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Fiction

The Little Blue Horses

December 3, 2020

Rochelle and her mother lived in a large town that was on its way to becoming a small city. On her way to school, Rochelle often stopped to watch the crews of construction workers erect a new house in the hole where, only a few days before, one of her neighbors’ houses had loomed in sour glory, a car parked on its front lawn, silk flowers sprouting along its foundation like hair plugs. 

The Math of Living

December 3, 2020

I’ve been working for the Chicago Tribune for about a year when it strikes me that I will go home in six months. The ticket has been booked, and I’m ready. My boss has reviewed the JavaScript code and made his updates for the day. The code is in production. 

Polly, Looking

December 3, 2020

Polly’s problem after the accident, really one of her largest problems, was an inability to prune what she saw and what she thought, to stop her brain. She was both too easily distracted and too attentive. When she’d gotten out of the hospital, she’d gone on a looking binge. Ned brought her photography and gardening books, stacks of Sotheby’s catalogues he found at the local Goodwill store, piling them everywhere as a hedge against her glitches in language. Polly spent one unnerving afternoon flat on her back in the yard, watching trees encroach on clouds. There hadn’t been much to do but observe.

Transit

September 8, 2020

At Heathrow, three hours before her flight to Boston, Thandi was in one of the shower rooms below the Galleries lounge in Terminal 5. A previous tenant—someone who, at some point in the day, had been in there before her, before every inch of the shower room was cleaned, its towels and various amenities replaced—had left a trace of themselves; the radio on, the dial turned to Classic FM. 

Bloody Knuckles

September 8, 2020

The waiting room was small, not much more than a large cubicle with a coffee machine, a couple of televisions, and maybe twenty other parents, all of us equally nervous and trying not to show it. A better artist than me might’ve been able to capture it with his brush, the anxiety like a physical object that each one of us carried. I had been there nearly an hour when Karen called. I walked toward one of the room’s corners, as much privacy as I could find, and whispered hello.

How He Changed over Time

September 8, 2020

He used to play the violin, but then, as his fingers thickened and lost some of their agility, he became frustrated by trying to play, and then bored by it. 

Illustration by Landis Blair

A Friend

March 2, 2020

Margo’s daughter came home from school that Friday with a new friend. From the window in the kitchen, where she was trying and failing to make decent croissants for the third time this week, Margo watched the bus deposit her eight-year-old daughter, Anya, and some unknown boy, which was odd because the town was so small and Margo had often been at Anya’s school to volunteer and had no memory of him.

Illustration by Landis Blair

The Tobacconist

March 2, 2020

There was a period of my life when I saw wombs all around me, and so of course the chandeliers were uteruses.

Illustration by Landis Blair

The Year 2003 Minus 20

March 2, 2020

Reney’s bones can feel a fight long before the rest of her wakes to the rising voices and clattering bottles. She is eight, almost nine. Granny and Lula live in a new rent house across the tracks and down a long hill, not so very far. Over there—standing on a chair rolling up balls of dough as Granny’s hearing aids whistle, or lying curled into Granny’s great body napping—is Reney’s best place. But Reney knows that her place is with her mom.