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Dizzy Gillespie Feels Fine

by Ernest Slyman

You do that quite well. Can you do it again. The repeat has a gold medal for showing up and making a fool out of itself. The comfortable repeat lives in a big house up on a hill. At night, his living room comes out and does a little dance. You can hear Dizzy Gillespie blowing a horn made out of brass that knows every note on the scale needs to be primped. A little lipstick here, eye liner, brush those cheeks like you wanted them to bear the beauty of jazz.

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The Girl and the Field

by Desiree Roundtree

I walk into his office; the name in brass on the door reads Dr. Adam Reagan. I sit on the small plush chair and pull my feet under me, my warm mug of tea in my hands. He smiles when I slide into the seat and sigh. He thinks he is breaking me but there is no way I can allow that to happen, not after everything I think I have been through. “Where do I begin,” I say, I don’t mean it to sound sarcastic but to my ears the words sound sharp like tiny pieces of glass in my mouth.

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Block B

by Caroline Okello

My roommate and I were both freshers and had both been assigned temporary accommodation at the college hostel. My mother hadn’t paid the hostel fee and because she knew someone who knew one of the college administrators, I was allowed temporary accommodation for ten days. She promised she would send the money before those days were up. The matron, a portly nun with a serious face, said she didn’t care.

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Green Was the Colour of My Insecurity, Now It’s Pink

by Elton Johnson

His country is the land of paradox and contradiction; where a frustrating government pleads for more productivity but can’t provide an efficient bus system to get people to work on time.

Clifton—or the newly stylized Cliff, as his well-to-do friends call him—knows he should have been out of the apartment at least fifteen minutes ago if he wants to catch an early bus to get to work. He works doubly hard at his job in the ICT sector, which means he gives online technical support to people overseas. In his hurry, he pulls a T-shirt over his thin frame, only to realise it’s on backwards. He fixes it while struggling with his keys to lock the front door, then runs off before noticing that he’s left his phone and has to turn back.

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The Marschallin

by Rachel Browning

Even dressed as a man, Elena was radiant. Kate dabbed her eyes with her one remaining tissue. As the music from the final act of Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier swelled to its rousing pinnacle, Elena’s voice soared through the opera house, merging and blending with those of the other singers. Together they joined the interweaving melodies and chromatic harmonies of the orchestra, the entire ensemble climbing to such unsustainable heights that, to Kate, their ultimate convergence personified longing. The crowd rose and erupted into cheers seconds after the orchestra released its last chord, but Kate remained seated, thunderstruck. Finally, she stood when Elena strolled to the front of the stage to take her last bow amid the roar of applause, while flowers and programs stripped to confetti rained over the cast.

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The Hidden Ones

by Nadia Afifi

I first encountered the hidden world on a muggy summer night in Bahrain, near the still waters of the Arabian Gulf (or Persian Gulf, depending on who you wanted to avoid an argument with). Multiple witnesses denied what they saw after the fact, blaming alcohol, of which there was admittedly plenty, or tricks of light and shadow. The religiously-inclined claimed we saw one of the jinn, a being from the spirit world, which was more plausible than an excess of overpriced beer. No one ever hallucinated from Heineken.

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Freedom

by Jessica Manchester

Dr. Levine, the psychiatrist, seems perfectly comfortable with long stretches of silence. Long stretches of silence are the story of my life. This is my third visit with the doctor. Mom is mad at him because he doesn’t prescribe anything for me. She wants me fixed. My mind needs mending in her opinion. He’s asked me why I’m here. I don’t answer. Looking out the window I watch a squirrel climbing up an oak tree. He loses his balance, landing on the lawn below where all the acorns are anyway but he ignores them and jumps right back onto the trunk and tries again. Stretching out to reach a limb he falls onto the grass once again. The acorns are right there. What is he really after, I wonder. I just want to hear the truth. That’s what I’m after. I think about the day I told my mom I know the truth.

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The Keeper of the Keys

by Jessica Simpkiss

Torn clouds scuttled across the sky with the beginnings of the moon’s light dancing behind them as they chased their own broken shadows. The yellow glow and low hum of the city street lamps fluttered and shook, not quite sure if it was their time to shine in the waning daylight. The air had turned cool in the evenings, keeping the large crowds of lookie loos inside the bars or coffee shops up the street from the bridge, only giving them reason to venture out for necessity instead of pleasure walks. The faint sound of moving water purred underneath him, as he sat on a bench near the end of the bridge, waiting and watching out of the corner of his eye. Without fail, he always managed to find one.

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Tip

by Jamie Witherby

Captain Haines sheds his rain-pressed coat and hat in the entryway of the railcar diner. Laughter from 3 a.m. troublemakers, snores from booth-ridden sleepwalkers, snaps from slow-moving line cooks cut through the smoke-festooned air in the same whirling loops.

Dark-haired, gum-popping Dina points her pen at the large central booth with only two place settings. Haines nods as he retires his trench and cap on the sharp wall hook over a bouquet of tired umbrellas.

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The Girl with the White Bicycle

by Celia Hameury

When I first met the girl with the white bicycle, it was early spring. The tulips were only just beginning to bloom. I had often seen her, riding that overly large bicycle which had been painted entirely white, from the frame to the tires.

Then one morning, as I sat alone in the garden, she rode up to the front gate, in a plain white summer dress, and dismounted. She came to stand in front of me and stuck out her hand.

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Closure

by Kabir Mansata

At the time, I lived on the 31st floor of a modern apartment complex for middle-income households. I loved the large grounds and being a fitness freak, the easy access to a pool and a gymnasium. I loved having a shopping mall and a multiplex cinema a stone’s throw away.

It was 4 am and I exited my Uber, teary-eyed, inebriated and nauseous. I had just ended things with Dee, the love of my life. It had been the most amazing relationship for eight years. We were two hippies who floated through life like synchronized swimmers too lazy to collect their gold medals at the Olympics.

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A Very Fine Time

by Daniel Bartkowiak

They were sitting alone on the white sand. Everyone else had gone to bed. The night was cool and calm and the waves collapsed peacefully on the shore. The rods were still standing in the sand with their lines in the water. It was said to be bad luck to take them out after sundown.
“Why’s the sand white?” asked Marjorie.
“I don’t know,” said Nick. “Why is anything the way it is.”

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Anchors

by Charles Wall

Charles Wall subtly weaves the themes of loss, love, and renewal in “Anchors.” A father and son who have lost a wife and mother, respectively, teeter on losing each other but it is the model ship – a memory displayed on a wooden shelf – that offers their moment of renewal.

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Speaking Politely

by Helen Wurthmann

Helen Wurthmann puts the spotlight on two siblings – and in turn, on us – in her story “Speaking Politely.” It’s Christmas and siblings Moe and Halo are on a grocery run, for wine and other festive items, and to get Halo out of the house before she picks another fight. It is during their time together on this seemingly benign errand that much is revealed about their relationship, Moe’s past, and our manufactured limits on compassion.

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Wrong Number

by Jamie Grove

In “Wrong Number,” Jamie Grove explores the oft whispered topic of aging. Marilyn is alone and scared, having been taken to a hospital for reasons she cannot remember. Her aging body betrays her resolute spirit and she reaches out to Father Jones for solace, leaving a message. But she has dialed the wrong number and instead leaves a desperate message on Kirby’s voicemail. Kirby’s initial disregard for the caller wears at her and she eventually decides to visit, with fateful consequences.

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The Storm Trooper

by Tyler Pesek

Tyler Pesek is a self-proclaimed fan of Star Wars so it seems fitting that he would create “The Storm Trooper,” a Star Wars fan fiction story. The story begins when a solitary man discovers a lone helmet in a humble shelter and, with a touch, he enters a trance and sees the story of clone soldier 017. But below the surface of the storytelling is an intriguing and thoughtful examination of the fine line between being human and being AI.

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Midnight Ride

by Vanessa Christie

The setting for Vanessa Christie’s short story “Midnight Ride” is San Diego and the action centers on finding a serial killer who is targeting cyclists. But frankly, you will have to read it to find out more. Built into the intrigue and action of the story is also a slow revelation of characters. As with her novel excerpt Strangers You Know, Christie does not disappoint.

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