by Josh Denslow
Haley and I had been broken up for two weeks when she asked if I’d drive up north to have dinner with her parents.
“They are looking forward to meeting you,” she said over the phone, and I could picture the wince that happened when she felt uncomfortable. The twitch of her cheek.
An Incident of Defenestration
by Francis Levy
The sound of her husband’s body hitting the mound of refuse wasn’t that much more dramatic than any of other occasional thumping that came from the dumpster, which contractors routinely used when there was a renovation going on.
by Marilyn Abildskov
I am the one who unlocks the door, who opens the register, who dusts the counter of this small shop, who writes on the chalkboard sign outside. Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Welcome! I am the one who draws tulips and daisies in yellow and red. I am the one who welcomes women in.
What propels? Not depression. Anxiety. Not buying. Browsing. Not the drab cubicles of H&M. The Chalk Garden welcomes customers to browse the racks of extravagant clothes, clothes that fill a need.
The Game of Stupid Poly
by Alex Behr
The Mad One keeps locking the bathroom door from the outside, especially when I’m in a hurry. “Tenth paper clip this week,” I say to her, my daughter, “And it’s only Wednesday.” I say it, like, no big deal. Paper clips are free. I take them from work.
The Mad One folds her arms and leans against the hallway wall. She whistles.
I don’t want to antagonize her. “Don’t you need to use the bathroom?”
It’s Hard to Say
by Claire Hopple
The fastest recorded escape from a straight jacket while underwater is 22.86 seconds. I’d like to say I still remember that from when you told me. When your voice became flatter and more hollow like it was trying to escape from its own straight jacket. But I had to look it up.
It’s noble you tried for that Guinness record for however many years and just got really close. Though I don’t know if or how you get over such a thing.
Quietly Inside, Waiting and Waiting
by Thomas Price
Henry agreed to meet Jacob that night because he wanted to kiss him, but Jacob just wanted to smash jack-o-lanterns. Henry never understood what pleasure it brought Jacob. Henry hated the smell of the softening orange flesh, like that of rotting melon and baby vomit. But he loved seeing Jacob’s biceps flex as he lifted the pumpkins. He loved seeing the wet sheen on his crooked teeth, even if the smile looked deranged. His overgrown bangs peeking out from under his hoodie. How his pale skin became phosphorescent in the glow of the moon.
Small and Ugly
by Carlos D. Williamson
I scroll through my feed and see that Michelle is having a party. I want to be there, with her, but I’m here, slicing cold cuts for middle-aged housewives, who get short with me whenever they feel their lunch meat isn’t cut to par. Every time one of them shakes their head, which causes their jowls to jiggle, I know I did something wrong. Then Freddy lets me know, usually in the form of name calling, in front of them. Faggot is one of his favorite insults. Maybe his favorite word. I just keep my head down, slicing that ham thinner and thinner until it’s damn near crumbling. Then they snatch the bag, sometimes smile, and walk away. For some reason, getting berated at work seems less stressful today.
by Omari K. Chancellor
Your boyfriend puts on a mustache and fedora then pretends to be your father. You don’t find it very amusing.
You know, of course, that he’s not your father. Your father doesn’t even wear hats. Or have facial hair. Plus, your father’s emotionally abusive. But, then again, so is your boyfriend.