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Second Best

In Issue 55 by Dave Wakely

‘Every time I see you, Mr Woodcock, you look a little taller.’
Unaccustomed to displays of diplomacy or flattery, and still learning to acquire the habit of booking restaurant tables, Bernard smiled shyly at Sergio’s greeting. Back in England, his expectations had been distinctly lower.

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Wealth

In Issue 55 by Linda Heller

Sharon asked Daniel, a young ceramist—they were at a month long glazing workshop in upstate New York—how he supported himself. Most ceramists didn’t earn much and she wondered how he managed to drive a brand-new fully loaded Land Rover.

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Handprint

In Issue 55 by Andreas Hasselbom

Three helicopters flew overhead, seemingly pulling the clouds across the sky as they went. Jake knew the sound very well and didn´t bother looking up. Instead, he looked at the road ahead of him. The tall pine trees on either side created a corridor which covered the dirt road he was on. The forest fanned out in every direction. It wasn´t old, though.

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Pat

In Issue 55 by Quin Yen

“I’m not going to help you! Look at him! He has the same surgery and he’s older than you. He can walk to the washroom by himself. Why can’t you?” The voice sounds like it’s coming from a grinding saw, piercing into my ears. My heart trembles.
I am a coward.

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Pasteboard Houses

In Issue 55 by Rebecca Jung

In the 1950s, you could tell you were getting close to Akron before you saw it—an acrid smell of burning rubber and sulfur permeated everything. Tall brick smokestacks above dark, dingy tire factories coughed up oily black soot that coated everything—your clothes, your hair, even the insides of your nostrils.

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The Grace That Comes By Violence

In Issue 55 by Joanna Acevedo

Lorrie called it “The Lost Weekend.” Roger called it “The Last Weekend.” Annabel was pregnant, so she wasn’t drinking. Designated driver, everyone said. Lou didn’t say anything at all.
They met on a Friday at a bar none of them had been to before. It was a dive. Roger was getting married a week from Tuesday. He had a reckless, harried look about him,

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The Procedure

In Issue 55 by Polly Richards Babcock

When blonde, angelic-looking Annie asked if she could stay with me while she recovered from her intended abortion, I concealed my shock and said, “Sure. You can sleep on the sofa.” At nineteen, a decade before Roe v. Wade made abortion legal, I naively relied on inconsistent condom deployment and boys’ assurances that withdrawal was effective. This was the first time I had been confronted with the consequences of my bohemian carelessness.

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House Hunting with Castro

In Issue 55 by S. Blair Jockers

1962. Eddie and Percy crouched on the wood floor of their private fort, a three-foot deep pit in Eddie’s backyard, destined to be a small pond after the next serious storm. The plywood roof Eddie’s father Raymond built from an old drafting table in his architect’s office was braced six inches above the edge, providing views in all directions like the rotating gunner’s station on top of a tank.

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Feast

In Issue 55 by Emily Corak

The first time I decided to uproot my life entirely came after a lazy morning lying in bed and watching reruns of How I Met Your Mother. I’d recently moved to Portland right after college because of a boy, and I had settled in nicely. I had an apartment, a job, and this boy and I were on the verge of cohabiting.

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Three

In Issue 55 by Steve Biersdorf

The three little pigs enjoying an elegant repast on the waterfront, quiet water reflecting neon from high-rise resorts. Sequestered at a table with a Lazy Susan, each partaking of the abundance by turns, washed down with a discriminating Pouilly-Fuissé with white flower accents.

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The Bicycle Crash

In Issue 55 by Adrian Fleur

Once it was June it was hard to remember the despair of March. The winter was always slightly too long, the dark skies and short days lingering just past what was reasonable for any human to endure. It was a despair which infused all former pleasantries with an unexplainable sourness; you could hardly bother with hellos or how are yous.

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Glass Houses

In Issue 55 by Victoria Costello

No one, not even Sunny Fox, knew that Sunday, December 22, 2019, marked the start of the final week of the before times. Leading astrologers around the world, Sunny included, had seen and discussed among themselves the fact that the planetary transits due in 2020 signified a terrible reckoning. They could not agree on the precise kind of comeuppance they expected to be visited upon humanity—just that it would be very, very bad.

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A Virtuous Man

In Issue 55 by Joyce Myerson

I lied to her. Again. Will it be the last time? Can I go back and make it all right? I know, you’re always telling me to make up my mind before. Do I want to impress or do I really want to know someone for longer than a week? How come I haven’t learned?

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The Snitch: Lonzo

In Issue 55 by M.D. Semel

The elevator doors were almost closed when Lonzo jammed his foot between them. He was late. The doors reversed themselves and slid back open. He squeezed in, compacted his body and side-eyed the crowd. It was like riding the subway at rush hour except all of the occupants were men and most of them were white.

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Curious Fictions

In Issue 55 by Seth Kristalyn

Before you regretted voting for that one president, but after your favorite sports team fell out of relevance, all the books were digitized. All the publishers became E-Publishers. The presses stopped. A few libraries remained open as museums, and you remember going to one with a woman you thought you would marry.

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