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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DOG TRACING by Mike Andrelczyk

I just remembered a maintenance man I used to work with who said he liked to get drunk and trace his dog on big sheets of paper and his garden was lined with pieces of broken hotel sinks. I just remembered this. Out of nowhere. When things come into your mind from out of nowhere it’s like looking at the outline of a dog on a piece of paper. The dog is gone, but its shape is there. This is a memory. Imagine one of those shitty video dissolving effects now.  ….     ….        …. OK. I was standing in the…

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WHEELS by D. T. Robbins

Fat-boy Brad, the same Brad who went, Hey, Cheese Factory!, to me on the bus because my teeth are a little yellow, stood in the middle of the street with Chris, the same Chris who almost drowned me in his pool last summer showing me what a washing machine was (you flip someone over and over and over and over until they can’t catch their breath and they start to cry and someone’s mom comes out and yells, What the hell are you doing to that boy?), looking at my bike, telling me how fucking gay it is because it’s…

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NO, YEAH. by Erin Gallagher

“You can play games or you can end it and move on.” Lit by twinkly string lights atop a shiny marble counter, apparently we’re not fucking around anymore. Soft pink and blue bulbs create a calm ambiance, steam rises from big porcelain mugs of herbal tea, and we are sparing no emotional expense. Play games: win, lose, flip your phone upside-down and wait two hours, three hours, reciprocate every unit of time you’ve ever waited, multiplied by three. We’re not talking about me (this time), and my advice is out of character, it’s…hopeful:  “Yeah, no, maybe just act as you…

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MEMORY PALACE AS MAZE by Kate Tooley

“Words fail…” No one says that anymore, but sometimes she still thinks it. She hears it in her mother’s squeaky, horsehair voice, the one that meant sarcasm: when her father put all the pots and pans in the oven to “clean them,” when the neighbor dressed her Persian cat in a tutu…But that’s not the only time words fail—quick footsteps behind her at two a.m., Ginny waving from airport pick-up after two months in Tucson, her dog’s muscles going slack before the vet has finished emptying the syringe—these are also things that cause a blank space, a lapse in words….

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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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