by Sudha Balagopal
On my way home from school, I find a man’s hand on my skirt: a giant, hairy spider wearing a ring on one thick leg. Horrified, I watch the weighty arachnid crawl towards the hem. A woman standing and swaying next to me in the packed public bus, smiles and texts on her phone. The bearded man gazes outside the window, disconnected from his extremity. I pray for my stop. Heart bursting, I grab my backpack. When mother asks why I won’t eat dinner, I describe the spider. She asks, “Did you scream?” I chew and chew, but cannot swallow.
by Ashlie Allen
I don’t want to sit down. My stomach is roaring, but my mind is roaring louder. “Don’t go close to them. They think you’re weird.” Carrying my books, I flee to the bathroom. I think I am alone when I lock myself inside the stall, but I can hear someone crying beside me. I know it’d be nice to ask if this person was okay, but I feel too ashamed. The stall door creaks, and the person washes their hands. “Listen to your belly when it talks,” they say. “Sometimes it’s the only things that speaks.”
It Was Just so Hot
by Anthony ILacqua
The entire situation had deteriorated further still. The days were hotter, drier. Fires, the really wild ones, burned the distance all to hell. Preachers were on every corner bumming cigarettes and predicting the end. Somewhere off of Colfax Avenue, Detroit Street, I think, I saw a clump of long hair in the dry gutter. I looked for the scalp or the blood and was grateful to find none. I felt like there was change in the air, but for the life of me, I just could not tell what it smelled like. It was just so hot.
by Lily Frusciante
I watched with camera-like precision. My grandfather sat hunched in his wheelchair, his breath dampening the screen before him. It was a stunning shot: one generation watching another, wondering how he got a rock star for a grandson. Yet it was an odd shot as well. My grandfather, in his early stages of dementia, had forgotten to wear pants that day. And so, as the highs and lows of my brother’s electric guitar flowed around us, he sat half naked, with no blanket and no shame. The tears sliding down his hollowed cheeks fell to the bare, thin legs below.
by Tyler Lacoma
He sees her.
She sat in a chair they didn’t own.
She took his hand.
He couldn’t feel his hand.
Splintering trees in snow. All sides.
Hands. Rub them.
Velvet white. Burning his eyelids.
Heavy as stone.