The Geography of Flight by Maryann Aita

Archaeology: A- When I was eight, my mother, father, three older siblings, and I took a family portrait and hung it above the piano in our dining room. The piano belonged to my father’s father, but none of us could play it, nor did my parents see investing in lessons as worthwhile. Eventually, we sold the piano, but the photo remained there, an artifact of our proximity. In it, my mother and father sit next to each other, surrounded by their four children. My sister sits next to my mother and one brother stands between them. My other brother—the oldest…

Diary From a Disappearing Island by Amanda Witherell

Photo by Amanda Witherell The awful is inside the normal. Like normal is pregnant with awful. —Brian Doyle, “Everyone Thinks that Awful Comes by Itself, But It Doesn’t” April 4, 2017  Fanning Island rises into view slow as the morning sun—just a low, green strip of palms with a thin gap near the center. We steer our sailboat for the gap. A couple of church steeples and spindly radio antennas pierce the canopy. A man in a rough-hewn canoe anchored just off the island, fishing, waves a long, brown welcoming arm. Brian and I haven’t seen another boat or human…

The Rat Trap by Rebecca Lee

  I work for a content mill. In 30 minutes I can write 500 words for $7. When I look at a single roll of toilet paper, I can tell how many words it’s worth. 7 minutes for a Snickers. 400 words for a bottle of laundry detergent. I log on to a website where clients from all different businesses in all different countries post what type of article, blog post, or web copy they need written. The content mill website works as a third party where only they interact with both client and writer. When a client pays the…

This One’s Me by Zac Thriffiley

To be fair, I made the mistake of standing too close to the kitchen island and hovering over the charcuterie spread. With my shoulders slouched and arms wide, I looked like a vulture protecting fresh roadkill that it had paid too much for at Whole Foods. Everyone knows that the safest place at a party—especially one where you only know half the guests but everyone is willing to have sex with you anyway—is next to the food. This way, you meet new people, but have something on hand to shove into your mouth if the conversation dies or takes an…

You Talk Like a Girl by Byron Flitsch

Your popularity and recognition depend, frequently, on your voice and the impression it makes. —Eugene Feuchtinger, founder of the Perfect Voice Institute    “CUT!” The instructor’s voice blasts through the hotel conference room filled with fellow fake eaters looking for their big break in fast food commercials. When I was signed by a Chicago acting agency in my mid-twenties, my then-agent suggested to fork over one-hundred-fifty bucks to take a commercial acting workshop to learn the ropes of eating on camera. She insisted “the only way to get the good gigs” was to be classically trained in artificial eating. A…

Moving to Maine by Pamela Stutch

One morning, my atheist mother walked into her assisted living facility’s church service irate and naked. The attendees gasped. The reverend summoned a nurse’s assistant who quickly escorted my mother back to her room. When the head nurse called me to report the incident, she did not need to give me details: I could clearly picture my mother charging into a room full of people, oblivious to her surroundings, her sharp chin out, her hunched back exposed, her bare breasts swaying, and yelling, “What the fuck’s going on? Why can’t I get any help around here?” “She couldn’t locate her…

What My Mother Remembers by Krista Varela Posell

  “So what classes are you teaching this year?” my mother asks. I take a breath, my hands gripping the steering wheel. “Actually,” I say, “I’m not teaching anymore.” “Oh,” she says, with a hint of disappointment in her voice that any daughter could recognize. She was so proud when I told her five years ago that I’d be teaching college writing. That I’d be a professor, straight out of graduate school, barely twenty-four years old. It seemed to her that I had achieved an incredible status for someone my age. “So what are you doing now?” “I still work…

Starter Marriage by Chelsey Drysdale

    “I love that you can’t remember to turn the light off in the garage, but you can remember what Hamlet said. I love that I can’t beat you at Scrabble. I love that you have enough college degrees to make you a true scholar, and yet you’ll dress like a skater kid and listen to punk music until you’re 80,” I said, facing Troy, holding a microphone, wearing a layered ivory gown and beige leather flip flops. I recounted the reasons I’d loved him for three years, the majority of which we’d lived together. It was July 31,…

The Pilot by Catherine Johnson

    The Pilot noun: 1. a person who operates the flying controls of an aircraft 2. a television program made to test audience reaction with a view to the production of a series adjective: done as an experiment or test before introducing something more widely     It wasn’t until I had sex with the pilot that I learned how to ask for what I wanted in bed. I realized that what I really wanted couldn’t be asked for, or found there, especially if I kept lying to myself.   I met the pilot at the beginning of 2019…

Satin Wrap for Sale. Never Worn. by Shelley Berg

  A pandemic is a good time to clean out your closet, especially if you baked and drank your way through it and are five (ten?) pounds farther away from ever wearing that black skirt again. Closets are also good places to hide from your husband and children under the guise of being productive and busy. And while you’re in there, look into the secret passage to your past that is The Bin of Clothes You’ll Never Wear Again. My Bin is extra large and airtight, which ensures that the clothes I’ll never wear again stay wearable. If anything is…