The Forestiera

By Cynthia Blake Thompson

It was winter, nearly carnival time, and I went to Fatebenefratelli to visit Alberto’s father nearly every day. Fatebenefratelli was not the main hospital in Venice, but one filled with old and dying patients. Some of them screamed from morning until night, some believed they were children again, and some, who just could not be managed at home anymore, expressed anger at the betrayal that had brought them there by staring off in a sullen, accusing silence. The hospital was located in the Cannaregio quarter, far from the main tourist routes and the shops that sold masks, blown glass objects, and gondolier hats. …

In the Beginning

By Victoria Brown

For their fourth date Aneeta decided to move her relationship with Phillip forward, a step. They’d gone the first night to Vanderbilt, a low-pressure, after-work cocktail spot where Phillip teased Aneeta over how long she took to finish her one prosecco. Second, he had taken her to a ball game, and though she told him she didn’t understand baseball, she cheered his team, ate hotdogs, and took a sip from Phillip’s flask. A week later they rode bikes over the bumpy dirt trails the park, stopping by the lake for huaraches and bottled beer from the Latin American vendors. They ate sitting among the wildflowers …

Gray Area

By Krista Madsen

By twilight, I could organize the time that remains in the way of my wife: maintaining her coupon system on the dining room table – one pile for the expired, another expiring soon, the third expiring further off, but never exceeding year’s end, that’s as far as they ever go. I could check the dates, perhaps weekly, and shift more of the discounts for things I’d never buy anyway into the expired pile.

Or, I could organize time in the way of oncologists: Two years ago, they gave me only months to live. The malignancy had spread beyond their ability to target it locally; chemo would …

A Handbook for Single Mothers

By Jen Knox

The girls crash into each other and then the wall. A jumble of screams and giggles traverse the hallway as Cassandra’s neighbors, kids themselves, bang something blunt against their side of the wall. Concentrating to steady her hand, she squints, painting her nails a dark purple that is almost black; dark nails signify control over one’s domain, the willingness to fight. Red means an all-out battle for dominance, and she doesn’t want to go that far.

“Shut! Up!” The neighbors’ voices are muffled by thick plaster. Control today, Cassandra reminds herself. There is a brief moment of silence before another loud scream and another muffled yell.

“Stop …

Music Heard in Hi-Fi

By Noel Alumit

The soundtrack of Maybe Someday was first heard in a small house on Vendome Avenue. It was eventually heard in homes on Council, Reno, Dillon, and Union. The music of this hit Broadway musical was heard in cars driving north on Rampart, turning right on Temple street, then stopping at a parking lot in Bahay Kubo, a popular hang out in Historic Filipinotown—Hi-Fi for short—in Los Angeles, Ca. At Bahay Kubo, the music of Maybe Someday was heard on the loudspeakers, a boot-legged video of the musical played on a large TV in the restaurant.

Filipino men and women sang along, including the old manongs and …

A Car Ride of Second Chances

By Len Kuntz

It was my therapist’s idea. Ordinarily, he merely listened, taking a note or two during our sessions, but I could tell my exhibitions of misery were frustrating him, which is why he came up with the suggestion last week.

When I objected, he said, “Don’t forget, you’ve made mistakes in your marriage, too.”

That poison dart stung. I felt a moment of betrayal, but then realized the irony of my thinking—me, who’d been the unfaithful one.

I call our lawyers before leaving to tell them my wife and I are just trying to get out of town for a couple of days, drive to Portland–where people are less likely to …

Come Loose and Fly Away

By Kathy Fish

It begins like this: The baby is red and wrinkled and squalling or bleating like a lamb. The baby has lots of hair or none at all. It has the face of a bulldog. Or Winston Churchill. The baby looks wise beyond his years. The baby’s fists are clenched, his toes, splayed. He’s terrified and vulnerable and angry.

The baby is weighed, his dimensions and poundage announced as if he were a prize bass. He is wrapped and held and cried over.

The baby grows. The baby gets fat. When the world pushes, the baby starts to push back. He smiles. He gurgles. He grabs hold of hair and …

He-Man and a Girl Named Larry

By Rae Bryant

I’m a crack shot, you know. That’s how he says it. We’re moving lettuces around on our plates at a sunny little outdoor café off Dupont Circle. It’s charming and sexy and creepy, the crack part. I don’t know exactly how to respond. Lovely? Next time I need a sniper, I’ll give you a call? We’ve waded through the I’m sorry, I love you. Just want to understand. Explain it to me. It would have been okay but for the rooms upstairs. We’re past fucking. Fucking can’t fix us now and so the rooms remind me we’re past the point of fixing with fucking so fucking now …

The Joseph of Arimathea Center for Secret Believers

Applying Digital Marketing Tactics, “Secret” Church Goes Viral 

By Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond

The Joseph of Arimathea Center for Secret Believers, better known as the JofACSB, is the largest congregation in country, but, who exactly its 6.7 million members are, is, of course, a secret. The center—“It’s not a church,” insists Reverend Nicodemus (not his real name)—has no physical location. Its members meet remotely every Sunday at cockcrow (EST) using a unique dial-in and password sent them via text moments before. Visitors interested in attending a “session” (Nicodemus cringes at “church words” like “service” and “flock”) can request a unique password via a member.

Members are encouraged to partake in “Secret Acts …

Empty Pockets

By Roof Alexander

The first time I met Luke was in the St. Michaels emergency room. He was trying to convince his girlfriend that he didn’t need any treatment.

“They won’t be able to do anything away,” he said. She went to fill out the paperwork at the desk and he sat down beside me. I looked down at his hands to see that one of them seemed tangled, broken all over.

“Does that not hurt?” I asked him.

“You ought to see the other rhino,” he said and smiled. We could hear his gal arguing with the front desk nurse.

“She okay?” I …

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