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Beautiful Lies, Wonderful Lies

by Peter Hoppock

Something about the smell of Dr. Schein’s office reminded Larry Dugin of visits to the school nurse when he was a child—white walls, white cabinets, and grey rug; next to where Larry was seated, the syringe disposal box with its tilted lid; the magazines on the table that previous patients had forgotten to return to the waiting room. He lost himself in the history of his own health every time he entered this office. Dr. Schein, standing grim-faced and stiff in front of the lightbox on the opposite wall, was Larry’s oncologist.

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Par Avion

by Mary Vensel White

His mother’s condo still smelled like paint. She’d been moved in a little over two months, having finally sold the house in Bellflower where he and his sister had grown up. Pearl, his sister, had picked up a brochure about the place: “Emerald Villas, an affordable independent-living senior community.” For almost a year, their mother had been on the waiting list for a two-bedroom unit; finally, in April, a Villas rep had called with hearty congratulations—as if it were some final destination lottery—and she’d been settled by June.

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Afterboom

by Carolyn Silverstein

In my head, there is a Knife. The Knife is silver and serrated and wood-handled. It is the Knife Grandma tells Eden to cut the Challah with on Rosh Hashanah, the Knife she’s used since Livi D.’s would-be Bat Mitzvah. It is well loved, like Eden would say, or worn out, like Grandma would, and knows how to handle itself. It is molded to fit my grip perfectly.

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Me Too?

by Joseph Allen Boone

Madison / fall 2016
Out from under the cover of city-noise, Marjorie heard a strange voice call her name, then whistle slowly. Three mocking syllables: a long dactyl of whistled sound, a seductive musical slide.
Third time tonight: it brought her to an abrupt halt, and standing astride her Trek racer, she scanned the Saturday night crowd that set the sidewalk in waves of motion. For the moment she ignored the stream of traffic to her left, the stroke of oncoming headlights fixing her in the lightly falling chill mist. Her eyes roved over the sea of faces, laughing, celebratory despite the weather—and she, shivering unaccountably, why this foolishness?

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Interviews in the Days to Come

by Mandy Chen

I had waited a long time at the door before the nanny came. She looked distracted as she led me to the study on the second floor, where the girl sat waiting. It was summer and I was glad to be in.

“You are my teacher,” the girl announced as soon as she saw me. She wore a yellow dress and could not be more than ten. I sat down next to her. On the desk was an impressive array of textbooks and stationary.

“Hello. What’s your name?”

“My name is Crystal,” she said in English.

“You can call me Mr. Li.”

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Cookie

by Martha Stallman

A boy, teenaged, with the broad shoulders and neck of a man much older and of a much older time (a blacksmith maybe, or maybe a woodsman), with eyes now beginning to sting from the day’s thick wet heat not yet dying, with his backpack strap wrapped around one heavy hand, walked alone up a crooked gravel road bordered by gently animate walls of green that reached their fingers out onto the road, and towards the boy, and towards the sky. A school bus had dropped the boy off at the head of this road and driven away, and when it did no one inside had looked back.

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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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