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A Slow Fever: The Nearly True Story of Typhoid Mary

In Issue 65 by Catherine Hammond

October 1906
Another family with kids. What I wouldn’t have given to work for an old maid with no children. Just me and her and a bright, clean kitchen. But I was happy. I was cooking.
Portia, who had recently turned six, darted into the kitchen and ran around the oak table. Tristan rushed in behind her.
“Give it back.” His voice was high and whiny.
“It’s the last one.” She held a crumpled scone over her head.
“Stop that,” I said.
They peered up at me. I was a big woman, and I could scare little kids. Portia’s hand fell to her side.

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Love Among the Fever Bags

In Issue 60 by Michael Fontana

Mom lay on a cloud, wings spread, eating a piece of coconut cream pie with her bare hands. She was clad in a thin white robe, head adorned not with a halo but a tall, platinum blonde wig, her spectral body puny as a twig.
“How’s the weather up there, Ma?”
“Sweet as this pie,” she said, smiling, a dollop of whipped topping on her chin.
“I miss you,” I said.

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Nagy Specialty Landscaping

In April 2024 Issue by Neal Lipschutz

Six-year-old Craig insisted on wearing his t-ball jersey, a too-large purple pullover that advertised Mim’s Pharmacy out front and sported the number 8 on its back.

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A Sunny Day

In April 2024 Issue by Mara Woods

In the yard on a Tandoor clay oven, Mrs. Hassan cooked dumplings. She stared absentmindedly into the pot at the small lumps of dough that stared back at her like bulging eyes from behind a veil of rising steam.

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Phase Transitions

In April 2024 Issue by Peter Alterman

Leaning over the kitchen counter, Allison watches the sun rise over the eastern plains of Iowa and lets her mind wander: The beginning of another week. End of summer. Beginning of fall.

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The Feminine Brigades of Saint Joan of Arc

In January 2024 Issue by Sandro F. Piedrahita

The two Cristeros were sitting at the Abajeño Cantina in central Guadalajara after having spent several months in the mountains of Jalisco waging war against the military forces of the anticlerical President Plutarco Elías Calles.

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Together

In Winter 2024: Climate Crisis by Jaime Gill

We slept at gunpoint but woke up alive, so it was a good night.
For the first time since Bai disappeared, I didn’t dream of monsters. I dreamt I was in my tiny childhood bedroom and my mother was alive and calling me for a pungent dinner I could smell wafting from the kitchen, sweetness and spice.

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Beatniks of the Kerosene Age

In Winter 2024: Climate Crisis by J. M. Platts-Fanning

Captain’s Log: The last stage of our short Kerosene Age is upon us. Stationed here, at the Rainbow Rides Fairgrounds, the end we’ve all been anticipating is now wetting the souls of our feet. Our best estimates place us only a day ahead of the imminent deluge.

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Corona Choreography

In October 2023 Issue by Susan S. Levine

A large dispenser of no-name hand sanitizer should not be the first object patients see as they open the door bearing the engraved brass plaque SANDRA R. KRASNAPOL, PH.D. So, Sandra had positioned the bottle behind the lamp on the small bookshelf in the vestibule. Immediately visible, yes, but an offer rather than an outright command. She expected the alteration would not go unnoticed by her patients—and it didn’t.

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The Law of Forgetting

In October 2023 Issue by Scott Pomfret

Sister has never sought recognition for her sacred work, but those afflicted with childlessness find her. They send heartrending letters. They send aged Manchego and Jamón. They send exquisite rosaries of rare wood and bone.
The couple from Salamanca is typical. It’s May 1973. They make a personal pilgrimage to the clinic, as if Sister were herself a saint.

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Choosing Gratitude

In September 2023 Issue by Nancy L. Glass

Amanda, our hospice nurse, answered the door when I rang the doorbell, showed me where to leave my shoes and escorted me into the den, where I found Faiz’s mother, Haima, sitting on the floor. Haima apologized that the air conditioner was out again, for the second time in a week. Within minutes, my slacks and blouse stuck to my skin, and the air in the den felt heavy despite a frantic fan and the open window in the breakfast room.

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The Twelve-Year Chaqwa: A Time of Suffering and Chaos

In September 2023 Issue by Sandro F. Piedrahita

When Rómulo and Julissa met at the Salsodromo, not knowing that was the moment when the past and the future were forever riven asunder, they both blatantly lied to each other, knowing there was nothing else to do. Each of them had an inadmissible secret. Rómulo could not tell Julissa he was a lieutenant in the Peruvian military. The Shining Path had “a thousand eyes and ears,” and if he disclosed he was a soldier, his life would be in mortal danger.

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Bobtail Five

In August 2023 Issue by Mark Wagstaff

Snow, but not yet. Clouds built across the sky, ahead of a raw east wind like smoke from encroaching fires. Pavements and walls, brick and stone, scornful of fragile bodies. He moved quickly, thinking a day ahead when streets would freeze, when snow would lay and, bound with anxiety, each careless step invited damage.
He walked opposite to the way home. South across Euston Road, by the spot where the hospital Christmas tree stood just a week ago. A few decorations still pinned in the emergency room. A half-deflated balloon. He cut through the muffled crowd at Warren Street station. Cut across their flow, fixed straight ahead, walking fast to make people falter. A small pleasure.

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Priestess, Traitor, Enemy, Saint

In Issue 75 by Sandro F. Piedrahita

Comrade Juana understood Comrade Bárbara’s belief that Sister Rosemarie McKillop, the diminutive nun from Perth, Australia, posed a great threat to the success of the Shining Path. Like many priests and nuns, like many human rights organizations, like the democratic left, Sister Rosemarie offered the destitute masses of Perú an alternative to the armed struggle. She preached that the marginalized campesinos could achieve justice through peaceful methods and even distributed food to the poor from “imperialist” charitable organizations like Caritas. Such conduct had to be quashed, for such groups were inimical to the revolution.

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Running Rhythms

In Issue 73 by Jon Weldon

Spring Street was strangely archaic – white concrete, not asphalt, with meandering black lines of tar. It met my legs abruptly, returning their bounce with an equal shock back, deadening and harsh, until they would get loose on the dirt road. I turned along the edges of the campus-like collection of foster homes…

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Los Espantos de Parral

In Issue 73 by Christiane Williams-Vigil

Paquita felt the sharp twisting pain in her abdomen and leaned forward on the steering to move into a more comfortable position. She glanced in the rearview mirror catching her baby sister, Sylvia, gazing back. Sylvia’s brow rose, silently inquiring an update.
“I’m fine,” Paquita mumbled, rubbing her side. Her curly, light-brown hair stuck to the sides of her cheeks, pasted with humidity.

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Independence

In Issue 72 by Richard McPherson

“To William Ivey, Fort Kearney, Platte River Region, May 11, 1849. Sir: I have the sad duty to report that your wife Elizabeth Ivey died yesterday from the cholera. Given your absence, her church will be responsible for the remains and a Christian burial. Yours, Dr. Harold Cartwright, Physician, Lancaster, Pennsylvania.”
Rose stopped reading when she heard Lenny’s high voice. “Rosie? Where are you, wife?”

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Hide

In Issue 70 by Derek La Shot

Sheriff H.W. Walsh bore a faraway look as he stood on the platform behind the gallows and waited for his unofficially adopted son, James Singleton, to die.
The whole scene was oddly dysfunctional, and eerie inefficiency and clumsiness hung about the whole affair like a latrine stench. As if anything that could go wrong had a malicious inclination to do so. The executioner tossed the thick hemp-threaded rope over the oak gallows beam creaking a few times in the wind above them.

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Long-Distance Learning

In Issue 69 by Frank Light

That old-time feel of can in hand loosens tongues as much as the contents do—our first beer and really our first chance to kick back since the two-day drive from Kabul last month. This is September 1971, Farah province on the border with Iran. Keynote honors go to the eldest: your humble servant. Sitting on the landing outside Werner’s room, I begin by saying Afghanistan was a big mistake.

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The Scoutmaster’s Ultimatum

In Issue 67 by Cameron Vanderwerf

Mom and Dad brought me to Camp Bramble because they said I was too sad. They said I could come home when I stopped being sad. That was when I knew that I might never see them or home again.
I was eleven years old and couldn’t remember not being sad. Although I couldn’t have given you an explanation as to why. Maybe I just wasn’t satisfied with any answers that people had given me over the last decade.

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DrEaMs

In Issue 66 by Seth Foster

I do not want Azúcar to die.
The ambulance backs into the yard behind the three-story apartment building in East New York. It’s night. The swirling blue and red lights pound my eyeballs. NYPD officers march around the backyard with bright flashlights. Broken glass and trash appear and disappear under the searching beams. The swirling lights make me dizzy.
I do not want Azúcar to die.

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Unforgettable

In Issue 62 by Richard McPherson

Today, near Washington, D.C.
Beth’s mind was almost gone but her beauty refused to abandon her. Kindness was unmistakable in her deep brown eyes, and a generous heart illuminated her smile. Her seventy-four years, over half of them married to him, were confused shadows, judging by her rambling. But Michael could easily remember Beth’s fearless intelligence, and he often sat by her bedside and closed his eyes to bask in the velvet voice which still soothed him.

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Soil

In Issue 62 by Andreea Sepi

When I sold the first piece of land, I didn’t even tell my old man. I forged his signature on the papers.

My older sister Maria had left the village ages ago, she had a husband and a two-bedroom apartment in town, with hot running water, she wanted for nothing, so I was sure my mother would cover for me. In fact, I was sure I’d have her blessing by default, after all, that lot had been part of her dowry and she was nowhere as obsessed with land as my old man.

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Sir Galahad’s Pasta and Cocktail Lounge

In Issue 62 by Roger Logan

Jason had thought about putting New York City as his location in the online dating profile. It would almost be justifiable, since he was always thinking about moving to the city now that he was divorced. There was, Jason felt, something pathetic about a single guy in his thirties living in the suburbs, especially in a town with a ridiculous name like Valhalla and he imagined any interesting woman would probably feel the same way. At least there was a big cemetery in Valhalla, so the name wasn’t completely inappropriate.