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Ritual for a New Chief

Issue 46 by Miranda McPhee

Eight men stood in a loose group on the edge of the Nubava atoll swinging wide their arms and slapping their leathery brown torsos in the cool air as they waited for the first glimmer of the sun. Thirty feet out, a horseshoe of small boats bobbed up and down, weighted fishing nets strung down between them to create a barrier against the open sea.

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Tête-à-Tête

Issue 46 by Stan Werlin

Debra is at the cemetery again reading to Martin’s dead wife. She reads the kinds of literature Martin says Annika enjoyed before the brain tumor: children’s books, the poetry of Robert Frost and James Dickey, novels of psychological suspense. Her startling enunciation, musical and evocative, lifts the words into the air where they linger like butterflies hovering in mid-flight, her rich, clear soprano a storyteller’s gift.

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The Hay is in the Barn

Issue 46 by William Cass

I’m sixty-two years old. Like most my age, I suppose, there are a number of things I regret. For some reason, one occupies a particular place for me. It’s not the most significant or memorable in my life, or even very notable in and of itself. But, when I think of it, something different falls in me, something irretrievable.

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Called Home

Issue 46 by Diane S. Jarrett

Screened doors slamming and the calls of “Can you play now?” echoed between the houses on Rose Lane during Raleigh summers in the late 1950s and early ‘60s. Sometimes it was hard to tell which child lived in which house.

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“Heron,” “Liberty” and “Odyssey”

Issue 46 by Patrick T. Reardon

Great blue heron, white in high green,
folds on self, forward falls toward water,
clear space, wingspan wind-catch, rise in flight.

I am semi-trailer truck in someone else’s tender canoe
— steep banks through suburbs, six crows
from one bank to the other frenzy a hawk

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Why I Couldn’t Embrace the Catholic Church

Issue 46 by Michael McQuillan

Childhood trauma and immoral exemplars in teen years pushed me from the Catholicism that meant much to my mother. The above-altar crucifix with blood dripping from the tortured body of Christ at the Church of Saints Philip and James in the Bronx where I often spent Sundays lies vivid in memory.

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My Trieste

Issue 46 by Pamela Hartmann

When I woke up, I knew it was an emergency room. This was back in 1958, and it looked like scenes in Young Dr. Kildare on Million Dollar Movie.
“Take it easy, Kiddo,” I heard my father say, as I tried to sit up. He was hunched on a stool next to my bed, with an unlit cigarette clenched in the corner of his mouth.

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To Where We Came From

Issue 46 by Richard Lin

I realize that Jacqué is probably not the best influence. Troy likely is. Despite being whitebread, Troy is as wholesome as multigrain. However, there is an edge to Jacqué that I enjoy. With him, I am Rick, cool and tough. As my first nonwhite friend, Jacqué innately understands what it is like to grow up amongst those that do not look like me or understand the culture of my parents. True, he and I look nothing alike, and the cultures of our people are vastly different. However, the experience of immigrants’ sons is near universal.

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The Last of the Dinosaurs

Issue 46 by Anna Persky

Jay Rowland died on May 5, 2020. His name was listed between Olga Masterson and Stefan Stuart in a Herald News story entitled, “Area Nursing Homes Ravaged by Coronavirus.”

Jay’s nickname was “Dog Ears.”

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Breathing

Issue 46 by Charlotte Evans

“It’s never really over between us, is it?”

He looked at me, smoothing the hair back from my forehead. My cheeks flushed as soon as the words left my lips. I hadn’t meant to say it out loud, but that’s what had been running through my head.

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Ether

Issue 46 by T.D. Calvin

December 1990
She heard Ruth lock the front door behind them. In the hall Fiona caught the smell of varnish, a hint of juniper and that human odour of someone else’s home. It felt like warmth was barred from leaving, winter kept outside and the rest of her evening secure in the heat of those rooms. She set her bag down and Ruth helped her out of her coat without offering – her friend never waited for permission to be considerate.

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The Brown Man

Issue 46 by Frank Haug

The Brown Man collapsed. Tan dust rose up in plumes from the desert ground. He sucked at the speckled air with stiff and halting gasps. All the muscles in his body were tired, especially his legs. He struggled to gather himself and get moving again. On this last trip he’d barely been able to get across the river. Years of wandering had left him thin and ragged and weak.

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The Witch Window

Issue 46 by Rhiannon Catherwood

“Dad’s dead” are the first words of any substance that my sister has said to me in ten years. The phone call came at 5:34 A.M. It started with “hello” and “that is you, isn’t it Jimmy?” and “don’t hang up.” But we came pretty quickly to “Dad’s dead.” Those are the words that stuck.

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Lettie

Issue 46 by Molly Seale

He left her with six children, a few acres of poor farm clay, no money, and a house plain and sturdy. “You’ll have to send them away, Lettie,” the relatives told her. “There’s an orphanage over in Masonville. You can’t keep them.” They told her this when he was barely gone, his body cold but not yet in the ground.

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Iben… I’ve Been Through Some Sh#@!: Unbroken

Issue 46 by K.E. Mullins

I looked at myself in the rearview mirror one last time before entering the building. The gym was packed. As I took the podium, one young man, then another, clapped. “Thank you,” I said before beginning. “I’m Iben Okafor and it’s a pleasure to have the opportunity to address you today. Before I get started, how many of you have brothers and sisters?”

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I Don’t Swoon: Chapter 1

Issue 46 by Esperanza Cintrón

The Reverend Cletus Jenkins was stretched out in the front yard of Miss Mattie’s whorehouse. Stiff like that wooden Indian that Virgil Parker sets outside his general store every morning, Jenkins looked like somebody had shoved him off the porch with the business side of a heavy boot and he’d landed splat on his back.

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