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Endless M

by Dustin Hendrick

This is my first “solid” memory, by which I mean that I know it happened. I can grasp it firmly with my mind and replay it like an old filmstrip – bad quality, perhaps, but largely intact. It was not a dream. It was not something I saw on television and absorbed. It was not otherwise altered by the unstable physics of childhood recollection.

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Inpatient

by Christine C. Heuner

February. The snow is supposed to start around one P.M., so the school districts have an early dismissal. Your oldest daughter, Meghan, comes home with her shoulders slouched. Her backpack is heavy so this takes some effort. She goes into her room as she always does. Her father, your husband, has bought her everything to make it a haven: a lava lamp, a lighted device that intermittently expels a puff of eucalyptus air, tiny white lights snaking the bed’s metal headboard. A sheet with moons and stars hangs from the ceiling like a hammock. “No wonder she doesn’t want to come out,” you said.

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The Trickster of Mentor, Part II

by David Kennedy

The mood was sour that night in Conkling’s suite at the Grand Pacific Hotel. Conkling had spent the day rallying his men for Grant, loping the aisles of the Glass Palace with furious strides to keep the delegates in line. He had observed with some satisfaction that Platt had placed his arm about the shoulders of Benjamin Harrison of the Indiana delegation, and noted with some irritation Arthur was smoking a cigar with the dregs of the New York delegation, who were already entirely committed to Grant. How wise he had been to take the reins from Arthur!

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A Story of a Murder I Didn’t Commit

by Lazarus Trubman

I was the only diner in this tiny restaurant on the eastside of town, and the only thing that irritated me was the mirror behind bottles. Every time I looked up, I saw myself looking like a portrait of one of my own ancestors: Lazarus Trubman, deep in thought, in a gilt frame. I had circles under my eyes and a few scars on my face; apart from that I looked all right for a man who was liberated from the labor camp in Northern Russia five months ago.

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What I Learned Teaching Literature Inside

by Jennifer Sapio

It is the opposite of ironic to teach Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment inside the Travis County Correctional Complex. It is apropos, apt, appropriate. Perhaps too on the nose. TCCC houses pre-trial and county inmates in a 130-acre facility just east of the Austin-Bergstrom Airport. Pay attention during take off and landing next time you fly into town for SXSW or ACL, and you’ll be able to see the barbed wire.

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Fear of Flying After Erica Jong

by Loren Stephens

I was thirty-one, a mother with a one-year-old son, and a marriage on the rocks. It would take two more years before we filed for divorce, but in the meantime, I was the sole breadwinner, my husband having taken a flyer on producing Broadway theater when the company he worked for downsized and I was six months pregnant. At some point, I told him he should get a job as a taxicab driver to contribute to the household, but he didn’t take too kindly to that suggestion. No surprise, but I was sufficiently exhausted and angry that I had no filter.

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The Binding of Isaac

by Iulia Calota

I remember the bottles. And the flacons. And the blister packs. All neatly lined up on the kitchen counter. I remember her taking a handful of her strongest tablets just before bed and, within minutes, her eyes droopy, mouth like rubber, voice distorted, like a slowed-down turnstile. It was during those few moments of seeing my mother changing from a normal person to a toy that had run out of batteries that I recognised something I wished I could forget.

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The Trickster of Mentor, Part I

by David Kennedy

It was in a mood of intense irritation that Senator Roscoe Conkling arrived in Chicago. Chet Arthur had been sent out in advance, his bulk trundled into a railway carriage like an overstuffed suitcase along with Thomas Platt, but Conkling had little expectation that Arthur would perform any more competently than he had in ’seventy-six…

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Woven Love: How I Found My North

by Anna Hertel

Head tucked between my outstretched arms, I dolphin-dive my way through the blue shallows of Lake Tahoe, one of the oldest lakes in the world, sitting 6,250 feet above sea level. On this ice-crusted September morning, the sun has not yet cleared the tree line in the Sierra Nevada.

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The Radio

by Terese Brasen

In 1974, my mother and Richard Nixon developed thrombosis. By that time, the old radio was broken, and she relied on a square transistor about the size of a jar. First Nixon resigned. My mother dialled into the news to hear his crackly yet smooth voice: “By taking this action, I hope that I will have hastened the start of the process of healing which is so desperately needed in America.”

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Sweet Retribution

by Rebecca Jung

They say that good cooks don’t measure anything, that they have an innate ability to know how much of each ingredient to use. They say that good cooks have signature dishes for which they’re renowned.

As a seven-year old, my criteria for culinary perfection was the ability to make macaroni and cheese and graham-cracker-white-icing sandwiches with so much icing it squeezed out the edges of the cracker when you bit into it. My mom made good macaroni and cheese and graham-cracker sandwiches. And fudge.

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When You Try to Make Sense of a Breakup Through Racism

by Michelle Renee Hoppe

My paintings and art therapy hang loosely on his walls. The felt coloring I did in the hospital washes out to white. It sticks to the fridge still facing the sun. He holds my hands, looking at me with more love when I am sick than when I am well. He holds me and tells me it will be all right. It will be all right.

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Prepare for Departure

by Mark Chesnut

New York City, July 2015

My mother arrived in New York City with a black eye and one arm dangling in a sling.

And by the time the dirty white van finally swerved to a halt after seven hours navigating the highways of New York State, she was clearly not happy.

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The Dragon in the Garden

by Marianna Marlowe

When she is seven, home is a suburban mansion on the outskirts of Manila. It has a deep back garden, aggressively green, encircled by a high stone wall overlain with lush leaves and serpentine vines. Right next door, adjacent to their property, barricaded back by the rough rock, is an empty lot—abandoned after its initial clearing and left to the mercy of tropical flora and fauna.

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Dear James

by M. Betsy Smith

When my son Justin first battled alcoholism, he used music to ease his agony. He played guitar and wrote sensitive, deeply personal songs during those difficult years. As a part of his recovery, he recorded a CD he titled Vinegar and Vigilance. It was apt. His songs told of his loneliness, his prayers, and of loves he lost. His deep voice quivered at times, but his lyrics and skillful guitar playing helped to carry him through to sobriety.

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Kant Skateboard

by Andrew Miller

I had to use the roll-in to get enough speed going up the bank. That was the first hurdle. The kids around me hopped on and went for it. I kept letting them snake in front of me. I needed to understand the physics before I committed. At least with a roll-in, you never lose contact with the ramp. When you drop in, you have to redirect the nose of your skateboard, from horizontal to vertical, using only your gravity, sense of balance, and most importantly, your confidence.

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A Dispatch from Olivia

by David Kennedy

The ladies of the press, by inclination and profession given to skepticism, had appeared at the luncheon anticipating a ghastly masquerade. There had been abundant rumors, which the ladies had been obliged to report in accordance with their duty to their readers, that Kate Chase Sprague was now a Miss Havisham, roaming as a spectre in a cobwebbed and abandoned mansion. Yet these great expectations were confounded once the carriages pulled into the drive. Edgewood had been polished, scrubbed, and manicured such that it nearly gleamed in the spring sunshine.

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I Was Nineteen

by Tammy Peacy

I worked at a pet shop. My boss was forty-two. That’s what he told me. Besides owning the shop, he was also a cop or a DEA agent or maybe in the CIA. I couldn’t then be certain about his stories. He had a cellphone in a time when no one had a cellphone. He might have been married or in the middle of a divorce. He complained of a woman he called his daughter’s mother. He did have a daughter, seven years old, and I know this because he brought her in one day, I think to show off.

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