WILD RELEASE by Evan James Sheldon

The ballroom was empty except for stacks of chairs along the walls and the man staring at the ceiling. With no one around him in that large space he looked very small. I waved my arms over my head but the man didn’t notice and kept on staring at the ceiling. He was off in his own world. I pulled out my weed pen, which most people mistook for a flash drive. Even though weed was now legal, I was still secretive. Learned furtive behavior from all my high school friends having misdemeanors for possession.  The Toy Voyager conference was…

Continue Reading...

LOVERS by Michael Farfel

The two of them live in a small house that overlooks a somehow smaller lake. He has family money and neither of them have to work, but he finds meaning in his work (development—of what? we’re not quite sure) and she writes poems. The house is ancient and the rooms are cold.  They often lay in bed until long past midmorning, even sometimes past noon. They argue about who will make coffee, always finally decided by who has to pee first. It’s usually her. The house, which the locals say is as old as bones, is older. It is rickety…

Continue Reading...

JOE-DOG by Michael Haller

Joe was helping his ex-girlfriend Claire move out of her apartment (“the apartment where I grew as a person more than my previous four apartments”) while simultaneously helping his recycled girlfriend Lori move into the same apartment. (“Fucking creepy, I’m disinfecting this place when she’s gone.”) The apartment was a one-bedroom in trashy-trendy North Cumminsville, a blighted warehouse district in one of the mid-sized Ohio cities beginning with the letter C (not Canton, not Chillicothe, not Coshocton). Claire could no longer afford the rent in NC due to unpaid bills and the troubles they bring, and middleman Joe, a friend…

Continue Reading...

CAROLINE EATS HER FEELINGS by Gabrielle McAree

I half-expect Chris to be draped in an American flag like a patriotic version of Jesus. Since enlisting, he’s all pro-war now, existing in a blind state of sacrosanctity. He shits red, white, and blue, and has Uncle Sam on speed dial. They grab beers together, talk sports. Bald and uniformed, no one would know that just last week Chris lit illegal fireworks off his parent’s pontoon and drank vodka tonics before noon. That he suffocated lizards and shot small dogs with bb-guns, gratified a Wendy’s. Growing up, his parents thought he was going to be a serial killer, not…

Continue Reading...

THE SPRING PAGEANT by Richard Mirabella

Danny’s niece, Joan, sat at the newspaper covered folding table in front of the TV and painted the bear head he’d made for her school’s spring pageant. He trusted her with the head, when he would trust no one else with something he’d made, especially a child, but Joan understood how special it was to create objects. Joan didn’t destroy, and never had as far as he knew. Craig and Shannon, her parents, hadn’t complained about it anyway. Every book Danny ever gave Joan still existed intact.  From the entryway of the kitchen, Danny watched her lay brown paint over…

Continue Reading...

MR. DUBECKI’S SECRET MENU by Kyle Seibel

Mr. Dubecki is the first person I tell about the people humping in the men’s restroom because he is the franchise owner slash store manager for one thing, but also because he’s the only other person here after Greg went home sick and Rocky’s brother picked him up early and the new girl who’s training on the window would only get in the way, so she got cut and Mr. Dubecki said he’d come by to help me close.  Near the end of the shift I go to clean the facilities and what I find is that it’s a four-legs-under-the-stall…

Continue Reading...

YOU MET DEATH ON LEX by Vi Khi Nao + Jessica Alexander

and asked her to meet you at a hotel in Brooklyn You would not meet her in Vegas where the sounds of your mother’s movements came through the walls between your rooms Meanwhile, in another state Death courted our brothers on Uber and Grinder As you removed one blind eye from the invisible pocket of your black bra You realized that your memory of your brother had an invisible purse With its zipper sewn on its side and its contents were pennies or wishes So when they hit the surface of your eye the world you knew rippled Back then…

Continue Reading...

KERNEL PANIC by Rebecca Rubenstein

When his mind went blank, Benno walked to the water store. Smack-dab in the middle of a strip mall a block downhill from his apartment, it was the kind of place that didn’t pull punches. It sold water, and vessels with which to hold water, and that was it.  Water cooler jugs lined the walls on one side, and empty aquariums formed a barricade on the other, and the floors teemed with pallets of imported bottled water—glacier runoff from Iceland and Switzerland and all the lands. Metallic shelving flanked each side of the store, and on those shelves sat sturdy,…

Continue Reading...

YOU WANT TO HEAR A LOVE STORY by Ashton Russell

He flirted with you at work. You were 16 and he was 23. He would hold his hands behind his back to mimic how you walked away from the server board in the kitchen. Because you were uncomfortable in your own body. Your ass felt too big, the way you walked too bouncy. Sitting at the bar at work eating before the doors opened, he sat down beside you and pushed his hand up your thigh not saying anything. He followed you out to the parking lot up the hill where staff parked. He asked if he could drive your…

Continue Reading...

I LIKE PICKUP TRUCKS by Kayla Soyer-Stein

Here is what I am doing this summer: 1) Drinking. 2) Riding around in the backs of pickup trucks. There’s not much else to do on this island. Tonight me and Kate think we are the drunkest we’ve ever been. We are outside the bowling alley and looking up at the sky at this one star, which is chasing us all over the place and about to fall on Kate’s head. LOOK OUT, I scream and Kate covers her face and falls all over me, knocking me down, and we both lie in the wet grass and laugh like witches. …

Continue Reading...