EILEEN GETS A LITTLE BIT DRUNK by Natalie Warther

My sons were watching a movie in the living room and I was upstairs, rummaging through their bathroom. I’m not really sure why, I almost never go in there, but there I was, and I’d had some wine, and we hadn’t left the house for twelve days, for Christ’s sake, so what else was I supposed to do?  I looked in the drawers, looked in the shower, looked in the trash can, looked in the mirror and I looked old.  I stuck my finger out like a cane, pointed it at the mirror, furrowed my eyebrows, and whispered at my…

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GIRL ON FIRE by Neal Suit

The first of the silvery sequins that grew and dangled from your skin appeared on your left shoulder, forming the shape of a crescent moon. I examined the sparkling protrusions rising near your collar bone, squinting as they glistened under the lamp. You booked an appointment with the dermatologist. They gave you a cream and told you to come back in a week if it hadn’t cleared up. They took pictures to show their colleagues and friends and the internet. They fawned over how you shined. Sequins sprouted on your arms, legs, neck, back, and forehead. Walking made you shimmer. The…

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ON THE STREET CORNER by Lina Lau

To see him again—tall, lean, crinkling eyes, thin lips tugged into a smile, always dry from working outside high up in the trees, a ‘tree doctor,’ he called himself—my stomach drops like it did when we first met at seventeen, him walking into the shoe store where I worked, later returning to ask me out, the first time picked up by a boy meeting my parents and we strolled the boardwalk in and out of circles of lamppost light, illuminating, fingers intertwined, his large hands enveloping, and now two decades later on the street corner in front of his parked…

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DELICIOUS by James Cato

Like most Saturday mornings, I’m alone cleaning the streets. The morning sun hurries through the cloudless sky, already buttering me with sweat, though Las Vegas sleeps. I slog around with trash pincers and make peace with the place through solitude. Before, I worked afternoons and wore my baseball cap with the army patch. People asked questions. Where was I deployed? What’s it like being a woman in war? Did I ever shoot someone? War stories drew people in. They tried to stare through the ugly by looking at me. I’m picking up after a parade; I can tell by the…

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THE COGNITIVE BEHAVIORAL THERAPIST WANTS A DIVORCE BUT DOES NOT WANT TO BE THE ONE TO ASK by Jo Withers

Ten months before she wants things to end, she buys two figures sculpted in soapstone, one male and one female. She positions them on the bedroom windowsill, where they will be the first thing seen each morning, the last thing seen each night. Every day she moves the figures a fraction apart. Every day she turns the male slightly into shadow, every day she moves the female closer to the light. Eight months before she wants things to end, she redecorates, weaving bad memories throughout the apartment like mold. She scents the inside of their pillows with crumpled pine leaves…

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THE ROT OF THAT by Darina Sikmashvili

City women bucked when you tried to do a nice thing. To carry this or that, to open a door. To offer guidance in a terrain they weren’t used to. Danny remembered telling one young woman with a gristly attitude that she shouldn’t get too flustered about the noises at night. Houses out here make noise; nature is a talker. She was there to buy firewood. He was trying to do her a favor. But the girl just raked her tongue ring across her teeth and looked the other way. Danny wanted to reach into that mouth with his fingers…

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THE COUCH ATE MY MOTHER by Julia Breitkreutz

The couch unhinges its gray jaws and my mother’s unresisting body sinks into the wide gap between the soft cushions. When I first notice that the couch is eating my mother, the slight folding of her pelvis into the gray polyester fabric is so subtle of a shift that I would have easily glanced over if not for the noise—thick and wet—like leaving the YMCA as a kid. With a beach towel wrapped around my small frame, I remember how my orange Crocs quickly filled with a thin puddle of water that had dripped off my body. The sound of…

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ROLLING by H. A. Eugene

The day came when he didn’t know what else he could possibly do, so he climbed up a great hill and lied down on top of it. And then he started rolling.  He accelerated, faster and faster, and after a few exhilarating bangs and bumps, found himself, once again, at the bottom. But he didn’t stop there. He kept on rolling—through the woods and into town. Eventually he rolled into the city, underneath the highway that bisected its sprawling map, past the train tracks, and beyond the outlet stores that marked the suburb’s edge.  Rolling, rolling, rolling.  Until houses changed…

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LACERATION by Victoria Buitron

When an iguana’s tail falls off after a scare, I’ve wondered if it feels the pain of a halted human heart or the shame a woman feels after being sexually assaulted in public. On many mornings, I’ve rested on a hammock below robust mango trees hoping an iguana didn’t fall on me. If a branch buckled under its weight, the crack of thin bark would reach me before I could see a green smear plop onto the ground. I’d cover my head with my arms or a book in startled anticipation. Once, my dog woke from a nap beside me…

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DING! by Will Finlayson

The kid must have defected. He’s still lying there in the dirt—red-faced and full-uniformed, one arm in the pig’s water trough, that red insignia hot on his sleeve—and what should they do with him? They point fishing spears and pitchforks and kitchen knives at him. Tie him up in the barn that’s what’s to do, Nema says. Kill him right here and now is what it is to do, says Jenko. It’s that we should turn him in to a judge, Harlem says. Isn’t that the wartime law? So they tell Harlem that he should take the kid to the…

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