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.
The Greatest Show on Earth
by James A. Reeves
There’s this old couple that gets around. Maybe you’ve seen them. They’ve been touring the country for years, long before America elected a game show host for president. They started off doing decent business at casinos and conventions until their tantrums began causing problems. At a fundraiser in Houston, they raised the house lights and singled out members of the audience, including the Secretary of Defense, saying they refused to perform for “a bunch of pornographic machine-gunning murderers.” Although this earned the couple some stock with the underground scene, the punk rockers and break-dancers didn’t know what to make of their mambo routines or their clumsy impressions of Hubert Humphrey and Dorothy Parker. Soon they were kicked down to the county fair circuit where they drank all the booze, spiked the acrobats’ water with a particularly vivid hallucinogenic called Black Sunshine, and set enough tents on fire while cuddling with cigarettes that even the sideshows along Interstate 10 wouldn’t have anything to do with them. So they began hitching from city to city, busking on street corners and subway platforms and that’s probably where you’ve seen them.
by Martin Castro
When she returns, Georgia will sit on her suitcase in the living room and inhale as if testing her memory of the air inside the house, chewing on it, mapping it out. That is how it begins. I will offer to help her unpack but she’ll brush the suggestion aside and, after dinner, she will begin to tell me finally of the week she spent abroad.
My Father’s Death
by Tita Chico
I begin my summer vacation on the morning of Father’s Day. I am with my partner and his children.
My father—my difficult, strange, passion-filled father—has been dead for five months.
by Anthony Varallo
I don’t remember much about the blanket. It was one of those handmade kinds you sometimes see in older people’s homes, slung atop the back of a sofa, or folded at the foot of a bed. It was blue and gold, possibly fringed. Patterns might have played a role. Or not. Like I said, I don’t remember much about it. If you were looking at a photograph of the blanket right now and asking me questions about it, you would probably conclude that I hardly remembered anything at all about the blanket. And you’d be a little bit right. But you’d also be a little bit wrong, too.
by Ian S. Maloney
In the basement of our green house in Marine Park, an industrial green carpet was laid with beige and black patterned lines. A fisherman’s net was cast from the drop ceiling and a harpoon was anchored on the wall, next to an oar slung atop two industrial hooks. Bookshelves and cubby holes were built into the wall, constructed out of pine and cedar. It looked like a honeycomb. A couch was placed before a television entertainment center. The flower printed cover of red roses and green vines was worn away. Its pillows were depressed and its springs sagged in the middle. The threadbare fabric had black grease stains on it and cigarette burn holes. Ashes accumulated in the crevices of the couch. The nautical coffee table was strewn with glasses, bowls, cups, and magazines.
A Typical Afternoon
by Tyhi Conley
A family consisting of three brothers arrived in town. Their mother gave them catholic names: Deacon, the youngest; Bishop, the middle child; and God, the oldest. It’s hard to believe the brothers were religious, but apparently their mother was. I say “was” because she died shortly before they came.
The brothers and I would hang out often since they only moved one neighborhood over. We were on the bus ride home when Bishop told me he’d like to show me something. After school, most of our parents were still at work, leaving us a couple of hours to roam the streets. I agreed to check it out and got off at his stop. As we approached their home, I could see God talking on the phone in the parking lot. I greeted him. Deacon was in the dining room eating cereal. I greeted him too.
by Lauren Sarazen
Before I was a wife, cooking was an adventure. I took pleasure in complexity then. Bringing home French cookery books, I’d spend hours decoding instructions in my second language. Time would pass slowly, whisking egg whites into tentative submission and anxiously surveilling slow-simmering bouillabaisse. My meringue would be over beaten and chunks of white fish were outrageously overcooked, but we’d laugh and eat it anyway.