photo of clown statues

Starting Over by Hamdy Elgammal

You were given a choice after you left the skin behind — you can start over. A man in a suit and a top-hat clapped his white-gloved hands and all the clowns came out of a very tiny building to greet you with open and colorful arms. Congratulations, the clowns said, you’re getting a fresh…

photo of a dog in a car

Careless by Elaine Hsieh Chou

The time I left the dog locked in the car, my ex-husband called me careless. He wasn’t wrong. My mother named me Careless. When she immigrated to California, me a silent seed inside her, she discovered Caress body wash in the supermarket aisle. She liked its name written in whooshy peach letters, also liked its…

photo of three screws

Assembly Instructions by Elizabeth Wing

In seventh grade I built my crush’s bed. She was moving. Her old bed had gotten stuck on the stairs coming down from the apartment complex. The landlord came out in his pajamas, sputtering angrily, but her mom shrugged and said they could buy a new bed. Her mother was being consciously nice that week,…

photo of matzo

The Strength of Horseradish by Shoshana Surek

Five children kept eyes on the father. They hid behind small Passover haggadahs and counted fingerprints on the prayer book’s cover, fingerprints left behind by Manischewitz wine. Each fingerprint represented a plague upon the Egyptians. Represented stories told and retold by the father. Dom, Tzfardeyah, Kinim he recited. Dom, Tzfardeyah, Kinim the five children repeated.…

Kraken graffiti

Cryptozoology by Todd Dillard

Father was a hunter of mythical beasts. He kept a Yeti rug in the den. One time he sat me on a stuffed Pegasus and couldn’t fathom why I cried and cried. Mother in the kitchen, scowling over a pot roast. Kraken again? She brandished a frying pan at my father in the endearing way…

photo of a tank

Little Black Holes by Christopher Stanley

They take our children first. I’m walking Eddie home from school when we hear a horn sounding over and over. Up ahead I can see four of his classmates blocking the road. They just stand there, slack shouldered, staring at the shadows under the bus. The driver hits his horn again, shouting at them to…

photo of a black panther

Miracle Grow by elena felix

I dropped the fertilizer bag on my kitchen floor by accident. Little purple pellets fell everywhere. Some rolled, some bounced. I tried to pick them up. I chased them. I watched them dodging away from me. My cat, Uganda, played with one and her paws started to grow. She stepped on some more and in…

photo of incense sticks

Nag Champa by Chris Drabick

I didn’t believe that magic could work, not even a little, but I didn’t know what else to pursue. I’d run out of options, as they say. She didn’t want me back; that much was clear. What’s to be done when someone doesn’t want you around anymore? I’m not an idea man. I played hard…

Grounded by Aparna Reddi

I held a balloon in one hand and reached for Sela’s with the other. Our fingers locked, my heart flew. I let helium seep from the balloon and sucked it in. My voice came out squeaky, unrecognizable, like it belonged to someone else. “I love you,” it said. Sela’s lips, puckered around her own balloon,…

embroidery depicting hands opening a condom wrapper

The Seeds of Things by Joe P. Squance

When the condom got stuck in the vending machine in the basement of his dorm and he grabbed one side and she grabbed the other—both of them just a little bit drunk, trying pointlessly to be quiet while getting ready to make a whole lot of noise, his body electrified with the prospect of imminent…