by Tim Frank
It’s just that Gina’s pregnant, her mum’s just flown in from Nigeria with giant snails packed in Tupperware and they don’t fit in the fridge, they’ll rot, they’ll rot, shrieks my mother-in-law then Gina says it’s coming, and as she sobs in the toilet her mum says, I told you so, he’s no good, and the truth is we have a flat the size of a ping pong table, I work in a fucking bar and cigarettes cost twenty a box. I guess I’m not ready for this, I don’t even feel like an adult.
It’s not OK.
Alex and the Face
by James Burt
We were in 6th form when Alex found the face. He was happy to share it and we all took turns wearing it. At first, the new features made my skin ache, with its tighter cheekbones and small nose. I soon grew to love the feeling of being someone else – there’s a thrill to playing with your identity when you’re a teenager. Sometimes we’d go to the pub and swap it between rounds. I still sometimes see the face in town, and long to say hello, but I don’t know for sure if it’s one of the old gang.
by Nancy Welch
On the downward slope of your forties, you marry, acquire a stepdaughter, and learn to ski.
“So brave,” friends say. “At your age.”
But gentle groomers forgive your wedge. For the occasional yard sale—skis and poles strewn—your newly-wed husband skis clean-up.
From the lift, you watch the toddlers, tethered to one parent while the other slow-carves a protective perimeter. On this hill, your husband has explained, he and his ex taught their daughter. You picture them each time the unforgivable fact of you spins the girl into a yard sale, her father, on clean-up, hopeless to retrieve what she’s lost.
The New Measuring Device
by Divya George
“What size should we buy?” she asked him, sipping tea. Her phone opened on Amazon with ‘skewers for kitchen’ in the Search bar.
He jumped into action.
Her attention shifted to skewer composition, wood vs steel.
He walked in circles, murmuring, “can’t find it.”
She didn’t notice him pick something from near her and head into the kitchen.
He reappeared all smiles. “How big is our new clock?”, he asked.
‘Totally unrelated’, she thought. “Let me see”, she replied, her eyes now on Order History. “14 inches.”
“We need smaller”, he said, holding out the clock. “This doesn’t fit.”
Absentee Friend Found
by James Mahone
In three weeks Fernie went from burley to that sinewy/striated look of a feral tweaker found hanging around Kum and Go parking lots at odd hours. Every vein conspicuous like electrical wiring in a stripped house, every dehydrated muscle furrowed and popping like his skin had been removed and the muscles underneath painted beige. Looking at him gave M the fantods. He thought about those exhibits with the corpses in various poses of activity and leisure, where they lacked skin but had popping eyeballs and whitened teeth; everyone always looked up into the assholes of the anatomical displays.
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