I was amazed by how many people were stuffed inside my uncle Henry’s corpse.
My aunt clung to me for the first time in her life, bird-bone brittle and ashen pale, while the mourners breathed crowds of ghosts into the icy morning air.
The coffin swayed...
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21 Days of Lockdown
Donna Abraham Tijo
When Coronavirus Comes Calling
A five-year-old declares, 'I wish to always have my favourite pancake in my world.'
An E-mail of Hope
He sent the e-mail to the school reserving seats for his daughter for the fall session. It’s in the new city they...
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Sugar Daddy Dreams
Burnt toast, avocado, honey, two poached eggs laced with turmeric and garlic, and a new vitamin concoction that makes my stomach churn, and still, I guzzle half of it down with gusto, as if it’s our first Godfather Cocktail at Carlo’s Bar.
Why, you ask?
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Madeleine saw the visitor in her Sunday school class, a man her age, maybe fortyish —she considered herself a youthful fifty —with a deep dimple in the middle of his chin. He wore no wedding ring. He introduced himself as having just moved to Cannington, and was the...
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First, there was dust everywhere, but now, far worse, there were chickens everywhere. They were pecking through the yard, leaving puffs of dust. They were roosting in the pine trees. And they clucked from morning to night. The five roosters vied for which was loudest and shrillest. Amanda...
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I buried him in the backyard one night after a rainstorm. The soil I removed from the hole was thick and sticky and clung stubbornly to the surface of my shovel.
I connected the hose to the backyard spigot and used it to clean off the shovel. Then...
Read more: Desiree
The Anointing of Mary Ballard
The young lady entered the laboratory with her eyes cast down reverently, as though entering a church. When she reached the gurney, she pulled a chair close to it and placed the things she was carrying on a nearby table. She removed the sheet covering the body and...
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Beginning at the End
I am in a meeting at our England location in a typical rectangular conference room walled off from the real world of work taking place outside. Suddenly, I am a spirit floating above my colleagues, as though I had died only seconds earlier and am waiting to be...
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Hope Held My Heart
We were isolated that summer from the rest of the world. The excessive rains had pounded the fields into mosquito-infested pools, destroying our harvests of corn and beans. We heard it was worse in the cities. As food supplies depleted, guns decided distribution. Friends and families banded together...
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My Carousal of Life
As a little girl, I had this recurring dream that would cause me to wake up in a cold sweat. A grand celebration was going on in a great hall, where my mother and father sat on gold thrones at the end of the room overseeing their subjects...
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Donna Abraham Tijo
Red Bull is engraving the Eye of God on your chest. “It’s a private tattoo over my soul and conscience,” you murmur. “I’m an atheist, bro,” you continue, thinking of the Chotta Bheem rakhi on your wrist eons back in time. I will be brave like Bheem someday, ...
Read more: The Tattoo
Donna Abraham Tijo
‘I am a writer, but I wish I could write like that,’ said Durga, seated at the head of the rustic green, rectangular table. There were nineteen women on the sides, who turned to look. Then, some picked up their beverages and sipped them. In the background, a...
Read more: Booklovers’ Paradise
My Car, My Friend
Tony Spencer applied the first coat of wax to his prized possession, a 1973 Pontiac Grand Prix. Oh, sure, it had flaws, like a smashed door and a dragging muffler, but the interior was a beaut. It had bright-red bucket seats with a gleaming silver gear mount between...
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The rain that had pelted the high mountain jungle all morning stopped abruptly, and the sun gradually dissolved the lingering clouds. Insects hummed again, birds burst forth in joyous song and flowers lifted their dripping heads, spreading their petals wide to receive the sun’s bright blessing. The People, ...
Read more: Brother Bastion
Standard Police Report
Standard Police Report - Inventory of Possessions - Portbou, Catalonia, Republic of Spain
27 Sep. 1940
Location: Hotel De Francia
Noted contents of subject’s hotel room as follows:
- a large steamer trunk containing books in various foreign languages, for example, Les Fleurs du mal, ...
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We sat, you and I, alongside the lake, watching the sky spread above us in an immense starburst, the Milky Way threaded through its center, seeming to beckon us to follow it.
"A reverse inkblot," you said.
I thought, no, no, nothing as mundane as that, but all...
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There Are No More Pets in My House
There is death in my house.
“It's gone to a better place,” she says. "Now flush it down the toilet and wash your hands. Breakfast is ready."
Like that, she cans Juju, our goldfish. She did the same with Didi, Ma’s parrot, ...
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Revenge of the Fishy
Leona Pence & Tom Whitehead
Tom Whitehead: (In the deep husky Marlboro movie guys voice) HEEEEEEEEEEEER FISHY, FISHY, FISHY!
It was an early Saturday morning. He thought it was just another day of fishing, then all of a sudden out of nowhere he...
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David Porter watched his wife and two sons as they played on the monkey bars at the park. He smiled in contentment as peals of laughter rang out. Two short weeks ago, he’d been in danger of losing his family.
Read more: Temp-Tation
Free Range Souls
Samael and Malachi, two brothers working for different bosses, sit on the fence dangling their booted feet each on their side of the divide. One pair of boots is caked in white droppings; the other scrubbed clean. It’s like a dare. Trespassing? Not quite. ...
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An elderly woman shuffled up the sidewalk and took a seat on the bench across the way from me. I watched her slow steps and noticed her feet stuck in matted slippers and her swollen discolored ankles. Breathing a sigh of relief, I felt grateful...
Read more: Einaudi
We sat around a campfire in the backyard that evening, our parents and us four kids, aged four to fifteen. Dan, the oldest at nineteen, was in the Army serving somewhere that Mother didn't want to tell us. "You don't need to worry," she said. "I'll...
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Jack and the Beanstalk
Alberto Rodriguez Orejuela
The global wealth distribution has been heavily off balance, the scales of capitalism have plunged so far into disproportion they will fall before they will be fair again. Jack and his widowed mother have economically crammed a century of mourning into an egregious year but failed...
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Lost and Found
Smelled: a gamey odor downstairs in the basement. Searched for its source but couldn’t find it.
Found: one dead mouse with reddish-brown legs and a white underbelly in the basement bathroom. A deer mouse. Picked it up with tongs, took it outdoors, and tossed...
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One Hundred Yards
A deep sigh came just as Jason was pulling off the highway onto Route 11. He was close and could feel his back tingling as if his whole spine had suddenly fallen asleep. This happened every time he headed into a small town, no...
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