“Ontario” By Maija Hecht

Wildfire breathing down our necks. I don’t remember who said the last word, or where we went quiet. Just falling asleep. Eyes half-lidded, heavy. Breathing honey-tongued under nicotine. Told me you’d quit but you were always telling me things. Somewhere up north it’s been burning for weeks and we’d left the windows open, so with …

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“Sitting with Aunt Laverne” By Lyndy Berryhill

I always wanted to go to a summer camp like kids did in the movies. The thought of lacrosse in some New England landscape was alien to every summer I endured. This was southwestern Mississippi in the 2000s; we walked upstream in our creek looking for crawfish, the stream cooling us feet-upward. The sun’s oppressive …

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“Falling in Love with Teeth and Coral” By Penny Senanarong

The merchant was taught—ever since she was old enough to fear anything—that monsters could walk in daylight and nightmares could wear the skin of normalcy for a short time before slipping back into the depths below, shedding their masks as night falls again. So, when she was roused awake by a stranger knocking on the …

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“Recursion” By Jacqueline Donofrio

It was a summer of lemons and cherry pits. Desire set ablaze with firefly circuits, Crushed garlic hands that never pulled back. The heat was so heavy that it all melted, Blood orange sunsets and watermelon clouds smudged together and there you were holding bolts of lightning between your teeth. You were a secret language …

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“The Quiet, The Fisherman, The Mud” By Yasmeen Mughal

I always liked the quiet. The dull roar of an AC, pumping air that circles my body, a table, a sweating beer. I close my eyes and meditate on the noise, slowing time until it becomes my own, something that I can catch between my thumb and forefinger, like the wings of a bee—my mind …

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“Counters and Booths” By Susan Dashiell

Fleets of buses and trucks jockeyed for position along Northern Boulevard, but Gayl stared ahead looking at nothing in particular. Shoulder pressed against the vertical box of sealed-off space, her cupped hands cradled the phone like she was whispering in someone’s ear. Red panels enclosed the base of the phone booth, providing coverage from her …

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“Old Man and the Boxer” By Hanna Nielson

A blast of damp, frigid air blustered through the opened doors of Marlow’s Tavern. The cold wake skirted past the punters, rushing the bar before they did. The barman Brian Legarty felt it raise a chill on his bare arms and watched it lift the flimsy Christmas decorations tacked to the dull walls, making them …

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