Joel Hinman: Nobody Listens

Dekko Cahill is a bull of a man. His head has the girth and heft of a field stone. There are places where his skin even looks like pink granite, a dull tongue color flecked with gray patches underneath his eyes. Dekko grips the edges of the examination table with both hands. His shirt is off and his braces dangle down to his boot tops. The great silver shag of his chest rises and falls as he watches the doctor pace back and forth. Dekko looks down at the man’s tiny feet. He doesn’t want to be here nor hear what the doctor has to say. 

The doctor opens the medical folder theatrically. 

“You were supposed to come back and see me 18 months ago,” the Doctor says. 

Dekko kneads his scalp with thick fingers, knuckles raw from rough work. “When I feel poorly my wife gives me a pill,” Dekko says.

The Doctor glances over. “She’s a pharmacist?”

“A vet,” Dekko says. 

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Ron Hartley: Without a Helmet

I called him boyfriend as an endearment, like good morning boyfriend or I love you boyfriend; boy meaning he was much younger than me and friend because I desperately needed one. I was coming home from work at Best Buy, knowing his dyed blond hair would be punked up like always into a disarray of golden spiked ends, knowing he’d be waiting to teach me Texas Hold’em online, knowing he was hustling me and that duplicitous love was okay if it helped ease my pain. I was coming home from work at Best Buy knowing, knowing, knowing.

“Let’s go to Poker Planet,” he said, but as it turned out I couldn’t catch on to the math of loss to win ratios. “Just talk to me,” I said. “Tell me a story taller than Poker Planet.”

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Susan Dugan: My Funny Valentine

Jay Whitiker parked in a space outside the church and sat drawing deep breaths, hands over naval–left, over right for males, the way they taught in his tai chi classes. Outside the car window, the day shone like a page torn from a Colorado Bureau of Tourism magazine: blueberry skies and sugared mountains. A fresh coating of powdery snow steamed off the asphalt.

Jay glanced over at the roses he had picked up at King Soopers that were resting on the passenger seat beside his battered leather shoulder bag. A dozen red, a dozen white.

Angelica.

Even his voice teacher’s name suggested higher realms. Sometimes he would find himself suddenly repeating it over and over in his head like a string of prime numbers.

A rap on the window startled him. His hands flew up, palms out, as if expecting to confront a police officer demanding license and registration. But it was only Sheila, upstairs neighbor of his rented flat. Flustered, he grabbed the flowers and his bag, and climbed out of the car.

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Johanna da Rocha Abreu: Flash Floods

Vonnie eases up on the gas pedal and they coast the last couple of feet to the side of the road. A staccato burst of rain erupts on the body of the car as if it wants to dismantle every bit of glass, metal and rubber. Vonnie can just see them sitting in their seats after the storm, each lock, nut, bolt and gear of the “jalop,” as Paul called it, scattered around them. Worthless pieces not even a magpie would take to its nest.

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Jeanne Althouse: Love Child

She inherited my uncle’s face. She inherited his pale skin, freckled nose, smoky eyes, narrow cheek bones, the way he tilted his head to his left when he spoke. She inherited his love of gab and tendency to lecture. She inherited his profession, his talent at poker, his longing for mountain streams and the habit of a rod and line in his hand. She inherited many things from Uncle Dave, but not his name.
 
I didn’t believe in religion, in transitions to the other side, in seeing people after death. But the first time I met Renata Taylor that changed.

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Michael Overa: Homegoing

One.
 
At thirty-three, I have moved home to live with my parents. They have converted the small space above the garage into an apartment. Oddly, instead of negotiating with my soon to be mother-in-law over the food we’ll serve at the Wedding Reception, I am living in a mother-in-law apartment.
 
The queen bed seems too big. I am not used to sleeping alone. I am not used to going this long without talking to Miriam. We dated for eight years. Eight years and six months, give or take. No. That is wrong. We dated for six years and six months, give or take. We were engaged for two years. But, ultimately, I wonder if there is that much of a difference.

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Lynn Levin: Evermay Blair

It was close to midnight on Saturday, and I was driving home from a visit with Sandra, the two-lane country road wet from a November rain and spattered with leaves, when a girl came running out of the woods and dashed straight for my car. If only she could have been snatched up on invisible strings. Instead we collided, her eyes in my headlights, white with panic. You don’t forget the eyes. Continue reading “Lynn Levin: Evermay Blair”

Alice K. Boatwright: Look Both Ways

When Molly Porter arrived home from work, she skidded around the last icy turn in the drive into a yard crowded with trucks: John Griffin’s rusty blue pickup, Mike Greeley’s classic Chevy, Victor Gianetti’s silver half-ton, and, of course, Andrew’s faded green Ford. On a summer evening or a Saturday afternoon, it would be ordinary enough for them all to be there, but this was six o’clock on a Tuesday in January. Continue reading “Alice K. Boatwright: Look Both Ways”