Adam Scharf: Practically Dancing with Corpses

This train goes south along the Hudson. You should sit on the right-hand side of the train, that way you see the river. Grab a window seat. It’s alright if someone sits next to you. Just act like you’re really doing them a favor if that happens. I’m in a long-distance relationship; I know how to ride the train. I wear the same sundress every ride. It’s blue, and I’m elegant like a little elf. I love the ride home to Brooklyn. I love goodbye: Matthew waves like a boob from the platform, and I have the luxury of getting smaller and smaller, until I vanish. Every goodbye should be that fun. Your aunts and uncles shrinking until they’re long gone, having a ball. When you want to say hello, you grow like an azalea, out of nowhere. Growing and shrinking out of lives like it’s a habit.

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Finnegan Shepard: Burglary, Robbery, Theft

Carlisle is certain of the robbery. Burglary. Theft. He will look up the distinctions later. He thinks that burglary might have to do with breaking and entering, robbery with holding someone up, and theft with—what? Maybe it was taking something against no resistance, like a chocolate-covered peanut from the bin in the grocery, or the dirty pair of earbuds he found the week before, draped over a low-hanging tree branch.

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Abby Walthausen: Seasonal Rush

The year I had Novi felt like it must have been the first year when all the women in Los Angeles adopted Christian Science attitudes toward birthing. Not Scientology, mind you—I had spent years getting the two cults or sects or whatever confused. But the one that now was creeping into the thought of dabbling Buddhists, well-educated ethical humanists, and atheists with children who attend Unitarian churches. The one that found divine beauty in kids with scarlet fever and otherwise eradicated diseases. Every other pregnant woman I encountered whispered and spit about interventions, and all of them had a birth-plan. My grandma would have said they were looking the gift horse of western medicine in the mouth, yanking on those perfectly good teeth without even a squirt of novocaine.

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Rodney Stephens: Hogueras

“Sergio,” Dean Kippler said, “I’d like you and Dr. Sanchez to head up the trip to Spain this summer.”  No small talk.  No ‘how you doing?’ Just an announcement phrased as a request. I knew what he was thinking.  My selection made perfect sense.  After all, I was the university’s only European History professor.  However, if he had looked at me, he would have seen that this was not the same as telling me to teach a course outside of my specialization; this was not drafting me to chair a committee that was a colossal waste of my time.  He might as well have asked me to walk a bed of hot coals.

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Donald Raymond: Carter in the Valley of the Kings

“wonderful things…”

alone among these houses
empty as summer schoolrooms;
as any fast-abandoned place,
this one by chance or luck
left overlooked for us, cramped
dark, and narrow, filled to overflow
with alabaster oil jars, centuries
dry, tipped sideways and discarded
among overturned furniture;
chisel-marks on unfinished stone:
as if they had forgotten something
small, and easily misplaced
as if they were called, suddenly, away –

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