Hell Employs Labradors At The Front Desk

by Josephine Bätz
Image: Jeannine Bätz

The first time she dies, it is a practice run. Clinical, under lab conditions. It takes her a long time to come round again, and it hurts like hell. The assessment afterwards is curt and with all the unnecessary pleasantries removed, the body declared stable and ready for work. They send her down with a duffle bag and a pamphlet full of instructions. It hurts when she moves too fast; at this stage, the healing process still takes a while. They tell her it gets better with time. How long that takes will depend on her. Head office warns her that taking the wings out will be difficult at first; probably won’t work at all until she has rearranged some bone structures in the shoulder blades. She should hold off attempting until after the first few months, when the body is stable enough. Continue Reading

The Rabbit Sister

by Wendy BooydeGraaff
Image: Kaitlin Ruether

We all know the story of Peter Rabbit, that naughty boy who went to the garden after his mother expressly said not to, and he paid for it with a cold and having to drink chamomile tea in bed while his sisters, Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cottontail, got to have bread, milk, and blackberries at the table. But while we were moralizing about disobeying direct orders, Flopsy over there, her furry little eyelids closed with the ecstasy of berries bursting in her mouth, reminisced about her own little adventure. One that no one else knew about, which made it all the more delicious. Continue Reading

Houses of Water and Flight / Solicited Crossings

by Evan James Sheldon

I was walking to the movie theater when a great golden bear approached me on the sidewalk. Come with me, he said.

Only if it’s quick, I said, still thinking about the movie.

I followed him off the busy sidewalk to a house that appeared to be caving in on itself in a beautiful, intentional way. The golden bear knocked, didn’t wait for a response, and went in. Continue Reading

Ascension

by Delaney S. Saul
Image: Hanna Webster

Ma was the first to ascend, and by then she was no longer herself.

It started with her sobbing in the middle of the night. I would huddle under my blankets and silently beg her to stop. She cried out for Pa. I knew Simon heard her because he came out of his room every morning looking withered.

“People grieve in different ways,” my therapist said, before I stopped seeing him. I assumed Ma’s strange behavior was grief over Pa’s death.

Then Ma revealed to me that she could not see herself in the mirror.

“It’s like I’ve been erased, Savannah” she said. Continue Reading

Kyle

by Kelly Craig
Image: Amanda Gibbs

Before they are friends Kyle asks her to go under the bleachers with him at the homecoming football game. She says no. Their team loses. She drives herself home with the windows down. It’s still hot. Las Vegas, late September. She wants to feel a chill but the windowsill where her arm rests has retained the heat of the day and she feels nothing but the stickiness of her thighs from sweating on the metal bleachers. She doesn’t talk to Kyle again until the next year, senior year, when their AP government teacher assigns them seats next to each other in the front row. She says hi to him, feeling her friends watching her in rows behind. She pretends she doesn’t recognize him as the guy who asked her to go under the bleachers. He tells her his name is Kyle and acts like this is the first time they’ve met even though they’ve been in school together for three years and she already knows his name. She doesn’t tell him her name and he doesn’t ask. She is never sure if he knows it. He never says it out loud. Continue Reading

Goodbye Dancers

by Ted Shaffrey
Image: Kaitlin Ruether

Claire stood up inside the subway car and exhaled. Where is my dance partner? The train approached Bedford Avenue Station, triggering the brakes. Claire’s legs vibrated with the train.

There he is. She inhaled in time with the slowing train as it rattled and stopped. She sang, “Will you dance with me, my darling dear?” The doors buckled open. She exhaled, rocked back on her right foot and sprung out of the train and onto the subway platform. “I will. I will, so our hearts can be near,” she sang, answering her musical question. Continue Reading

Tangerine

by C.B. Walshak
Image: C.B. Walshak

When I saw her for the first time, it felt like I had—not butterflies—but white owls flapping violently in my stomach. Helen’s on Main Street. She was dramatic and tipsy, a rainstorm contained inside olive skin and brown-sugar eyes. Now I understand why hurricanes are named after people. Her name was Lizz.

That autumn, rain fell in wet curtains across the city. The sky would scream with thunder and laugh with lightning. Inside, we were dancing to Springsteen, making love to The River. Lizz smelled like fresh dirt and wet leaves and big porches and tobacco.

She broke up with me in January. Black sharpie on a blue sticky note while I was asleep. Continue Reading

Suzanne

by Alexandra Mae Jones
Image: Verena Spilker

The man running the fifth record stall in the flea market had pink beads in his hair. He was shaking them to the beat of the smoky thick drums coming out of the speakers at his feet, and the appearance of his unselfconscious joy had driven away three customers now. Only five remained: a middle-aged couple, a teenage girl and her father, and an elderly man. The woman in the couple was leaning heavily against the man for something more than support, the edge of her smile pushing folds into his jacket’s shoulder. He was muttering about the organization of the ‘80s records—“The Smiths next to Madonna? Might as well spit on their legacy,”—and ignoring the way she kept sighing, louder and louder, in a showily content way that slowly grew more pointed.
Continue Reading

A Guide to Human Relations and Hormone Development

by Kathryn L. Hall
Image: Samir Bhimji

When it starts, it may be hard for you to understand. Talking about it can be uncomfortable because these things usually stay hidden. It’s awkward, a hassle, and can confuse you. It might even cause you to act out. However, this is essential to talk about. It happens to everyone. A physical change that occurs when a child is ready to become an adult, one that is capable of reproduction, the basis of life. The years between ten and seventeen can be a lot of fun but also very puzzling. If you are reading this, it means you are about to or are already experiencing changes. This book is designed to help you through this challenging, awkward time in your life. It may not answer all of your questions or solve your problems, but after reading, you should know more about what is happening. It may seem like forever, but trust that this is a temporary state. Continue Reading

Jane Untitled

by Timothy Day
Image: Timothy Day

When Jane visited her parents on her 26th birthday, she found them stricken with a persistent wetness. The three of them sat on the towel-covered couch and Jane listened as they told her about work and the cats and holiday vacation plans. They asked how she was doing and Jane did her best to inflate the recent small victories. Jason was starting yoga; the car was running fine; that mould that had been on the wall of their apartment when they moved in? Gone. Continue Reading