A Vigorous, Mostly Happy Couple
by Bob Johnson
By the time the raccoons appeared, Mickey had run out of excuses. The apple tree had fallen in a summer storm and he’d left it sprawled across the yard for days, until the masked creatures appeared and began feasting in the rot. They stared toward the house in the daytime and climbed the deck at night to peer in the sliding kitchen door, scaring the bejesus out of Mickey’s wife Kate and the chocolate lab Bosco.
The Poor Things
by Tessa Torgeson
When I checked into Sunny Prairie Detox and Rehabilitation Center in Fargo, my whole life fit into a puke-green duffle bag. The first week was a gauzy haze. I staggered through the place like a feral animal concerned only with my primal needs. Wake up, puke, take my morning pills, masturbate before groups, eat, nap, go to AA, take my night pills, masturbate again, sleep. A week later, once the doctors said the demons were purged from my system, they moved me across the street to the Rehabilitation unit, housed in a former 2-story office building.
by Marlene Molinoff
Brian and I looked up when she knocked on the doorframe of his hospital room. “Isn’t she beautiful!” he whispered, echoing my thoughts. Marianne Depinto was a trim, elegant woman with a halo of silver hair and huge, dark eyes that took in the room, then settled on him.
Within These Arms Forever Swim
by John Andrew Fredrick
From the get I just seemed to know things about her, things I couldn’t possibly have twigged without having had, one might say, some inexplicable connection with her, to her—whichever preposition or idiom one prefers to employ. For one thing, though she didn’t wear a wedding ring, just a dark purple bauble with a thin gold band on the pink pinky of her right hand, I sort of divined that she had a husband, and that she was a mom, a devoted and loving one, though she didn’t at all look old enough to have had a ten-year-old son. It sounds odd to frame it like this, but neither did she look big enough to have had a child. Though of course size has got absolutely nothing to do with it, motherhood and all of that: doubtlessly, there are innumerable lady-munchkins and wee, waify, petite things the great, wide, wicky-wacky world over giving birth right now, this minute, going into labor and sweating it out in boiling thatched huts or in perfectly temperature-controlled top hospitals, or doing “the home birth thing” in special soft white and blue inflatable bathtubs, with midwives and husbands and boyfriends and doulas dancing anxious attendance upon them.
Boys I Dated Before I Was Rich & Famous
by Rhys Evans
Have you ever been a muse?
A boy, (or possibly a girl, but most likely a boy) will put you on a pedestal and subject you to their reductive fantasies about what you can or can’t be.
They will focus on the tiny details of your life and seek a metaphor in everything from your use of a fixie bike to wearing vintage clothing. What this person won’t find interesting is actually more interesting than this glossy re-working of the manic pixie dream girl trope: the girl with a depressive father who won’t entertain a therapist but will call his only daughter at 3am to talk through his manic episodes; the girl that struggles to articulate how in a heated political moment she’s never found solace in ideology.
by X. Luma
It was well past midnight when Elise laid her hammer and chisel aside. All the town was in slumber but she, a young sculptress in her studio, awake with discontent before a bust.
“How lifeless,” she said to her sparrow. “Like everything I make.”
The sparrow chirped with its own dismay at the hailstorm raging outdoors. Elise blew the bird a kiss, covered its cage with her cardigan, and then fed the fireplace. Seated before it, she was beginning to drowse when came a knock at the door.
In the future perhaps he will have another chance
by Catherine Gammon
He attracts attention. How? He is clean. His hair is long. He has taken off his clothes. No one can read him. He is not young. He is not old. He is not white. He is not black. He is an immigrant perhaps, or an original inhabitant, brown, golden, hairless except for the long black hair. No one can see his eyes. He has covered his eyes with a blindfold. A black scarf tied around his head. Or someone other has covered his eyes. He is not quite naked, not as naked as at first he appeared, but wrapped in a pale loin cloth, just sufficient to cover him, his essential privacy, his sex. His wrists bear marks of binding.
by Mary B. Sellers
The frost isn’t as pretty as I expected it to be. Out here with the dogs. 6:29 am.
Parents have gone because mom’s getting another electroconvulsive treatment and for the first time in a long time I’m glad she’s going. It usually bothers me to think about all her neurons being lit up like little glow in the dark worms and her mouth clamped shut so she won’t swallow her tongue. I asked her once how the doctor knows she’s seizing; she told me that he watches for when her foot “jumps”. She couldn’t remember whether it was her right or her left. But her dad is dying; an event that would unravel even the most raveled of us. I haven’t had that happen yet, but I got a taste of what it would potentially feel like back in 2014. My own dad. Cancers. One so bad the medical people in charge of naming medical things felt compelled to place a modifier before it: malignant.