Bess

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By Breena Clarke

I had love to lavish when my son died, you see. Bess, an obsidian-colored Labrador retriever puppy, smelling like all infant mammals, was the companion I chose. We took obedience training together. Bess always behaved well on the leash. The trainer said, “You don’t need a gun. Bess is a lab, and a lab is a staunch dog. She’ll lay down her life for you.” She did. She lunged at a crazy guy in Lincoln Park who slashed at me because he was crazy and she got stabbed, and her black coat was darker still with her blood.

     
Breena Clarke is the author of three novels. Her debut, River, Cross My Heart, was an October 1999 Oprah Book Club selection. Her short fiction has appeared in Kweli Journal, Stonecoast Review, Nervous Breakdown, Mom/Egg Review, and Catapult.

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In America

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By Bryan Jansing

In America the apricots are too big, pears too hard, tasteless, the apples too shiny. In America the streets are immense, the cars enormous, the traffic lights monstrous. In America, the people are tall, large, overweight. In America, I am small, little, my hair too curly, my eyes too dark. In America, I’m not America, I’m strange, foreign, my clothes weird. In America, the boys fight, the girls laugh at me. In America, I don’t belong and I long, so much, so very much not to be in America. But in America, there’s nowhere to go, but America.
     
Bryan Jansing’s flash fiction was included in Fast Forward Vol. 3, The Mix Tape (2010), a finalist for the Colorado Book Awards. He has also written for Beer Advocate, Celebrator, Primo and Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.

Plunge

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By karishmagoenka

Descending the rope

Into ever-deepening shades of blue

Releasing pressure with every foot

Leaving behind the world I come from

Dusting words and woes

Off the blackboard of my mind

Passing through the void

Into another dimension

Where silence is the norm

And sound has no source

Mind waves bend just like the light

Nothing is how it should seem

One must reforge the most basic instincts

For this is not familiar territory

Although time here is as fleeting as air

I hear the tingle in my skin whisper

Welcome home stranger

Catch Me

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By Cherie

I watched you walk across the room, caught your scent from the wind gently blowing,
Smiled when you said hello, hiding my startle that you’d already come so close,
I noticed your two-second lingering stare, fought the urge to look away from your welcoming gaze.

“Hello.”

But isn’t that what he had said, quickly welcoming me into his arms and getting into my head? Quickly twisting me and turning me like a piece of thread, causing me to come undone, I picked up my books and started to leave, hoping you would follow to catch me, and not bind me.

Six Years Later

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By Dwayne Allen Thomas

We were like small-town teenagers during a blackout in the 1950s. Despite phones, text messages, email, Facebook, and FaceTime, I drove 40 minutes each way to her house. We sat in my car, talking for hours. Nearly every day. For five weeks.

It almost didn’t happen. That first night, I drove her home from an event. She said, “Nice meeting you” and “Goodbye.” Ten times in the next four hours. But she didn’t leave. At 6 o’clock, we went for breakfast. She reached for the check. I said, “I should marry you.” She still didn’t leave.

Shuffle Up

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By hombrehompson

We huddle together on the bench, waiting to see if she will appear.

Markings on the gravestone are impossible to read, eroded by rain and five years of waiting. Every anniversary we hope she will visit, a sign of forgiveness to finally set us free.

As we are about to leave we hear another presence – a car pulling up nearby. We see her, flowers in hand, searching for our grave.

She finds the bench and we shuffle up to make room, despite having no need to do so.

     
Hombre’s work has appeared in Ellipsis Zine, The Cabinet of Heed, and is forthcoming in Spelk.

Understanding the A Game

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By C.H. Coleman

As a rule, Jane Piccolo never drank on a first date. Or so she said.

Or at least, she said, this became true after becoming a single mom.

Her story went something like: always play your A Game just in case the right man comes into your life. You’ll never know how far you and that guy could go. So why make a bad first impression? You can tell a lot from a first impression, she told me.

She sat explaining this to me on our first date, margarita in hand, just before her first sip.