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Called Home

Issue 46 by Diane S. Jarrett

Screened doors slamming and the calls of “Can you play now?” echoed between the houses on Rose Lane during Raleigh summers in the late 1950s and early ‘60s. Sometimes it was hard to tell which child lived in which house.

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Why I Couldn’t Embrace the Catholic Church

Issue 46 by Michael McQuillan

Childhood trauma and immoral exemplars in teen years pushed me from the Catholicism that meant much to my mother. The above-altar crucifix with blood dripping from the tortured body of Christ at the Church of Saints Philip and James in the Bronx where I often spent Sundays lies vivid in memory.

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To Where We Came From

Issue 46 by Richard Lin

I realize that Jacqué is probably not the best influence. Troy likely is. Despite being whitebread, Troy is as wholesome as multigrain. However, there is an edge to Jacqué that I enjoy. With him, I am Rick, cool and tough. As my first nonwhite friend, Jacqué innately understands what it is like to grow up amongst those that do not look like me or understand the culture of my parents. True, he and I look nothing alike, and the cultures of our people are vastly different. However, the experience of immigrants’ sons is near universal.

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Breathing

Issue 46 by Charlotte Evans

“It’s never really over between us, is it?”

He looked at me, smoothing the hair back from my forehead. My cheeks flushed as soon as the words left my lips. I hadn’t meant to say it out loud, but that’s what had been running through my head.

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The Heater

Issue 44 by Micaela Edelson

It’s late October and the cold has begun. Normally, the winter comes, the world freezes, and by the Spring, the frigidity of dormancy melts and the earth is reborn again.

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Lightbulb

Issue 44 by Jon Shorr

It was during one of those Rockford Files car chases on TV that Mrs. Leonard Y. Silver knocked on my door. I didn’t hear it at first because Mrs. Silver’s three knocks coincided perfectly with that three-chord banjo stinger…

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Birdsong

Issue 44 by Jennifer Fox

I had never heard anything quite like it before, yet there was something familiar about it. It was almost songlike, this noise, punctuated with agony and mournfulness.

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Where is Love?

Issue 44 by Michael McQuillan

An aspirational God is manifest in an infant’s birth, the sun’s warmth, a shoreline’s rippling waves. It appeals to conscience, evokes compassion, succumbs to the primal force of base behavior. Order and chaos, hope and longing, love and indifference recycle themselves.

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The Playlist

Issue 44 by M. Betsy Smith

I knelt in front of the oak cabinets, the knees of my jeans instantly saturated by the soaking wet carpet. I was so tired, but I had to get his record albums out.

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Learning German in Central Pennsylvania

Issue 43 by Valerie Little

“I thought of you last night,” Professor H says nonchalantly, studying me as I drape my houndstooth printed coat over his office loveseat. A Tetris of stacked papers, folders, and CDs make sitting on said loveseat impossible. Except for that one time when he cleared it off so I could sleep while he worked on his book about Schumann and Brahms. Even after the innumerable hours we’ve prized in this office, I still don’t always know how to read his particular kind of strange. Taking my usual seat across from H, I feel a flash self-consciousness, wanting to hide the shape of my body.

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The Sum of Our Differences Equals Mom

Issue 43 by Andrew Sarewitz

Just as a person may have unexpected contradictions to his temperament, two very different men can each mirror an individual they know well. My oldest sibling told me he sees himself as being a lot like our mother. It’s not that I didn’t believe him, I simply thought I was the one who wore the analogous traits. Since my brother and I practically live opposing lives, I hadn’t thought we both could carry on Mom’s personality. Mom died in 2014.

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The Runner

Issue 42 by Julie Labuszewski

The track meet ended late in the afternoon that day. She and a handful of her teammates in victory blue track uniforms gathered around the front of the high school waiting for their rides. She was fourteen, a freshman. She didn’t know then that she would be the last one left.
A steady stream of cars, turning off the well-traveled frontage road, rushed up the hill and into the U-shaped driveway to pick up their athletes. One by one, they went home with their parents. Gradually, daylight faded and the adjacent parking lot for administrators, teachers, and seniors emptied.

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The Beauty of Authenticity

Issue 42 by Lisa Novick

Early one summer evening, my mother and I are sitting side by side on a glider in my backyard, sipping glasses of wine and chatting, staring out at my native garden. At the edge of the patio, square-spotted blue butterflies are laying eggs among the buckwheat’s pompoms of cream-colored blossoms. A mockingbird is in the elderberry, inspecting clusters of ripening fruit. Above the flowering wands of white sage, hummingbirds are skirmishing, dipping and diving, scolding each other with intense chirps as they duel for nectar.

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Panda Story

Issue 42 by Golnaz Moeini

I went to China to hug a panda.
When I first learned that the Sichuan province in China is the only place on the planet that allows physical contact with panda bears, I knew immediately that I had to go.
My decision to visit the birthland of the giant panda had nothing to do with a vacation from my busy schedule but everything to do with a connection to a world that was raw, genuine, and innocent.

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On the Thigh, Write the Enemy’s Given Name

Issue 41 by Kathryn Stam

Caveat Lector (Let the Reader Beware).
There may be dangerous rocks in this lake. There may be swift currents. The water looks smooth, but the chasm is unfathomable and the path is precipitous (Sandberg, 1894).
I suppose you are curious about how to subdue your enemy. I mean, to really quash and quell them. Is that right? First, you’ll want to think about your enemy. What do they look like? Sound like? Smell like?

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Carving Compassion

Issue 41 by Linda MacDonald

It was cantankerous Tony who got me thinking about suicide again—the middle-aged widower played by Ricky Gervais in the Netflix series, “After Life,” struggles to move forward after losing his wife to cancer. When he finally succumbs to peer pressure and goes on a blind date, he’s set up with a contented widow. Rather than commiserate with him, she challenges him on his desperation and desire to just put an end to it all. Suicide is easy, she claims.

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Some Girls Have Auras of Bright Colors

Issue 41 by Sandee Gertz

The first thing you need to know is that some girls have auras of bright colors, but mine were silver stars on walls, tears when I sat at mother’s bay window, and sometimes an odd feeling of time over a never-ending space, where I followed a dark hole, layer through layer, opening to a time before me, God, and a time before that, until the emptiness settled into stones in the pit of my stomach and I had to touch anything: a polished shoe, a porcelain cup, to be sure I was in this world before it shifted and fell.

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Reflections on 9/11 and Leaving New York

Issue 41 by Alison Relyea

New York City is a love story. It is beauty, pain, concrete and air with millions of little lives col-liding and crisscrossing into one giant ecosystem. It transcends explanation but we know its energy when we feel it and it is unmistakably New York. In our twenties, brunches led to exploring Chelsea galleries, record stores on St. Marks Place, bowling at Bowlmor and moules frites at Felix. Later we traded middle-of-the-night diners for middle-of-the-night feedings, with New York the backdrop to our changing, shifting, evolving lives.

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