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Chasing Life

by Stacy Baldwin

Kira Spader finished scrubbing every inch of the house she shared with Seth Greven. She heard the oven timer beep: the mini-quiches were ready. Kira hurried into the kitchen and took them out of the oven, their smell permeating the air around her. She needed to cook the tray of mini-sausage rolls next. Everything has to be perfect for tomorrow, she thought. Tomorrow was Kira and Seth’s fifth anniversary and much had changed between them during these past five years.

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Flesh Tones

by William Schillaci

When I caught up with Jhonelle, she was steering the wheelchair, trailing the girl and the man through the 15th Century, Northern Europe. The man had an angry grip on the girl’s wrist, pulling her along. She kept up with him with neither resistance nor any apparent interest, mechanically advancing her legs, the rest of her limp and lifeless. On the seat of the wheelchair were the remains of the girl’s artist’s pad, the pages with her drawings ripped from the spine, some torn to pieces. When I saw this, her work destroyed, I uttered some kind of cry and began to charge them. Jhonelle grabbed the tail of my jacket to hold me back.

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What Would Olivia Do

by Elizabeth Markley

When people spoke about Eugene, Oregon, they most often referred to it as a college town, though Monica preferred not to think of her home this way. The phrase conjured up images of dive bars and sleazy frat houses, and these were not at all welcome in Monica’s world. The neighborhood where she lived, fifteen miles to the east of Eugene, was indistinguishable from the outskirts of any mid-sized city. It was suburbia with a touch of rustic, and overall a very agreeable place to live.

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The Army Nestled in Our Shadows

by Paul Smit

The year is 2047.

Steven Herselman and Paul Artin were trailblazers. At least that’s how they’d like to be remembered. They both worked for Intelli Design, the company responsible for the ID-ME.

The ID-ME is an international identification device that is still being made today. Once users have a registered ID-ME they are able to discard their old paper passports. Those attempting to travel on the old system encounter significant resistance when clearing border controls, to the extent that paper passport holders now account for only 4% of international travel.

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Confections

by Cheryl Sim

“Madam?”

The voice belongs to the counter person in one of Kolkata’s trendy sweet shops. With its chic white subway-tiled walls, and its offerings handwritten on blackboards decorated with pastel swirls and paisleys, we could be in any pastry shop in any hipster neighborhood anywhere in the world. Only when a man sporting a basket of dried fish on his head scurries past the glass storefront does Kolkata – Calcutta – come back into view.

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A Glimpse Inward

by Lina Girgis

All her life, she had been looking for a mind to grasp her unspeakable thoughts and a soul to embrace her inexpressible feelings—rather than merely a heart to love her or an eye to covet her, let alone a body to use her own. She contemplated this old wish—always hiding in her head, refusing to lose hope, yet clinging to very little of it—while making coffee in the early morning.

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At the Edge of the Dry Land

by Norbert Kovacs

The two-story white house that embodied the front of the Last Out Hotel was inching ever closer to ruin. Its wooden siding was worn and broken, and the house’s color, once a sleek white, was fading fast after decades of buffeting by the desert wind and dust. The dark roof had dulled under the strong sun and its shingles had peeled upward, tired.

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The Nocturnal Florist

by James Swansbrough

The bicycle is his harbinger. Sammy flies the American flag from a three-foot stick duct-taped to his rear basket. We see that flag and know he’s coming. Both the rear and front baskets are interlaced with red, silver, and blue tinsel. By day the baskets may hold lawn-care tools or groceries. At night, they’re filled with flowers.

Sammy is unimposing: few inches shy of six feet, not an ounce of spare flesh on him. He has the sinewy muscle common to laborers, endurance athletes, or users. Leathery dark skin taut over his sharp cheekbones and jaw, teeth set in a slight underbite. Weatherworn fingers, and bony, like they could lick fire from a harmonica.

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Tenderfoot

by Jim Fields

There were ten of us—three older boys and the rest of us younger ones. We were walking single file up the mountain on a hot summer day in July. The trail was getting steeper as we slowly worked our way up to the top, but still we pressed on. Grant Miller was our leader. He was a sixteen-year-old, six foot two, muscular high school quarterback with eyes that became narrow when he was mean, which was quite often. With his deep tan and athletic frame, Miller cast an imposing figure and everybody knew not to mess with him. He rarely talked, but when he did, Miller made it clear he was in charge and we were to do things his way.

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Mrs. Rowe

by Lissa Staples

The actual taking of the pills was a soggy event because Mrs. Rowe had thrown up, necessitating a second round, and also because she had been crying. The liter bottle of vodka was later found under the bed. Such a waste of good spirits her brother, Theodore, was heard to say at the funeral. There was no suicide note, or any other clue to explain Mrs. Rowe’s actions save the fact that she had been under the care of a psychiatrist, Zoloft and Lunesta for over six years

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Kattadiya

by Mesh Tennakoon

Francis thought her bladder would burst; walking the extra one hundred yards to the outdoor lavatory was out of the question. The zinnia patch, adjacent to the patio would have to suffice. It was nearly 9 P.M. and pitch-black outside; no one would see.

Grabbing the battered silver torch, left near the back door, she stepped out on to the patio. The sweet perfume of jasmine wafted through the warm evening air. Breathing in the calming fragrance, Francis moved the dim flashlight up and down to orientate herself in the dark. Almost immediately, various insects, drawn by the faint light, swarmed the rim of the torch as she held it out in front.

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Eighty-Seven

by Shanelle Galloway Calvert

Dust hangs in the sunlight, floating white in the golden beam. Too much dust, Hugh thinks as he watches the particles meander through the light. It should be falling down, he thinks, with gravity. But the dust floats, moves diagonally, rising and falling and lifting again. Cora never would have stood for it.

The TV flickers. Flat, grainy bluish faces turn camera and smile, flip their shining hair over their shoulders. Hugh can’t quite hear what they are saying. He hates having to change the volume up and down between programs and advertisements. They make the ads so loud these days, and the shows so quiet. He’s losing his hearing and he knows it.

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Grace

by Tahseen Béa

Once upon a time a young woman named Grace dreamed an impossible dream. She dreamed of a big love that would enter her life and transform her. She never spoke of it to anyone but nurtured it and waited until someone worthy of her love would enter her life. She was certain she had a gift of loving that nobody else had. Sure everyone loves, she thought, but not like her. When it was her turn to love, she would love with the tenderness of a girl and a fierceness of a woman. She would offer love as passion and as patience, as an ideal and as a living embodiment of that ideal.

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How to Win at Losing

by Marrie Stone

Take a selfie. Consider the pros and cons of removing your shirt. Remind yourself that it’s a rare man who, at forty-eight and no stranger to Big Gulps and barbeque ribs, should ever remove his shirt. Instead, stand in front of your canary yellow Corvette and raise your cell phone camera high on its stick. Higher. Lean on the hood. Button your shirt. Higher. Make a mental note to buy a bigger shirt.

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Daffodil Road

by AS Renard

A SHIVER pricks his spine. It is a soft tingle, just enough to rouse him from the depths. Face down in a pool of drivel, the young lothario is unsure of his place in the world. This reluctance is palpable as he drinks in the blackness like a homemade amer, slowly swishing the gloom this way and that across his tongue to best capture its flavor. The acrid tone confirms his suspicions — here is a realm detached from the sovereignty of his dreams. Not Eden, but Gethsemane, where dangers are many and miracles few.

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Hooked and Hanging

by Marina Hatsopoulos

Even in the dark, I spotted Stefano’s loose stance on the platform as my train from Rome pulled into the station. The guys I was used to spending my days with—engineers, lawyers, investors and other entrepreneurs—had more skills than him, for sure, but they didn’t look like that. I’d never mentioned it to John, but then again, why would I?

I jumped off the train and stood on tiptoes to reach around Stefano’s neck. He brushed my curls away from my face and looked at me, as if at a painting, up and down.

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Names of the Dead

by David Bontumasi

They gave me a pencil and a single sheet of paper and they told me to write slowly and clearly, so that I wouldn’t miss a thing. I looked first at the angular man with the protruding chin standing above me and then the round dark-haired woman who stood slightly behind him. I thought it odd that they were the same height and their skin the same color: a lifeless, milky pink. Their faces blended together to make one misshapen head. One of them smelled like potatoes, though it may have been both of them. It made my temples throb.

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Limfill

by Siu Siu Sik

About three months ago, if you had had the opportunity to visit Lucy, you would surely have seen me, wrapped in a white plastic bag, sitting on the floor and leaning against the side of a shoe rack against the wall right beside the door to the outside. Certainly, you would have been able to tell, by experience or by instinct, that I was not supposed to be deserted there, indeterminately, in that unsightly condition.

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