A Wedding in Uluwatu
by Gauraa Shekhar
Look, I’m not going to lie. I was twenty-four—actually just two weeks shy of my twenty-fifth birthday—and I was living in the waxy basement of a Russian painter’s house. Her being Russian has nothing to do with the story but, you know, these types of details seem to matter to the people back home. And while I’m at it, I might as well clarify that this was Bed-Stuy, and Bed-Stuy in 2010, before the fucking art school kids moved in, before Yasmine’s Hair Braiding had given way to Gnostic Yoga and Tattoo. Before there were ‘coffee bars’ where the impoverished elite left their tabs open for five-dollar lattes. Around this time, I used to get mugged at knife-point, which was funny in a pathetic little way, because all I had on me was a bag from the dollar-store which sold off-brand Pop Tarts—Toast ‘Em Pop Ups, I believe they were called—and a bunch of bananas. It was all I could afford back then, so I thought twice before handing over the black plastic bag. Can you believe that? I was willing to risk death for Toast ‘Em Pop Ups!
Josh and Sarah Are Still Missing
by Will Mountain Cox
Our authorities told us we had to be alone. Our authorities told us not to go toward the screaming. Or the crying. Our authorities told us to be worried. About one another. About what we were capable of doing. But beyond the masks, all we could notice was smiling. But we couldn’t help noticing so many people helping. But we couldn’t stop ourselves from admitting to seeing people giving up food to those who had none. But, people carrying bags of food for those who couldn’t lift the bags. People who usually bumped one another in hurry, making room for each other’s bodies and bags. It was uplifting, the intelligent flouting of our authorities’ recommended worry. We went bold. Our hands went raw from repetitive washing, all for the sake of intelligent flouting. All for the sake of remaining a clean part of community. We all noticed our hands rotting a little from the helping, and then we all commented on noticing. But after a month, things changed. Our authorities got to saying nothing would be the same. That we should accept that. No matter how much we’d noticed, we couldn’t stop ourselves from frightening. They told us we really had to stop helping. That it was unsafe. That it was, or else. One of our friends got the most afraid and listened harder. She went out only alone, to places with fewer and fewer people. She didn’t help, because she was good. People screamed and she didn’t help. She was a blessing. On one of her walks, out in the danger, she was stopped by the police. For her, it should have felt like a blessing in return. The cop said she was being unsafe, demanded her address and her number. We’d been promised those were normal questions. The cop said for her to message when she got home safely. It was for her safety. It seemed to make sense in the context. She said for herself to feel safe about it. She did what she was told. An hour later the cop messaged asking if he could come over later. At night. To check on her safety. And for a drink, obviously. He knew where she lived. He knew it for her safety. He reminded her of that. She messaged us, begging we come to protect her. But she was far away. Far enough that it was illegal now to go. Our authorities told us it was too dangerous to be legal. They said it was unsafe to help. We didn’t know what to do. We kept telling ourselves that we didn’t know what to do. We kept telling ourselves that everyone was acting so friendly. The authorities kept telling us that nothing would be the same. Only, we kept learning that nothing was ever different.
by Ryan Sartor
I got a job as a custodian because I thought it would be a good occupation for an aspiring writer. I had gone to film school, but soon realized I didn’t understand cameras or where to put them, so I decided I would write fiction: novels and short stories.
I knew that I needed to acquire two things: life experience and a job that provided me with a room, outside of my apartment, in which I could write. I thought to sign up for a co-working space, but I got anxious imagining the other members. Would they also be writers? Would they stop me while I was working and ask questions about my personal life? Would I tell them that I didn’t want to talk, be labeled “difficult,” try to get back my deposit, and find out it was too late because I’d locked myself into a six-month agreement?
by Samantha O’Hara
I’ve decided that I’m not leaving Quentin’s stoop until he takes me back. I’ve been an impractical girlfriend, wouldn’t you know it, but the point is he has to take me back because we’ve got so much living left to do together. I am capable of that living. I walked all the way here, the long way, even. I put my high-top sneakers on and bought a carton of orange juice with the change at the bottom of my bag. The sky is a heavy, humid yellow, and my shoulders are itchy with burn by the time I’m ringing the bell to Quentin’s apartment.
by Kim Magowan
CALL ME, Aria had texted, all caps. Greg saw the text when he turned on and then immediately pocketed his phone. He and his partner Franny were in a taxi, winding snakily from the airport.
Franny had forgotten to pack her sunglasses, an omission she realized only when they landed in blinding Phuket. Greg waited for her to go to the hotel lobby to buy a new pair before sitting on the bed with its gold linen cover and pulling out his cell phone.
by Adam Voith
“Look, we can’t do anything. We see what happens in the room, but we can’t move. We can’t intervene. And they can’t hear us. Believe me, we’ve tried everything. Also, don’t forget: I’m 24-Year-Old Whitney. I don’t know him like this.” Whitney is smiling in her wedding dress, happy with the choice she’s made. “I can’t speak for Right Now Whitney. We’re not sure if she’s aware.”
Yassa Martin & Me
by Kyra Baldwin
Should the story have pictures? Well, it’d be better if it did. I could give you the one of her at the Met Gala, wearing a bright pink tutu and a Guy Fawkes mask. The theme was The Internet; she had bangles made of old Dell keyboards that slid down to her elbows and bunched like tourniquets. If you look past her, you can just see my shoulder and a bit of my beard in the top corner.
the summer I refused to shower
by Isobel Atacus
I wake up with a desire to email you. I splash my face with water, cold, sharp, then pick up the bags of recycling to take along to the bins in the local praça.
I walk slowly, as if to feel the whole day ahead.