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Not a Child’s Game

Issue 31 by Phyllis Reilly

Erin goes to Coney Island. The year is 1952.
Long before the bus makes the familiar turn towards the shore, she can smell Sheepshead Bay. The saltwater, combined with steam clams and the scent of cotton candy, makes her nauseous. As they approach Coney Island, Erin looks out the window and watches the people walking along the boardwalk. The August heat hangs like a weight over the day, making everyone move in slow motion like they are stuck in wet cement.

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Not Jack

Issue 31 by E. Farrell

“I don’t believe in God.”
That’s the first thing Jack Reed says in class. Not surprising really, Mickey Powell thinks. Most years there is someone, more often a guy than a girl, who wants to define the terms of engagement on the first day, to get the battle, so to speak, onto ground he felt safe on. And what do kids know about God, anyway? What does anyone know?

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Possession

Issue 31 by Pat Hanratty

“You’re awake, Ronnie,” the big woman said. She was sitting at the foot of my bed. A man, decidedly less portly, was standing next to her, smiling. Who were these people? The room seemed out of focus. I couldn’t understand why they were calling me ‘Ronnie,’ when my name was Harry. And where was my lovely Monique? What in the hell was going on?

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There and Then

Issue 30 by Randy Kraft

Late one night, dangerously late, at that hour when stillness and darkness cloak the sleepless, and when an aching heart silences reason, Angie posted to Twitter.
The days are long, the nights are cold. I miss you, still.
As a rule, Angie does not speak from the heart, not in writing, and certainly not on social media, which she largely disdains. She’s a scholar.

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Graham

Issue 30 by Joyce Myerson

“When I lost the woman I loved, I knew it was because she was afraid of me. I saw it in her eyes… the fear….”
This was how I began my first ever face-to-face colloquy with my first ever and only psychotherapist at forty-six years of age. She thought I was talking about my wife from whom I was recently separated.

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This Is How We Walk on the Moon

Issue 29 by Jared Green

It wasn’t until the fourth or fifth time she played Iris’ voicemail that it dawned on Satya just how long she had gone without leaving her narrow slice of South Ealing Road. It took several more times before the full meaning of it sank in.
Satya…I know you probably don’t want to talk, but this is not just your daily motivational, so please listen to me: I just got out of Waterloo Station. Simon isn’t there anymore. They’ve replaced him with someone new. I’m sorry, but I thought you should know.

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Of All the Wonders We Have Seen

Issue 29 by Jamey Gallagher

The young man working the two-pump gas station at the corner of Main and 443 stopped a black minivan with an upraised hand so he could fill Annie’s gas can. His narrow face and weak chin gave him away as a Scanlan, but she had no idea which one. Mickey? Eddie? Tommy? Or was he old enough to be Mick, Ed or Tom? He lifted weights and was cock-proud of his broad chest and thick biceps, one of which was tagged with an eagle tattoo, a screaming patriotic bird of prey, talons extended. He looked at her sideways as he eased the nozzle into the can.

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Down by the Bay

Issue 29 by Rebecca Amiss

July 15, 1954. Duckett, Louisiana.
The waves crashed against the dock of Hangman’s Bay, sloshing water on its rickety edge. The sun had long gone down and now all that lit the way was a small star off in the horizon. Luellen Temperance and Tessie Sinclair screeched in freed delight as they ran faster than their ten-year-old legs could carry them.

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The Fourteenth Child

Issue 29 by Sylvia Schwartz

My eyes, now watered by regret, find little pleasure sketching. The last time I tried, my fountain pen punctured my drawing sending tears of black ink streaming down the page. I must tell this story without the forgiveness of an artist’s eye that sees only what it wants.

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Goodrich

Issue 28 by Rachel Browning

A few miles off the interstate, along a pot-holed county road heading into the woods, I pass the intersection where Uncle Mitch wrapped his car around a pin oak. I wince, feel the pulse in my neck quicken, then exhale the memory and refocus on the task at hand, the reason I’m on this God-forsaken stretch of road. I guess I’ve trained myself to ignore the impulse to revisit the sequence of events flowing from my choices that day. The day Aunt Bella died.

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Unwearied in That Service

Issue 28 by Tom DeConna

I could use a staple gun to fasten the angled pieces of the wooden frame because it would be faster. But I don’t mind. I drill elfin holes, one-eighth of an inch, and I bore the holes into the wood, not with an electric drill, but with a manual hand drill, the kind with a crank. This also takes more time; however, I like working with my hands. It’s during these moments when I discover myself by being the farthest away from myself; with windows open to morning air and morning light.

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Musicians

Issue 28 by Robert Appelbaum

The world was in upheaval, and there was no going back. Or not in upheaval, exactly. There was no heaving and there was no certainty about an “up.” But every day it seemed that the world was being torn up, shredded, and discarded; crumbled up into little balls and tossed away; reduced to trash. But then again it was being remade, day by day, into something new.

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The DeDramafi

Issue 27 by Jhon Sanchez

I grabbed Alberto’s wrist and explained to him the difference between the DeDramafi and a watch: “The orange bar indicates that your body is acting abnormally.” I told him that the DeDramafi helps us deal with the drama queens.
He didn’t believe me, even though his arms looked as if they’d been stung by a jellyfish.

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The Good Samaritan

Issue 27 by Jo-Anne Rosen

The five children were waiting for their mother to come out of the Amerikanische Packetfuhrt ticketing office. They sat on a bench in birth order, the two girls first in white pinafores over high-collared navy-blue smocks; the three boys in navy and white sailor suits. Their luggage was stowed under the bench.
Sora had been left in charge of her younger siblings. She leaned forward, gripping the basket on her lap that held their provisions as if it were a life jacket and she, already at sea.

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La Chica Dura

Issue 27 by Darius Powell

It wasn’t until she felt the snap, crackle, and pop in her knee that Melany Reyes knew this part of her life was over. Under normal circumstances she would never tap out but this was different.
Even though the outside world regarded her as an overnight success who had come out of nowhere, Melany knew it was a matter of fact. She knew all along she’d be an awesome MMA fighter and had proven her point.

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Portero

Issue 26 by John Bersin

It could only have happened in a country like ours, where the jungle and the streets are undivided from one another, and the fetid undergrowth of the earth is indistinguishable from the brown-clouded, smog-canopied sky. This nation, knocked together like a lean-to from the detritus of the ancient-extinguished empire by once poor nineteenth-century libertadores who strutted along as victors in high collars and brocade, could only have produced a Rogelio.

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Berliner Pretender

Issue 26 by Charli Spier

Stephanie followed her boyfriend to Berlin in the fall of ‘65. The conversation went a little like this:
Stephanie, I’m moving back to Berlin. Come with me?
Why are you going back all of a sudden?
My grandmother is sick.
I thought you hated her.
Ja, I do. Will you come?
Yes, I will.

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