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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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A Tale of Two Wallets

by Steve Kowalski

I found a wallet on a sidewalk in the Miracle Mile area of Los Angeles. I might have missed it if it wasn’t white, beautiful white leather reflecting the glow of a distant streetlight. I looked up and down the boulevard. Although lined with multi-story apartment buildings, it was completely empty and eerily quiet. It felt as if the entire city stopped what it was doing to watch my next move.

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Almond Joy

by Cristina Chopalli

I see her as I drive into the grocery store’s parking lot.
Hungry. No food. Please help.
A woman balances atop the lot’s concrete curb, biceps taut, a handwritten sign held above her head.
A toddler rides the woman’s hip. His fingers curl into the sweaty T-shirt across her breasts.
I slow my car.

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Lake Effect: 1963

by Stuart Terman

The driveways on Verona, the street next to ours, were all snowbound, and I walked up to a home whose drive looked in need of a good shoveling. I rang the front doorbell, and Boubi, recognizing me as the paper boy, gave me a thumbs up to clear out her drive. She was a widow, her children were grown, gone with these chores now on her frail shoulders.

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Fathers

by Jim Cavan

As I rocked with Rett the morning he was born, hoping to spark his first earthly dreams with whispered oaths to give him all I have and know, his fatal cancer still an unseen demon in his cells, I thought now and again on what I’d say to my own dad and damn near cried every time. It stemmed partly from the pride of new fatherhood, of the blue eyes and late-April birthdays our trio would share and the laughs and campfires and straight-up Manhattans to come. And then this inflective twinge that I’d never feel further from life’s nascency, from unremembered youth, as I did just then, not even at my deathbed goodbye.

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Formations

by Oksana Marafioti

Love. Vulnerability. One is a ghost without the other.

As children, we’re masters of affection. We overflow with it. Love comes naturally, like the seasonal flu. You hurt us, we love you still. More and fiercely. Like you’re worth saving even if the world gives up on you. Having no idea this gift is precious, we squander it on those who don’t always deserve it, but it matters little, because our hearts are in bloom.

Until the onset of adulthood.

By then, our scars prevent us from blooming too much.

Adulting and vulnerability are well-known oxymorons, not the norm. Once we’ve grown, emotional dignity becomes a commodity.

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Picture Stones

by Susan Niz

On my wrist, a single round bead, white with purple marbling, suspends on a knotted black cord. In one spot, crossing my vein like a rope bridge over a blue river, a single, dull thread wears thin. I hope it will stay on until he returns from Guatemala. With each shower or yank of my sleeve, the bracelet gets weaker. I hold on to it, precarious, as if it will tell me how things will turn out. As if, when he returns, I’ll put it on a silver chain and then things will be safer, better, more secure. As if keeping it will bring him back.

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One More Thing to Make You Proud

by Tara Wine-Queen

My grandmother, called Nanny, was magic.

She saw everything good. If there was an ounce of goodness to be found, no matter how much flesh or how many years of disappointment and weariness it was hidden beneath, she could find that light, and she did. Once found, she would study it shrewdly but briefly, take in its shapes and test the sturdiness of its walls. She learned its contours, and then, sometimes with great delicacy, and sometimes with a great reckless enthusiasm, she would stretch it until those whose eyes were less suited to light-catching could see it, as well, and bask in the warmth of its wholesomeness.

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His Demonstrative Gallantry

by David Kennedy

The distinguished members of the Senate were by now regretting their heartfelt devotion to the business of the people. The session had extended itself well into May, long past the days when the cherry blossoms that so adorn our national capital had bloomed and fallen, and as June wore on the heat became oppressive, then nearly unbearable. Yet the Democratic Party, having assumed the majority in the congressional elections the prior November, had proven incapable of effectively conducting the people’s business.

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