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Subjective Content

Issue 40 by Rebecca Burke

The decision letter is polite, offering you admission in an MFA program in creative writing with a full stipend, tuition remission, and a teaching position. It briefly mentions some aspects of your fiction the admissions committee liked—your strong voice and tackling of difficult themes—and is signed by the director. It is your first acceptance. Most of the rejections so far have come over email.

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What It Took to Surrender

Issue 40 by Linda Heller

My mother is French and her happiest time, far happier than when she met and married my father or gave birth to me, took place during the filming of a Brigitte Bardot movie. She was only eighteen and an extra yet she and Bardot became intimate friends. She’d been hired to play a member of a theater audience and watch while the leads furthered the plot center stage.

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Politics of Distraction

Issue 40 by Amina Adele

Memories of America before the Great War distract my mind as Annalisa—my chief of staff—slides the after-dinner briefing book over the warm oak desktop before me. The picture of a woman at the border—draped in a red satin sheet holding a sign overhead reading “You’re no Obama”—rests just inside the cover of the materials. She catches my eye and confirms for me why the American experiment had to end. Or, at least, why the theory behind it had to deviate.

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St. John’s Night

Issue 40 by Nathan Mears

On the night of St. John, atop the flattest peak of the tallest mountain, three Witches danced in decomposed unison around a bonfire made of the flesh and bones of followers to a god unknown.
The first was light of skin with hair of fire. Over her sisters she danced in balance and harmony, writhing her arms as the winds overtook both arm and finger within their hook. Poor fool.

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Injury Reports

Issue 40 by Kristen Gidel

September 2016
Folded neatly in the front pocket of my older son’s preschool bag is an injury report form.
And my own heart trips, unable to catch itself from falling.
Not in concern for his scraped hand. Not in surprise that his teachers even filled out and sent a form for an injury that, when I check, is not evident. Not in gratitude that they cared for my son, though I am grateful. Grateful every day that I have complete confidence in his caregivers.

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All the Noise Is on the Outside

Issue 40 by Michael Peppergrass

Peter stands in front of the entrance to the Museum of Modern Art in the middle of a terrazzo plaza that is hit full-on by the Californian summer sun. Behind him cars rumble past, taxis honk and construction workers are operating a power drill. It is sweltering hot and he is sweating in direct proportion. He admonishes himself, silently, lips barely moving.

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I Am Racist

Issue 40 by CJ Acosta

I started out the day like I always do. I took a shower. I got dressed. I went to my local cafe for some coffee. I generally try to stay away from my phone during this time. This is my time to relax and write and prepare for the day.
I am glad I checked my phone.
When I did, I saw a flood of criticism of the police. Criticism of the police, the government and the “system.” I am not blind to the intolerable acts of our current administration. I am not ignorant to racism.

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Dream of the Shadows Darkly

Issue 40 by Lysabella Barrett

In the nighttime when most things are sleeping, the Fae murk about freely. Masking their true visage with glamour spells, humans often see them as fireflies, glittering and twinkling in shadowy areas at dusk. In the daytime they pretend to be hummingbirds, chipmunks, or dragonflies. It is through this deception they spy and when night falls, they steal away with your most fanciful dreams, your lover’s breath, and sleeping babies. You should never seek them out, call on them, or make any deals with them whatsoever.

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War Heroes

Issue 40 by Nick Gallup

Mamma owned a small grocery store on the corner of Keller and Howard. Howard was the main street and paved with asphalt. Kellar was just a side street and paved with crushed oyster shells. The smell lasted for about a year, gradually fading away. Or maybe we’d just grown used to it.

Kellar was all white folks until the railroad tracks; then it was all blacks until Division Street. After Division Street, it became white again. Division Street was aptly named.

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Doors

Issue 40 by Chapin Cimino

The door was locked. Or rather, Amelia’s key no longer worked. He must have changed the locks on her. It was dark and the porch light, though on, was dim. She could barely see. Yet it was clear that her key—the same one she’d always used—was powerless.
“Charles?” she called, stepping back down the front steps, so she could see up to the second story where dim light was visible in the otherwise dark old house. It was his room. Outside on this March night in Rocky Mountain, Colorado, Amelia was cold and starting to get impatient.

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Her Own Devices

Issue 40 by Geoffrey Dutton

It was almost the Vernal Equinox and the warm spring air was dry and turbulent. Its signature tulip gardens, baby animals, and happy pastel hues notwithstanding, that most optimistic of the seasons doesn’t always come calling with a smile on its face. Nor was there one on a young woman’s face as she auto-piloted her youngster along a windy Piraeus sidewalk. Oblivious to the plastic bag fluttering just above them and the dervish of leaves swirling above the gutter that delighted the boy, she fretted that the recent outbreak of what the Health Ministry had dubbed “a mild transitory outbreak of late-season flu,” might be neither.

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Shades of the Deep Blue Sea: Saya

Issue 40 by Jack Woodville London

Saya had not decided whether to let Olafson see Ambon. She left him tied up in a water-filled pit that was lined with bamboo spears, not so much as a test but merely to keep him occupied for a few hours. He stared at her, wild-eyed with fear, and she disappeared into the rainforest.
She had not visited the spice plantation for more than two weeks, not since the day she had taken possession of Olafson. The home where she had grown up, what was left of it, was much higher upland than the cannibal hamlets and the hidden kamp where Saya now slept.

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The Saint

Issue 40 by Misha Mintz-Roth

“Look at these people,” said Arif pointing at the television. “Look at the way they talk and talk.”
“Well, isn’t that the point?” I asked.
“The point of what?”
“Democracy?”
Arif’s face turned bright red.
“What this country needs is a monarch,” he said, “a kind and benevolent monarch.”
He removed his eyes from the nightly news to stare at me again.
“None of this democracy mess.”

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