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Me and Woody

by Marcia Calhoun Forecki

Nobody loved Woody more than I did. I adored the silky feel of his curly, copper hair. The rough creases on his hands were wild terrain for my fingers to explore. He loved me to scratch his back when he was tired and massage his shoulders when they were sore. Woody was a lean, solid man and if he didn’t have the biggest brain in the county, it didn’t bother me any. He was a genius with engines with his hands generally, and that was enough for me. I loved him first and best.

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Petrakis

by John Etcheverry

Our brightest days are a rich subset of a broader story and the fortunate among us ration a few for the end, savoring them as that final nightfall advances. Petrakis appears to have plenty of life left in him, but his stock of unclouded days is depleted. Nora, his bride of sixty-two years, passed this summer and the combination of his memory outages and the solitude that her absence compels is more than the old man can manage.

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Amnesiac

by Kate Slader

“It’s the only place in the world that has all five species of scallop,” says the grey old man at the table next to us.
I didn’t know there were different species of scallop. I’m eavesdropping.
The man is croaking his words and waving his hands, his fingertips inches away from a thin-stemmed glass filled with a double-pour of the house brand Sauvignon Blanc. I’m dreading the moment he’ll send his wine flying across the room.

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A Piece of Me

by Cathryn Sherman

NETA had a hard time talking about her childhood without saying thank you. Thank you to her Nana and Papaw who finally took them in. To Lottie and Isabell who pampered her, to Henry who kept her warm. She could even thank her father for leaving. The only person she couldn’t thank was her mother.

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Outside Flagstaff

by Matthew Brown

There was a sigh on the other end of the phone, a long nasal sigh, the kind you hear only at the precise moment that someone has had as much of someone else’s shit as they can possibly stand. A woman’s voice spoke: “We buried your Goddamn father six months ago.”
“I know.”
“I’m not gonna bury you.”

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New Mind

by Hunter Blackwell

The room’s mostly dark. A bit of light filters in from the the window next to her head. The fan blows cool air over her. White noise makes her eyelids heavy. Clink. Clink. Clink, the sound of metal—hanging medals for things that don’t matter now— hitting the wall. Two to three seconds of silence between each tap. The ceiling swirls. She blinks, an attempt to reorient herself, but it continues around in her eyes.

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Another Orpheus

by Coda Danu-Asmara

Because Orpheus knew his name,

he did not want to be born. He clutched his fingers to his toes and refused to move, even as his mother screamed and the doctor pleaded. So they had to cut him out with a long slice across his mother’s hips.

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The Spider and the Butterfly

by D.P. Snyder

That rotating fan’s like a blind old man shaking his head no, no, no. No what? No, don’t look? No, I’ve no clue when they’ll replace the window unit in my room? They promise, then nothing. The sheets are sticky with sweat, so I stay still and try not to notice. I’d feel better if I got dressed, you say? What for? Where am I going? This bleached-out cotton thing is to keep them from having to look at my body, to keep me from seeing them looking. I’d go naked if they’d let me. What do I care?

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Bunny

by Lissa Miller

It was a Thursday and Bunny Lopes was performing her toilette while she waited for a kettle of water to boil for tea. She saw that it was a quarter to six and the doors to the Polish Hall opened at seven-thirty. It might be wise to eat something first so she wouldn’t have to choke down any store-bought cookies or tuna casseroles reheated for the night’s event. Last week the food had been a letdown.

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Porch Views

by C. White

You can play with growing up without growing up. You can play with love without loving. You can play with skipping rope without skipping.

In particular, playing Snakey is good for the kids who have no sense of rhythm or coordination. The ones who can’t walk down the street with a friend without bumping hips every ten feet; the ones that need their seatbelt buckled up for them ‘til they’re twelve. Good for them to face jumping over one single thing, or to be the one in charge.

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XOXO

by Renay Costa

As John waited for the doctor, he studied Mandy’s Tinder profile, preparing for their date that afternoon. She was definitely his type, with sandy blond hair and grey-blue eyes. She, like most women on Tinder, enjoyed “yoga, wine and walks on the beach.” Through their text messages, he learned that she was an administrative assistant pursuing a nursing degree. Would she be the type who would pretend to be cool and then suddenly explode as he slowly lost interest, or would she be the sensitive, clingy type who wanted commitment after meeting for coffee?

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Offender

by Sharon Bandy

Two years ago, I fell. From a ladder. From the sky. From grace. Caroline and I were going to run away, so I was sneaking into her bedroom and trying to overcome my fear of heights all at the same damn time. I was nineteen and she was sixteen, and now I’m a sex offender trying to find an apartment so I can have an address so I can get a job. While I was locked up my mom sold the double-wide and left town with her boyfriend, so staying with my brother and his family was my only option for a while.

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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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