Issue 38
June 2020


Issue 38

You’ve Got to Get A Life

Pamela Stutch

A blast of humid air swarmed Mallory’s head as he bent over his pedalboard. Sweat dripped down his neck, saturating the collar of his black T-shirt. The temperature inside the club was at least a hundred. The club staff had yet to turn on large fans on each side of the stage, around the seating area, and by the bar. The air conditioning was broken. Two weeks of ninety plus degree days had overpowered it, the manager told him. So unusual for Portsmouth, New Hampshire, in June. The repair crew was on their way; with any luck they would be able to fix the problem before the show, but there were no guarantees. It was just Mallory’s bad luck to be there on this particular day.

Issue 38

Work in Progress

Kayan Khraisheh

Imagine a tree is uprooted. It can be replanted, over, and over again. But each time it is damaged just that little bit more. Each time, it finds it harder to adjust to its new environment. Each time, its memory of that original piece of land where it first saw the sun grows more faint. Imagine that feeling. It’s hard to verbalize it when you don’t know exactly what it is...

Issue 38

What Color is Yellow?

Glenn Schiffman

“I owe it all to Father Justus,” I muttered.
“Boys Town, 1938 …” answered Aeneas, my roommate. Aeneas was already fully dressed. Prep school blazer, snap-on bow tie, slacks and polished shoes were all in order. He sat at his desk, his back to me, no doubt working on some extra credit physics assignment. He looked up briefly and continued, “… but Mickey Rooney owed it all to Father Flanagan.”

Issue 38

The Potrero Complex

Amy Bernstein

MISSING: A teenaged girl with lanky blonde hair and a sunburst tattoo on her cheek.
The holographic posters, brighter than day itself, lit up the air on every block of Main Street. They were the first thing Rags Goldner noticed as she and her partner Flint Sten turned onto the street.
The girl’s name was Effie, and she was sixteen.

Issue 38

The Flavor of Ice Cream

Shabnam Curtis

One June day of my freshman year/ninth grade, in 1985, I needed a break from studying. My mother suggested we go out for ice cream to Tajrish Circle. Tajrish, a shopping area on the skirt of the mountains in the northern part of Tehran, was a favorite place for my mother and me to wander, especially for window shopping and mouthwatering snacks. My father disagreed.

Issue 38

The Account

Alexis MacIsaac

The day of the disaster began with the sun gently rousing the living. My bedroom window was east-facing and curtainless, so in the summer months I woke early, because the light was so strong.
That day was a Saturday, and Saturdays were usually the best day of the week.

Issue 38

Skar

Liza Porter

When I learned at my high school reunion that Mr. Skar had died, I felt relieved, almost giddy. Though not still musically inclined, I could’ve played a beautiful song—call it an ode to joy—to celebrate his death.

I was shocked at my reaction. Despite the decade-plus of recovery from addiction I had put together and all the therapy I’d done, it was apparent how much of my hatred of perpetrating men I’d put on Skar,

Issue 38

Ira Haskins Has A Problem

Meghan O'Brien

I went to the hospital first thing on a Wednesday morning because I knew I was dying. I called and called and had to wait and that was the earliest I could come. I told Doctor Simon that, and he did not look up at me because he probably did not know how to tell me that, yes, I was in fact dying, and at a faster rate than most of the schleps that came into his office every day.

Issue 38

Get A Life

Dan Woessner

As he lay dying, Bug Boy remembered the first spider, the Argiope Aurantia, curled up against the glass of the Ragu jar that his father pulled from the freezer. Of course, no one called him Bug Boy then, and he didn’t have his thick-framed glasses with the coke-bottle lenses. Both the name and the glasses were years away on that summer day with the sun’s rays beaming through the clear panes of his family’s patio doors. He was only Todd Olden then. Not Bug Boy. Not a delinquent. Not a dropout. Not a user. Not a murderer.

Issue 38

Esmeralda’s Makeover

Phyliss Merion Shanken

I don’t remember my mother’s face. Just her voice. I was about three years old when I awoke to sounds of screaming. Between her huffy sobs, I heard these words streaming from my parents’ off-limits bedroom:
“They are monsters! Ugly monsters! How could anything so ugly come from inside of me?”

Issue 38

Empathy Shoes

John Phillips

The instructions were simple: Choose an item that piques your interest, put it on and walk down the runway. This would give you an idea of what it was like to be someone else.
David caught wind of it while eavesdropping at a bar in the Lower East Side. It was a former dive that had been renovated to cater to an affluent crowd, the place David had spent most nights since his divorce from June and the funeral that he wasn’t invited to.

Issue 38

Dust Choked and Sore

Erin Conway

It’s a buzz and a bump. Etta laid her head back on a torn seat cushion.
And a flip and a thump.
No air conditioning in the truck cab meant duct tape stuck to her neck in the heat. Tang. She was almost... The phrase began but she couldn’t end it. Twang. Where was she?

Issue 38

Cadenza

Paul Allison

Introduction
Jack’s piano instructor had high hopes for him. “It’s a matter choosing the right material,” she said. Mrs. Metzer was a thin, angular woman in her fifties. In her music studio, a giant gable of wood and glass, a row of autographed publicity photos lined a shelf that ran along the entire wall of windows. Many of these photographs were from regionally acclaimed musicians, mostly pianists, along with some world-renowned conductors, cellists, and violinists.

Issue 38

And Then I Was Happy

Gloria Buckley

It was the late 1970s and I sat so young and gullible while a moderator caught a glimpse of my sorrow mirrored in the reflection of his warm brown eyes as I listened intently to words of mass emotional destruction. I wanted to sort out grief and identity issues, and so I enlisted in a weekend of minimal bathroom breaks, minimal sleep, and meditative moments where I traversed the galaxies into my own creative process.

Issue 38

Able Archer: Distant Early Warning (Part III)

Lawrence Lichtenfeld

A red rotary beacon was mounted over the door to the communications room. In all his days at the Marne Kaserne, he had never seen it illuminated. It was never supposed to be. If that lamp was illuminated, it meant that the Telex machines had urgent messages. Even when they were running a com drill that was supposed to mimic an actual situation, they never used the lamp. When the reflector inside the red, plastic dome began rotating, no one paid much attention. Then the light came on.

Issue 38

“01 – to feel what it feels like”

Rachel Elam

when i was eighteen
i lost sensation
in my cheeks. it was only
years later, once i felt the
slightest tingling
return to that same skin
that i let myself mourn
its absence (easier to numb
with positivity and denial
than to recount
the beauty and
brokenness
that led to its loss).