by Kim Mannix
As he boarded the train, she drew a tissue from her pocket, thinking the tears would come any second. They didn’t.
Numb. I’m just numb now, she thought, dabbing at the corner of her eye anyway. In case he was watching.
“Last trip for the year,” he said on the drive to the station. “Then it’ll be just us together for months.”
“I can’t wait,” she said, grateful he was looking at the road instead of her face.
After his train pulled away, she stepped up to the ticket booth.
“One way for whatever gets me the farthest,” she said.
Every day, Johannes sends Mila presents. Some days, it’s sweetmeats from the market. Occasionally, it’s a rare artifact wrapped in brown paper.
Yesterday, he sent a scarab frozen in amber, all the way from Cairo, wrapped in tight packaging and bound with tape. Unwrapping the multiple layers without the use of a knife inflamed her hands, but she managed it before he came home.
Today, despite Mila’s curbed appetite, Johannes sends candied fruit. Tiny, pink squares like unsunned flesh, dotted with yellow sugar the color of her bruises.
by Brennan Thomas
I’m not doing this charade ‘til the end of the boardwalk. Soon as we pass that frozen fruit stand where the guy dips bananas on a stick in chocolate, I’m done with this. I’m ripping my hand out of his sticky grip. I’m pulling the ring off. I’ll start walking ten feet in front of him and lose him in the crowd. I’ve already checked out of the hotel. I have what’s mine—tote and carry-on—sitting in the trunk of a cab idling at the entrance to the Barclay Tower. He doesn’t know that—why. I do.
The Likeness of Bolsheviks
by Kevin Campbell
Over 1000 square feet to paint, to tug at the threads of the entire fabric. This will be no feckless mural, this will be history, present, and future.
The artist’s patron furrows his brow. He imagines himself a patron for all things. But really all things within reason. For behind his quixotic gloss lies a fragile scion, built on the corpses of striking Colorado coal miners.
The artist barks back “If you remove any of it, then destroy it all!”
Jeff was standing in the middle of the hallway in the empty house. His wife and kids had gone out for a walk in the park, to pretend for an hour life was normal. He picked his nose. He studied the greenish-yellow flake on his finger for a few seconds, then flicked it away. He didn’t see where it landed. He thought “Why does everyone feel so confined so quickly? There’s plenty of freedom to enjoy at home. Especially in small quantities.” Jeff went into the living room and lay naked on the dinner table for a while.
A Plague of Farmers
by Nan Wigington
Springtime, the farmer’s breath thrummed. A cold, he told his daughter.
In May, his breath was sticks breaking.
Next came sunburns, molting.
His daughter called a doctor.
“Farmers do that,” the doctor said.
The daughter didn’t say how the farmer had taken to chewing on the wheat, jaws working side to side, not up and down.
July, breath was like a band saw.
The daughter’s heart broke when she saw it, scapulas piercing his shirt, his flesh, wings emerging, furling, the crack as membranes stretched, hardened, how her father like a locust lifted, joined his people in the sky.