Short

LOVEBIRD by Tex Gresham

Most people have no idea what goes on in retirement communities. They don’t care to know. When your kids dropped you off at Del Largo Sueño a few years go, they made tearful promises to visit, but you never saw a tear fall. They faked guilt to hide the happiness that they wouldn’t have to watch you die. Your son, Clifford, and his new wife didn’t stay long enough for you to unpack and hang your sweaters. Your daughter waited around, and then she asked for “gas money.” She’d been biting her cheek all day, her eyes sunken like little

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JUST GIVE ME A FUNERAL by Greg Gerke

On Thanksgiving, the southbound 1 train stopped at 96th Street and, to the surprise of the few people in the last car, an older woman with a sunbaked face in a big-brimmed gardening hat blocked the doors with a fold-up shopping cart and started to load four large bags of possessions into the space. She balanced the rectangular cart front wheels in and back out, over the gap between the car and platform, to jam the doors while hefting the bags around it and safely inside. Where did this  rail-thin woman, probably 5’4”, get the strength? a young man on

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THROUGH THE LAUNDROMAT WINDOW by Rachel L.E. Klammer

Jane watches the world from across the laundromat. Her apartment window affords a view of the parking lot and inside the laundromat. Jane watches a plump and elderly man wash horse blankets for the third time that month. A sign near his machine says ‘please do not wash horse blankets.’ Jane has been watching the laundromat for three months, ever since she first moved to town during the ever-clinging winter. It is April now, and still snow and melting icicles crawl over building roofs. There will be snow lumped in the edges of some valleys and higher altitudes of the

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BOY CRAZY by Lauren Barbato

The young married women at the conference upstate agree that it’s nice to be around someone so boy crazy. That’s how they say it: boy crazy.  The young married women help you flirt with Ben, the writer from Seattle via Georgia. They accompany you to the pricey cocktail bar downtown and conveniently leave early. Ben walks you down a sleepy street with few lights to your tiny cabin rental. You show each other your tattoos as mosquitos nibble your ankles.  In three years, you’ll be married, the young married women say. We want to come to the wedding. *** Lawrence

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CRISP EDGES by Helena Pantsis

Bud reached into the chip bag. It crinkled, loud and coarse by the cheap, jagged foil. He dug his hand around the salt-covered potatoes, angling for the perfect one. You never want to start too big. You have to aim for those mid-range chips, the ones the size of a beer bottle’s bottom. He pulled one out, smacked his lips around it, and sucked on the tips of his fingers before going in for another. He couldn’t stop. That’s how they get you, the chip companies, the corporate potato pigs, by drowning their spuds in moreish delicacies that rot your

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THE CELEBRATION by Zac Smith

Usually, when my week was shitty, I liked to order Thai food… I was the only one in the family who liked Thai food, which meant I didn’t get to order it much… But since I was getting divorced and living alone in a shitty apartment, I got to order it as much as I wanted… I was getting into it in a big way, basically… Since most weeks were shitty, I ordered Thai food most weekends… And I never got sick of it… Thai food is varied and complex… It can be very exciting, but also comforting… A perfect

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OPEN MOUTHED by Kwan Ann Tan

I knew I was in trouble the moment my co-worker caught me humming the female part to the last duet in La Boheme. ‘That sounds familiar,’ Lucy said as we stacked rows and rows of fragrant soap. ‘My grandmother loves that opera. She’s never seen it in person though, which is a shame. Maybe I should bring her one of these days.’ We laughed and continued restocking the shelves. It was a job that made a pair of opera tickets near impossible. The sound system crackled to life, and my faint memories of the song were drowned out by saccharine

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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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GENIUS by T.J. Larkey

I’d been a process server my whole life. Well not really. I remember my dad driving me around a lot after school, leaving the car running as he knocked on strangers’ doors. At seven seeing his Vietnam Vet fearlessness for the first time, ducking a crackhead wielding a broken lawn lamp. At fifteen working in his house/office, and at seventeen feeling so lucky to have a job that didn’t leave me smelling like grease. And at nineteen using the savings to move away to California. So it really only felt like it. Like I’d never done, and wouldn’t ever do,

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SALAD GIRLS by CK Kane

I don’t want my mom to die not because I like her, but because she’ll be the nastiest ghost. Unrelenting in death. I just know it. I pull her boots off like always. Using both hands, I make an ugly face and lean my body trying to pull. She moans like always. Whenever she’s not on a horse she’s in this bed. Crumbs of caked mud and crap get on the white sheets as the second boot finally gives and I almost fly across the room. Still in her breeches and a turtleneck, she pulls the covers over her save

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