NILSSON SCHMILSSON by Anthony Sabourin

I was outside on my street watching an apartment building on fire. I was watching it with the people who lived in that building, the people who’d left it. At three floors, it wasn’t a big apartment building, but it was a big fire. It was crackling, and flames were shooting out of windows and smoke was filling the night sky. I looked at everybody. It was nighttime when the fire started, and so you could see these snapshots of how people were living inside their homes. A couple wore rumpled office clothes paired with sweatpants, caught between two routines….

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IN WHICH PHOEBE DOES NOT MAKE THINGS HARDER by Devan Collins Del Conte

Phoebe was practicing being blind. She was nine years old and alone in her hotel room. It was supposed to be fun, but it wasn’t. There was no under-the-bed in which to hide, in case of a knife-wielding intruder. The closet, too obvious. She squeezed her eyes closed and reached her arms in front of her, sweeping them to either side. If the lights blinked off, she’d remember this slope of chair-ridge, the whisper of the bedspread against her thigh. Here was the sharp edge of the wall where the room narrowed to what her mom would call a foyer,…

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THIS MESSAGE WILL SELF-DESTRUCT by K. Noel Moore

On December 7th, 1953, Adelbert W. “Dutch” Sherman, an unassuming man, did something to shock the whole of America. He died. Some several hours after typing that line, I got tired of staring at a blinking cursor, and shut off my computer. “This book,” I announced to the empty room, “is putting me through Hell.” I had thought of scrapping it more times than I could count. But, Hobbs was releasing his book on the Sherman case in a year, and I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t one-up him. The problem was, Hobbs and I were starting from…

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FOOTNOTES by Erin Cork

Stopped at a red light, Malfunction Junction. A seventies model Chevy pickup ahead of me, bull balls dangle from the trailer hitch and a faded bumper sticker that was probably added when the truck was new, “Disco Sucks”.  There’s a man-child anywhere between the ages of 18 and 30 in the driver’s seat. It could be a hand me down, his father’s rig. I’ll never share the memory of peeling the backside from that sentiment and slapping it on the tailgate in front of me. But I do have a scrapbook full of goose bump gospel moments in the fellowship…

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A SHADOW THE LENGTH OF A LIFETIME by Sheldon Lee Compton

The last address was easy to remember. But in a year living on the outskirts of downtown Portsville, Calup still confused First Street with Second Street about every other time. Maybe that’s what happened with his last letter. Confusion was now his general state of mind, even on good days, when it was only mild. At eighty-six years old, there were more days when he could remember what was in his lunch box the day the Number 2 tipple burned on Shelby Creek than he remember what street he lived on. The post office lady pulled to his mailbox. He…

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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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LOVE IS THE PLAYGROUND OF THE THING by Michael Mungiello

This love story has nothing to do with me. I’m not involved. Even the small parts—the earrings, the dog, the money—I only care a little bit about. What’s actually important is how it ends. It ends on a boat. I started following Lorenzo because he lived next door and he looked exactly like me. It was an added advantage that he was ignorant of almost everything. For example, he never noticed I was following him. I followed in my car and on foot, I took buses I didn’t have to and sat in the row behind him. Lorenzo always wore…

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SHE GETS A LOT OF HELP by Kristina Ten

“You have a beautiful home here,” says the man’s boss, taking note of the layered window treatments and the gleaming hardwood floors. Over the mantel hangs an abstract painting of a female nude—tasteful, the boss thinks: wide, flesh-toned brushstrokes, no embarrassing details. All of this bodes well for the man, who the boss knows is angling for a promotion. That’s why the boss has been invited to dinner at the man’s house, and why he’s told his wife, who was invited as well, though more as a courtesy, that the night probably wouldn’t be of much interest to her. The…

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PABLO’S HAIR by Sandra Arnold

When we got to the farm Bill explained that the dead boy’s parents had asked him to keep the pregnant mare and her two year old colt till they found a buyer, but none of the guys who came to look at her could even catch her. “Don’t worry, Beth,” he reassured, “I’ve asked Pablo to do a bit of schooling so she’ll be calm enough for you to ride.” We turned the corner into the barn and saw the colt tied to the fence. His mother, a beautiful bay, was tied to a pole while Pablo, sweat soaking into…

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FORAGERS by Jaime Fountaine

My mom brought this new guy, Jeff, home, and they want to have dinner together at the table, like I’ve met him before. He’s cooking, which I think is supposed to impress her. She never cooks, so joke’s on him I guess. Right now the joke is on me, because my mom is doing the thing she always does when she meets a guy where she pretends to be a totally different person, and expects me to do the same. She says men don’t want you to like them too much right away. They want to work for it. She…

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