Zachary C. Solomon ~ Old Country

It was sort of sur­re­al the way the whole thing unfold­ed. We picked up Grandma and Grandpa in Mom’s Honda Odyssey. Grandpa was wear­ing a plaid short-sleeved shirt tucked into khak­is. He had some stub­ble on his cheeks which pricked when I kissed him hel­lo. And Grandma looked bet­ter than I had seen her look in years. Yes, she was still in the wheel­chair, but she was sit­ting erect, with it, her eyes

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Girija Tropp ~ 3 Fictions

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HANGNAIL

My ex came for three weeks and his leav­ing is over­due so I am going to move but I plan to look out for him and may­be keep my name on this lease if our boys can­not find a ground floor with lots of light and walk­er acces­si­ble. His folks do hos­pi­tal vis­its, and call, and he is grate­ful for that but they do not have space for much else.

My ex can no longer eat gra­nola. His teeth have fal­l­en

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Andrew James Weatherhead ~ Shipping and Handling

Charlotte doesn’t speak Spanish. She took two years of French in high school and, because she thought it would be fun­ny, a year of Latvian in col­lege to sat­is­fy a lan­guage require­ment, but it wasn’t fun­ny and she got a C. The pro­fes­sor looked at her with wild eyes. At the end of the semes­ter, he held her hand and said some lan­guages aren’t for every­body. So when her room­mate, Set, makes tele­phone

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Glen Pourciau ~ Table

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We’d planned to have din­ner with the Hardaways at a restau­rant we’d nev­er been to, a pop­u­lar new fish place.  They had been there a num­ber of times already, enough to be con­sid­ered reg­u­lars and to know which table to ask for, so they made the reser­va­tion for four at 6:30.

We were look­ing for­ward to the evening, but Katherine, Mrs. Hardaway, sent us a mes­sage the day before say­ing they had

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Stefanie Freele ~ Well-Dressed Executives

Around the white table­cloth: men in suits with cuf­flinks. They order Up Olive, Dry, On the rocks. The wait­ers, many of them stu­dents, keep to the periph­ery, watch­ing signs of low scotch, the tin­kle of ice. Food is eat­en or ignored. It is the drink that fas­tens the men togeth­er and the smoke after­ward until the time for men to pick up daugh­ters from bal­let lessons. The girls climb quick­ly into the

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Maddie Clevenstine ~ There Was Something Growing

The wom­an learned she couldn’t have chil­dren. Her doc­tor said he was very sor­ry to tell her this, and pat­ted her knee, and looked at her thought­ful­ly, like her inabil­i­ty to have chil­dren was a puz­zle, or her con­di­tion was an inter­est­ing bit of infor­ma­tion he could tell the oth­er doctor’s staffed at the hos­pi­tal, and they could all have a laugh over the poor wom­an and her poor, ill-formed uterus

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David Ryan ~ Barcarole

You wor­ry about the eye, the micro­phone in it that gath­ers and trans­mits daugh­ter sounds. Her infant coos, the soft rustle, cry, unre­cov­er­able gasp—the dread deep still­ness. Every day with her in your new life is a scratch of light in some future impen­e­tra­ble dark­ness. You and this lit­tle plas­tic receiver down­stairs, the mon­i­tor the size and shape of a bar of soap, nav­i­gat­ing invis­i­ble extremes

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Susan Henderson ~ Fish with Bent Fins

I’ve been on the front porch look­ing for my son since the first dark clouds moved in. Mikey’s always been afraid of storms. And now here he comes, mak­ing the squeaky sound I know is fear, run­ning all the way with his hands cupped togeth­er. Not easy for a boy with clum­sy feet.

Friend. Save,” he tells me.

He opens his hands and there’s a lit­tle fish with bent fins.

I’m behind on the dishes—every

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Jessica Alexander ~ The Bear at the Door

When the bell rings and the bear pulls Henry through the door and off the stoop, I know it is not me that has been tak­en because Henry and I don’t have that kind of rela­tion­ship. That’s not to say I don’t love Henry ten­der­ly, though I wouldn’t call it rap­ture exact­ly. I do things dif­fer­ent­ly so he won’t leave. I select, for instance, genial shades of lip­stick, blous­es with mol­li­fy­ing designs

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Kerri Quinn ~ Rico

I leave a note for my hus­band, Robert, on the kitchen coun­ter next to the lat­est issue of his sub­scrip­tion to Popular Mechanics. The note says I know he’s been sleep­ing with my best friend, Michelle, and by the way, she’s also sleep­ing with Mark who lives two doors down. I also write that I’m tak­ing the espres­so machine I gave him for his birth­day. It was real­ly a gift for me. And

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Merran Jones ~ Curls

Great hair!” “Thanks.” The stan­dard exchange between Carla and any health shop girl. Girls with names like Jasmine or Skye or Willow. Girls who munched chick­peas and trot­ted around the globe in an absent-mind­ed way. “You do any­thing to get it like that?” Carla shrugged. She pushed the can­dle for­ward. “Just this, please.” Ocean Breeze. She need­ed more aroma—more

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Lydia Copeland Gwyn ~ Half Moon

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It was morn­ing, and the day was white and soft with a low fog that had start­ed the night before in the tree­tops and slow­ly shrugged to the ground. Our water line had frozen, which hap­pened a lot in the win­ter. So many days we walked behind our father look­ing for the source of the freeze, feel­ing the black, rub­ber line for give and pres­sure, cut­ting branch­es in our path, mak­ing things clear

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