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Velodrome

Issue 21 by John Bersin

I want a cigarette.

More than anything else in the indifferent universe, I want a cigarette.

But of course, it is not possible. Even though it is possible, of course.

Instead I lay awake every morning wishing I had a cigarette, waiting for the alarm to ring. I get out of the bed in the morning at five a.m. I shower and shave, or don’t, it doesn’t matter, and after I purge myself, I drink a viscous, green, fruit-and-vegetable smoothie, an execrable American contribution to sports science.

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Pangs of Eternity

Issue 21 by Jeremy Bender

To grow tired of someone is a temporary condition, whereas love is forever.

Everyone has heard the platitude “absence makes the heart grow stronger.” Yet now the masses confront a predicament unheard of – the ability to be too much in touch with the one they love from a distance.

It is easy for one to think that they grow tired of their lover: pictures of yet completed meals, micro insights, and constant anecdotes flood our consciousness.

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Water of the Heart

Issue 21 by D. E. Lee

The fish scales had been designed to protect fish from predators but to Valerie they were constant reminders that beasts of prey were ubiquitous. Thin and curved in clear plastic boxes, they lined the walls, topped the tables, and stuffed the closets. Their presence made her aware of her powerlessness against the good intentions of Pru Damphouse. Even at night, lying on her side on the floor, when sleep should have brought comfort, the fish scales violated her from the containers at her head, while the glow of the nightlight sank the room into a kind of vague stillness…

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Adrift and at Risk: Guide

Issue 21 by Yusuf DeLorenzo

What did I, Ettore, know of Algiers when I was swept to sea in the year 1788? What could I know? I was barely more than a boy living in a hammock strung nightly from hooks in a kitchen at a seaside bordello.

My mother died giving birth to me at that bordello, the House of Beautiful Swallows, so she never told me the stories of the ruthless Barbary pirates, the brothers Barbarossa, Dragut, Mezzo Morto, and all the others. But Josephina did, the kindly old lady at the House whose promise to my mother on her deathbed was to raise me as her own. I loved her, I loved the stories she told me, and I loved the pirates.

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Brigida: Chapter One

Issue 21 by Kate Spitzmiller

Marcus did not come home. None of them did.

Five thousand men. The entire Ninth Legion. Gone.

There were rumors. Rumors that the tribes of Caledonia had annihilated them; devoured their lines like the ancient giant Cacus, who consumed live human flesh and displayed human heads on nails outside his cave on the Palatine Hill.

I did not believe in monsters, only in gods and men. And I knew that the Romans had displeased the gods of Britannia, had spilt the blood of the tribes upon her dark, rich soil for generations. The Selgovae, the Parisi, the Carvetii. And the Brigante.

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Unfollowers: Chapter One

Issue 21 by Leigh Ann Ruggiero

Barb Eklund didn’t choose where she was born. She knew no one could. But her birthplace, instead of being something she was passingly grateful for, became a regret lodged between her ribs like the pain of a torn intercostal. Her parents brought her from Maryland to rural Ethiopia when she was four. Barb didn’t understand what she was leaving behind when she boarded the plane: her stuffed cat Oscar, the season of winter, or the red bike with training wheels she rode when winter was in abeyance.

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