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The Boy with the Lysol-Sprayed Cowlick

Issue 25 by Thomas Weedman

The Examen – a preparation for Confession. To the boy with the pellucid blue eyes and the Lysol-sprayed cowlick, it almost sounds like an exam for men. He does not think he’ll pass. After final reflections, as though time is up and he must put down his yellow #2 pencil, he solemnly exits the pew.

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A Bright Spot

Issue 25 by Chelsea Cambeis

Somewhere along the way, I lost all sense of direction. Life’s become this mundane, necessary task, and I’m growing tired. My brain is fuzzy; I lack enthusiasm. Most would say I’m depressed, but it feels more like I’m running out of steam.

So here I stand, sneakers melting to the cracked sidewalk.

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Beautiful Lies, Wonderful Lies

Issue 25 by Peter Hoppock

Something about the smell of Dr. Schein’s office reminded Larry Dugin of visits to the school nurse when he was a child—white walls, white cabinets, and grey rug; next to where Larry was seated, the syringe disposal box with its tilted lid; the magazines on the table that previous patients had forgotten to return to the waiting room. He lost himself in the history of his own health every time he entered this office. Dr. Schein, standing grim-faced and stiff in front of the lightbox on the opposite wall, was Larry’s oncologist.

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Par Avion

Issue 25 by Mary Vensel White

His mother’s condo still smelled like paint. She’d been moved in a little over two months, having finally sold the house in Bellflower where he and his sister had grown up. Pearl, his sister, had picked up a brochure about the place: “Emerald Villas, an affordable independent-living senior community.” For almost a year, their mother had been on the waiting list for a two-bedroom unit; finally, in April, a Villas rep had called with hearty congratulations—as if it were some final destination lottery—and she’d been settled by June.

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Afterboom

Issue 25 by Carolyn Silverstein

In my head, there is a Knife. The Knife is silver and serrated and wood-handled. It is the Knife Grandma tells Eden to cut the Challah with on Rosh Hashanah, the Knife she’s used since Livi D.’s would-be Bat Mitzvah. It is well loved, like Eden would say, or worn out, like Grandma would, and knows how to handle itself. It is molded to fit my grip perfectly.

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Me and Woody

Issue 25 by Marcia Calhoun Forecki

Nobody loved Woody more than I did. I adored the silky feel of his curly, copper hair. The rough creases on his hands were wild terrain for my fingers to explore. He loved me to scratch his back when he was tired and massage his shoulders when they were sore. Woody was a lean, solid man and if he didn’t have the biggest brain in the county, it didn’t bother me any. He was a genius with engines with his hands generally, and that was enough for me. I loved him first and best.

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Petrakis

Issue 25 by John Etcheverry

Our brightest days are a rich subset of a broader story and the fortunate among us ration a few for the end, savoring them as that final nightfall advances. Petrakis appears to have plenty of life left in him, but his stock of unclouded days is depleted. Nora, his bride of sixty-two years, passed this summer and the combination of his memory outages and the solitude that her absence compels is more than the old man can manage.

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Amnesiac

Issue 25 by Kate Slader

“It’s the only place in the world that has all five species of scallop,” says the grey old man at the table next to us.
I didn’t know there were different species of scallop. I’m eavesdropping.
The man is croaking his words and waving his hands, his fingertips inches away from a thin-stemmed glass filled with a double-pour of the house brand Sauvignon Blanc. I’m dreading the moment he’ll send his wine flying across the room.

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A Piece of Me

Issue 25 by Cathryn Sherman

NETA had a hard time talking about her childhood without saying thank you. Thank you to her Nana and Papaw who finally took them in. To Lottie and Isabell who pampered her, to Henry who kept her warm. She could even thank her father for leaving. The only person she couldn’t thank was her mother.

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Outside Flagstaff

Issue 25 by Matthew Brown

There was a sigh on the other end of the phone, a long nasal sigh, the kind you hear only at the precise moment that someone has had as much of someone else’s shit as they can possibly stand. A woman’s voice spoke: “We buried your Goddamn father six months ago.”
“I know.”
“I’m not gonna bury you.”

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New Mind

Issue 25 by Hunter Blackwell

The room’s mostly dark. A bit of light filters in from the the window next to her head. The fan blows cool air over her. White noise makes her eyelids heavy. Clink. Clink. Clink, the sound of metal—hanging medals for things that don’t matter now— hitting the wall. Two to three seconds of silence between each tap. The ceiling swirls. She blinks, an attempt to reorient herself, but it continues around in her eyes.

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