Pornography’s Lesson | Anna Coppola

I was walking up my driveway on a frigid Friday night when I received a cryptic text from a good friend. I slid my phone open with gloved mitts and read the message:

I’m at the Ritz Carlton in Manhattan. Text me in the morning.

The words confused and concerned me, but I took the notice at face value. I knew Kate tended to make decisions on a whim. I would learn later on that she had made plans to meet a young German tourist at his hotel after they had gotten acquainted at a club in Brooklyn. But as they settled into his room and began hooking up, Kate felt uneasy. She shot me a text as Tobias stepped away from the bed to grab a condom. It comforted her to know someone would be checking her whereabouts the next morning. Continue reading “Pornography’s Lesson | Anna Coppola”


The Mythologies of Mother | Jai Hamid Bashir

In your living room, a sacred ordered space where everything has history in placement, I found an atlas. It was arranged next to the plate of cut apples and figs left by my Father. Ringing around the edge of the plate’s pattern, in the way you told me Lilith must have had curls sewing down to the v-lines in her nakedness. That is why and where Eve, without a shiver, eyes open, was stitched. Eve still holds the fire, you told me. She holds the fire in the softness of her palms like Durga. Like the boxes of matchsticks and thick wick candles you never let run out, or leave your bedside table. Even when I told you that in America we often don’t have electrical shortages. You would pace around the hallways after midnight, tending to the energy. Looking for the light that had never gone out. You never allowed me to have a shortage of coiling narratives on the origin of women like us, did you? Continue reading “The Mythologies of Mother | Jai Hamid Bashir”

A Pattern, Not a Destiny | B R Sanders

A team of three psychologists sat in front of me; two were residents while the lead specialized in post-partum psychological distress. One of my partners, Jon, sat beside me. I held my child, five months old at the time, in my lap. We sat in a room with a wall paneled in one-way mirrors where the team had just observed and videotaped my partner and I playing with our kid. The room was playful, appointed with mats and toys and bright colors. We sat on children’s chairs at a children’s table, all the furniture too small for all of us. The lead psychologist, an older woman with a slight German accent and round glasses, leaned forward.

“Can you tell me about a time your parents made you feel safe?” she asked. I unraveled. For what felt like the thousandth time since Zadie had been born, I fell apart in front of medical professionals. My unraveling was a still, silent thing. Tears slid down my face, and I stared at the psychologist with wide eyes–dumbstruck, frozen. Continue reading “A Pattern, Not a Destiny | B R Sanders”

Tamales | Amethyst Hope Hethcoat

Teresa Rojas sparked a match and lit a candle for her mother like she always did every evening before she went home—before she started work.  Illustrated on the candle was the portrait of a young and beautiful girl—the Virgin Mary, the blessed mother of Jesus, of God.  Teresa and she looked like they could be sisters, maybe even twins, except that Teresa was a few shades darker. Continue reading “Tamales | Amethyst Hope Hethcoat”

Maxine | Dan Nielsen

Maxine is Head Timekeeper at Westward Printing. She arranges timecards in the rack and retrieves them from the slotted box. The workers fill out the cards with numbers indicating what they did and how long it took. There is a blank space on the back for Comments. Maxine is also in charge of Payroll. She copies down information from the timecards into a ledger book. This information determines what each worker will be paid for that week.

Westward Printing is a union shop. Everything goes according to the contract. Continue reading “Maxine | Dan Nielsen”

Miss Accidental Blonde | Carol Lynn Curchoe

Secretly our minders had each promised the judges the heart of the fairest mortal. The poor soap maker, the rattlesnake chaser, the inimitable Mr. B. Willard Sykes of the bushy eyebrows and double joints, they stare at us.

I try to will my nipples hard. My boobs have shrunk so much, they might resemble two eggs thrown against a wall, with wide comical nipples, like peach colored eyes staring back at you. Under the glaring lights I can barely see the judges, but believe me when I tell you that if it was up to them, we would never eat and they’d fuck us until our skeletons rattled. I pinch each wrinkled flap, stretching the labia, seeing how low I can pull them, winking at the judges. I make the edges swoop in and out like a like a giant bird of prey with each pinch.

Continue reading “Miss Accidental Blonde | Carol Lynn Curchoe”

Heat | Stephanie Butzer

It was barely spring and I was red-faced, sweaty and setting a new best time for the mile. But fear was at my throat, sweat stung my eyes and all I could think was how much longer I could hold on before something gave out.

It wasn’t too warm outside — the March sun in the Outer Banks wasn’t fierce yet — but I felt heat flowing through my body. My skin seemed too tight, the sun too hot on my bare shoulders. I pressed the pace, trying to exaggerate every liftoff and bounce instead of slam the road. I had to get home.

The black pickup truck was still behind me, too far to see the driver, close enough to hear the engine. Continue reading “Heat | Stephanie Butzer”

The Biscuit | Jette Harris

Josh Percival, Mr. Fahrenheit himself, stared at the photo in his live feed. The moment sprang clearly into his mind. He felt no shame or guilt, but the journalist’s words appeared to presume that he should.

This is going to be published in tomorrow’s edition of The Biscuit, the journalist warned. Feigning objectivity, he tagged his victim: Josh Percival, care to give us your side of the story before we go to press? Continue reading “The Biscuit | Jette Harris”

Thanksgiving in Connecticut | Katherine Bell

Becca didn’t know “Catholic” meant her boyfriend’s parents’ house would be covered with religious paintings and full of Jesus and Mary figurines. She stood in the living room, Patrick’s hand on her shoulder, and tried to suppress her reaction. The sunflower wallpaper that the family had not replaced since the 1980s stood out against the blue and red of the Catholic Virgin Mary, and peeled at the corner of the wall and the ceiling. It was like the room was trying to escape its skin, and she sympathized, regretting her decision to visit Connecticut for Thanksgiving. Continue reading “Thanksgiving in Connecticut | Katherine Bell”