Mary Lannon ~ All the Stray Cats of the World

Oprah will die! Oprah will die! Oprah will die! you think as you pump gas at Gas on the Go on Thanksgiving Day. You mean to send her no bad kar­ma, of course. It’s mere­ly a fact. Still, it seems more shock­ing than oth­er deaths. Oprah will die! Oprah will die! Oprah will die! you feel like shout­ing it to the world, wak­ing its cit­i­zens from their zom­bie-like stu­por. That would do it, you think—Oprah’s

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Lydia Copeland Gwyn ~ Four Stories

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Gray Cats

Juniper bush­es out­side a green house. Matchbox cars in the sand, the trace of their tracks lead­ing away from me. These are the first things I remem­ber. The dog’s neck, the swell of ticks under her collar–their white bal­loon bod­ies. I wait on the play­ground swing for Grand to pull up in old Hildy, the brown Town Car that made it all the way from Oak Ridge and would make it back again lat­er that

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Josh Russell ~ Two Suburban Folktales

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The Ship With Three Decks

But the old sailor had brought along the bar­rel con­tain­ing the water of long life, in which he immersed the youth’s body, only to see him jump right back out as sound as ever and so hand­some that the king’s daugh­ter threw her arms around his neck.” The man with can­cer stopped read­ing from the arti­cle he’d found online and looked up at his col­orec­tal sur­geon.

Kamat’s water-of-long-life

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Sherrie Flick ~ Chest Out

Words string out like clothes­line along each page as Ellen reads in the yard. Thoughts sweep in like tides as she turns each page. She has ques­tions, and they have led her out­side into the ear­ly evening sun.

The drugs in the draw­er. The dirty sock in the car. The strange drawl­ing phone mes­sage on their machine. Ellen has tak­en on the need to observe her home from afar, the dog at her side. After

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T.L. Sherwood ~ Birth Control

The radio was tuned to the local NPR sta­tion so they didn’t have to talk. Tara was glad because each time she thought of some­thing to say, it began with, “Had I known,” and Pete already explained that if he’d told her he was tak­ing her to his sister’s for his nephew’s birth­day, she wouldn’t have come and if he’d told his fam­i­ly he was bring­ing her, they would have been on their best

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Pierre L’Grommet ~ Letter to My Doctor

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Dear Dr. Hanson, Nurse Cache and Lisa:

I just want­ed to write this note thank­ing you all for work­ing the­se many years to keep me upright and nom­i­nal­ly func­tion­al. Very kind of you all, and one of my few fond mem­o­ries of Penurburg, along with the many stu­dents at Penurburg State, and my den­tist. You guys are the best and have my unend­ing appre­ci­a­tion.

I have, after many months, engaged the ser­vices

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Melissa Goode ~ All Roads Lead to the Met

Elise awoke think­ing about light­hous­es and safe har­bors, or light­hous­es not indi­cat­ing safe har­bors. It must have come from a poem. Louise Glück? She tried to recall the words and stopped when she real­ized she was lying in a bed­room she hadn’t seen before. She was naked. Not a safe har­bor.

She want­ed to get the A train home before remem­ber­ing she didn’t know where she was. She part­ed the cur­tain

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Greg Bottoms ~ The Dropout

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Death by cop is a more com­mon form of attempt­ed sui­cide than I would have guessed before I became a crime reporter. Among the poor, the des­per­ate, the heart-crushed, the men­tal­ly ill, and the abject­ly lost it is up there with bridge jump­ing and, believe it or not, about a third as preva­lent as guns, pills, opi­ate over­dos­es, and car exhaust fumes, main­ly because the­se lat­ter reme­dies for our

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Kevin Matz ~ Mayonnaise

for Mike Madonick

On the rec­om­men­da­tion of a col­league of mine, who says my work lacks vari­ety, I am going to attempt to describe, of all things, a jar of may­on­naise. In his opin­ion a more var­ied sto­ry will arise from this exer­cise. I have my doubts, but we shall see.

To begin with, the jar is made of clear glass. At least I believe it’s clear; since the jar is full, the glass may only appear to

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Lucinda Kempe ~ Brown Sparrow

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Brown Sparrow was asleep in a lin­den tree when the first sui­cide bomber blew up. The two fol­low­ing implo­sions shook her body. She didn’t pause to breathe but left the lin­den tree and flew along the Canal de St. Denis, past the hon­ey locusts, horse chest­nuts, mimosas and Empress trees on the Boulevard Voltaire. She flew over Le Bataclan. There was no refuge tonight in Paris.

The lit­tle brown

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Avital Gad-Cykman ~ To Catch Her

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Through the heavy rain hit­ting my win­dow ledge, we see her bal­ance on the tightrope, her arms row­ing in the air. She would give her life for her art, we say to each oth­er. This per­for­mance is the real thing, says a man with a long mus­tache like Dali’s.

A gray cloud with translu­cent ends lands gen­tly over the top of her head, her stretched neck, her breasts and ribs and bel­ly squeezed into

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Gary Percesepe ~ Raptors

The Republicans start­ed their con­ven­tion in Cleveland, Ohio today. The TV is on with the sound mut­ed, and I’ve raised the blinds to look out the win­dow at the two hawks in my back yard. I’m lying in bed as I watch the hawks, who have no idea they are being watched and not the Republicans. There is an old book in my lap, ear­ly Hemingway. It is a book I know, but I don’t mind. Since last week

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Nelly Zann ~ I Turn My Music Loud

My moth­er leaves a tense mes­sage on my phone. “I need you here tomor­row. I’m out of pads.”

I live nine­ty miles away in New Orleans but I’m on vaca­tion. We haven’t spo­ken in six weeks, since I took my son to vis­it her. She bright­ens around grand­chil­dren and with him she smiled girl­ish­ly and pet­ted his arm, asked him about his stud­ies in London. He bit at a nail and she brushed his hand from

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Girija Tropp ~ Once I Was Honey

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I want to com­mit the details of this win­ter to mem­o­ry and next year I will be able to fig­ure out small dif­fer­ences. All around where I sit at the bar, this black and steel enclave, the roast­ing of cof­fee beans is tak­ing place in gleam­ing met­al bar­rels attached to flash­ing pan­els and space age exhaust pip­ing. I can’t tell skill lev­els of the staff. I can­not tell if I will recov­er my abil­i­ty

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Kathy Fish ~ Imagine Your Daughter Is a Cherry Red Convertible

The body is a tem­ple and Sundays are for rest. If only you worked hard. Enjoy food but don’t overindul­ge. Trim your nails and keep them scrupu­lous­ly clean. Likewise see that your chil­dren are bathed and immac­u­late­ly dressed. Do not allow your daugh­ter to go out in that slinky, skin-tight frock. Would you want her to tempt? Studies show that cher­ry red con­vert­ibles are 100 times more like­ly to be

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