THE FULL LENGTH OF THE WALL by Darren Nuzzo and Toddy Smith

I watched him do it—down there in the alley beside our house. “Up to no good,” my wife said. “Can you handle it, Sam?” she asked of me. “I’ll handle it,” I told her. But I just watched. I watched this tall man from our bedroom window standing in the alley, near our things, near my wife’s car she’s almost paid off, near the flowers finally blooming from finger-painted pots, near my daughter’s purple tricycle we won in a raffle just last week, near all the things a husband is supposed to protect. I opened the window and leaned my…

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ALL WORKED UP by Linda McMullen

He often simply appears in my office, insouciant grin and silver hair: “I want to show you something.” In the age of #metoo, he is carefully respectful of a female subordinate. No hands ever touch in the exchange of— A binder with reference documents, paginated and neatly tabbed; a viciously indiscreet email from a colleague; a rare compliment on a memo from his own supervisor… Whatever it is.  For my eyes.   For me. Or: I’ve written his remarks for a major briefing the next day, and he invites me to pull up a chair, next to him, so we can…

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TO TEACH by Tyler Barton

Whenever she passes a picture she’s in, Jewell closes her eyes. She laughs. Jewell’s earlobes are drippingly long, and her granddaughter Tanny would like to see them pierced nine, maybe ten times. This makes Jewell laugh. Jewell has been convinced by friends to join the poetry club, because, they say, Jewell is always finishing their sentences with a slant rhyme, and damnit they want the real thing! Jewell laughs at them. The poetry teacher is a bear of a man at a pottery wheel until Jewell is told he is the pottery teacher. Jewell laughs through her apology. The poetry…

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RESCUE 60640 by Megan Carlson

Google Search History (retrieved 11/14/2019)  How to get salt stain out of Uggs How to make friends How to make friends in your 30s 60640 coffee shop  weather Chicago  60640 coffee shop NOT starbucks negative effects of caffeine alternatives to caffeine benefits of chamomile Making friends at coffee shop  how to talk to strangers how to be less awkward  how to be less intense with new people be less intense  be less  am I too much quiz  liquor store 60640 husband distant my husband is distant what do I do emotional connection in relationship emotional connection in relationship importance Instacart…

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AFTER A MONTH, WE MEET FOR DINNER by Francine Witte

First thing I notice, new haircut, the grays dyed clean away. I’m careful with my words. Nice shirt, I finally say. I’m aware he never dressed this nice for me.  I found it in my closet, he says. The waitress brings a basket of bread. You look good, he says.  I can smell the scratches on his neck.  They smell like blood and sex and another woman. Would you like some bread? I ask. Cutting down, he says, pointing to his stomach, flatter than I recall. The waitress returns, and we order small.  Nothing that will take too long. The…

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A NOTE TO YOKO OGAWA by Michael Farfel

a note to Yoko Ogawa, I think that others might say you make key lime pie like all other confections. You pick the fruit—found in trees and sometimes pockets—and you open it and line it up and chop. It takes patience, of course, to form the pastry dough and fold it out and fill it up.  I found a recipe, in the back pages of your books, a sort of misdirection in the language and the wording. A few drops of this, a subtle push and an open door. A room revealed. A kitchen and a stove. The fruit is…

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LAST WORDS by Jayne Martin

There’s usually two of us, but it’s Christmas Eve and I got nowhere to be. Anyway, she’s just a little bit of a thing, barely 90 pounds from the looks of her. I can roll her onto the gurney.  The Super found her after complaints about the smell. I don’t smell nothing no more. Fucking freezing in here.  “No rent. No heat,” he said. Asshole should be charged with murder. But who’s gonna complain?  Place is neat as a pin. Something my mom used to always say. Neat as a pin. Still don’t know what that means. Mom would have…

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DROSOPHILA MELANOGASTER by Hannah Storm

The fruit fly shares the same genes as a human. Its Latin name is “Drosophila Melanogaster,” which sounds awfully fancy for something attracted to rotten fruit and vegetable. I think about the time you told me I smelt ripe when you forced me onto my back in that room with the torn sheets. Fruit flies breed in drains, empty bottles and waste disposals, relying on a moist layer of material that ferments to grow their families. The adults have brown trunks, black bottoms and crimson eyes and are so small they can creep through windows and doors that aren’t properly…

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NEGOTIATIONS by Adrienne Marie Barrios

Mar∙riage, /merij/, noun: a series of negotiations.  At least, inside her head, it was. She had these little rhythmic mantras to keep from fucking it up, like my plate is on the left, or the left tray goes on top. She’d repeat it to herself, over and over again, like someone with OCD stuck in a tick—Left tray goes on the top. Left tray goes on the top. It wouldn’t do to burn one half of the muesli. My plate is on the left. My plate is on the left. It wouldn’t do to give him her sandwich; he hated…

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CUL-DE-SAC by Christopher Linforth

In the backyard, firecrackers fizz in our hands. We dare each other to throw first. We draw the firecrackers to our mouths, chomp on them like cigars. Watch the fuses burn. Blue smoke drifts up our noses, down our throats. We hold the smoke inside of us, blackening our lungs, exhaling when we feel sick. Then we hear the gruff voice of our neighbor and the bark of his dog. He threatens to call our parents, CPS, the police. As we withdraw the firecrackers from our mouths, they bang. Fine gray powder coats our still-intact fingers. We laugh and throw…

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