THAT’S ALL YOLKS by Alex Juarez

I think about crawling into Arizona’s skin. It would be easiest to go through her eyes. A few years ago, I read an article about a girl who while on meth performed self-enucleation. Her pastor found her screaming, “I want to see the light,” while holding her eyes in her hands. I don’t want to hurt Arizona, but I think if I could slip inside, we would be easier. Before our alarms go off, she has a headache, so she presses her palms against her face and groans. I mirror it to make her feel like our emotional bond is…

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CUTTING ROOM by Tex Gresham

The woods stopped being an enchanted place where the sound of animals scurrying through undiscovered territory felt light and natural. Sunlight blocked, trees strangling the brassy tones into a steel-tinged umber. A fluorescence coated every surface, something we’d walked into, a transition from scene to setting. Maybe it was the deer that brought this change––maybe it was something else. Limp and drained, the deer’s face was a shocked mask of deadness. Blood spumed out its crooked mouth like seafoam on the surf of a slaughterhouse floor. I was a boy out hunting with his dad and uncle in the humid…

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SCAFFOLDING by Zac Smith

I went golfing. I hit the ball. It landed in the hole (=hole in one). I walked 227 yards to the green place where the hole was that the ball went in. I looked in the… the golf hole, the hole where the ball goes, where mine went. But I didn’t see my ball. It was dark in the ball hole. I lay down on the green stuff around the ball hole, on my stomach, and put my face up to the hole. I thought maybe it was just really deep or something and I could reach in up to…

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TREES by Mordecai Martin

Sometimes the world falls away. Oh well! So long, World! I have a small house, though not so small that we would call it tiny. It’s just a quiet little place where no one but the bank can throw us out, and where we can play host to some friends in need. I look outside my window at the tree shaking in the wind, and I think about it falling down, crashing through my door. I suppose this is what I am most afraid of in a world that has gone wild: that it will intrude upon the small, calm…

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ADULT CONTENT by Jamie Kahn

My tenth grade biology teacher is the first person to ever tell me that I look like [One Specific Porn Star], though he doesn’t really tell me in his own words. Instead, I inquire about his stares to friends in my class to no avail until one boy claims to have seen porn on his laptop during school hours. “What does that have to do with me?” I ask. He shows me a video during study hall. The resemblance is undeniable. That night, I fall into the never-ending black hole of videos featuring [One Specific Porn Star]. I see the…

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THE CONSTELLATIONS OF YOUR BEDROOM by Chris Vanjonack

After stumbling drunk into your bedroom, crawling onto your twin-sized mattress, and wrapping yourself in dirty bedsheets, you find that you are staring into oblivion. You can see the stars, the moon, and an airplane, each obscured only somewhat due to the haze of neon lights surrounding your apartment. The air is cold and you are so overwhelmed by your hour-old breakup on the dancefloor of a crowded dive bar that it takes you longer than it should to process what would otherwise be obvious: Your ceiling is gone.  Still sad about your ex, you rack your brain for how…

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JUNE by Rosella Birgy

I. The lady who owns the condo keeps a bonsai tree that she regularly forgets to water. She wears an ankle bracelet and her best friend is a nineteen-year-old boy who “works” maintenance for the complex in the summer in exchange for a living space that’s not with his parents. His father is a no feelings kind of guy and his mother hasn’t stopped taking Valium in the three years since his older brother died in a car crash and he doesn’t know if college “is for him,” the lady writes us in her letter of instructions for general upkeep…

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DUNHUANG, IN THE SUMMER by Jiaqi Kang

is beige and washed with soft, settled dust. It nests between sand dunes, two-tone hills that whistle and whisper at dusk, the breeze bringing mysterious dreams to those who sleep under its soupy night sky. My guests, pilgrims whose cotton shifts are streaked with the brown patterns of their journeys, spend the last of their silver on a bed and a meal in my inn. They are tired, worn, and bone-thin, but there is that momentary sense of relief in their eyes when they clap an ugly coin into my palm. I lead them to their cots and my husband…

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JEOPARDY by Ruth Aitken

As my ex-husband the Jeopardy champion won thirteen games, I racked up quite a résumé myself. I followed advice to shampoo with raw eggs. I dropped a knife and drove myself to the emergency room. I fell in love with a man on the Metro, because he made eye contact when my hand bumped his on the pole. I successfully overheard someone in the break room say about me: Yeah, her voice makes me wanna die. I wondered for the first time whether I wanted to have sex with a woman. I went too far on party drugs that were…

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I WANTED TO SAY by Michael Harris Cohen

The body farm looked like any other chunk of rural Tennessee, black and white oaks, cherry trees and clearings. Only this chunk had a 12-foot fence circling it, razor wire on top, and rotting bodies within. “Why the fence?” I asked.  Landon, my brother’s best friend since kindergarten, shrugged. “It’s science. Can’t have people messing with science.” We followed Landon through the woods. Last I’d heard, Landon worked night security at the mall. Now he was day security at the body farm and (supposedly) enrolled in night school. He’d abandoned his signature mullet for a crew cut. We came upon…

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