by Sylvia Math
What was strange about how I met him wasn’t just that it was unusual in and of itself, but also that of all the many ways we might have met, that was how it happened. We knew people in common. We went to the same parties and events. We had likely seen each other before; it seemed impossible that we had not. Except that I always seem to attract notice so probably not. He would have remembered. I have some weird quality of presence and stick out and people notice and remember me; I never get away with anything. There’s always a witness. But it was possible, we decided, that we were in dark readings at KGB bar a bunch of times together, where it’s too dark & crowded to make or receive an impression. That was the most likely explanation. We had to talk about it; rifle through the possibilities, worry the subject. There’s always something a little uncanny & compelling about meeting someone who for sure you should have already met; a sneaking suspicion that you passed by each other; that photos of this or that event you were at would depict the other one of you in the background, undetected…yet. There all along.
Who’s Your Daddy?
by Rick Whitaker
for Dennis Snell
The biology of the sex act dictates that each of us has one and only one father; but biology does not necessarily identify the man whose sperm gave each of us life. Blood and DNA tests can confirm or rule out a candidate, but it has always been possible, given more than one man in the vicinity, for a new person to be, for all practical purposes, fatherless. My biological father, according to my mother, is either one man or another, but not anyone else—Rodney Whitaker, my mother’s second husband, or Richard Spencer, whom I’ve never met (and who was married to someone else when I was conceived). I was born with the name of my mother’s first husband, Hardin. My mother has had seven last names: Cooper, Hardin, Whitaker, Durham, Temple, Seaver, and Keller. My brother is Whitaker’s child, my older sister is Hardin’s, my younger sister is Durham’s. A half-brother I’ve never met is the son of Richard Spencer, one of my mom’s between-husband boyfriends circa 1967 and, it turns out, my biological father. This was confirmed by 23 & Me introducing me to Rich, my half-brother. We are not, so far, very close: I sent a message to which he has not replied. Rich and Rick, sons of Richard. I asked him, via 23 & Me, if his father was alive and whether they’d enjoyed a warm and happy relationship. I just wanted to know if he was a more decent man than all the other bullshit dads I’ve had to put up with. But since Rich hasn’t answered, my instinct says no, he probably wasn’t. In any case, I’m 61% Irish. That’s something to celebrate. James Joyce was Irish. So was Oscar Wilde. Oscar Wilde, who wrote my motto: The only thing worth living for is pleasure; nothing ages like happiness. (Though pleasure gets old, too, alas.)
by Eileen Bordy
“Run down to Omar’s and get me some cinnamon.” Jeremy’s mother handed him an empty jar and a ten-dollar bill. “I’d go, but your sister is asleep.”
“I have homework,” Jeremy lied.
“I’m making these snicker doodles for you.”
Jeremy’s mother used to be an anesthesiologist. She still was, she’d correct him, but was taking a break to raise him and his baby sister.
Jeremy looked at the ten-dollar bill. The idea that he could pocket the change his mother never asked for convinced him to go.
The Chapbook Lady
by Francis Levy
She’d identified herself as a poet when I first met her. It turned out we’d both liked that Dorothea Lasky poem “Porn” in The Paris Review. “I just watched a woman fuck a hired hand,” is one of the memorable lines.
Louise was a friend of a friend of a friend, actually no, a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend, once removed with whom I was no longer speaking. I’d met the friend of a friend of a friend once removed at the party for Helen’s chapbook. After readings of pre-Perestroika Samizdat, we would retire to Ukrainian East, the dank basement place next to Veselka on Second Avenue.
Bet You’re Wond’ring How I Knew
by Daniel Paisner
Okay, so the first thing that needs doing is nothing. That’s all. Just lay here a while longer, maybe try not to move. Keep totally still. Let the day find you—that’s the phrase she runs through her mind.
Shari Braverman figures this is something she can handle. It’s like she’s left herself no other choice. Jana has left her no other choice. Shari can’t even remember Jana crawling into bed with her, but here she is, this child, splayed across the body pillow they’ve apparently been sharing. Jana has always been a restless sleeper, so Shari is careful not to wake her. Rest with intention, she tells herself. Shouldn’t be too, too hard, right? And yet, move a muscle, breathe too loudly, get up to pee and the day will run away from Shari Braverman, just as all the days now run away from her.
Basically, she wants to keep the world from spinning.
The Summer We Ate Off the China
by Devin Jacobsen
She has been kneeling over the toilet, arms on the cool of the seat, when the light goes off on the phone. From the far side of the bed the man turns from watching her and reads the number without any name and is about to ask, “Shall I answer it?” but before he is able he hears it coming up into the bowl.
When at last she turns off the light and goes to the bed, so long has it been she would have thought he were sound asleep, but she finds him awake, waiting there, knows he has deliberately stayed awake and is waiting to speak as he coaxes her to his arms.
After a while he clears his throat.
Talking with Funny Voices
by Patrick W. Gallagher
For familiar reasons that require no elaboration, Rick and Betty had to spend all of their time indoors and were not able to see friends and family. So, to break up the monotony and loneliness, they created new personalities by speaking in exaggerated accents and pantomiming fantastical gestures.
Surveillance by Sarah Henry “Hi babies,” Janelle said as she stared at the camera propped in front of her. “Do you like spon-con? Do you like when your fake friends on the internet try to sell you shit?” Janelle was recording a video.