TASTINGS by Colin Lubner

Nose So once upon a time this chick gets a job with her boyfriend at a liquor store and two months in he quits after some regular has a seizure and crashes forehead first into a refrigerated shelf of Sierra Nevada.  In the incident’s aftermath she calls the drunk a drunk. Her boyfriend, meanwhile, deems the victim a sort of tragicomic invalid. And while they hadn’t contemplated separation prior to this fight, not once, this divide is by itself enough. He’s a romantic. She doesn’t know who she is.They are different people, he tells her. She agrees. This is some…

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LISTING by Michael Todd Cohen

MARBLEHEAD, MA — ESTATE SALE BY YOUNGEST SON 4 bedroom / 4.5 bath with 5,679 sq ft. of ample space for nuclear family on .26 acres. Below listed are the items for sale and a description of the property. Not listed but offered for the specific buyer: being told as a child you would be disowned if gay. BASEMENT Offered in sale: workbench at which father and youngest son built miniature soapbox derby car for Cub Scout competition. Mostly father—who hip-checked son saying, “watch out, watch out,” as his hulky frame jostled miniature car parts into a sleek red bullet….

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A MOST DEPRESSING WEEK by Chris Milam

Monday I tell my therapist that her milkshake brings all the depressives to the yard. She laughs. I laugh. I don’t tell her I spent hours the night before trying to think of something funny to say to her. I also think: I love you. I think: you plus me equals happiness. I think: when does this session end? I think: I want to sleep with you to help murder the pain. She goes on about reframing or something. I’m still focusing on my joke. Time’s up. Fuck. Tuesday A murder case on Dateline. A beautiful wife is found dead…

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THE END by Zac Smith

The seasonal jobs came back to town aboard a gleaming, diesel caravan. We all stepped up to carry water and dirt and to do all the other things that would be asked. Brought our resumes, our lunch boxes, our good gloves. Someone was going to see us, buy our labor for a week or month—see something useful in the junk, like Giacomo did as a dropout teen, buying a rusted-out chainsaw to bond with mom and get it running again. And just like that ideation, we’d take off for somewhere else full of better promises. This we knew, believed, felt,…

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LAND LEGS by E.D. WELCH

Bittersweet day, this final one together. Frighteningly agenda-less, we wander through the aisles of small, art-filled stores, awkward in each other’s company, unaccustomed to hanging out like this. “Do you want to go into this one?” I ask him at each store.  “I don’t care.” His only reply. I learn he likes art galleries—oil paintings, to be exact. I didn’t know. Our aimlessness leads us eventually to the beach, where we find our land legs again. The beach: yes, we spent many, many hours at the beach together during his childhood, so this we know how to do. He shows…

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MISSING by Brian Brunson

Recollection A: He has a distinct memory of being told the story about Uncle Ringo’s missing index finger. More like he remembers that at one point it was a distinct memory. But that was years ago, when he was five or six, and nothing from way back then is distinct. Still, he is sure that his mother, standing in the kitchen, making fried chicken for dinner, told him and his brother that their Uncle Ringo lost his finger when he was sixteen in a meat grinder in the deli he worked at after school Recollection B: Somewhere, sometime, he is…

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FREAK DEATHS by Aishwarya Mishra

Lasya transfers to our school in the peak of summer when the heat makes us more mirage than matter. Our mothers warn us against going out, but we want to see that translucence that makes us inquire after her surname.  “That house is Lord Krishna’s mouth,” our mothers say, “containing the entire universe within it.” The air-conditioners are dismantled first. The first time we step inside their house, we find it throbbing like the angry vein we sometimes see on our fathers’ foreheads. Lasya’s Ma gives us watermelon juice to cool our stomachs and tells us of the family that…

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WELCOME TO THE RECKONING by Omar Hussain

Your family’s old brown and blue station wagon pulls up to the house. It’s not your house. It’s never yours. At three-years-old, you’ve already lived in four dodgy houses, a mobile home, month-to-month condos and rent-controlled apartments. This is your grandfather’s house. He tells you and your parents that you’re welcome to stay for as long as you’d like, but you’ve heard that one before.  The wagon comes to a stop. The gears slam into park. Your dad is screaming about something—the latest rage attack. He gets out of the car, paces around the hood. To the passenger side door….

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NICE AND NORMAL by Diane D. Gillette

Janice stopped at the back door when she heard footsteps behind her. She turned to see her husband in the kitchen doorway. “Where are you sneaking off to?” Rob asked, one corner of his mouth upturned. “Just getting a little fresh air.” “Nope,” he protested. “This is your family. If I have to stay for Sober Thanksgiving, so do you.”   Janice sighed. “I wish everyone would stop calling it that. Like this is all a big joke.” Rob slid onto a stool and plucked a leftover dinner roll from the plate that sat between the platter with the remains of…

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I AM NOT AN ACTRESS by Ashley Jeffalone

The man who will later steal from me is directing a short film. Today, in this moment, we’re still friends, so I pick up when he calls.  On the grounds of his apartment complex, he leads me to a Bradford pear tree, puts me underneath, and I kneel along the roots to thieve shards of glass from the green. There are other people with us, laden with cameras and lights, and they lean over me, commit my idling to film. They come close enough for me to remember their sugared breath but not their faces, not their voices—I’ve lost years…

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