AUTOGRAPH PARTY by David Williamson

All the girls have their binders and they are all beaming, and she just has her arms all covered in her sleeves and wondering if her mother will come back before the party ends. It appears to her that the ends of Beth Beachie’s mother’s mouth almost touch her ears. Beth Beachie’s mother smiles crazy and starts it off by going to the record player and dropping the needle. A song plays that she thinks she’s heard before in a department store. Beth’s Beachie’s mother rings the bell. All the girls bounce around the floor and come together like atoms…

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THERE WAS A LADY WHO HAD SHARKS UNDER HER SKIN by Philip Webb-Gregg

There were bears there too, and tigers and wolves, and all manner of carnivorous things. She walked around all her life, not knowing why she hurt so much. Always wondering why she was so hungry and so thirsty; always leaping at passing flames without a thought for her skin, which was worn and scarred from so many lost opportunities. And she would roar, sometimes, in the night, without knowing why. Or her mouth would suddenly be full of fangs and the taste of blood. And she would weep for the death she felt in her stomach, and kneel upon the…

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REFILL by Fernando Schekaiban (translated by Toshiya Kamei)

Here I am again, in this café that has transformed into a shelter of excuses. I don’t know why I come back here every week. But I know myself and my pretexts. Some say I’m patient – those who value me the most – while others call me nuts. I’d say I’m in love with the sound my favorite chair makes – the one in the only corner available to customers – when you drag its wooden legs. OK, the chair is not the recipient of my love, nor is my visit to an “overcrowded” place, which allows me to…

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ACHE by Josh Denslow

I fell in love at age seven. Twice. The first time was with the exquisite pang I felt when I pushed my loose upper right lateral incisor with my tongue. I’d withhold that sweet ache for hours, as if I was the drug dealer and my best customer at the same time. I’d wait as long as I could, yearning for a fix, and finally another push and the engulfing ecstasy. I never wanted to lose that power. But the damn tooth ditched me while I was eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and it didn’t even have the…

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MY SEASONAL EMPLOYER by Caroline Galdi

I was told to meet the driver at 300 King Lear Street, which was in this subdivision full of these corny ‘medieval’ names. Court Jester and Shakespeare and shit like that. It was like the developer was stealing street names from a book of word-search puzzles. There was a sign that said “REAL HOMES”. At the end of the street a bunch of the houses were still wrapped in plastic. Later the driver told me they brought the townhomes in in pieces and then assembled them on the spot Ikea-style. I said that was weird but couldn’t explain why. I…

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FRIEND WITH GOITER by RJC Smith

The problem with my friend Johnny was the goiter on his neck, because not only was he self-conscious of his own conspicuousness, but I also found it terribly distracting—it reminded me of the plums on the plum tree in my backyard, which my parents cared for as if it were another child, i.e. a sibling of mine, which is a depressing story in its own right. When I looked at the goiter I wanted to bite into it and my eyes reflected this and sometimes Johnny saw, and the look Johnny always gave showed a combination of reproach and general…

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FRANKENSTEIN, NOT UMA THURMAN by Travis Dahlke

You were Mia Wallace for Halloween and I was sexy Harper Lee. ‘How to fake blow’ was stained on your phone’s search history under the spiderweb cracks that cut up my fingers where I typed in my name. In all honesty, I wasn’t even going to leave the house, but stoned in bed with headphones digging into the pillow is not where new friends are made. Dancing at the church party, we saw four other Mia Wallace’s, each with blood running from their nostrils to the bleached spores of their mustaches. I thought we’d reek of fog machine juice forever,…

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CHILDISH THINGS by Barrett Bowlin

Hours after I first hear her voice in line at the bank, I make peanut butter & jelly sandwiches for the both of us with tall glasses of cold milk, edible memories from decades ago, and then she and I move to the daybed, together, her voice as cozy and warm as a mother’s breasts. “Point to something pink,” she says, my fingers on her chest. Her voice is bright and clear, a sparkling peal of sound, a live version of the recording made for the Little Reader for Girls I remember having in second grade, the one that took…

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BOREDOMS by Grant Maierhofer

I’m a better tabloid than citizen. A friend of mine once wound up on the cover of their city’s something having passed out near the lawnmower he worked. He’d fixed up nearby within a building for soil and various landscaping tools and nodded off on a hillside holding his penis. I met him in treatment. He’d left one day for court and returned with pornography flat against his belly, tucked and sweated within jeans. He’d exhumed it and hatched a plot to scoop away the ceiling’s makeup and tunnel into the female rooms. I hid that night seated on the…

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