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Aquarium Life

In Issue 67 by Troy Ernest Hill

I score my first soccer goal ever. It’s only practice, but still. Coach claps and shouts, “Way to go, Henry!” A couple of teammates jog by in these knee-high, stretchy blue socks we have to wear, saying, “Good job, Gollum,” and “Finally,” and kind of laughing.
My parents made me play because they said I spend too much time on my aquarium. I made it like how the ocean was before, with colored reefs and glowing fish and huge whales.

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Autobiography of the Bomb

In Issue 67 by Jim Shankman

You may think you know me but you don’t. Our acquaintance only goes so far. You see how I act, but you do not know my thoughts and feelings. You do not know me from the inside. And so I often feel misunderstood and unfairly judged. You can infer a great deal about people from their actions. But literature confers one great advantage over life. It allows you to see a person as if from within. Perhaps this is only illusion.

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Paradigm Shift

In Issue 67 by Michael McQuillan

Holy light fills window’s tree at dawn. Autumn leaves as angels embrace our white-haired God. There is peace as people sleep. I pray. May heart’s compassion bridge mental walls to unite and not divide. The youthful idealism mourned in my bones with Gandhi’s maxim to “be the change you wish to see in the world” mandates clarity: what values dear to me must I enact to infuse good where I can?

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My Whole Heart

In Issue 67 by Krista Lee Hanson

My son’s kindergarten teacher was a big, bearded man, generous with hugs and laughter. His old-school version of early education focused on teaching kids how to love each other and share, how to be kind to each other and silly together. He taught them to run and fetch a seat for a visitor and to pay compliments to everyone.

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You Are Your Only Competition

In Issue 67 by Swetha Amit

During my initial days of running, I’d look at the runners on the road and wonder why I was not as fast as them. Bitten by the competitive bug, I’d try and match up to their speed and experience a temporary high of overtaking them until all the air was sucked out of my lungs. The pain of watching them run past me was nothing compared to the injuries and niggles I faced later.

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Don’t Want to Go to Heaven; Just Want to Go Home

In Issue 67 by Jamey Gallagher

Inside the airport, Trina sat in a white rocking chair that had been set up on the side of the ramp, looking out at the tarmac, a coffee in one hand, a Danish with bright red jam and stripes of white icing in the other, her carry-on bag at her feet. Behind her was the hubbub of the terminal, arrivals and departures, announcements calling out flight numbers, transport carts carrying the elderly here and there, a young man wearing a slick blue suit and a pilot’s hat trying to convince passersby to sign up for a special program.

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Almahdi

In Issue 67 by Sonja Srinivasan

The conversion was an unlikely story.
For over two decades, Professor Philippe Halston had been the rock star at Rudyard University’s history department who brought in grants, acclaim, students, and visiting lecturers from afar, an expert on the Enlightenment and pre-Industrial Revolution secular European thinking. He lived an immaculate life with an immaculate house and an immaculate career untainted by failure.

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Umbrellas on Water

In Issue 67 by Lisa Voorhees

After her dad died, Aveline swore to herself she wouldn’t let his novel go unfinished. It had taken two weeks for the brain fog to wear off and another two after that before she’d recovered from the shock of losing him to do anything, but even now, six months later, she struggled to get any real work done. Her progress through his notes was slow to the point of agony.

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Purple Becomes Deirdre

In Issue 67 by Stephen Newton

The year she turned fifty, there were two men in Deirdre’s life: Tom and Diego. Tom was an organic farmer she met at the Open-Air Market, where he sold honey, eggs and produce on Saturday mornings. In the photograph on her refrigerator door, Tom beams at Deirdre over a mound of sweet corn. He is ruggedly handsome with a shy farm boy smile that never failed to make her feel weak.

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Missing Pieces

In Issue 67 by Stephen Coates

My uncle was there. He was angry.
“Look at yourself,” he said, punctuating his words with his finger. “Pathetic. Grown man, fooling around with kids’ stuff. House looks like a bomb site. You’ll never get a woman in a dump like this, boy.”
I sat squarely in the straight-backed chair, feet planted, shoulders pressed against the wooden slats. Chin up, eyes front, not moving a muscle.

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Sold in Saigon

In Issue 67 by Anthony Nguyen

Adorned with snaring water lilies, her blood-red dress dripped down to her ankles, conservatively hiding her nearly porcelain-white skin; the only skin revealed were her perfectly slender hands and her bisected head—she had no nose, no eyes, no ears, no brain, and no consciousness.
Although her head ended right below her eyes, like the top half was sliced off clean, she still stood taller than all the Vietnamese women in the shop.

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A Cypress Tree Has No Shadow: Chapter Two

In Issue 67 by Kevin Gerard Neill

ALLENBY had originally been designed by an Ottoman Empire army engineer to impress the future. At first glance, the barracks looked magnificent: a pile of chiseled stone comprising two tall upper stories stacked above a main floor, each of the wings spreading at least two city blocks to form a massive, four-sided citadel. Justina knew from old photographs seen in Vienna that the wings enclosed a vast courtyard, a setting for military parades or a bloody last stand.

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The Poison Hill

In Issue 67 by Laura Canon

The photograph was square, with white edges, taken with their father’s camera last summer at the lake. Gertrude remembered it well: Louis had posed in his swimsuit, one hand on his hip.
But since then, someone had scribbled all over the picture. Large, crude loops of rough blue ink elaborated her brother’s swimsuit, flaring his trunks into a skirt and blotted his head with frizzy curls, flapper-short.

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The Snitch

In Issue 67 by M.D. Semel

When Javan was around ten years old, his parents took him and his brother to Orchard Beach. It was Javan’s first trip to the beach. The night before the trip, he couldn’t fall asleep. He crawled into bed with his parents and asked them questions. He asked his parents to explain how the beach was made and if it was safe to go there. He asked them why people said the sand at the beach was white when it was really tan.

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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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