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Canned

Issue 47 by Elizabeth Powers

When I wake up in the morning, the snow has stopped falling, but outside my window I see a big mound of the stuff in the driveway. I rub my eyes and sigh, realizing that the mound of snow is actually a car and that I’m going to have to dig it out fast if I don’t want to be late to work. I throw on my khakis and dark green shirt, Harold’s Grocery sewn on the left breast pocket in yellow, loopy script, and then stare back at the car just for an instant to contemplate the freezing temperature of creamed corn.

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Code Red

Issue 47 by Andrew MacQuarrie

It sounded like a creaky door. Or a lazily deflating balloon. Or a territorial humpback moaning out its claim to the waters of the North Pacific.
What it didn’t sound like was lungs. At least not healthy, normal lungs.
Mai Fitzgerald closed her eyes and adjusted her grip on the stethoscope. It was all there—the prolonged expiratory phase, the diffuse high-pitched wheezing, the hoarse… junkiness classic for chronic bronchitis. She imagined the patient’s breath, hot and frantic, scrambling to make it through her tight, scarred airways.

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At the Edge of a Long Lone Land

Issue 47 by Ben Woestenburg

I used to watch her walk the Coast Path every morning through my grandad’s old spyglass. Sometimes, she’d stand rooted to one place, looking out past Pordenack Point at one of the small fishing boats, or a merchant ship, and I could picture her in my imagination as a young Penelope searching for her Ulysses. It struck me at times that perhaps she was looking for a piece of herself out there—that maybe she’d given away a piece of her heart, or perhaps misplaced it.

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The Brown Man

Issue 46 by Frank Haug

The Brown Man collapsed. Tan dust rose up in plumes from the desert ground. He sucked at the speckled air with stiff and halting gasps. All the muscles in his body were tired, especially his legs. He struggled to gather himself and get moving again. On this last trip he’d barely been able to get across the river. Years of wandering had left him thin and ragged and weak.

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The Witch Window

Issue 46 by Rhiannon Catherwood

“Dad’s dead” are the first words of any substance that my sister has said to me in ten years. The phone call came at 5:34 A.M. It started with “hello” and “that is you, isn’t it Jimmy?” and “don’t hang up.” But we came pretty quickly to “Dad’s dead.” Those are the words that stuck.

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Lettie

Issue 46 by Molly Seale

He left her with six children, a few acres of poor farm clay, no money, and a house plain and sturdy. “You’ll have to send them away, Lettie,” the relatives told her. “There’s an orphanage over in Masonville. You can’t keep them.” They told her this when he was barely gone, his body cold but not yet in the ground.

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A Compromising Photograph

Issue 45 by Sarah Roff

It was six o’clock on an August morning when an old war hero hobbled up to the front door as Anni was sitting in the kitchen drinking a cup of the bitter chicory that now stood in for coffee. Anni was listening to a bird and trying to decide what kind of warbler it was when its song was drowned out by the sharp trilling of the bell, a signal that traveled from the front door of the big house down a cable in the hall to the kitchen, where a series of clappers mounted on the side wall vibrated with alarm. She stood up from the table. Her mother had come down from upstairs, where she had been putting an inexperienced young housemaid through her paces. There was murmuring in the hallway that passed into the parlor. A few minutes later, the front door opened again, and the old soldier took his leave in low tones, his single boot crunching on the gravel as he retreated down the path.

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The Tenant

Issue 45 by Melinda Keathley

When the doorbell rang, Shelley looked at the grandfather clock, wiped her mouth and hands with her napkin, placed her plate in her lap, and with one fluid motion reversed and turned her wheelchair out from the kitchen table. She rolled (the term she most often used to reference her method of self-propulsion) to the sink where she placed the plate to be loaded in the dishwasher later. It was 8:45 a.m. The showing was early, but Shelley appreciated the potential tenant’s punctuality.

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Eagle Beach

Issue 45 by Jim Fairhall

Toward the end of the monsoon, after humping the green-roofed mountains and the elephant-grass hills southwest of Hué so long that they’d become my home, I got a rear job. There was an opening in the security platoon at Eagle Beach: I’d finish my tour of duty there. This was a lucky break, since the Army could just as well have made me a clerk in muddy Phu Bai, the rear area of my battalion.

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a galaxy of fractured souls

Issue 45 by Edwardo Pérez

The ethereal stream ferried us to the Hub – a galactic repository for interrupted existence, a depot collecting the chaff of every species in the cosmos, a harbor for abandoned souls needing to belong. Didn’t matter what system you were from or how you were expelled. We all found refuge in each other’s exile.

Of course, not every soul felt at home. Some chose dissipation, others preferred isolation. Most of us just tried to quell the pain (even the soul-gangs were only looking to assuage the agony), but Śevvi had a different plan.

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How the Legend Ends

Issue 45 by Matthew Dentice

The sky had been an unusually brilliant shade of blue that day. Not that it mattered much now. Billowing smoke rendered it a kind of sooty grey against the approaching twilight. At least, that is how it looked in the small bit of sky which was visible through the high bows of the trees. A harsh, pungent smell wafted on the early evening breeze. The smell of burning.

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Charlie’s Place

Issue 45 by Leane Cornwell

Low clouds parted briefly giving weak winter sunlight a chance to reach old Charlie, offering welcomed warmth. Perched on Charlie’s head was the old straw hat he wore any time he was outdoors, and he pushed it down to just above his ears before cautiously stepping off his front porch onto an ice covered walk. A tin Folgers coffee can tucked under his left arm.

Charlie’s front walk ran out ten feet before connecting with the town’s cement sidewalk, which eventually ended in the downtown section of small Howard, Nebraska. Charlie’s mailbox lived out here. He didn’t receive much mail but getting to it was risky business in winter.

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Sighting Loveland

Issue 45 by Linda Heller

When Della was thirteen and standing at the ironing board, her father walked in and said, “Change your dress. Your father is coming.”

“You’re my father,” she said.

The man told her no.

Change your dress. Your father is coming. How long had it taken him to say that? Ten seconds? Twenty? He was commanding and spoke slowly. No one dared interrupt him. So then it took twenty seconds to give her dark hair a new meaning, to make it a wedge between her and her milky brothers and sisters. Imagine the shock of such news, the sudden question of whether anything was what it appeared to be.

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Something Wicked

Issue 45 by Elsie Vandevere

They told me that no old house in the country was without a story, that they all held a long legacy full of intrigue, disaster, mystery, and scandal. I had even heard more macabre, whispered tales of specters on the moors and in the corridors alongside overwhelming family portraits and suits of armor and marble busts, but soon talk of homes was lost in talk of gloves and in flower arrangements, which it seemed held a much greater significance. Marriage was the topic of the day, not hauntings and secrets.

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Valentina

Issue 45 by Lucina Stone

“Good afternoon. Could you kindly let Maritza know that Val is here to see her?” Val observed the woman at the counter look her over with big almond-shaped eyes drawn tightly in suspicion. Perhaps her polite demeanor was throwing the receptionist off her game.

“Yeah. Wait here.” The receptionist walked through a beaded curtain to the back. “Yo, Maritza, some lady is here to see you. Val or whatever her tight-ass name is.”

Val could hear laughter in the back. Her mother’s cackle was hard not to hear; it was usually the loudest, the most obnoxious.

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Unfair Advantage

Issue 45 by Daniel Chawner

“He’s screwing up,” said the voice in Eileen’s ear. “He’s going to lose the mark.”

Eileen frantically typed send apps now on her iPad. A server appeared from the compact kitchen and placed a bowl of roasted cauliflower and a plate of sliced cheeses with olives and honeycomb on a wine barrel table.

“Gentlemen, let me tell you about our starters.” Eileen watched from her seat at the bar as the black-haired, wide-hipped server launched into a description of the food. Bright midday sunlight filled the small, high-ceilinged wine bar. Eileen shifted slightly on the barstool to block the light and remove the glare from the iPad screen. One half of the screen displayed a video feed of Punit glancing at his phone, the other half a chat window.

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The Ruler of the Army

Issue 44 by André Fleuette

I woke in darkness and cold and listened to the keening of the wind as it tore at the walls of the staging building where we had taken shelter. It became known as Walaka. The Storm. The phrase, that word “storm” is inadequate.

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