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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Tom Baragwanath: Gorgeous Blue

Keller was late to the party, later even than the Phillips had come to expect. He’d neglected to wrap Rachel’s gift before leaving and had to stalk the house for paper and ribbon, settling on a vaguely festive red bag mashed inside a kitchen drawer.

The hallway mirror told him the chowder stain across his breast was more apparent than he’d realized. It was his only jacket; he’d have to find a dark corner of the ballroom and hope no one came too close. Then, as a grace note on the evening’s already stammering shuffle, he found his station wagon still loaded with cement mix. By the time he unloaded everything and pulled into the road his collar was soaked, his skull squeezed tight. He wished he’d remembered a flask.

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AN Block: Once the Fireworks Start

My Bubbe came over from the other side packed in steerage like a sardine when she was eleven, then headed straight to a shirt factory. She had no choice. One of twelve children, she never learned to read or write, she spoke broken English and had to go through a lot of hardship in her lifetime. By the time I came along Bubbe needed a cane, she walked side to side and stopped to rest after every few steps, but she’d seen things other people hadn’t, and knew things they didn’t know.

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