NEVER REALLY OVER by Kate Shapiro

1. My resort in Thailand is a beautiful picture ringed with spider eggs. I angle the phone so the fat cockroaches with long wandering antennae are not within the frame of my selfie, but the beach is. I know I look beautiful because beaches make you beautiful. They make you shimmer. I am shimmering now, like an iridescent fish. Two weeks before Thailand, Charles put my face between his two palms and told me he met someone named Suzanne at a live sitar show and he could not deny their attraction any longer. He said that he loved me and…

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BAD SEEDS by Tanya Zilinskas

You were supposed to turn them over to the Department of Agriculture if you received them. Packages without return addresses showed up in mailboxes all over the country, each one containing a single packet of seeds. The official line was inconsistent but grim: they were from China, they were from Russia, they would kill the crops, they would release pests, they were a Sino-Russian hybrid that would release pests that would kill the crops. When I received the seeds, I planted them. I planted them because I wanted to see what would happen. I planted them because I didn’t trust…

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NEW THING KISSES by Robin Zlotnick

They breathed each other in for ten years before they married, and then they were married for forty years, and the whole time, they needed to know every bit of each other, not just know but suck in and taste, so they had this thing, a sort of game: any time she noticed something new about him, a wrinkle on his forehead or a mole on his wrist, she would kiss it and vice versa, like when a pie-baking burn bubbled on her hand, he kissed each blistered bump, and when her chin grew a hair he kissed that too,…

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EILEEN GETS A LITTLE BIT DRUNK by Natalie Warther

My sons were watching a movie in the living room and I was upstairs, rummaging through their bathroom. I’m not really sure why, I almost never go in there, but there I was, and I’d had some wine, and we hadn’t left the house for twelve days, for Christ’s sake, so what else was I supposed to do?  I looked in the drawers, looked in the shower, looked in the trash can, looked in the mirror and I looked old.  I stuck my finger out like a cane, pointed it at the mirror, furrowed my eyebrows, and whispered at my…

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WHITEBOARD by James Kramer

Jon scowled at the wall. Chaotic and pastel Post-it notes fluttered like some mad lepidopterist’s daydream. Glue gave way and they fell slowly enough that it made him angry, in a vague and indefinable sort of way. The wall had become an armadillo. Bristled and cold.  Jon came down the stairs in a flurry. He found Lu in the kitchen. His chest inexplicably hurt. He drank water. Held onto the sink. His wrists grew pale and cod-like. Lu studied her phone. Her toes played with the edges of the kitchen table. They explored crumbs and spidery calyces on a finished…

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THE SIDE DOOR by Michael Farfel

Wendy wore black. He loved that most about her. She made her way over, careful, slow steps, like a deer, like he was extending bits of food.  “Your arms are smaller than mine. I just need to loosen that nut. But I can’t reach it,” Carl said over the exposed engine. “Smaller,” she repeated and made a show of flexing her arms.  He laughed, “You’re just more compact, is all. Come on, sweetheart. Give it a throw?” She pulled her hair into a ponytail. Maybe it was her hair he loved most. She bent over the engine and maneuvered the…

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GIRL ON FIRE by Neal Suit

The first of the silvery sequins that grew and dangled from your skin appeared on your left shoulder, forming the shape of a crescent moon. I examined the sparkling protrusions rising near your collar bone, squinting as they glistened under the lamp. You booked an appointment with the dermatologist. They gave you a cream and told you to come back in a week if it hadn’t cleared up. They took pictures to show their colleagues and friends and the internet. They fawned over how you shined. Sequins sprouted on your arms, legs, neck, back, and forehead. Walking made you shimmer. The…

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SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE! by Rich Giptar

The first time I ever heard about Matthew, Mom was filming us on her Nikon D5300 and trying to get us to play this stupid game for her YouTube channel. The previous day she had filmed our reaction to her telling us we were getting a new brother or sister. We had been in a good mood then, ready to whoop and jump in the air and cover our mouths with our hands and run out the room. The bit she was filming that day was meant to be sequential, but Dad, a moron, had put our clothes from yesterday…

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SOMETHING SERIOUS by Austin Putty

For whatever reason, I didn’t want to lie to myself and say it wasn’t cheating. No matter how undecided I was about Glenn, whether I was using the evening as a test to see if I really loved him or not, the fact of the matter was that I had agreed to the blind date and had therefore opened myself to the possibility of cheating. Of that in itself, I was undoubtedly guilty, but guilt, oddly, wasn’t the emotion that came over me—it was irritation. That feeling was blown away, though, the moment I shook my date’s frosty, glistening hand. …

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THE PHONE RINGS IN SEPTEMBER 1979 by Derek Maine

My father did not speak to me. He sat in his faded blue recliner, I remember that, and watched Star Trek on Saturday nights. Other times he watched golf or read Lawrence Block. Sometimes he would ask me to get him a beer or to stop running in the house, but he never spoke to me.  I have a son now. He complains I talk too much. I’m constantly asking him about how he’s feeling. I know this is not totally healthy and my wife helps me notice this when I do it too often. But, son, my father did…

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