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Finding Water

Issue 30 by Fred First

Water. All my life it came out of a tap every time I turned the knobs on the kitchen sink or wanted a hot shower. It always worked that way, always would. I was an otherwise science-and-planet-aware, touchy-feely tree-hugger type, but took water for granted for thirty years. I confess this. I swam in pools full of the stuff whose existence in this world began the second it left the nozzle of the garden hose or kitchen faucet. This was true until I found water 1981.

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La Vieja, Santa Ana

Issue 30 by Christy Shick

I hadn’t planned on stopping again until after we’d crossed the border. We’d filled the tank and used toilets at a Pemex in Hermosillo. From there it was only a few hours to Nogales, hot dusty hours stretching into desert when a burst of pain, like a metal hammer bit into my driving heel and shot like lightening up my hip.

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It’s Spectacular

Issue 30 by Rachel Walton

Sitting upright in bed, wearing his blue checked, button-down shirt, his long, spindly, legs outstretched, covered by his crisp cotton pajamas, my husband’s eyes were closed. His arms were slightly bent at his sides and reaching forward just a bit. His palms were turned upward toward the sky. The room was silent. Some may have seen it as a moment of confusion. I saw a moment of profound communion. Or a gesture of gratitude. It was a holy moment.

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The Law of Return

Issue 30 by Leeore Schnairsohn

My father was playing guitar with Guns N’ Roses when he died in a nightclub fire. The club was an old airline hangar packed with polyurethane to hold in the A/C, which was running against an epic Florida summer. Someone, it was conjectured, lit a cigarette in defiance of the law. Meanwhile my dad was playing Izzy Stradlin’s old parts: rhythm lines, easy to miss. His fate was sealed in seconds. As was yours.

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Twisted Fate

Issue 30 by Linda Boroff

Like compliant worker bees, Brian and I reported for our blood tests even before they became mandatory. His employer had sent out a message offering two-for-one discounts at local restaurants for showing a test receipt. The message reminded us that getting tested was our patriotic duty and a big step toward bringing the epidemic to an end—the standard drivel.

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All Sorrows Can Be Borne

Issue 30 by Loren Stephens

He told me that our son, Hisashi, would be better off living with his sister and her husband in America; I was too weak to argue with him. My mother said I had lost my mind to give up my child. Her judgment of me was cruel, but I knew she was right.
“You are like a monk for three days,” she said.
“What do you mean?”
“You give up too easily. You carried your baby for nine months; you took care of him for three years; and after all that you give him away. What was the point of that struggle? Do you not love him, Noriko?”

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Randine: Letters to a Midwife

Issue 30 by Robin H. Lysne

Randine clutched her belly, seized by a spasm of pain unlike anything she had ever felt. She was terrified. She wasn’t sure what to do, what to expect. Would she die? Would her baby survive? She wanted her mother—Mama! She would know what to do. She remembered this dream as though she were still in it, felt the stab of their absence, tried to hold on to an image of her parents loving her. But when she looked again, only Hella and Holda were smiling.

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There and Then

Issue 30 by Randy Kraft

Late one night, dangerously late, at that hour when stillness and darkness cloak the sleepless, and when an aching heart silences reason, Angie posted to Twitter.
The days are long, the nights are cold. I miss you, still.
As a rule, Angie does not speak from the heart, not in writing, and certainly not on social media, which she largely disdains. She’s a scholar.

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Graham

Issue 30 by Joyce Myerson

“When I lost the woman I loved, I knew it was because she was afraid of me. I saw it in her eyes… the fear….”
This was how I began my first ever face-to-face colloquy with my first ever and only psychotherapist at forty-six years of age. She thought I was talking about my wife from whom I was recently separated.

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The Prince’s Gargoyles

Issue 30 by Maria Thompson Corley

They were circling again, their leathery wings flapping slowly, noiselessly. Through a small square window lodged high in a stone wall of my cottage, I could see a large gargoyle passing just in front of me, so close that I could have touched its gray, scaly hide or wrapped my fingers around its slender neck if not for the barrier between us.

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Nyama

Issue 30 by Glenn Schiffman

“Put lice on pillow,” Anan said. “Efa woman annoy you, put lice on pillow. Dat’s how you break da connection.”
Anan and I were sitting on a bench on the quay by the St. Laurence River.
“Is that an old country adage?”
“I don’t know dis word, adage. You want get rid of da old lady, put lice on pillow. Next you know, she kick you out.”

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Pecan Pie and Psychosis

Issue 30 by Lara Colrain

Please don’t be dead.
Yet June knows the words in her head are hollow. Insubstantial. He has either done it right this time, or he hasn’t, and she can’t do shit about it if it’s the former. She hates it in here. She and Johnny always joked that the hospital’s waiting room was like depression cramped into airless chemical space. It makes her want to retch. As if she is looking into a glass of curdled milk and knows she has no choice but to gulp the lumps down.

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The Conspiracy

Issue 30 by Robert Klose

I was not alone. Every resident I knew had toyed with giving up. Even though I was several years older than the others it was still, sometimes, simply too much: the workload, the hostile or uncooperative patients, the long hours, the smug attending physician who, even at this juncture of our education, conveyed the impression that if we so much as considered quitting, maybe we should.

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Purity

Issue 30 by Robert Stone

Edward and Marcia had got into the habit of walking along the cliff-top at dusk. What, here on Auskerry, Edward was tempted to call the gloaming. The sultry day was much cooler now and, indeed, would soon be cold. At this latitude the summer sky was still pale, but the first stars could already be made out. Marcia had something she wanted to tell Edward and Edward did not want to hear it.

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Von Lindemann’s Proof

Issue 30 by Michael Peppergrass

The warehouses lining the arrival and departure lanes of the space port are constructed out of red brick instead of the traditional glass and steel common to the colony of New Guadeloupe. They tower high above Leif, as he dashes in between them through an alleyway. Surely, he cannot keep this tempo up for much longer.

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“Named,” “Luz” and “Body Memory”

Issue 30 by Gary Boelhower

Ten minutes out of the harbor and already
Someone sights the singular spray that means
We are in their presence. We line the railing
Ready to take communion.

Two young fin whales swimming shallow
Like some cosmic dance, arch breathe dive
Spray spume shine all grace
And the gladness rises in me

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