EXCERPTS FROM THE NOVEL VENICE by T.J. Larkey

Tough I’m lying on my floor, next to my bed. My bed is this big padded mat that rolls up and can be moved very easily. It’s comfortable, but I like the floor better. I believe that lying on the floor for a few hours a day will toughen me up. I was a spoiled kid, very soft, so I’m always looking for things to toughen me up. That’s how I got here. I got it in my head that moving to a big city I’d seen in movies and television, where I didn’t know anybody, would somehow make me…

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THE LIFE CYCLE OF TEMPORAL BIOMATTER ATTACHMENTS by Jemimah Wei

This is completely unsexual, but ever since the ex left, Jennie has gotten into the habit of sticking her hand down her pajama pants and cupping herself to sleep. It started in week five or six of the lockdown. One day, she woke up and her hands were in her pants. Both hands, under her pants, resting on top of her underwear. This happened occasionally, even before the ex moved out. Usually around the middle of the month, when she could feel her body beginning to slush. Whenever it happened, Jennie would periodically stick her finger into the folds of…

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HAM SANDWICH, DRY by Caroljean Gavin

One day, in the middle of the week, a Wednesday or a Thursday, in the humid summer, with the air conditioner broken, and the ceiling fan so feeble, I fell asleep under my down alternative comforter and had a dream of walking through a lush field, thick blades of grass slithered against my legs, dandelions swung in the breeze, little hammocks for lazing bees, and when I woke up, covered in a loose sweat, I walked down the stairs step by step, blinking my eyes open, open and closed, flexing my fingers, balling my fists, and I went to the…

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WHEN THE FIRST HUSBAND DIES YOUNG by Dan Brotzel

When your first husband dies young, you feel shock, you feel sick. You hurt, you bruise, you ache, you sting. You feel nothing at all but also everything, way too much. Reality has been swept from under you. There’s a big hole, a gap, where your life should be. Nothing makes sense. You’re trapped in a nightmare that can’t possibly be yours. Everything is panic, anxiety.  You keep running up against the hope that this is all an illusion, that soon you’ll be able to get your head round it, feel differently about it, send it away. You keep thinking…

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SAN ANTONIO by Saul Lemerond

The piglet was pink, but not the regular pink that you expect piglets to be. This was the sort of glowing, warm pink that only exists in Disney movies. God, the little animal was so cute Yancy wanted to squeeze the thing to death. Wanted to squeeze it ‘til its head popped off its precious little body.  Yancy’s friends Tim and John think this too. He is so lucky, they think as they stand beside him wishing they could also have one. They’d all been on their way to the Riverwalk but now no longer care.   Yancy reaches out a…

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HAP’S by Wilson Koewing

Harry and Al were at the bar when I showed for my six o’clock at Hap’s. A young couple smoked in the back booth; a bluish cloud hovered over them. Four roughs fresh off a rig huddled around bottles at a tall table. Decent crowd all told.  I prefer showing at six instead of four. It’s hard on Huck since I’m here until two, but the four to twelve loses late-night tips and four to six isn’t money anyway.  That time of evening the sun cuts sharp angles across the bar so bad you can’t sit some places. I ducked…

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DEAR SOPHIE by Emma Brankin

Dear Sophie, Congratulations on the happiness. Love, Amy Delete.   Dear Sophie, You look so in love. I love the dress, love the shoes, love the veil! I wish you a lifetime of love. Love, Amy Delete.   Dear Sophie, How did you lose so much weight? I thought you were off coke. I have collarbone envy. Love, Amy Delete.   Dear Sophie, Your pictures are deluding me into believing there is a Prince Charming out there for each of us. I want what you have. Seriously. Love, Amy Delete.   Dear Sophie, I’m typing this from the comfort of…

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HOME AT LAST by Greg Oldfield

The first Monday with our rescue Allosaurus Mix, I stopped home for lunch and found the ottoman in pieces. Splintered wood, strips of chewed leather, and stuffing littered the family room with a trail of buttons behind the couch. “Max has to stay in the crate,” I said to Steph on the phone while Max was playing tug of war with my suit pants. “But Max is only a baby,” she said.  “Babies need rules, too.”  “They also need nurturing and a room with a view. Max can’t even see out the window.” That night, after I lugged to the…

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LUMPS by Sean Littlefield Chumley

Unlike most people who live near restaurants, I never visit the fast-food place next to my house. Chunkee’s looks like any other corporate restaurant. The shellacked exterior, the vibrant sign a mile high announcing its presence like a lighthouse, the drive-thru menu with its voice-box speaker. I’ve never seen a Chunkee’s anywhere else, and I’ve never seen a commercial for one, and I don’t know what kind of food they serve other than fast. The sign doesn’t give much away. I watch it change every day, but the bottom always says NO BURGERS HERE!!!!!! From the window next to my…

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SEISMOLOGY by James Sullivan

In 2011 I was in a 3-tatami room.  * That means a tall man can lie down only in one direction.  * How do we measure a room? A living space? I don’t know the square footage of my Minnesota apartment. Only that it’s the smallest in this building, maybe the smallest anywhere in town. But when my neighbor moved out and my landlord offered me his place (“It’s a lot more spacious, maybe $10 more a month.”), I didn’t even look before deciding against it. * You never know when you’ll need that money. For supplies. For an extra…

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