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After Hours with Orange by Tom Holmes

Here is the defense against the negative forces of denial and death. Here in the city of taverns, dance clubs, and after-hour sex parlors. Here, in the night, with the presence of other and uncanny. And everyone who is exposed to or immersed in its early hours is tinged with mimetic failure. Here is the…

Cave-diving by George Michelson

In the sunken cave everything is gridded with day-glo string. This is necessary: Tunnels and fissures branch off into the karst and red clay, and most are unexplored. To lose her way would be unthinkable. She has eighty minutes of air at the beginning of her dive. Swimming like this, 20 meters under the halocline…

Birdcage by Katherine Neale

As witnesses of grief we become dark of tongue dark of heart. Grey birds inhabit our bodies settling in the most intimate places. The birds squat in our ankles. They flutter in our knees. They peck at our fingers. They fold themselves in the inner ear tucked away from the lighting that strikes the skull…

The New Wife by Jennifer Porter

She decided the new wife should ease into the role gradually despite their shared eagerness. They began with sleepover’s. She and the husband had not shared the same bedroom in many years due to his farting, snoring, thrashing, and bed and blanket hogging, and he liked it that way. She knew that if the new…

Watching Pomegranates Fall by Cindy Maresic

It’s dusk in the alley behind the house. You reach for the lamp with its sudden light and react to the string of shadows breaking against the back wall. The dog comes in from the yard. She watches you for a moment with her amber eyes, yawns, then turns to go on with her life. You…

Souvenir by Alex Austin

When Jake was eight years old, his father took his brother and him to a salvage yard. They hoped to find a driver’s side mirror for the family’s Buick, which had been hit by a watermelon on mischief night. At the yard’s entrance, big, angry German shepherds stalked pens on either side of the gate,…

Nothing by Pamela Hill

Sleek, grey smoke rises from the cigarette between Norma’s fingers as a calico purrs against her. She reclines in a paisley chaise lounge next to the window, loosens her hair from clips, and sips merlot that flows from crystal. Looking out a window at fireflies flashing through trees under a crescent moon, she remembers fire…

Burial Mother by Emma Colman

Digging through dirt, my mother finds a delicate sponge-like skull with the tip of her shovel. The crown of it gives up and sags in with a crunch. Peeling matted fur from his surface, angled sockets of a rodent shining clean, she presses the reddish mess between curious cracking fingers. The work sucks the moisture…

Before the Bliss by Ray Scanlon

The year is 1972, and we’ve pretty much sewn up second place in the Southeast Asia War Games. I’m about to receive my math degree, and with it, relief and a quandary. For four years I’ve been parrying the inevitable “What can you do with that?” with a muttered “Maybe I could teach.” That usually…

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