Trouble
Katie M. Flynn

The cyber crimes he’d committed hadn’t been as bad as the BuzzFeed piece suggested, but when she read it, her heart palpitated in a surprising way, knowing he was probably cyber stalking her while they went on a series of bland dinner dates followed by gelato, a walk, a fumbled attempt at handholding, before their first date, too, when she’d been newly single and gone on a clubbing binge with her girlfriends, posting photos of made-up girls in bandage dresses with drunk lost eyes, and definitely after she told him she wasn’t looking for anything serious, her dating status turning to questionable, her feed filled with groaning posts about being single, and he knew he was done for, already forgotten, going on a bit of a rampage, sending hateful items from dummy accounts to all the exes he could think of, really letting them have it, and though only one responded, those were the words he thought of in front of the merciless lady judge, fed up with twerps and sore losers: you are small and alone and I am sorry for hurting you, sorry for you, I’m sorry, and it doesn’t really matter which ex wrote it, only that it’s true and worth the trouble, and he smiles into his sentence, knowing she won’t forget him now.

 

Circulation
Christine Hennessey

He picked up a romance novel, put it down in the horror section; passive aggressive on so many levels: she was almost impressed.

 

Coming of Age
Claire Hopple

When I drink heavily, I use words like “bildungsroman” in conversation, and that is the only time I find my dialogue worth hearing, though I may be the only one.

 

Unplanned Things
Sarah Sassone

I’m hit in the back of the head and then I wake up in the trunk of a car, zip ties around my hands, the weight of my baby keeping me on my side—I scream, don’t know who this man is, what I did to be in this car, why did he take me, how can I kick out the light to get attention, please God let my boyfriend find me, I beg, let Liam walk into our apartment and see I haven’t arrived home from work, let him get a bad feeling, get out his gun, go out in the car, come and find me, I don’t know where I am, one hour, two, eternity it feels like, but then we start to slow down; we’re at the pier, squawking seagulls, I hear, then the front door opens and shuts, the trunk pops up, I close my eyes, but force them open as he drags me to the water, his hood up, my zip ties still on, and before he lets me go, he says, “You should’ve gotten rid of it,” and as I drop backwards into the water, he takes off his hood—why didn’t he tell me he didn’t want the baby?

 

These Days and Those
Sara Iacovelli

I often think of you and I often think of grammar; and then I think that maybe we exist in the imperfect tense—a combination of past and continuing.

 

Cigarettes
Jon Savage

We smoked them because we didn’t care about prolonging all that was inevitable and ingrained in our bones and DNA and family histories and scary but beautifully finite natures; because that tarred-up, noxious gas was honestly what we’d been breathing before birth and through our childhoods and at relatives’ homes on Thanksgivings and Christmases and in the backs of our parents’ cars when they’d ash and it’d fly back in through rear window and land in our mouths or our eyes and we never really knew which was worse; and because that’s honestly who we were at fifteen and at eighteen and at twenty-two when we did it for others and for breaks from our reality and at twenty-five when we did it only for ourselves and for our own sanity, all the while telling ourselves it was time to stop because we’d agreed to kill ourselves at fifty, so then we could say we’d given half our lives to it and then maybe given it up or given it away or maybe kept it there, in secret, or inside us, growing until it takes us in overgrown ashtrays and coughing fits and the steaming movie heroes we adored and would have just died to be like and who died just to be liked in books and magazines and in talk and in smoke-filled rooms, covered in a separate-looking air as if ghosts can really happen, living among us but disappearing with the haze and the habit altogether, like a man cornered in his own office, with ashes and dust piling endlessly up among the papers and he scribbles away until there’s nothing left to write on but the walls, and the skin of his house is tattooed and lettered in cursive screams to be forgotten, to dissipate like smoke, to be anywhere but here.
 

Sunglasses with Mirrors on the Inside
D. A. Hosek

You know that feeling of the knife plunging into the skin, the muscles spasming as the blade cuts the flesh through to the bone, the victim’s eyes staring into yours, uncomprehending, as his last breath escapes his lips like a moan of ecstasy and his hands grasp the lapels of your jacket, clinging clinging clinging to you as if by clutching on to you he could hold on to life itself, an illusion of course for he was dead before the knife pierced his side, if not by your hand, then by the hand of another, and if not by a knife then by a car accident or by cancer or by old age and your only role was the choice of time and place and his eyes lose focus and fingers lose grip and his bowels lose continence and you let his flaccid body fall.

 

And Then We Discovered We Had Enemies
Ruth Joffre

In the days before the fire, we lived quietly, luxuriously, breaking popsicles in half and eating them on the balcony.