TWO-IN-ONE by Genta Nishku

That summer, the water in that city ruined my hair. After every wash, the same refrain: clumping and matting. A whole bottle of hair conditioner later, and I was at the dim-lit bar. A man gestured something at me with his eyes, while outside, the awkward artist typed his number in my phone. We’ll meet for lunch, he promised. The warm air made disassociation easier, even if the drinks were weak and the conversation hard to follow. I’d get drunk at home, I decided. Then the traces of the day would fade, present and future melting together, like the sky…

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SINK by Elane Kim

When my brother was young, I fed him fruit that fell from the trees in our backyard. What I fed him wasn’t really fruit, but the buds of what would be sweet in the spring, and the not-fruit didn’t really fall from trees in our backyard, because there was no backyard. Back then, we lived in an apartment complex with studded walls and a pool that yawned and stretched past the pale sun. The children all thought the pool was haunted, including me, because somebody’s son drowned in it in the 60s or the 80s or some other era we…

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WHEN WILL MY RAPIST’S CLOSET BE CLEANED? by Meg Tuite

“Hysteria comes from the Greek root hystera, meaning ‘uterus’. Originally, it was believed that hysteria and hysterical symptoms were caused by a defect in the womb, and thus, only women could become hysterical.” –Shalome Sine Vivid and startled, blood spits out a song, a sigh, signals a stale rustle of corruption. A pulse rouses itself from the uterus. And those subterranean tubes palpate the last fumes of incessant weather before swirling the rays of dusk down the toilet. I am a girl of fugitive parts. Cut with a straight knife. Glue fists the slit where loot, diced and unkempt, is…

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TWO MICROS by Caleb Lyons

  It Was Clouds On my way to his house in Malibu, a song about life and death in Los Angeles played on the radio. At the house, the artist carefully signed his work and handed it to me. I wrapped it in glassine and told him his show in New York looked good in the pictures. He gave me a bag to gather avocados from his trees. We talked about how great Chicago is and why we left. 3 years later, when the artist died, I went back to the house in Malibu to pick up his final piece….

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DUCK, DUCK, OWL by Michelle Ross

The ducks are a pair—Mallards from the pond in the nearby park. Every evening, they claim the shallow end of the swimming pool, float in languid circles. They’re not threatened by the woman watching them from the canvas chair. They don’t even startle when she goes inside the house to pour more prosecco.  The woman is a divorcée—she’s lived alone in this house twelve years. Her grown daughters transplanted thousands of miles away. Boyfriends have spent the night from time to time, but there’s no boyfriend now.   The woman notes the elegant (pompous?) curve of the ducks’ breasts and necks….

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AND WHAT’S MORE IMPORTANT by Francine Witte

First time I met my brother, he was a hum in my mother’s swelling belly.  *** When he was 10 and me 14, we’d mock our parents’ arguments. We’d sneak up to the attic. He’d put on Dad’s soggy fedora and kick my bottom hard. When I flinched, he’d say, “hey, that’s how Dad does it.” *** I remember the first dead rabbit. It was the winter it wouldn’t stop raining. Always on the edge of snow, but not. My father scowled at my brother, who was something like 11. “What’d you go and do that for?” He shook the…

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THAT GIRL by Sarah Freligh

we used to laugh at, the girl who walked the hallways head-down, cold-shouldered by lockers, who blistered her fingers twisting Kleenex into flowers for homecoming floats the cool girls would ride on, yeah, that girl was nobody we knew until she went missing and then we remembered how in first grade she peed a puddle that spread and smelled of cheese and fish and scattered the class until the janitor showed up with a broom and a pail of red dust, remembered the Show and Tell in fifth grade when she shared the broken glass she’d found on the street…

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WE THOUGHT YOU MIGHT LIKE TO KNOW by Jamy Bond

That your mother is dying alone in a room at St. Francis. The stale sighs of a ventilator echo through the hallways, pumping one last moment of life into her over and over and over. There’s a sad sliver of hope in the sound of it, and in the silence that follows.   She forgives the insolence, the years you spent overseas and never called, the sporadic letters full of vacancy, even your cold indifference to her cancer diagnosis. She has mostly forgotten your teenage shenanigans: the time you snuck bourbon into your lunch box and drank it at school, nights…

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OUT OF JOINT by Miranda González

Edgar was a man with a peculiar malady. It wasn’t just that he had a voracious appetite for all things internet and a quick temper. No, it was that when he read something online that upset him, his nose became, quite literally, out of joint. Each time he furiously disagreed with a news article or a post from an opinionated relative, the cartilage of his nose would turn ever so slightly—imperceptibly—counter-clockwise. The phenomenon seemed to begin following a particularly distressing piece of journalism about an out-of-state investor buying up his favorite Texas burger joint. (He could never enjoy his patty…

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MOMENT by Chad Redden

A little raccoon, more sponsor than mascot, came with the moment, came down the tree. We waited below the tree, Ryan and me. Waited for the racoon that came with the moment, but it was a tall tree, it took some time. For the racoon. For the tree to grow that tall, how many years I cannot speculate. I cannot look at a tree and say how much time it took for a tree to grow. It took some time for the racoon to reach the ground. After a while Ryan had to leave, before the racoon could reach the…

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