Dream 2

Rough and calloused is the palm that grips the little boy’s hand. Sharp air bites his cheeks and the cold, winter sun beats harshly against his eyelids; but quickly, his mother pulls him forward and together they step over the ankle-high threshold, to be met with warmth and rolling murmurs.   Twelve steps across the hard cement …

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Inside Joke

“Did she say anything?” I ask.  “No, she was very quiet at the end,” the nurse tells us.  “Really? My mom, with nothing to say? Doesn’t sound like her,” I say​, laughing​​.   “Goodness, Paige, your mother just died​.​ ​Why are you making jokes?” Shelby asks me.   Shelby looks stunned that I would say something like this because …

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Love, Bao

We used to hide in the chôm chôm​ evergreens, where our mothers couldn’t find us and only our ancestors who resided in the heavens saw our hands embrace. Our mothers might not have been looking however, because they usually concentrated on Father Chris and his commanding voice. Tran and I would crouch behind the cluster of leaves, pulling at its chôm chôm ​​pearls. Our mothers could …

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The Proposal

The sun isn’t hiding in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. Half-dressed kids dance in front of the fire hydrant, soothing sweaty skin in the cool water blasting from its pumper nozzle. Zola, Kilimanjaro’s godsister, sits outside in their godmother’s fenced garden, plucking feathers from a limp chicken. Nandi stands in the shadow of the doorway catching a …

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Other Side of the Mountain

That which is sublime is not humanity, but nature. Nature does not boast of its superiority, nor does it seek revenge on humankind. One day when I was walking through a forest, I came to a brink of a door opening to “the cosmos” and I realized that I saw the “sublime unity” from that door. This state …

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Sound Proof

I shed my clothes and the pain of the week. Forty-eight hours. Forty-eight hours ago we were on the couch in your living room. You comforted me as I cried myself to sleep, nightmares of my childhood on repeat. Forty-one hours ago you and Georgie pranced around the kitchen while I cooked us breakfast. You …

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Anya

Sasha sat and watched the leaves fall from the trees in Central Park. It made him feel young again. Of course, he was not young. He was very old. Layers of tan skin cascaded upon one another to create his face. His bright blue eyes, now his only staple, shone through the layers. Women used to fall for those eyes. Women still …

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Mueller’s Bowling Alley

When I was in the fourth grade, Matt Fischer got stabbed outside Mueller’s Bowling Alley. He didn’t die or anything, but it was the talk of the town for months after it happened. That’s how small towns are. If you live in a big city, you’re used to people getting stabbed all the time, but …

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Ten Things that May or May Not Have Happened

1.      When I was three, I threw a snowball at my mother’s back—we were somewhere in the mountains of southern California. 2.       My mother walked out on my father and me when I was in the third grade. I have this vivid memory I see sometimes. It consists of the front …

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A Petition

The next word I lightly scribbled on my bit of scratch paper was “Rose.” Needing yet another reprieve from the clipboard on my lap, I looked up to see pairs of newlyweds peppering the gaudy office furniture. They must have either been too practical or too in love to plan their moments far in advance. …

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Overburden

Hello? Hello? I — Hey? Hello? Lord? — I gotta question for you. Sorry, I, uh — Hi. Hey there. I feel like you might be confused right about now. Are you confused, man? You’re probably confused to find me here, strung out good on a spoil pile south of the Mason Dixon. I know …

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The 2013 Holiday Letter

“Joni, there’s no easy way to tell you this, but I’ve got an accepted offer on the Blue Lake cottage.” I’d been dreading telling my daughter, but when the time came I blurted it out. I could tell from her face that it was painful news. “I’m very sorry.” “No, that’s great, dad. Did you …

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Speak Fire

I ran to the other side of the world to get away from myself. It’s not that I really thought I could escape myself through travel; it’s that I needed a transformation and there was no way I could have one in the confines of my town or my high school. I’d spent my whole …

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Woman Gives Birth!

“It’s selfish, that’s what it is, Trish!” “How’s it selfish?” “It’s perverted.” “My body, my choice.” “Don’t pull hippie bull-shit on me!” “It’s natural!” “You’re putting yourself in danger and the baby.” Mum’s been against self-birth since the beginning. My friend Day is also having a baby, the normal way. Tells me that I’m brave. …

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What Counts

Jacob can’t remember learning math; it’s just something he’s always known how to do. If there were 3 chickens and papa took away 1, there were 2 left. It was simple. His parents, humble, hardworking people, never had heads for figures like he did. They were born to till land and milk cows while Jacob …

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Self-Alienated

You persistently try to find meaning in a universe apathetic to your attempts. In case you’re reading my story and persistently puzzled by the frequent, out-of-place burning numbers, however, feel inclined to look up “Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Reasoning,” as well the criticisms which note that the stages may be circumstantial modes of reasoning—not modes …

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65 Inches Wide and 37 Inches High

Let us observe the Clarks in the television room of their small but not unhappy home, a respectably uninteresting red brick that might wait on a grassy hill in any mid-Western neighborhood. Amelia Clark is sitting on the couch. Her legs are propped on the coffee table, sprouting towards the television. The back of her …

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At Once

There is nothing more capable than an Apple font for undermining her self-esteem. She thinks, a nagging woman isn’t flattering, fact of ’Merica, probably world, and these words are not hers but phrases her next door neighbor spoke, a kid with a faux-hawk and cargo pants. This is the sort of nonsense that, floating in …

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Six of Spades

They introduced themselves in turn in their south-Wexford accents, starting with the tavern owner sitting to my left. Lawrence Cronin, or “Lar” as he insisted I call him, with his scruffy salt-and-pepper beard, pale skin, and of course his endless stream of questions, such as where was I from? What was I doing this far …

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Council of Originals

Silence. It shrouded the meadow in an unnatural stealth that belied the epic gathering that was to begin in but a few moments time. Night had already arrived. He sat with the same finite stillness as the quiet gathered around him. Neither listening nor staring for any hint of the others who would come to …

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The Matters of Mondamin Street

In the latter half of 2001 I made several trips to my father’s home, where, for a week and sometimes two, I took care of him while he convalesced. Neighbors he had known for years, who he himself had helped in times of trouble, could not manage the task, nor could nurses, whose job it …

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Five Fights

When Lewis was six, he got into his first fight. It was a school holiday and his mum was working, so his dad, who didn’t have a gig till the nighttime, took Lewis to St. James’ Park to look at the birds. Lewis really liked birds. His dad would play old jazz records by a …

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Feed

Her temper was like a lit cigarette. Buck had already seen her burn hot and mean before crumbling and fizzling out. She made a phone call at the payphone just outside the gas station and slammed the phone down into the cradle. She lifted the receiver and slammed it down two times, three times, and …

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Pan

It was Eli’s idea to go gold panning. Not hers. But while it usually bothered Ruby to go mindlessly along with someone else’s plans, for Eli she could make an exception; even if it meant sitting all day in the hot sun with her legs and ass falling asleep on the rocks. When Eli pulled …

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Woof

I can think of at least a handful of times where I thought about stopping, but the most recent was when I made Laney cry. While it wasn’t first time I had ever made anyone cry, I will say that it’s the only time I have ever made someone cry tears that burned my brain like …

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Dirt Road to Nowhere

Enough was enough. Anevay Jaimson left work early and sped off in her pickup truck, the man’s sly touch still crawling on her skin. The sexual harassment had become a regular occurrence —something she couldn’t ignore. She drove past run-down gas stations and dumpy antique stores, along streets where listless old men stood on corners …

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Gray Blob

Emily lay on her bed in underwear and a tank top, her body balanced precariously on the edge of the mattress and her hand suspended above the dusty wooden floor. The room was dark, and the floor was littered with clothes and trash. Emily’s chest felt fragile—her skin like glass, her papier-mâché ribcage shaking with …

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Solitary

I. John’s brother Colin went to jail when he was twenty-three. Colin stole cars and used them to pick up kilos of cocaine from the docks at the edge of town, then drove in to the city to sell. He later told John he would leave the cars somewhere no one would be likely to …

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