Over the Archipelagoes to You by Sarah E. Ruhlen

  These are the things Walt will eat: Mondays: Box macaroni and cheese, the macaroni shaped like Pac-Man and ghosts. Tuesdays: Personal-size frozen pizza. Mel cuts a thin wedge from the pizza and arranges the pepperoni so that it looks like an eye. Wednesdays: Frozen burritos. Mel cuts a circle out of a slice of orange cheese, cuts a wedge and an eye into the circle, and lays it on the pale skin of the burrito when it is hot from the microwave. Thursdays: Canned Pac-Man pasta in spaghetti sauce. Fridays: Round fish patties with a wedge cut out for…

The Airbnb Guest by Sevde Kaldiroglu

    Mana was happy that her Airbnb listing got booked the day she put it up. His name was Alex. He hadn’t asked any questions prior to booking, even about the location or amenities. It was surprising, given the many inquisitive guests she’d had in the past at her old apartment. Perhaps she’d done a better job with the listing photos this time. The moment the booking notification popped up on her phone, she started rushing through her online meeting with her manager. There was so much to do to get the place ready. Yes, yes, she nodded to…

A History of Heartache by Patrick Strickland

  When Ma starts in on me again, she’s splashing gas station cabernet into an old, cracked coffee mug, flipping the bottle top-down and filling it to the lip. The springs from the pullout couch dig into my ass, and I can’t get comfortable. Ma grabs the remote and hits mute. A guy on the tube sobs silently, his head in his hands. He lost someone he loves, I guess, but who hasn’t? I listen to noise claw all about the trailer—dishwasher whooshing, dryer thumping, strays scraping at the back door. Nothing’s out of the ordinary, not really, but it’s…

Lobsters by Dean Jamieson

  Here’s how it happened: They were all packed tight inside a tiny apartment. Lena, Milo, August and the others, all the girls in children’s shirts and all the guys in pants four sizes too big. They drank rum and Cokes first, sipping out of mugs, spilling brown liquid on the rug, laughing it up, “ha, ha.” Milo brought coke, more baby laxative than coke, but it was pretty good anyway. Lena saw ghosts in her peripheral and talked with feeling and eloquence about absolutely nothing. She liked Milo. He had an awkward kind of grace, like he knew how…

Burnt by Alison Bullock

  by Alison Bullock   When the silver-embossed envelope arrives in the mail, Eleanor’s husband Gerald is practically giddy. It’s from the chief of thoracic surgery over at the hospital where he works as a cardiologist. An invitation to a house-warming party. “This is it,” Gerald says, rising up on his toes. “It’s happening.” The invitation isn’t personal—everyone in the department has been invited, even the nurses, but this doesn’t register with Gerald, who keeps mentioning what an honor it is. “All of the other wives are going,” he tells her. Eleanor sighs in resignation. She hates parties. People always stare…

Daughtered Out by Toni Ann Johnson

              You’re growing your first child inside; it’s a girl, and your father is visiting for Thanksgiving. He wears a chocolate-brown ascot with a white shirt under a multicolored Pucci jacket. You wonder when he began wearing ascots, and you curse under your breath because you’ve already purchased his Christmas gifts, which include an insanely-expensive silk tie you took forty minutes to select on the first Saturday of November when, on rare occasion, you weren’t working. Why didn’t he tell you he’d switched to ascots? He sits across from you and your handsome husband in downtown Boston, where you…

If You Leave Now, This Is All Going to Stop by Julia Black

By Julia Black It was a full flight to Tampa, which surprised me considering how little I wanted to go to Florida, but I suppose all flights were full in those days. Jason insisted on arriving at the airport two hours early, even though it meant waking up when the city was still dark and rang with that empty sound that always made me feel homesick before I’d even left. He still huffed audibly when we were held up in the security line by two TSA agents flirting behind the baggage x-ray. We sat at the gate for over an…

A Perfect Life by Kailash Srinivasan

By Kailash Srinivasan In Karol Bagh, New Delhi, the streets are narrow, crammed with low-rise houses, people and bicycles and the housewives prefer buffalo milk to cows’. You’re Bala, you’re twelve and your hands are soft, your school uniform is white and boring, and your handwriting is right-slanted and cursive. You live with your grandma, who perhaps hasn’t seen a penis other than her husband’s, and now, even he’s gone. The last you heard of him, he was somewhere in Thailand with his lover, a fairly young man, a practitioner of nudism. But his pension still comes to her, and…

A Certain Kind of Happiness by Adaora Raji

By Adaora Raji When sand flies with the whirlwind and lands in my eyes, I do not close my eyes because I know that if I do, they may never open again. I am not afraid when a dust devil takes a fierce swipe at my face. I am not afraid of the rattlesnakes that hide in the sand or the bandits who watch my every move from behind the mountains. I am afraid of falling, falling again and being unable to get up. I am afraid because my feet have turned sore inside my worn out sneakers. That my…

The Stash by Katie Dickson

By Katie Dickson Peter’s mother, tanned and laughing in her lime green swimsuit, twisted on the spigot outside the back door. Margo Stiles was unyielding in her cheer, or so it seemed to Peter, and he tried to be happy too. His mother let the water flow from the hose until it ran cool and Peter took a long drink; the water tasted tinny and cold. At twelve, Peter considered himself too old to run under the sprinkler, but he didn’t say so, not wanting to set alight the morning’s disappointment at the pool. Instead, Peter peered at the street…