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.
by Jonathan Perry
The greatest trial of Winston’s career was the pissing. The pissing was an epoch-defining event, akin to the death of Caesar, the crucifixion of Christ, the invention of the iPhone. There was a clear before and clearer after, a life without the pissing and a life with, and he could envision no relief.
by Brenna Kischuk
I am not afraid of the right things. Not tight spaces, spiders or being alone. Not flying, death, heights, infidelity, fidelity, snakes, public speaking, poverty, politics, the woods, the dark, close encounters of the third kind, or even water.
I look to evolution, find fear. Fight or flight in our bones. Fear as rational or irrational, explainable or obscure, changeable or forgotten. Fear as motivation, stimulus, emotion, as narrowing, paralyzing, manufactured, controlled.
Our First Apartment
by Nadya Agrawal
Our first apartment was a small, shitty little thing. It boxed us in with thin walls made of flaking plaster. Faint but noxious fumes sat in the hallways. Our knees would touch the bathroom door when we used the toilet. It was horrid, and we deserved it.
by Dylan A. Smith
Newly alone I found work in a small café that also sold flowers. Or, as I preferred then, a small flower shop that also sold coffee. Framed this way I felt more like a florist, like my father, which I liked. It was important to me the café was small because this meant I worked alone.
All winter I’d had nothing to do. He’d left in late autumn, after the colors of the season had yellowed and faded. Alone I’d wake late and disoriented to the hollow sound of the city and have food delivered to the apartment, eating just enough before lying down for the rest of the day to think. Weeks drifted like this, the light unchanging in the room.