of carved ribeye—gorgeous cuts of glistening and perfectly pink meat—to the malfunctioning Hoshizaki. Normally it produces two-hundred and eighty pounds of ice in twenty-four hours, but this week, in the middle of a Missouri July, Sharon and her coworkers can’t keep their sweet teas cool. By the time his hands are tinkering with the organs of the

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KIWI by Lee Matalone

You need to put the diaper on the other way, stupid, your brother lectures you, as if you hadn’t practically changed his diaper growing up, such a hot mess, from day one. Though you are twins, Jade wasn’t truly potty trained until years after you, pissing in his bedsheets till he was four, five years old. You two aren’t all that similar, as a matter of fact. As a baby he never cried, he didn’t speak really until he was six or seven and even then words were spare. For Mama his cough was a gift from God. You on

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HOLES IN THE STOMACH PROVIDE WINDOWS INTO DIGESTION by Kate Lohnes

Picture me a babe no words throated there has to be context. Like pigtails at Brookfield Zoo, once I lost my mother, all greeneyed bulbous, looking window through at tiger sleeping on riverbank, sketchers and ratted jacket rattled I was child then, was child once. Not here temporally isolated at this locus where you touch me [touch me touchme pleasetouchme]. Carbonbodies grow in time with nutrients so I ate once, you know, thick chilled carrot mush and chicken tenders but that mole I have here has always marked me cain.  Under canopic and dense Dublin smoke settles on pores and

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SEVEN DROPS OF SALT WATER by Ariel Kusby

First, she thought he was a man. Then, she thought he was a seal. But if you’ve ever seen the way a sea mammal disappears, becomes dark water, you’ll understand why she never thought he was a warm body but a bit of ocean contained for a while. When a slick being emerges fully formed from a void you want to grab hold of it. You want to ask it what it’s seen. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you’re any different, that the deep is darker than your own blood. The body is full of stories. Your blood will

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PURSUED BY FURIES: THE LURE OF THE UNCANNY IN FICTION AND FILM by Kevin P. Keating

Madeline and Sophie Ryan are identical twins. They are eight years old. They exude a rugged masculinity and are built like their merchant marine father — thick, solid, broad shouldered, with eyes so dark and glassy they seem to be made from perfectly polished pieces of obsidian. Mass murderers of spiders, flies, moths, and the exceptionally brilliant brush-footed butterflies that sail above the surface of the family swimming pool, the girls constantly hunt for easy prey. They’re also accomplished mimics who delight in doing impersonations of adults, aping their vocabulary with unnerving precision in a single singsong voice and then

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A THOUSAND WORDS OF BURNING ALIVE by Serrana Laure

The rough bark of the pole bit into the tender flesh of her bound wrists, skin fraying against the rope. Her bare feet dangled, numb from the frigid air that gnawed her bones. The wintry sky above glowed, surreal cerulean. She lowered her eyes from the sky and stared into the jostling crowd below. They muttered and seethed. Somewhere, someone laughed. A harsh, short laugh, more like a bark than a giggle. Cameras and phones pointed in her direction. A flash went off and her mind stuttered at the utter insanity. She was being made an example of, she understood

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AL WAITS FOR RAIN by Jonah Howell

1 I haven’t worn glasses since I was sixteen, so I heard him before I could make out his features. “So you’re not coming?” Pacing back and forth at the corner of Ninth Street, he shoved the phone in his pocket without hanging up. Let the other guy do it. He walked into a pizza shop, a narrow hallway between Ninth and whatever street runs behind Ninth. I followed. Pizza seemed wise: Forecasts showed a storm, but I was still scheduled for a long landscaping shift. He stood in the doorway, a tall man, probably six-four but hunched to six-flat,

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MISAPPREHENSION DUET by Graham Robert Scott

Even by nine a.m., the heat’s settled in like a blanket, calories by the zillions, welling out from laboring bodies and machines under the desert sun, trapped under layers of atmosphere and cloud and smog. Damp handkerchief in one clenched fist, Dale Brenner mops brow and crown. He aims his lips at the reporter—Gina? Tina?—and bellows against a cacophony of straddle carriers and trucks, of containers crashing into place: This freight’s all dead tires. Once it makes port, it’s on its way to ’Nam. A sideloader grinds by. As G(T)ina checks her phone, its driver gives Dale the bird. It’s

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THE HORSES, THE HORSES by John Torrance (Megan Pillow)

All in all, it’s a good place to stop for the night. There’s little work to be done and a beauty of a view: a tranquil lake at the bottom of a grassy hill, lush and electric green beneath the early evening sun. No other cattle to crowd them. After they put up tents, perhaps a bit of play to shake off the day’s ride: a tune on Morton’s banjo. Then grass for the cattle and grub for the men: canned beans, or maybe a rabbit that’s a touch too slow, something that makes the belly full without turning it.

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A CHILDHOOD IN FIVE ACTS by Suzanne Craig-Whytock

Out back behind the house, there was a rusty old oil drum that Da used late at night for burning stuff. Once Sammy and I found what looked like some kind of animal bones in it, but we didn’t dare ask about the kitten that Sammy had found the week before. This is how I grew up. I couldn’t help Sammy, I couldn’t save him because he would always cry, even when I whispered, “Don’t cry, don’t.” He couldn’t stop his eyes from leaking like a broken tap, that’s what Da would call him, “Ya fucking little broken tap,” and

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WRESTLEGY by Timothy Parfitt

We met under the spotlights, cast as Macduff and Banquo in our high school’s production of Macbeth. Alex and I became fast friends. We goofed around a lot back stage, smoked a little weed in the alley. My big moment was when I got to run onstage and yell “horror” until the word lost meaning. When the production was over, Alex invited me to join him and his other upperclassman friends in their backyard wrestling league. Boys playing dress up, immortalizing our daring feats on a bulky 90s camcorder. I played a janitor in coveralls and wielded a mop. We

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SNAPSHOT BEFORE THE INCIDENT by Brian Brunson

With no foreboding of the approaching cataclysm, an orange brown finch, pecking at fallen crumbs, is startled by a fat gray pigeon flying down; a nervous young man watches the barista behind the cart in the courtyard; the barista clears the moist used espresso grounds from the filter with two loud thwacks against the rubber bar as her phone chimes in a text message from that boy listed under her contacts as ‘tinydicpic’; the sun hits the four story glass building reflecting the five story concrete building opposite; a broad shouldered well-suited man holds the hand of his elderly father,

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LINOLEUM FLOOR by Mark Tulin

It’s morning. Circa 1972. I turn over in bed and gaze down at my gray marble linoleum floor. It’s coming up around the edges, and there are all sorts of dirty stains, punctures, and dried bubblegum spots on it.  I remember when it was new. My father laid it down himself. He brushed on glue, applied the linoleum, trimmed the corners with a sharp razor so it could snugly fit against the walls, and hammered the baseboards in with long, skinny nails.   The window shade over my bed hangs crooked off to the right with one of its brackets dangling

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LOVE RUNS AWAY TO JOIN THE CIRCUS by Kieron Walquist

The Ringleader lets the circus run itself into the ground, unsupervised. Ever since the accident, he hides himself in his trailer. Away from the police, the press, the public. All who lie in wait outside, hunched and hungry. Ready to ambush. Ready to accuse: how could you let this happen? Confined by choice, the ringleader doesn’t eat much. Drinks religiously. Sleeps. Occasionally peeks behind the dusty blinds at the sun. You stay with him in his misery. Longing to be loved. But he refuses to want you. Says: you don’t belong in the circus! Go home. You tell him the

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THE HEFT OF IT by Lisa Kenway

‘Any questions, Mrs Brown?’  Doctors were all so young these days. So full of talk. I shook my head. Malignant. How much more did I need to know? Dr Wong smiled quietly, as though sharing a secret, and slid a purple cardboard box across the desk. I half-expected her to offer me an assortment of macarons. Those powdery spaceships that melt on your tongue and stick to the roof of your mouth. And aren’t a patch on the chewy coconut biscuits Grandma used to make. Macaroons, they were called—what a difference a single o made.  I could picture a plate

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ONLY THE FRUIT BEARING TREES by Kate Gehan

The morning after a stormy night spent hiding in a windowless room while sirens announced a green sky, Nichole discovers the last plum tree has fallen on the soggy side of the house. She runs her palm along the fungus scaling the trunk and plucks at the earnest flower petals. At the bottom of the yard trapped against the fence, a large red bouncy ball swivels and shudders in a puddle. The taut plastic reveals a phone number written in black marker along with a smudged word beginning with a T. Nichole drops the petals into the grass and sends

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MARTELLO TOWER / NATIONAL MUSEUM by Nate Kouri

Sweet memories: Ciara the star turnBroadcaster Dr Ciara Kelly—an ambassador for Dementia: Understand Together—pays a stylish visit to the ‘Memories Are Made of This’ show garden at Bord Bia’s Bloom Festival, which opens today at 9am for four days at the Phoenix Park, Dublin. Book with ‘satanic pledge’ was found in room of Boy B, Ana trial told The copybook contained a drawing entitled “satanic pledge”, a list of names, including Boy A and Boy B’s names, and a list of rules. The rules included “no talking about Jesus or God, only Satan,” the court heard. Boy B’s father also

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MIND WHAT’S GOOD by L Mari Harris

The girl sits on her old teeter totter in the backyard, eating mini marshmallows out of a bag. Pushes off. Crick. Down. Crick. Pushes off again. Crick. Pork Chop the Chihuahua watches each marshmallow go from fingers to mouth, cocking one eyebrow, then the other. A man in a black suit and hat walks down the alley. It’s early August, 98 degrees. He has something in his hand. “Hey, Mister! What’s in your hand?” The man stops at the fence and holds a hammer and a bar of soap up. The girl and Pork Chop stare. Mrs. Potter from three

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2005 by Tom McAllister

2005 In February, LauraBeth (then my girlfriend, now my wife) flew to Iowa City to visit me for my birthday. It was colder there than I had ever thought possible—negative thirty degrees, factoring in wind chill. The kind of cold that would kill a Martian. The college students still went out at night in short skirts and t-shirts, because they didn’t want their jackets to smell like smoke. These two years in Iowa City were the last time in my life when I would know what it felt like to sit in a bar with dozens of smokers, lit cigarettes

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I PROMISE I WON’T SCREAM by Jan Stinchcomb

They say you did it. Please tell us how it went down, otherwise we will never be able to stop parking in front of your house on Hibiscus Way. The woman who lives there now glares at us from the driveway. She got the place for a good price because of what happened, but by then most of us were gone, sent away in our parents’ last attempt to save us from the bad scene. We have returned, as all children do, because we have nowhere else to go. The sunlight in our hometown knocks us out. It follows us

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GALVESTON, TEXAS by Alex Weidman

This Texas night is similar to a Mexico night. Both are deeply oppressive, deeply black and unyielding, lunar in no real sense, unless one is thinking about the dark side of the moon and, really, only the appearance of the dark side of the moon. Outside the car windows it is absolutely unchanging.  It is not like an El Salvador night Javier thinks. El Salvador nights are fertile and alive, and similar to Guatemalan nights and similar, up to a point, to very southern Mexico nights. They are deeply alive, which Javier knows to mean they are deeply human, which

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CATOPTROMANCY by Anne Gresham

You’re too old for this game, even though you’re too young for the ugly words your friends are hissing about you behind your back. You’d rather be anywhere else right now than crowded into Jessica McCall’s bathroom, but your parents are friends with hers. They said you had to go to this sleepover, and so here you are.  The air is heavy with Noxema and hairspray, and the counter is littered with half-empty cherry lip gloss tubes, eye shadow experiments, and dollar store nail polish. Just like you and every other giggling preteen crowded in front of the mirror, Jessica

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ROUTINE by T.J. Larkey

My girlfriend works late hours, without any real breaks to eat, so it’s my duty to feed us when she gets home. I take this duty seriously. Not serious enough to learn how to cook, but serious enough. I sit in bed fully dressed, waiting. Then she calls me as soon as she’s off and tells me about her day while I drive to the nearest fast food place. It’s our routine. I like routine. It keeps me in line.  “You’re a boy that needs to be kept in line,” she tells me. “Yes,” I say. “I like routine.” I

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HER HUSBAND’S WIFE by Joaquin Fernandez

Her husband’s wife used to watch them fuck. This was back when it was still fun, back before her husband was her husband, back when her husband’s wife was still her husband’s sick wife, not her husband’s dead wife. Her husband’s wife used to watch them, alive and cancer-free, snapshot trapped, posed happy in drugstore frames, from the wall, from the dresser, from the nightstand that they shook and shook and shook. She watched them while she was moved into hospice, coughing blood in deep, primordial growls. She watched them the day she died, sweaty with hunger while his phone

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THIS SKIN YOU CALL YOUR OWN by Chloe N. Clark

He told me he didn’t believe in witches. We were on the floor of my apartment, half undressed while he used one hand to unbutton my jeans, when he said it. Out of nowhere.  “I don’t believe in witches, you know,” he said. He began kissing down my neck, hand slipping beneath my jeans. “What do you mean?” I asked. My own hand slid down his stomach. He let out a short exhale of air. “Like everyone told me you were a witch before we hooked up,” he said. I could hear the excitement behind his words, the thought of

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THE PIPES by E.M. Stormo

Mom doesn’t let me drink from the pipes. “Don’t be a dog,” she says, but I can’t help it. All I hear is “Be a dog.” On the outskirts of the city, there’s a pipe that flows all day long. You have to squat in a ditch to drink, but it’s worth it. At night, nobody bothers you. Giant women make neon eyes from the city, but that’s it. The pipe-water tastes fresh, although Mom says, “It’s probably sewage.” I hear her calling me home from miles away. My ears itch of worms, so she must be saying my name.

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STURM UND DRANG by Paweł Markiewicz

My first sole little letter calling all  ringing so beauteously muse-like and winged like the eternal, gentle pinion of a melancholic harp. Dear valued mellow quaint readers-dreamers! At 5.30 pm, the meek time has come with the dream-full  inception, so that a new flimsy Sturm und Drang period has begun (the second Sturm und Drang, to wit: the turquoise time). And I am spellbound therefrom simply. Such a miracle with a starry charm of a magic-full summer night has enforced some fantasy. Any poem from me and any glimmer of the philosophy from me hasn’t achieved that. But rather, the

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FRIDGE NOTE by Matt Boyarsky

Good morning, my little junkyard dog. Sleep okay? I put on a fresh pot, and your old man is propped up sturdy in the recliner. I sprayed him with Febreeze to be safe. He’ll be fine. He’s not going anywhere. Please come watch the sunrise with me? That spot — down at the reservoir, where we made love, where we rolled around in the lithium, and I thought I grew a third ear as I climbed out from the sludge a monster, and you asked me if I was scared, and I said, “shit yeah”— that’s where I’ll be. I didn’t

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SLEEPY TIGER by Matthew Bookin

Paul started doing deliveries. He was 19 days sober. The passenger side of his car still looked like a carefully crushed soda can. The travel bottle of Listerine was still in his glove box. Emir’s food truck business had expanded into an actual restaurant. Paul was hired on as their 31-year-old delivery boy. He picked up racks of steamed dumplings from the restaurant and loaded them into the back of his nearly defeated red car. It was early summer and sometimes, mostly on the weekends, he could be out making deliveries until dawn. He felt quiet and newly alive. He

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GLORIA TIPENE by Kaye Gilhooley

Really? Is it? Gloria Tipene in layers of dirty designer dresses? Gloria Tipene with hay-thatch hair and farmer’s cheeks? Gloria Tipene who is watched and wondered about aloud, shuffles along the street stopping at each bin and lamppost and shop window that catches her magpie eye; carries her life in a performance of plastic bags, string-tied parcels, pull-behind and push-forward trolleys; whispering harshly and sometimes shouting her lines. Is that Gloria Tipene, dazzled by the display of gold and rubies and pearls and diamonds, dreamily tracing the circles of engagement rings, wedding rings and earrings with her skinny dirt-encrusted fingernail.

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FOR INTERNAL USE ONLY by Julie Watson

Two weeks after Jane and Richard sent their only son Bobby to college, Richard lost his job. He’s been talking in his sleep non-stop ever since, nearly six months now. Jane is exhausted. She knows any sane woman would have exiled her husband to the guest room by now, or marched him into the office of a reputable sleep specialist. But for Jane, Richard’s new habit is revelatory. Since he started talking in the night, Jane has learned more about her husband than she did in the entire twenty-two years prior.  Richard’s job search is going poorly. In order for

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INTERVIEW WITH NOAH CICERO by Benjamin Scott

Noah Cicero has a new book out called Give It to the Grand Canyon, published by Philosophical Idiot in July (available here).  It is his first fictional book in several years. I interviewed him about the book, his writing process, and his views on the current state of America.  BS: How would you categorize Give It to the Grand Canyon?  Is it fiction, a short story collection, a memoir?  At first I thought it was a memoir because the narrator doesn’t state his name until a couple chapters in. Are the characters based on people you met? NC: It definitely is

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A SPECTRE LURKS AT THE PUTT-PUTT ON RIVERSIDE by Keef

The ghost in our town haunts the putt-putt golf course with the big Peter Pan statue out front. The haunting is the only semi-interesting thing about the course, and even the ghost is dull. Kyle from AP Biology works the concessions, wearing a paper hat and staring at his phone. Hot dogs are only a dollar, but you get what you pay for. All the holes are pretty busted, and there’s always a parade of sad single dads tromping around the place with their kids, trying to make up for neglect and inattention and assumptions that they’d always have what

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