FICTION
And On the Memory of Your Tastebuds, They Are All Umami
Allie Marini
Writer of the Month

You are slicing bell peppers into ribbons when your man tells you that moving in together was a mistake. Next to the cutting board, you’ve measured out a thimble of hot pepper flakes, and the shrimp are shelled and deveined, cooling in the fridge until you’ve finished the rest of the prep. He asks if you heard what he just said. You keep slicing the pepper meticulously; you are proud of this one dish—shrimp fra diavolo—that you make well.  

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FICTION
12:14
Bradley Sides

It was midnight when Tyler first heard the knocking on his bedroom door. Still groggy from the haze of his dreams, he rolled over. He chose to believe his imagination was getting the best of him. Besides, no one else was home. His father was working the night shift like always, but even if he were at home, he would certainly never knock on any doors in his own house. 

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FICTION
Division by Zero
Olin Wish

The overgrown ruins loom in the distance.  Peeking out above low lying fog, pyres burn atop ancient, vegetation strangled skyscrapers.  There are still people who live in the forbidden zone, as is evident by the acrid smoke of their cook fires.  “Are you ready for this?”  The boy with the binoculars asks his companion as he carefully adjusts the windage and elevation dial on the ankle pad of a boot.  “Ready or not,” the boy replies, grinning fiercely.  Thomas takes another look through the eye piece.  In predawn stillness he can make out the subtle movement of figures on six of the ten towers lancing through a cloud-like membrane.  

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FICTION
Teddy Hudson’s Grandpa is Dead
Sean Enfield

I will always find amusement in the sight of breath, in the pale smoke that escapes as I purse my lips and blow into the cold, still breeze. As a child, I would try to pull the breath back into my body. I would inhale, focusing as best as I could, but the breath never returned. Instead, I’d watch as it drifted away from me. Here, two years into undergrad, I find myself retreating into that boy. I exhale and watch as the vapor becomes life in the winter air. All the while, Mary holds my hand, the two of us trying to transfer a warmth we know is absent. 

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FICTION
I’m Not Doing Coke Off That Dog’s Back
James H. Duncan

The call came shortly before 10 p.m. after a slow evening alone at Baker Street Bar over in the Medical District of San Antonio where Jack doubles were only $2.50 all night, Dos XX the same, and the Lone Stars were always a buck half. My old flip cell lit up and he says, “I got two women over here looking to party big time,” but I had my suspicions because by here he didn’t mean his apartment over by the community college but some obscure address far out on the west side of town, out beyond loop 1604, where there are more jackrabbits than driveways or red lights.

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FICTION
The Lighthouse
Frank Burch

It was the smell that got me.

We drove along the harsh edged cliffs – the same I ran along as a kid – with the windows rolled down. The same salt that stained the shoreline rock faces stung the inside of my nose, and memories tumbled through my brain.

"Boy," I said to Linda, "you can really smell the sea."

"What?!" Linda, who was driving, yelled over the whipping wind.

I rolled up my window. Linda did the same. 

"The sea," I said. "You can really smell it."

"Oh, yes," she replied. 

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NON-FICTION
Aliens
Robert Kerbeck

This summer, while watching the hit science fiction series, Stranger Things, I was reminded of my UFO experience, except that my encounter really happened. I had a spaceship in my Malibu backyard. It’s something I only tell friends late at night after a lot of drinking. 

For the record, there was no alcohol that night. 

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SHORT STORY
Budd Dwyer Triumphant
Michael Magnes

SHORT STORY<br>Budd Dwyer Triumphant<br>Michael Magnes

If I were a suicide I wouldn’t have become a punchline. Budd Dwyer kept his dignity. “Don’t, don’t, don’t” were his last words. “This will hurt someone.” The way he says “Don’t, don’t, don’t” is careful and controlled. A man who knows exactly what he is doing. He’s incanting, summoning up the language to finish the act he knows he has to carry out. 

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SHORT STORY
The Grass is Always Green in Connecticut
Charles Joseph

When the doorbell rang, J.B. peeked out his bedroom window to see who was at the door, and as soon as his eyes hit the fuzzy red ball atop Mr. Lawson's tam o'shanter, he ducked, and crawled under his bed to hide.

J.B. knew why Mr. Lawson was looking for him, so he closed his eyes and prayed he would go away. But it was the Fourth of July and his father was home for the holiday. So after a few more rings from the doorbell, Tom Baxter answered the door, and Phil Lawson marched inside.

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