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The Hideaway

by Russ Lydzinski

I recognized Heidi from the stamp-sized photograph in the obituary despite the years, and even though her last name was different. How could I not? I’d sketched that face so many times, not only while we were together but for many years after. My surprise was that she’d returned to Pittsburgh.

Often, I’d seen her face in a mall or a restaurant, only to be mistaken. Now, I wondered if at least once it had been her. Seventy years young, died of cancer, survived by two children and an aquarium of fish.

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Queen of Henna

by Phyllis Koppel

It’s hard to be the Queen of Henna in Canada. The frigid climate is unforgiving for a tree meant to grow in temperate climates, yet here I am, in my dingy East Toronto apartment, proudly watering a henna tree I’ve raised from seed. She is the lone survivor of many. I look out the window at grey skies and sunless days (my henna’s death squad), and instead of feeling angry, I feel like a million dollars.

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Departure Delayed

by Peter Oppenheim

I had been avoiding him for weeks, the delivery boy. I caught word of the summons he was charged to convey to me, and I was not overjoyed at the prospect. I had only a few days before our next embarkation, and if I could evade the summons, I might escape its fate . . . at least for one more voyage.

Yet, he pursued . . . no! He stalked me—everywhere!

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The Chaos Drawer

by Elizabeth Genovise

At first it was simply Paul’s absence that left her shattered and aimless, every moment of the day like the sudden drop to hardwood when one descends a staircase and expects there to be one more step at the bottom than there actually is. There were scores of these tiny freefalls, so that two months after her husband’s funeral, Annalee was persistently dizzy, reaching into the bathroom cabinet for the motion sickness pills she used to keep on the ready for their vacations. She was sixty-five years old and had married Paul when she was twenty.

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Where the Light Exists

by Jesus Raul Torres

A man known only as The Client enlists the help of a woman named Blackberry to find someone very special to him. As their journey progresses across a desert filled with enemies, The Client’s past is revealed in flashbacks. A boy awakens on a bridge with no memory of his past. He falls in love with the first person he sees, a beautiful young woman whose name he does not know. She runs off, and the boy follows her. This causes a chain reaction of people to try and stop him at every turn.

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Spur Up Your Pegasus

by David Kennedy

Kate had yet to arrive at a satisfactory arrangement with her husband. Sprague had insisted that Kate spend the summer of ’seventy-nine at the estate in Canonchet, near Narragansett, so that he might have some opportunity to see his children, but Kate knew that Sprague was more likely to spend his time playing billiards in a tavern and would merely pat Willie and the three girls on their heads en route to some drunken dissipation. It was not long before Sprague vanished upon some hunting trip to Maine with his cousin.

Fortuitously, Senator Roscoe Conkling had some legal business in Newport, and it would have been impolite to fail to visit Kate, Rhode Island being such a small state.

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Velodrome

by John Bersin

I want a cigarette.

More than anything else in the indifferent universe, I want a cigarette.

But of course, it is not possible. Even though it is possible, of course.

Instead I lay awake every morning wishing I had a cigarette, waiting for the alarm to ring. I get out of the bed in the morning at five a.m. I shower and shave, or don’t, it doesn’t matter, and after I purge myself, I drink a viscous, green, fruit-and-vegetable smoothie, an execrable American contribution to sports science.

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Water of the Heart

by D. E. Lee

The fish scales had been designed to protect fish from predators but to Valerie they were constant reminders that beasts of prey were ubiquitous. Thin and curved in clear plastic boxes, they lined the walls, topped the tables, and stuffed the closets. Their presence made her aware of her powerlessness against the good intentions of Pru Damphouse. Even at night, lying on her side on the floor, when sleep should have brought comfort, the fish scales violated her from the containers at her head, while the glow of the nightlight sank the room into a kind of vague stillness…

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Pangs of Eternity

by Jeremy Bender

To grow tired of someone is a temporary condition, whereas love is forever.

Everyone has heard the platitude “absence makes the heart grow stronger.” Yet now the masses confront a predicament unheard of – the ability to be too much in touch with the one they love from a distance.

It is easy for one to think that they grow tired of their lover: pictures of yet completed meals, micro insights, and constant anecdotes flood our consciousness.

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