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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EXCERPT

RIDING A BIKE THROUGH THE LONELY CONTINUUM OF TIME by Christian Fennell

His name was Leonard. He was riding a bike. His arms held out to the sides of him, his mind never trapped by his own self, never buckling under the weight of what he should be, or shouldn’t be, understanding the truth of himself, always, in this world, hard as that was, and of course, in this moment too, riding a bike through the lonely continuum of time. He smiled at his knowing, where others couldn’t—or fucking wouldn’t, and he was right, and knew he was right, and always would be. He rode on, his arms still there, to the

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CNF

LETTERS TO MACKENZIE by Blake L. Bell

I We were wild girls. Raised with dirty feet, tangled hair. Our dogs followed us down the roads we walked, but our mommas rarely did. We played hard, fought hard, loved hard. Fate cheated us from being sisters, so we bound ourselves together with blood ritual. We couldn’t go downstairs to the kitchen to get a knife, afraid of waking momma. Instead, we broke a jar in the upstairs bathroom and sliced our thumbs open; our skin peeled back, vessels bursting and spilling over. We pressed our cuts together and imagined our blood forever combined. “Soul sisters,” we said, sucking

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FICTION

MISSING by Brian Brunson

Recollection A: He has a distinct memory of being told the story about Uncle Ringo’s missing index finger. More like he remembers that at one point it was a distinct memory. But that was years ago, when he was five or six, and nothing from way back then is distinct. Still, he is sure that his mother, standing in the kitchen, making fried chicken for dinner, told him and his brother that their Uncle Ringo lost his finger when he was sixteen in a meat grinder in the deli he worked at after school Recollection B: Somewhere, sometime, he is

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FICTION

MY DOUBLE by Michael Loveday

I made a cardboard cutout of me. Clodagh, I called her, and my family took to her well. That first evening at the dinner table, they didn’t register any difference, as they slurped and gnawed, licked their lips, and gorged on their lavish daily meats. At last, I was spared the disgusting sounds of them eating. I spent more time alone in my bedroom, reading tales of the headless Dullahan grinning on his night-black horse, and slowly starving myself, praying that I would one day become invisible.  My parents grew to like that Clodagh endured, without disruption, their long-and-short-of-it stories

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CNF

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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FICTION

FREAK DEATHS by Aishwarya Mishra

Lasya transfers to our school in the peak of summer when the heat makes us more mirage than matter. Our mothers warn us against going out, but we want to see that translucence that makes us inquire after her surname.  “That house is Lord Krishna’s mouth,” our mothers say, “containing the entire universe within it.” The air-conditioners are dismantled first. The first time we step inside their house, we find it throbbing like the angry vein we sometimes see on our fathers’ foreheads. Lasya’s Ma gives us watermelon juice to cool our stomachs and tells us of the family that

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