ALTO by Kathryn M. Barber

We’ve spent this summer in your house, the one that belongs to your father, the one that’s brimming to the top with a hundred thousand ghosts. Memories haunt this house: your parents, still together; your brother, asleep down the hall; your college girlfriend, alive, her laugh echoing across the staircase. We sleep beneath a framed photograph of that girl you loved so much, the one whose car went off that bridge we drive  across every day. She’s the only thing that reminds me you’re capable of love, that it can even exist inside you. The way you grieve her is…

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CONDEMNED by C. Cimmone

My mother smoked her favorite cigarettes in the kitchen. Smoke billowed out into the living room and crept down the halls. A small television muffled the evening news as the three of us chewed away at overdone meat. Splatters of hot bacon grease slid down our throats as my father hurried through tough threads of roast. He ran the tractor after supper; and my mother splashed hot water around in the sink as she yelled at me for not finishing the black-eyed peas. “Black eyed peas are good luck,” she’d belt.  Holiday evenings were much the same. “Too much sage…

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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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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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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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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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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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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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SONG FOR AN EMPTY WORLD by Miles Coombe

The road is lit with street lamps. It’s weak, bulbs on the edge of giving out, but the glow is still there. I am in his bed, a fresh bruise over his eye this time, and curled into his side. He feels smaller with my arms around him. My eyes are closed and I see an explosion of grey in a room too white to be real, and where I know there should be screaming, my own included, there is only static. He wakes, with a hammering heart and a cry on the tip of his tongue. Something inside him…

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HAM SANDWICH, DRY by Caroljean Gavin

One day, in the middle of the week, a Wednesday or a Thursday, in the humid summer, with the air conditioner broken, and the ceiling fan so feeble, I fell asleep under my down alternative comforter and had a dream of walking through a lush field, thick blades of grass slithered against my legs, dandelions swung in the breeze, little hammocks for lazing bees, and when I woke up, covered in a loose sweat, I walked down the stairs step by step, blinking my eyes open, open and closed, flexing my fingers, balling my fists, and I went to the…

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