Plums by Anna da Silva

“How about you put the phone away while we eat?” I tell Beck. My words float up, accidental question mark dangling.  “Ma, it’s for school,” Beck says without looking up from under his basketball hoodie. “Besides,” he waves his hand at the empty place-setting in front of me, “are you even eating?” The three of us sit at a round table in the center of a bustling Holiday Inn Express breakfast hall, boys’ jackets and backpacks strewn on chairs, their clunky boots jostling under the table. The air tastes like hot maple syrup.  “Duh! She never eats breakfast!” Finn makes…

Crescent City Connection by Daniel Webre

Her name was Facetia, or so she told me anyway. I met her on Interstate 10. She was hitchhiking, maybe stranded, and I was bored and curious, on my way to New Orleans from a city across the swamp. I had picked up hitchhikers before. So it wasn’t just because she was a young woman and reasonably attractive. But those other times, I’d been drinking, which I realize now made it a bad idea for both of us. I was barreling down the interstate in a mid-nineties Town Car—coal black. This was one of my rare excursions beyond the city’s…

The Mechanical Bull by Jacqueline Berkman

It wasn’t until the bachelorette partiers were on their third round of Never Have I Ever that Violet, sitting under the Cactus Cove’s pulsating array of strobe lights, looked around and realized she couldn’t find any hot guys anywhere.  “Lemme see here,” said the bride-to-be Olivia, her eyes droopy. She’d already had a couple shots and some passion fruit rum drink from the bar and was starting to slur her words. “Never have I ever…done the mile-high club thing or whatever.” This resulted in an eruption of giggles, and at least three of the ladies threw back shots. Violet grimaced,…

This Is Supposed to Be an Apology by Alyssa Kagel

  I stood at the threshold of my daughter Eliza’s studio apartment, staring at a nude statue with enormous breasts and a giraffe-like neck that held open the apartment door. I tried not to study the statue, turning instead towards my daughter’s side of the room: a painting on the wall with zigzagging gray lines that wasn’t Eliza’s style, dresser tidy as usual. But no Eliza.  Eliza’s roommate sat scribbling at a messy desk, her back to me, her side of the room filled with students who were bored or angry; I couldn’t tell which. Music blared. The whole place…

The Big South by Leanne Phillips

I wanted to show my daughter something wild and free before it was too late. But I’m a shit mother, and that’s an inescapable fact. It’s in my bones, passed down in my family over hundreds of years, like other families pass down their sourdough starters.  Rae was remarkably quiet on the drive south from Santa Cruz. I’d expected her to be happy about missing school, but she seemed to feel inconvenienced more than anything. She kept letting out perturbed little sighs like an old woman.  “Do you know where we’re going, Rae?” I asked. I wanted her to talk,…

Birdish by Elizabeth Cohen

                 Trigger Warning: Domestic Violence I’ve been a bird since Tuesday. That’s the day Lucy usually comes over. She couldn’t make it this week and at first, I was glad. I didn’t want her to see me like this, even though it was all her idea. Now it’s Friday and I’m enjoying myself. The tickling sensation is almost gone and I’m luxuriating in my own softness. This afternoon I thought, the equivalent of feathers would have to be angora. I feel like I’m wearing the softest sweater, only in this case, I am…

I Do Crew by Rachael Marie Walker

Three months ago, I was vaping in the tub, leaned back against the tile, submerged my face in the water, and thought: fuck, I’m not cis, am I?  My girlfriend of three years, Liz, was playing video games in the living room, out on a mission with her gamer friends in Red Dead Redemption. She took one look at me, still dripping from the bath, naked and sudsy with lavender bubble bath, and said she had to go, she’d catch up with them later, and motioned for me to sit in her lap. I curled up there, left a moist…

Fresh Coffee By J.D. Strunk

Paul opened the door to the break room and froze: a neon-blue eye stared back at him. The unblinking cyclopean orb belonged to a new coffeemaker. Paul felt his stomach hit his toes. He’d been dreading this day for years. The old coffeemaker had been grimy and scuffed, but it had also been reliable. What’s more, he knew how to use it. Paul approached the new machine with trepidation. It felt too futuristic to be a coffeemaker. Why did everything need to be so futuristic? The word “streamlined” shot through Paul’s mind as he examined it. While it was true…

Ammonite by RT Young

Dina starts awake to the sound of the phone ringing, and before answering she knows Ken has gone out again. She can feel the absence of him in their shared bed like a cavity, the room still and silent as a forest, and the roaring klaxon of the landline is a chainsaw, teeth biting through living wood. Still, to confirm she is alone, she lets her hand search around the empty space beside her, roving over the landscape of pilling cotton sheets. They are cool to the touch. The digital clock on his bedside table reads, ‘02.37’. Next to it…

The Wedding That Was by Ankitha Venkataram

Michelle pointedly kept her school bag next to her seat on the school bus and looked away from Siddharth who was trying his best to look as innocent as her puppy, Tommy. She saw something yellow flash in front of her. He was holding out two Ferrero Rocher chocolates.  “I’m sorry,” he said. “Could you let me sit before the bus starts moving?” “Why don’t you go sit with your friends instead?” she said, acidic.  “I’m sorry! But they make fun of me already for hanging out with a girl all the time. If I acknowledged you waving at me,…