THINGS TO SHIP TO AMERICA by Jessica Evans

Is heaven a proper noun? Here, I learned to love myself. To love the thick full shimmy of thighs against one another; to appreciate the height of my traps compared to the valley of my clavicle. I fell in love with butter churned from cream produced by cows who live only a few kilometers away. I learned to seek out the salted rotisserie chicken, its skin crispy and shimmering after hours on a spit. As much to bite into something with savage need as because there’s ownership that comes from eating simply to eat. But chicken is only good when…

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IT ALL STARTED WHEN THE CHALLENGER EXPLODED by Shannon Frost Greenstein

I sit, tense, breathless, eyes glued to the screen. I am thirteen years old. It is cold outside, the kind of cold that stings the tip of your nose and bites deep in your lungs when you inhale. It is almost time. We’ve been waiting all morning. I’ve been looking forward to this for weeks, obsessively following the news for mention of launch preparations, reading Christa McAuliffe’s simple biography in The Inquirer: an ordinary history teacher, just imagine!  I’ve been lying awake at night, thinking about the infinite nature of space until infinity blew my mind and I couldn’t grasp…

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ANOTHER ROAD TRIP STORY by DS Levy

Two months ago, after flirting with a handsome Ojibwa who poured stiff Margaritinas, Fonda tottered over to the slots and maxed out her credit card, setting her back two grand. Which is why, heading south on I-31 after an afternoon wine-tasting in Traverse City, I’m surprised when she tells us from the back seat that her inner voice just whispered: Twenty bucks will move your spirit toward prosperity. Since her heart bypass last year, Fonda’s been on speaking terms with her gut. “You know that ‘feeling?’” she says. “Well, I’m finally listening.”  “Did your gut mention how long you’ll have…

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DOING IT IN PUBLIC by Angela Miyuki Mackintosh

Joey likes to do it in public. Other guys prefer the privacy of a locked door, a secluded bedroom, drawn curtains. Joey likes to do it that way too, in the bedroom or the kitchen or the hallway, pushed up against a wall or shoved into the carpet, but he’s not afraid to do it in front of an audience. The first time he did it outside of our apartment was at a party, after he caught me looking at another guy. He said, “You want to fuck him, don’t you?” I guess it made him really hot, got him…

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BLACK HOODED NUN by Caroljean Gavin

Stunned, I took the subway and rattled off to work at the Starbucks on 51st and Broadway. My brain’s way of assimilating my mother’s news was to take customers’ orders while imagining plunging a knife into their chests. Would I have to struggle to penetrate their clothing? Would there be a slurp of suction when I tried to yank the weapon back out of their flesh and muscle to repeat? Would they fight? Would they be angry? Surprised? Terrified? What would they say? What would their eyes look like? What would it feel like to not turn back? To go…

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NO EASING INTO IT by Lori Yeghiayan Friedman

November 7, 1994: I sat on William and Luke’s bed, listening to the ring, ring in my ear, each ring getting fainter like a distant alarm. I was about to hang up when someone answered—a man. “Hello,” he said, startled, like maybe I’d woken him up.  “Hi,” I said into the receiver of the beige rotary phone on my lap. I scanned The Yellow Pages opened next to me on the faded maroon bedspread. I checked the ad: Did I get the number right? I looked out their bedroom window and up at the night sky: What should I say?…

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MIDGE by Tara Campbell

“I remember sailing in a ship.” Skipper’s voice fills the musty darkness of the drawer. “I mean, it was a small ship, more like a boat, I guess, and we were just floating, really, which maybe some people wouldn’t call sailing, but anyhow, I liked it.” Her tone brightens with the details. “It was a warm day but cool down by the water. The girl had taken us down there—” “What was the girl’s name?” I ask. I hear Skipper’s intake of breath, the way the memory catches in her throat, even though she technically doesn’t have one anymore, meaning a throat,…

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RAW HAND BURGER by EC Sorenson

They’re coming at me all the time now. I want this, I want that. Uppity bunch. In my day, students didn’t act like this. This lot spends the morning taking selfies. Spends the afternoon posting them places you never even heard of. All that staring into their own eyes—where’s it going to get them? So, anyway, one of them says I wasn’t using gloves. Okay, I say, talk to management. I say talk to management about why I am the only server here when there’s all of you and you all want your special ingredients and not what it says…

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FERN by Abigail Stewart

He opened the box and immediately his face fell. The shoes were not only, clearly, the wrong size, but the wrong color. If Marcus were in fact a small child with a penchant for neon, they would be perfect, but he needed something staid and professional for work, a muted black, like the ones he’d ordered. He sighed, anticipating the personal inconvenience of someone else’s mistake. The website he’d ordered them from was a huge multi-billion dollar online outlet mall, part of the corporation, where everything was cheaper, delivery was quick, but you had to account for a quantity of…

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THE CLOCKMAKER by Lucy Zhang

Far away—further than the deli store only frequented by the patrolling police officer and a few custodians, further than the farm with three cows and a horse and several chickens guarded from preying hawks by a fishing line ceiling, further than the white oak tree and its branches striking outward, and certainly much further than the borders of the city—is a cottage. Planks of wood bar the windows shut; mold creeps across the brick walls; pipes wind down from the roof to the ground, and the sound of water dripping on metal beats steadily to the murmurs of wind against…

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