PARLIAMENT OF DRUNKARDS by Mbizo Chirasha

In previous years, the Mandozas hosted the New Years’ parties. They reared sheep and goats, and they invited the whole village to enjoy roast mutton. There was beer for the elders, but the young ones were relegated to raspberry and fizzy beverages. I learned about balloons and tissues at the Mandoza household. Mandoza himself was once our Father Christmas, until time burned his years into old age. But to my surprise, the Mandoza homestead this New Year was quiet. It was as if somebody had poured a bucket of ice-water to wet the embers of life in their home. The…

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IN PATIENT by Jenn Stroud Rossmann

When the IV pump pings to warn of an occlusion, she no longer waits for someone in scrubs to respond; she unkinks the tubing herself. In the hierarchy of beeps the IV occlusion alert is low, outranked by the chirping pulse-Ox monitor and the angry squawk of the bedside fall detection mat. King EKG checkmates them all. He dislikes her charts and schedules, cringes when she calls the nurses by name and remembers their children and hobbies. Order is a dangerous illusion. He imagines himself on a science fair poster, her little bean sprout in a milk carton. He is…

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HAVE YOU HEARD THE GOOD NEWS? by Darren DeFrain

In spite of my better judgment, I remain on Facebook for that awkward blurring of my professional, personal, and public lives. In that domain, I recently received a friend request from an older relative. Just a glance at this request and I knew it was the same advance-fee scam I’ve encountered a hundred times over; someone had acquired my relative’s likeness, name, and a few scant details. I decided to take the opportunity to create a reply with two primary goals in mind: 1) wasting the offender’s time and 2) creating a sustained and satisfying narrative arc out of the encounter….

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