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HOME by Madeline Anthes

You say you’d follow him anywhere, so when he asks you to move across the country, you do. You say you’d do anything for love, and you love him. He wants you to love your life with him. You try. Your rented house has plain beige walls. It’s in a

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THIS MESSAGE WILL SELF-DESTRUCT by K. Noel Moore

On December 7th, 1953, Adelbert W. “Dutch” Sherman, an unassuming man, did something to shock the whole of America. He died. Some several hours after typing that line, I got tired of staring at a blinking cursor, and shut off my computer. “This book,” I announced to the empty room,

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DOMESTIC TERRORIST by Meeah Williams

That morning I had my usual breakfast: a bowl of pimples soaked in apple cider vinegar. However, this morning the pimples were inflamed. Each pimple had a little demon erupting from its infected head and each demon was bending over and showing me its hairy ass. The meter lady came

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GARGOYLE by Zac Smith

I sit on the front porch to get out of the apartment, to watch the children practice soccer in the field across the street. My neighbor comes in and out with his dogs. Every time, I pet the dogs while he tries not to make eye contact. He is out

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ROTTEN TOOTH by Kim Magowan & Michelle Ross

Blinking in the darkness of the school auditorium, Rajiv spots his ex-wife Sangita. Her filmy green shawl is flung over the back of the empty seat beside her, reminding him of how their daughter, Alisha, puts a plate and cutlery out for her imaginary friend, Mr. Potato (not to be

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claire hopple

GRIP by Claire Hopple

Let us tell you about Louise. At the moment we started to really pay attention, she was stuck behind a vehicle that read “Criminal Transport Unit – Dept. of Corrections” on the highway. When traffic cleared and she finally made it to the park, she was handed a universal key

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BIO by Nick Perilli

Ernest Scheetz is a writer and carpenter living in Hudson, North Carolina. He smells like sawdust. Other work of his can be found in The Coyotee Review, New Langdon Quarterly, Triage Journal, New Coke Magazine, Holden Press, Instrumental Annual, Endeavors Review, Found Horizon, Form Letter Journal, Synecdoche Zoo York, String

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LAND SPEED by Alex Evans

On October 24th, 2011, Oscar Valentine broke the land speed record riding his Schwinn through a suburb outside of Madison, Wisconsin. People said that this was impossible, that Oscar Valentine, being neither a professional high-speed driver nor a legal adult at the time of the achievement, could not have exceeded

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LILY IN THE LIGHT by Megan Pillow

Lily isn’t sleeping, but I still try to get up from the bed without making a sound. The curtains are closed, and I open them a peep so that a thin shaft of light comes in, not enough so that anyone from the outside can see us. The shaft travels

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MAPLE & GOO by Anith Mukherjee

The Orb glowed, the room shook, pink slime dripped from the ceiling. The Orb shuddered. The Orb split open. Gestating ultraviolet flesh. Flesh appendages reached out and grabbed Maple by the neck, they pulled her into The Orb’s living centre. She felt blood circulating around her, absorbing her. She faded

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GLASSMAKING by Jason Kane

In their twenties love was ineptitude—being there to fail together. Separately they delved the snowy miles between Erie and Rochester. A quest for meaning, those birthplaces their only landmarks, logical lapses in the dense contract language of northern hardwood. Their paths converged in a college poetry workshop, a group exercise

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FOOTNOTES by Erin Cork

Stopped at a red light, Malfunction Junction. A seventies model Chevy pickup ahead of me, bull balls dangle from the trailer hitch and a faded bumper sticker that was probably added when the truck was new, “Disco Sucks”.  There’s a man-child anywhere between the ages of 18 and 30 in

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LIKE NEEDLE TO RECORD by Tomas Moniz

Terrance tells me choose a record and I struggle. He’s a new friend. A very sexy friend. I need friends. We have one in common, Metal Matt, who’s orchestrated this meetup, aka blind brunch date, slash hook-up. But with friends with records like these, you know. Plus I don’t want

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THE COAT by Robert John Miller

You don’t wear coats. You wear layers. You’re outside, what, five minutes, ten minutes at a time? Apartment to bus. Bus to work. Next door for lunch. Coats are such a bougie luxury. What are these people preparing for? Ice fishing? Everest? You’re never more than ten seconds from a

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wilhelm scream

THE WILHELM SCREAM by Gregg Williard

Before her senior year of high school she spent every day of the sweltering summer on the side porch of her parents’ house writing an essay on existentialism while her little brother, back to her and arms outstretched for balance, inched past the windows outside, wobbling on a ledge no

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MORE by Tyler Dempsey

Servants scatter. The psychoanalyst enters the room. He regards his surroundings: Apollo’s wife, Aphrodite, scrolls Facebook. Her Admirers lounge. Various articles—bedside tables, a rocking horse, bowling pins, Fruit Roll-Ups—lay adrift across the floor. Aphrodite refurbishes goods, like Fruit Roll-Ups, from thrift stores. Apollo enters, his humor betrays immense slaying. He

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AUTOGRAPH PARTY by David Williamson

All the girls have their binders and they are all beaming, and she just has her arms all covered in her sleeves and wondering if her mother will come back before the party ends. It appears to her that the ends of Beth Beachie’s mother’s mouth almost touch her ears.

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JEANETTE by Steve Anwyll

I’ve never worn a wig before. But as she walks up to the van. I know for a fact that hers isn’t on right. The netting isn’t supposed to be down so far. It ruins the illusion. It makes her look insane. But who the hell am I to judge

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ACHE by Josh Denslow

I fell in love at age seven. Twice. The first time was with the exquisite pang I felt when I pushed my loose upper right lateral incisor with my tongue. I’d withhold that sweet ache for hours, as if I was the drug dealer and my best customer at the

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MY SEASONAL EMPLOYER by Caroline Galdi

I was told to meet the driver at 300 King Lear Street, which was in this subdivision full of these corny ‘medieval’ names. Court Jester and Shakespeare and shit like that. It was like the developer was stealing street names from a book of word-search puzzles. There was a sign

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FRIEND WITH GOITER by RJC Smith

The problem with my friend Johnny was the goiter on his neck, because not only was he self-conscious of his own conspicuousness, but I also found it terribly distracting—it reminded me of the plums on the plum tree in my backyard, which my parents cared for as if it were

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FRANKENSTEIN, NOT UMA THURMAN by Travis Dahlke

You were Mia Wallace for Halloween and I was sexy Harper Lee. ‘How to fake blow’ was stained on your phone’s search history under the spiderweb cracks that cut up my fingers where I typed in my name. In all honesty, I wasn’t even going to leave the house, but

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SCUFF MARKS by Alecz Yeager

The corner of a tortilla chip rested vigilantly against the surface-smooth chest of Ivan’s “School is overrated” t-shirt. Next to it pooled a puddle of drool that was escaping from the twelve-year old’s chapped lips. The remainder of chips lay hidden beneath his hand that limpishly slept inside a plastic

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CHILDISH THINGS by Barrett Bowlin

Hours after I first hear her voice in line at the bank, I make peanut butter & jelly sandwiches for the both of us with tall glasses of cold milk, edible memories from decades ago, and then she and I move to the daybed, together, her voice as cozy and

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BOREDOMS by Grant Maierhofer

I’m a better tabloid than citizen. A friend of mine once wound up on the cover of their city’s something having passed out near the lawnmower he worked. He’d fixed up nearby within a building for soil and various landscaping tools and nodded off on a hillside holding his penis.

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STUNG by Sheree Shatsky

Mary found her honey bee the same way as her momma and her momma before. She paid for him. She first saw the fine young man while watching the Billy Graham Crusades on television.  He sat next to the big man himself and she liked how his suit shined in

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RHETORIC, GIRL! by Amie Norman Walker

Radio wire mutated with the Cicadas, every Midwest heart bled to this expectation.  Knowing of no reason for time to come undone she perched herself on the couch as Carjone’s car snaked the driveway. Elevated humidity levels sweat the brows of every surface as evening rolled over, drooling for nightfall’s

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THE HARVEST SEASON by Brian Morse

Henry had to abandon his car. It was clear that the winter storm had curbed all travel, as massive snow serpents slid across the vacant highway. Had he hit a deer, or was it a person? Either way, any visible evidence had disappeared, and the car wouldn’t start. He was

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THE WEEPING NUDE by Jennifer Lewis

“Get up.” “No. It’s not even light out. I want to sleep.” “You heard me.” He lights a candle, then another. Then claps his hands. “Move!” She smells the turpentine. Hears the clinking of glass bottles. The room is freezing. Tiny sounds of the night drift through the walls. A

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CONTACT LESS by Adam Lock

Reaching with a blind hand, Rebecca pulls a loaf from the back row and reads its scarf. David buys the wrong sort; he buys bleached, ghost-bread, even though he knows she doesn’t like it. The price of bread is an economic barometer. There’s a trick to selling a house: bread

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nick gregorio

STILL, BIRDS by Nick Gregorio

Joe’s head bursts and fills the office with blue birds. Singing, chirping, flying figure eights around the ceiling fans. The red-faced, foamy-mouthed ranting Bill just popped Joe’s head with should’ve produced something more vicious. Snakes exploding in every direction like those gag cans sold at junk shops in malls. Or

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CVS by Sean Thor Conroe

April 2018— It’s been two months since I’ve purchased anything besides tobacco and rolling papers since I’m two months behind on rent and it’s been two months since I got my SNAP card approved and my check from my construction gig has yet to arrive and every bike delivery payout

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DIRTY SHIRLEY by Sophie Jennis

I have a rash on my neck and it must be because I wear my short necklace to bed every night and it tries to choke me in my sleep. I look over to my left at the wine bottle left over from my time with A. I think I

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ANALOGUE by Sara Kachelman

I share a face with a famous killer. Before I was nobody. Now women ask to have their pictures made with me. When we stand together I slide my hand down their backs until they quiver. It thrills them. I am a dangerous man! The killer kills women. He says

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MORE MORE MORE by Neil Clark

First thing on your first day, you were instructed to go down the basement and have a picture taken for your security pass. Down there, they told you a joke and said, “Now hold that smile and look at the camera.” ‘Click’ They printed the photo and handed it to

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THIS IS WHAT I WANT by Tina Wayland

This is what I want. I want to change the locks on our front door. My front door. I want to pry the deadbolts from the wall, break them with a hammer. Feel the echo of every strike travel up my arms and through my skin, settle in my bones.

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A STROLL THROUGH THE ENGINE ROOM by Gregg Williard

It had been arranged that she would take a stroll through the engine room before supper. Captain Venkman had assured her that they would hold a place at the captain’s table for her if she were detained. Not for his command were the martinet’s peevish demands. He prided himself on,

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ARBORIST by Lanny Durbin

Guy was just standing there in my backyard. He was hacking at the Sweet Gumball Tree that reached up through powerlines and my touched my neighbor’s roof with its old, outstretched arms. Chopping at it with an axe. I’d been watching him for fifteen minutes from my kitchen window. He’d

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TIME-EATERS by Kaiter Enless

“I don’t have no problem.” “Sure seem like you do.” He shook his head, a fractional gesture, noticeable only due the couple’s proximity. “Well, I don’t. Was you what started yappin.” She folded her arms below her breasts, turning slightly away, staring at nothing, muttering, “Fine.” “Yeah. It is. Why

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ANIMAL HOUSE by Kara Vernor

Hard Rock Hare clamped headphones over his ears and hopped around in front of the stereo. He liked The Clash and Black Flag, but today he listened to Johnny Cash. He thought Cash was good too, if not a little somber. Stoner Hare reclined on the couch and smoked a

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SURVIVOR! by Julia Tausch

The grouchy buildings of The Six, the dirty snow’s hectic dance – it was all far beneath me now. Keely, my thirteen year-old niece, had taught me to call Toronto “The Six.” She reeked of perfume that seemed to combine garbage with vetiver and beets but was surely expensive. The

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alone i am always smoking by Clare Schneider

Tobacco companies support nicotine patches because, studies have shown, that without counseling, nicotine replacement therapy hardly ever works. Tobacco companies view all “nicotine products as a way to support smoking” i quit smoking for you and then you left me. this seems unfair. Girls who start smoking before age 15 are nearly

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SHE GETS A LOT OF HELP by Kristina Ten

“You have a beautiful home here,” says the man’s boss, taking note of the layered window treatments and the gleaming hardwood floors. Over the mantel hangs an abstract painting of a female nude—tasteful, the boss thinks: wide, flesh-toned brushstrokes, no embarrassing details. All of this bodes well for the man,

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PABLO’S HAIR by Sandra Arnold

When we got to the farm Bill explained that the dead boy’s parents had asked him to keep the pregnant mare and her two year old colt till they found a buyer, but none of the guys who came to look at her could even catch her. “Don’t worry, Beth,”

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THE FILTHY OLD MAN by Connor Goodwin

The filthy old man crunched his hand and tossed an empty can over his shoulder, eyes on the road. It landed on a pile of other cans and started a noisy avalanche of aluminum. Some of the crushed cans were tied up in yellow plastic bags from Super Saver, but

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GARBAGE GIRL by Jules Archer

It’s trash day. I know it by the cramps in my belly. Not the calendar on the fridge. Or the City of Evanston’s website. Or my mother’s finger, poked in the face of my father as a reminder to take out the trash because last night’s rotisserie is starting to

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PREHISTORIC by Caleb Michael Sarvis

My brother rubs a long bone with a little league baseball jersey our mother saved. He found the bone in a tree, suspended between branches. It’s about fifteen inches long and has the curvature of erosion, and I think of what I know about love, and understand his obsession with

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FORAGERS by Jaime Fountaine

My mom brought this new guy, Jeff, home, and they want to have dinner together at the table, like I’ve met him before. He’s cooking, which I think is supposed to impress her. She never cooks, so joke’s on him I guess. Right now the joke is on me, because

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THE DEATH OF JANNICK MEISNER by Avee Chaudhuri

David Tilker is a brewer located in San Antonio, Texas, and he hired me last spring to write his biography. During his vetting process he read some of my work, including two stories here at X-R-A-Y about a character named Jannick Meisner. In the second of these stories, “I Was

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lily hackett

ANIMALS by Lily Hackett

I only ordered so I could have the wine got for the cat’s man. But in the takeaway box, they had black shells and polished eyes. They had big claws. I searched for ‘Clawed prawns’. Crayfish. I left a message. I saw one twitch, thrash in the sauce. Its shining

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MY BEST FRIEND, HER BIG HOUSE by Jessi Gaston

I live with my best friend in a mansion. My room is a small box. Sometimes we go swimming in the mornings, other times only I do, in white underwear that’s small and classic and only gets caught up sometimes on the insides of my thighs. It’s purple outside when

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colleen rothman

ASSASSIN by Colleen Rothman

Between bites of avocado toast, I tell her first. She sucks her breath and smacks the table, rustling the ridiculous pussy bow on her polka-dot blouse. Despite her vow not to cry, mascara clumps her lashes in betrayal. It must not be the waterproof kind I talked her into during

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ran walker

TALONS by Ran Walker

Her story went like this: When she was three years old, she was playing with her brother in the backyard, when an enormous hawk swooped down, latched on to her, and lifted her from the ground. The only thing that stopped her from being carried away was her brother grabbing

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cathy ulrich

THE FORMER DANCER’S HUSBAND by Cathy Ulrich

This man who’s in love with you, he’s married. You play in the symphony orchestra together. He’s a second violin. You play the oboe. What he likes best about you, he says, is the purse of your lips when you play. He is sharp elbows, good posture, freckling of gray

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A WANTED WOMAN by Paul Beckman

I told him not to call anymore so he started sending me postcards. I had my lawyer tell his lawyer onay on the postcards or any mail. Then the texts started. This time we went to court and the judge gave him a restraining order and we left figuring that

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I AM SPACE MAN by Amanda Tu

I used to think my greatest challenge as a writer was identifying, in the most precise possible terms, how I feel. Most of the time, though, I know what I feel. This is palpable when I am stricken by an emotion I’ve lived through before. No matter how traumatic the

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marcantonio

JUST MARRIED ON BRIGHTON PIER by Tomas Marcantonio

The two women with blood sprinklers in their eyes stood at the railings and looked down at the water. It churned about like great whips of cream under a lazy spoon, throwing petulant fountains of oyster salt over the groynes. Foam bubbled at the shore when it came in with

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bram riddlebarger

MARBLES by Bram Riddlebarger

“Sit down and take a load off,” said Jack. “We’ve been working like the queen’s bees.” “Yeah,” said Tommy. He was tired. “Which one did you go out on today, Tommy? I thought I saw that #4 sagging a little.” Jack wasn’t joking. Tommy was real fat. He was tired,

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chelsea houghton

SISTERS ARE NOT DOGS by Chelsea Houghton

My sister ran away when she was fifteen. She disagreed with my parents about something – she’d been a bad girl most likely, I don’t know, I was too young to be included. We’d never really got along. I was happy, it was quiet without her. No bitching or barking

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oliver gaywood

TEACHING MY BELLE THE ABCS by Oliver Gaywood

Annabelle always answered her aunts accurately, as abruptly and authoritatively as an adolescent. Their ambitious attempts to addle gone awry, the astonished aunts acted aloof afterwards, averting avuncular attention. Boastfully, I birthed a bright and bubbly baby. Belle behaved brilliantly and blossomed beautifully. The bairn boosted brainpower by borrowing books

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salvatore difalco

VÉRTIGO by Salvatore Difalco

Juan rose to pee in pitch darkness, his eyes fluttering. He found the toilet, but peed all over the unraised seat, splashing his shins and toes. Catching jeweled glints of chrome and glass, his eyes oriented to the darkness. Incomprehensible, his next move—he lurched right, toward the bathtub, and not

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kevin bigley

PUNKER by Kevin Bigley

Leslie stalked the stage with the palpable anxiety of a mountain lion locked in an exhibit. His shoulders were hunched, guitar still echoing the final chord from the previous song, his face bleeding rivers of perspiration. He slithered from end to end, fighting existential hysteria. “Play ‘Ready to Go’!” cried

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brad baumgartner

TO BE OR NOT TO BEFUDDLE by Brad Baumgartner

Drowned out, like an ant’s ear drums (having not yet “ears to hear” in order to “listen and understand”), as it sits, uncertainly, on a twig placed atop the crevice between a washing machine and a dryer, is our consciousness of Consciousness. The twig is also a razor’s edge, on

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william falo

THE RESCUE by William Falo

The sirens wail and I howl along with them. My human sleeps. I lick his face and feel coldness. Why doesn’t he get up? I bark and lick. He doesn’t pet me. Something is wrong. My tail hangs low and I whimper. I spin in circles, but not happy ones.

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jason graff

A LEER FOR A TOOTHACHE by Jason Graff

Katie just wants to rip it out. A length of string, some fortitude or, even better, a burly man in uniform, a marine or naval officer would do. Clearly, it was the eye tooth on the upper right side of her mouth that was the trouble. Why shouldn’t a stranger

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babak lakghomi

I KEPT LOOKING FOR IT by Babak Lakghomi

After working as a dish washer, my sister found me a job that paid more than the minimum wage. Every morning, I had to wear a wetsuit and dip my hand deep into a pool of sewage for a sample. Sometimes I had to get into tanks and wash off

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troy james weaver

CALCULUS by Troy James Weaver

Calculus, 8:00 A.M.—Concentration is already an issue, even when I’m on my meds, and this asshole named Martin, who knows where I sit and why, was in my spot when I came running into class five minutes late. I took a seat in the back, deciding it was a waste

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danny swain

I AM A WRITER by Danny Swain

I make up symptoms to get unnecessary hospital treatment. Because I’m a writer. I don’t bathe for years and scratch smiley faces in the dirt on my body. I photograph the faces and send them to random strangers through the post. Because I’m a writer. I drink booze until my

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RELAX INN by J. Edward Kruft

Pat sat in his boxers on the edge of the bed, digging into his ear with a Q-tip. When Barb finally turned off the hairdryer in the bathroom, he called to her. “I sure wish you hadn’ta done this.” “What’s that you say?” asked Barb, entering the room in her

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