Michelle and I made our way side by side, with my hand in her back pocket and her arm around my shoulders, like she was a high school quarterback and I was her wannabe prom date. She was my protector, regardless. We stepped lazily, our feet flopping and our heads bouncing. She had called me an hour earlier and asked if I wanted to go for a walk. I had said yes.
UTERUS LOTUS ANGIE SIJUN LOU When I wake up my eyes are crusted shut. When I wake up under a cotton candy sky my
An ambulance siren moans. Red beams zigzag across the walls of my room, like I’m back at one of the dances my high school used to put on. The ones my mother warned me I’d get pregnant for going to. Now that I am probably carrying Gary’s baby, it seems safe to say that nobody is getting pregnant at those dances.
When I saw him lying spread out in a private citizen’s driveway on my arrival to the scene there was a part of me that wanted to cry, if only because I remembered how 15 had nearly already eaten its feet to the bone back when I’d collared him two years earlier in a failed attempt to extricate himself from one of our research traps, in which it was possible he'd squirmed for up to two full days.
Has the city changed? She doesn’t know. It feels the same: grey. It was so long ago. She’d only been here for less than eight months, cloistered away on the university campus. And she’d been tunnel-visioned, seeing only him, and herself in relation to him, and the two of them together, or the void left when they were apart. Everything else had been wallpaper.
David lives in the park. His friends call him Dave, but I call him David. Every morning, before my sleeping cheating husband wakes up, I make a cup of coffee, stare in the mirror for far too long, searching for some sign of me. Then, I run. I run on the jogging path around the park, across from the apartment. The apartment is not my home. It’s the place that we moved after we lost the baby. Lost is the wrong word, we didn’t misplace him.
Marla had a taste for practical jokes. She dug through her crafts closet to find a tube of acrylic, its colour reminiscent of dried blood. She squeezed a blob onto the end of her finger and wrote I AM DEAD onto a plain sheet of paper. She then took a pen and scrawled underneath: Please keep the children out as the shock of seeing me may cause permanent scarring. She taped the confession to the outside of her bedroom door.
Torontonians haven’t changed all that much. They are still too busy to meet you until four months from now, and then they will also cancel when that meeting arrives. They still talk about diversity but rarely become friends with people who are not exactly like them. They still aren’t interested in anywhere that isn’t Toronto.
He might compel an artist to produce a work of art under his name, by bribery or force, but he lacked the ability to create a work of art himself. He could not paint anything that a gallery of repute would willfully exhibit. Only under threat of torture would a critic with integrity declare his writing to have merit. He could not sing. He could not cook. He could not sew.
The sharp smell of bleach fills Lise’s room at The Pines Care Center, though there are undertones of hair in need of washing, and the cafeteria down the hall. The cooking aromas here are nothing like the chicken broth and browning onion smell of Lise’s kitchen, but even those would be hard for Sophie to bear right now. She would like to open a window for some fresh air, but she doesn’t want to let go of Lise’s hand, to disturb her.
LA GRINGA NEGRA YMA JOHNSON I hurry down the sloping street towards dealers who stand like raptors, eyes glowing in the half light of
PERFECT COUPLE ERICA PEPLIN I had an aunt and uncle whose lives were perfect. They sent the most beautiful Christmas cards every year. They
WONDER CHELSEA BIEKER After I moved to Oregon, away from California for the first time, Granny came up for a visit. This was a
SALUTE LAUREN BARBATO The girls had heard from the boys that the boys were looking for the girls. Outside English, History, Spanish class. Inside
ONE OF US IS SLEEPING JOSEFINE KLOUGART The bark of the apple tree is black; alone in the garden, black. It cuts into the
OUR LADY OF PERPETUAL REALNESS CASON SHARPE Bronson invites everyone to a drag bbq on Saturday night. Mada and Kalale are not really that
MOON MAN JUSTINE CHAMPINE Jane lives with her mother and a stranger in a white house by the sea. Red roses with blossoms the
A FEELING FOR PEOPLE BRENNA YORK A recently-divorced 70-something took 20 minutes of my 23rd year. First, he called me an idiot savant with
COCONUT DREAMS DEREK MASCARENHAS Four days in Goa nearly killed me. It started the morning my bus arrived in Mapusa and I didn't see
YOU CAN'T COME BACK FROM LUNCH EXPECTING EVERYTHING TO BE THE SAME EMORY HARKINS Mom and I pick him up from T.F. Green in
TRADE JOE'S AND FREE TC KENTA MANIWA I was in line at Trader Joe’s, waiting to pay for my groceries. My headphones were on
THE GIFT JULIA STERNBERG She wanted to see the sea lions fed, but when they arrived it was just past noon and the trainers
ST FRANCIS REBECCA PAYNE This is the way he walks: north on Grace to College, east on College to Manning, south on Manning to
NOBODY COMING SARAH BURGOYNE At the top of her journey, Johanna cracked a lager. She was thirteen and thinking of the beautiful sea. The
TURNIP AMY FELTMAN It wasn’t assault, exactly. Or maybe it was. Either way it happened quickly. It stopped. Tree-scales scraped barkily against the cotton
WASTE AMANDA BOYLE One drink in and she was laughing. It felt like she hadn’t laughed in a long time, but she was always
ANAMNESIS EMILY JUNGMIN YOON My mother was a haenyo: she dove into cold waters for seaweed, abalone, sea urchin, and other things. My fifth
SKATEPARK GENEVIEVE HUDSON The summer after my first year at the new school was homage to the skateboard. Girls walked right up to the
ASBESTOS GARDENS ANDREW F. SULLIVAN “The world don’t want you to do that.”Cheese Watkins’ daddy says this through two inches of Plexiglas, holding a
ALONE TIME ALLISON GRIMALDI DONAHUE Ines was worried if she got a flat tire now or if she ran out of gas she would
THE LINE ALEXANDER CAREY “O, Lord, help me to be pure, but not yet.”–Augustine of HippoI cut through the field behind Joey and Shannon’s
NOT SO THE DONKEYS NOY HOLLAND The donkeys are eating the barn. They’re bored, poor things. They are eating out the shape of a
THE BUFFET TREVOR SHIKAZE Peter took a plate from a stack of fresh plates that a waiter had just set out. The plate was
HELP WANTED IN THE MIDWEST ON THE BUS LINE JEN KNOX Route #3S to 18E:Simple. Shove double-roll toilet paper to the back of a shelf,
BLACKASS A. IGONI BARRETT Furo Wariboko awoke this morning to find that dreams can lose their way and turn up on the wrong side
INSTITUTIONAL FLESH ALEXANDRA ITZI I stopped eating meat when I was sixteen years old. It was more or less an instant process. Many of
COURAGE COURTNEY SENDER ONCE I dated a boy named courage. I should have kissed him a hundred thousand more times..THE BOY named courage told
A GOOD FAMIL SEO HAJIN “H, do you remember me?” a man on the other end of the phone asked. His tone was cautious,
THE MIGRANT EXPERIENCE JORGE CINO There are about two hundred million migrants roaming the planet at any given time, including those who move from
THE RUNNER KIM KYUNG UK Excerpted from God Has No GrandchildrenTranslated from Korean by Kang Sunok When Eun-jae called, I was
DIVISION STUDY EMILY FLAMM 1. ScaleFrom his window seat on the plane he looks out over the ocean, which looks like a tangle of
ELEGANCE HANNAH RAHIMI A month after they married, Kevin found a job. “What a relief,” he said, and everyone agreed, though it was only
UNGIRLFRIEND PAIGE COOPER Magda sends her ex to me and he shows up showered and clammy. Magda is six foot in work heels and
WINDHOEK TOM THOR BUCHANAN On the street a man reached out and touched my father's shoulder. “Sir! Hey Sir! Sir!” he said to my
BAD CAT ANNABEL GRAHAM I am cleaning out my father’s office. A room frozen in time since his accident. His cell phone still on
IF THERE IS ANYTHING YOU CAN DO KIM WINTER MAKO Hi. I’m Charles. So. You love the biz, I love the biz. Welcome. Cut…
SOLDIERS NIKITA NELIN During the war they spit and shit and peed in a metal container with rubber clamps at its sides as the
LOOKING GOOD AND HAVING A GOOD FAWN PARKER IFour girls were crowded around Linda with a phone receiver pressed to her ear. Their faces
TO DIE FOR ONE'S COUNTRY ALEXEI PERRY COX  Like this, in darkness, and the world that lived within us is
ROT FRANKIE BARNET First the town was because of the port, people brought things and then other people left with other things. But then
PAIR BOND ARIELLE BERNSTEIN After the abortion Sam and I end up at the Weeki Wachi, an amusement park with real live mermaids. We
BLESSED BILL MELANIE MANUEL Listen- Buffalo Bill has a secret. He’s dying. All day, too many times to count, he finds a way back
ONE-PIECE KIM CHINQUEE It's a one-piece I found from one of those Halloween shops that are suckers for people like me who haven't found
QUEEN OF SHEBA MATTHEW LANSBURGH Al gives me zero. All day long he sits glued to his armchair, drinking glass after glass of V-8
GOODBYE, TINK GEOFFREY LINE Like a penny into a fountain, she fell from the top deck of a cruise ship into the black Caribbean.
THE SELLER MEG POKRASS You feel sick about it.You don't say it in the letter, but you are annoyed with your boyfriend for not
BOIL US DRY LAURA TANSLEY “I think we need it. All of us,” she says, serious for a second because that’s what divorce does,
QUEEN OF SWORDS RANBIR SINGH SIDHU Ormond enters by stairs leading directly from the street. He raps hard against the heavy wooden door. Or
SNOVIRR MICHELLE SYBA Tuesdays they go to Ikea for lunch. Mac and cheese for Winston, fish for his mother. Afterwards they walk through the
OKAY PEOPLE GABE BUMP Clap taps my shoulder; rubs my hair and calls me baby; holds her breath under the covers before coming up
REBELLION LEE MATALONE I try to be quiet, but there’s always a little dog that can’t help running through their room, his little toenails
OUT OF ORDER LEAH BAILLY The first time I smoked speed, I felt my lungs expand so wide that they took in an entire
REPUBLIC OF BIRDS JESSICA MILLER It is the morning of the Spring Blossom Ball and — while it it is true that I may
“Looker,” Peggy said as I hustled Gilligan’s order to Jailbait, our 16-year-old grill chef and the boy Peggy slept with off and on. Peggy had a thirteen-year-old son and a husband who’d turned funny after his return from Gulf War Number 1.
I still haven’t finished my screenplay, and I have to admit I don’t know how. Why is my life important enough to write a script about? Why is anyone’s?
After a time, the figure settled back down into his former place, became one of the bodies on the floor, unable on the one hand to discern a path in the jigsaw, unable on the other to force what will he did possess upon them. Then again, perhaps he had been afraid his warm gap on the floor would close.
"Water? Coffee? Tea?" the receptionist asked. I asked for water. She returned with a small bottle and a rocks glass on a wooden tray. She set the tray on the coffee table in front of the couch, poured the water from the bottle into the glass, set the glass down on a coaster then left with the tray and the empty bottle.
She slid off the counter and in front of her mirror began applying my lip gloss to her beautiful, wide mouth with its curling, upper lip that now looked like a beckoning finger. She wore a sly expression, watching me watch her. She placed the tube of lotion I had given her with her pile of things. I didn’t say anything. I was unsure what tone to take.
Plus, there was something so unexpectedly exciting about being together that we wanted to explore it without everybody watching. So we kept it quiet and, as I say, for two months, we'd been going strong.
'Have you seen a doctor?' I pointed at her hand. Girija shook her head. 'Ratni brought some herb oil from the village. She applies it for me every day.' The thick, green-brown fluid in the re-used Old Monk bottle near the stove looked foul.
The other part is that he’s such a fucking terrible imposter. In life, Ingrid Lynn was a poet, so she thinks in terms of metaphors. She can say that he dances without grace and inflects the letter r in a way that conflates meaning. She says his eyes are dead. She says he gets whole stanzas wrong. She says he’s an automaton.
By protocol, he should have called security. But Andy ran down the utility stairs instead to stop her rattling the door, her feet planted apart. A flash of white showed up her shorts, her legs spread to pull the door handle, before she straightened to wave him down.
Tiny knew lots of people like Francine. Some people could talk forever telling all they knew, trying to get out what was wrong with them. But it wasn’t her problem. The ones that looked vulnerable were everyone else. They all looked like porcelain thems. Like they were fixing to break.
“You want to meet my boys?” said the bearded guy. He turned toward the parking lot. “Peter, Paul, get over here!” he called out. Two doors opened to a maroon minivan with a bumper sticker on the front saying, “I Kick-Box for Jesus.” The heavyset boys stumbled out, soda cans in hand. They pointed and snorted at the Icelanders and their unusual clothing choices.
Chet pulled off in the parking lot of a water filtration plant, or a building that looked like a filtration plant, so that I could pee and so that we could resolve the speakers’ fade issue finally. While I was urinating into a snowbank next to the car, I heard a few enthusiastic “Yeahs” come from the car.
The wind rushing in through the windows blows our long hair into our faces. It’ll be tangled when we get home but we feel too good to care. We’ve been out dancing at a club in Hollywood. Used our fake IDs to get in. Mine says I’m from Florida. The bouncer knows they’re fake but he lets us in anyway.
What could they do but fake submission, returning to their fields, scolding their children’s sloppy arithmetic, scissoring dried squid, fanning themselves under absolute skies while waiting for their husbands to return from the gambling room, all the while trying to ignore the newcomer, her out-of-place face and the shovel like a third leg.
I had no idea what she meant by this. A dim memory of the drunken night in grad school when I asked Whitney to rub my shoulders, eliciting a nervous expression on her face after she squeezed the back of my neck a couple times, flickered at the edges of my mind. Had I creeped her out somehow? “Why was she scared of me?”
The Riviera descended the dark mill hill and in its lights were geese waddling out of the way, some hissing, wings spread, waddling quickly, and we pulled into the mill parking lot. “What the fuck?” said James, stopping the car.
I don’t know if I ever expected them to come back, but the night was long and loud and to this day, let me tell you, I can still see our mother exactly the way she was the next morning as she unfastened our seatbelts: her eyes bloated into garnets as she squeezed us both to her chest, asked if we were hungry—a new shade of lipstick on her that I have never seen since.
Hello. Excuse. Excuse me. Do you have bourbon? I don’t know what kind. What does the bottle look like? Let me see. Let me see. Oh, anything. What is the rocks?