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death, at work

Issue 20 by Nicholas Eveneshen

“Well then, Andrew, ought we to start with the basics? Please, take a seat.”
I had never met Bill from Fleet Safety before, but his presence disturbed me. The main office door to our left was closed, the thin light at the bottom barely visible. Bill had spread out his documents on the table before us and now sat with his hands folded, expectant. Steam rose out of the cup beside him. His suit was as black as the coffee he drank.

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Tidy Hair on a Boat

Issue 20 by Simon Lowe

“I’m chock full of cancer,” said Mrs Winston, sat in Patty’s salon.
“I’m sorry to hear that Mrs Winston.”
“Agony it is.”
“Some cancers aren’t so bad though, are they, these days?”
“Who told you that?”
Trey had a friend. People said she was going to die. Trey visited her friend after work and sat on a bean bag, consoling her with optimistic words and cups of tea. The cancer had a name similar to Trey’s maths teacher, Mr Hodgkins. The cancer came and went. Her friend recovered. Trey felt she had been misled.

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Peninsula

Issue 20 by John Herbert

They were both shocked when the letter arrived, the stationery matt and generous, unlike the crabbed hand it bore. The pages, when Róisín opened it, gave off the stale reek of cigarette smoke.
‘Who’s it from?’ Sheila asked rubbing her hair with a towel.
‘Only Guillame Le – fecking – Quennec,’ Róisín said with a grin. ‘Says he’d love to come and read at Peninsula next month from his new book.’

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Flight

Issue 20 by Wendy Tatlonghari Burg

So that was it; her sister was dying. Riza received the call this morning from her niece in D.C. She was expected to go to Manila. Her daughter Melanie was already there, sleeping on a cot in the hospital room. Riza shut her eyes tight and rubbed her forehead with her fingers. She searched her mind for a reason to stay. What could she tell them?

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Sisters

Issue 20 by Linda Butler

Janie was dead. For real this time.
Connie rounded the familiar curve at Hooper Hill Road, pulled over to let an impatient driver pass, and used the moment to once again check her rear-view mirror. They said she’d get used to it but she hadn’t.

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Audible

Issue 20 by John Bersin

At the end of an appropriate period of polite applause, Ryne Blades touched the knot of his tie, adjusted the microphone, and put on his reading glasses. He paused briefly to look out over the assembled freshmen in the campus theater. This was his biggest speech of the year.

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Controlled Burn

Issue 20 by Julie Sellers

The ranchers in the Flint Hills called it a controlled burn, insinuating that with sufficient intention they could master the elements. But Rebecca knew better—an unexpected change of the wind, a jumped fireguard, the barest instant of carelessness, and the ravenous pasture fires set in the region each spring could reduce such smugness to nothing but ashes. Her earliest memory was of fire; her earliest loss was to fire; fire had forged her, for better or worse, into the person she was.

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Space Elephants and Giraffes

Issue 20 by Tim Ryan

HANNA was cold. The fine red hair on her arms stood on end. Goosebumps. The unicorn on her shirt pranced on its tiny patch of grass with every gust of wind. Dark clouds had rolled in above her. Rain was coming, she could smell it. She wanted to be down from this metal arch. When she had finally climbed all the way to the top, each blue rung cold on her hands, except where the paint was chipped – still cold, just not blue, she realized an important part of the climb was unconsidered: getting back down.

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The Crash

Issue 20 by Gregory Voss Jr.

The jetliner, a bone-white Airbus A320 with a fat, blue-brand logo, hobbled over the neighborhood, wings waggling under the lemon sun. There was smoke, a lot of it, coming from the right-wing engine, and the dark contrail was an evil pencil mark crossing the cloudless mountain sky. Neighbors, alerted by a sudden cacophony, ran out onto their front porches and stared at death looming overhead. Children playing on front lawns dropped their balls and bikes and ran for the arms of their parents.
But Nick just stared at the inbound jet. He didn’t move, even as the nose looked to bore directly into his eighty-pound frame.

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The 9th

Issue 20 by Roberta Levine

An ice cream parlor with wrought iron chairs and tables had recently opened at Northland, an open-air mall located just across the border from Detroit. Sylvia, a widow in her sixties, had read about the place and told her younger sister Lottie about it. They’d decided to go there after Lottie’s first appointment with Dr. B. Since then, if only for the cheer of the red and white striped walls, the two had stopped in even if Lottie could only swallow a few sips of her float.

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A Matter of Touch

Issue 20 by M. Betsy Smith

I stare at my cell phone in a sick state of disbelief. I had missed Justin’s one call. He left a message that I play again, hoping it’s not real.
“Mom, how did I get here?”
I hit stop unable to listen to it in its entirety.
“I don’t know,” I whispered.
I’m not sure I can do this anymore, being privy to his suffering and the hell he lives in. It’s too hard. But I am the one he needs; the one he reaches out to, his mother. I know that if I abandon him he won’t survive.

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Shadow Boxing

Issue 20 by Laura Iodice

The room is dark; a large queen-sized bed sits in its center. The Old Man who occupies it is propped up on a pile of pillows, the skin on his cheeks sagging like so many yards of curtain valance; his eyelids lowered to half-mast; his mouth yapping up and down like a marionette puppet whose strings have been pulled by too many hands.

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Passing Silent Messages

Issue 20 by Susan Dashiell

Miss Dinuzzio and I sat catty-corner in snug armchairs with three stacked nesting tables between us. She removed the glass bowl from the tabletop tattooed with faded cup rings.
“Do you have any questions?”
“Nope. I think I’m okay.” The job was straightforward. I would step in as Mother’s companion, so Miss Dinuzzio could teach her Saturday morning piano lessons in peace.

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The Monster Mash

Issue 20 by Daniel Bartkowiak

Rain drips from the awning, the constant patter, late December up north you get snow, late December down south you get rain. Strings of red and green bulbs hang zig-zagged over the dark and puddled road. Think fog and mist and shadows. Think gaseous orange sky and shrill nameless voices and the strange feeling, because it’s a feeling after all, not a thought nor a string of contemplation, but a feeling of imminence cast out by the damp air and prickling the skin’s hairs; a foreboding,…

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Number 12 rue Sainte-Catherine

Issue 20 by Roberta Gates

The weather is cold and sleety when André Deutsch picks up his briefcase full of cash and heads for the UGIF office. Mondays are always a trial for him. On those days (allotment days) he has to lug up to 30,000 francs through Old Lyon with its medieval streets and narrow soot-stained buildings. André has never been especially brave (he was a yeshiva boy, an easy target for the roughnecks in his town of Borsec), but walking alone through this part of the city has never been safe. There are simply too many traboules.

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The Visitors

Issue 20 by J.D. Puett

Quietly and swiftly the canoe marked its early morning passing with an undulating seamless wake on the surface of the water. With no breeze the small lake was motionless except for the temporary trail left by the canoe. In the distance belted kingfishers and alder flycatchers darted above, and the cry of a bald eagle from a tree at lakeside occasionally pierced the morning stillness.

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