FICTION

DING! by Will Finlayson

The kid must have defected. He’s still lying there in the dirt—red-faced and full-uniformed, one arm in the pig’s water trough, that red insignia hot on his sleeve—and what should they do with him? They point fishing spears and pitchforks and kitchen knives at him. Tie him up in the barn that’s what’s to do, Nema says. Kill him right here and now is what it is to do, says Jenko. It’s that we should turn him in to a judge, Harlem says. Isn’t that the wartime law? So they tell Harlem that he should take the kid to the

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FICTION

TRIPTYCH OF FALLING STARS by Wayland Tracy

Every night I hear the screams of myself far away. I beg for help but I will not help. In a ditch by the tracks, full of golf balls and bones of careless creatures. White quartz set in circles. I lie down and I am falling. Can’t find the earth. The noises of town rattle like deathbed confessions. Trains hurtle past. The stars encroach. We once had lights that prolonged days. I scrounge for bones with meat clinging on. I once had a table. Pictures of people stuffed into cracked walls, maps that do not help me. No children anymore.

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CNF

NORA LIVES IN PIECES by Mason Parker

Everything crashed into its true form following the blackout in New Orleans when Nora missed her flight and we drove to Little Rock, buzzing as trashy manic fairies. The Ozarks flopped and rolled, redefining themselves every few miles. Nora had proposed to me after pissing on the fence of an electrical transfer station somewhere outside of Austin where the grass grew through the chain link. I laughed at her, and she said, “I’m fucking serious, mate.” “You wouldn’t want to marry me, Nora.” “Fuck man, I love America. We could get dual citizenship.” “It wouldn’t be worth it. I’m a

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CNF

LISTING by Michael Todd Cohen

MARBLEHEAD, MA — ESTATE SALE BY YOUNGEST SON 4 bedroom / 4.5 bath with 5,679 sq ft. of ample space for nuclear family on .26 acres. Below listed are the items for sale and a description of the property. Not listed but offered for the specific buyer: being told as a child you would be disowned if gay. BASEMENT Offered in sale: workbench at which father and youngest son built miniature soapbox derby car for Cub Scout competition. Mostly father—who hip-checked son saying, “watch out, watch out,” as his hulky frame jostled miniature car parts into a sleek red bullet.

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CNF

A MOST DEPRESSING WEEK by Chris Milam

Monday I tell my therapist that her milkshake brings all the depressives to the yard. She laughs. I laugh. I don’t tell her I spent hours the night before trying to think of something funny to say to her. I also think: I love you. I think: you plus me equals happiness. I think: when does this session end? I think: I want to sleep with you to help murder the pain. She goes on about reframing or something. I’m still focusing on my joke. Time’s up. Fuck. Tuesday A murder case on Dateline. A beautiful wife is found dead

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FICTION

THE END by Zac Smith

The seasonal jobs came back to town aboard a gleaming, diesel caravan. We all stepped up to carry water and dirt and to do all the other things that would be asked. Brought our resumes, our lunch boxes, our good gloves. Someone was going to see us, buy our labor for a week or month—see something useful in the junk, like Giacomo did as a dropout teen, buying a rusted-out chainsaw to bond with mom and get it running again. And just like that ideation, we’d take off for somewhere else full of better promises. This we knew, believed, felt,

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CNF

LAND LEGS by E.D. WELCH

Bittersweet day, this final one together. Frighteningly agenda-less, we wander through the aisles of small, art-filled stores, awkward in each other’s company, unaccustomed to hanging out like this. “Do you want to go into this one?” I ask him at each store.  “I don’t care.” His only reply. I learn he likes art galleries—oil paintings, to be exact. I didn’t know. Our aimlessness leads us eventually to the beach, where we find our land legs again. The beach: yes, we spent many, many hours at the beach together during his childhood, so this we know how to do. He shows

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