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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DELICIOUS by James Cato

Like most Saturday mornings, I’m alone cleaning the streets. The morning sun hurries through the cloudless sky, already buttering me with sweat, though Las Vegas sleeps. I slog around with trash pincers and make peace with the place through solitude. Before, I worked afternoons and wore my baseball cap with the army patch. People asked questions. Where was I deployed? What’s it like being a woman in war? Did I ever shoot someone? War stories drew people in. They tried to stare through the ugly by looking at me. I’m picking up after a parade; I can tell by the…

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THE COGNITIVE BEHAVIORAL THERAPIST WANTS A DIVORCE BUT DOES NOT WANT TO BE THE ONE TO ASK by Jo Withers

Ten months before she wants things to end, she buys two figures sculpted in soapstone, one male and one female. She positions them on the bedroom windowsill, where they will be the first thing seen each morning, the last thing seen each night. Every day she moves the figures a fraction apart. Every day she turns the male slightly into shadow, every day she moves the female closer to the light. Eight months before she wants things to end, she redecorates, weaving bad memories throughout the apartment like mold. She scents the inside of their pillows with crumpled pine leaves…

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THE ROT OF THAT by Darina Sikmashvili

City women bucked when you tried to do a nice thing. To carry this or that, to open a door. To offer guidance in a terrain they weren’t used to. Danny remembered telling one young woman with a gristly attitude that she shouldn’t get too flustered about the noises at night. Houses out here make noise; nature is a talker. She was there to buy firewood. He was trying to do her a favor. But the girl just raked her tongue ring across her teeth and looked the other way. Danny wanted to reach into that mouth with his fingers…

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BEFORE THE FATHER/DAUGHTER JAILHOUSE DANCE by Meg Pokrass

1. Before seeing your daddy you wait with the other girls who have criminal daddies and you size them up. Your nose doesn’t hide like theirs does, doesn’t hang down in shame. It dangles smack in the middle of your face like a lifelong promise. You’re proud of your strident, unapologetic nose, the nose you inherited from him. “You all waitin’ to dance with your bad daddies too?” one of the droopy girls says. You aren’t interested in bonding with fools. You wonder if these girls wake up to the sight of a mother pulling crust from her eyes, saying,…

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THE COUCH ATE MY MOTHER by Julia Breitkreutz

The couch unhinges its gray jaws and my mother’s unresisting body sinks into the wide gap between the soft cushions. When I first notice that the couch is eating my mother, the slight folding of her pelvis into the gray polyester fabric is so subtle of a shift that I would have easily glanced over if not for the noise—thick and wet—like leaving the YMCA as a kid. With a beach towel wrapped around my small frame, I remember how my orange Crocs quickly filled with a thin puddle of water that had dripped off my body. The sound of…

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ROLLING by H. A. Eugene

The day came when he didn’t know what else he could possibly do, so he climbed up a great hill and lied down on top of it. And then he started rolling.  He accelerated, faster and faster, and after a few exhilarating bangs and bumps, found himself, once again, at the bottom. But he didn’t stop there. He kept on rolling—through the woods and into town. Eventually he rolled into the city, underneath the highway that bisected its sprawling map, past the train tracks, and beyond the outlet stores that marked the suburb’s edge.  Rolling, rolling, rolling.  Until houses changed…

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