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My Monster [private]

This hill, even if a small one, this hill with us and the dog the same dog 
forever moving shadow-like down it, to where the hill disappears…For 


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Illustration by Nicole Rifkin

Merge

Thundering down, a cataract from a high plateau, raising billows of dust, manes, tails, whinnies rippling like banners, a glamorous species, captive yes, but not entirely subdued, they—oh, no, a fellow in that ridiculous getup pops up from behind a rock and pulls out a—bink! That’s enough, goodbye stupid old show, time for a cup of tea. Pulls out—bang, bang, bang. Yes, sensible Cordis decides, not a drink, time for a nice cup of tea.

The dog, a parting so-called gift from unfortunate Mrs. Munderson, peers at the blank screen, baffled, then paws at Cordis. Moppet is not glamorous, except in the most trivial sense; Moppet is cute. What does Moppet want? A treat? A tickle? A furlough?

To wear a vigorous shirt. At See-See Coffee

       in the bathroom, a sticker on the hot-water tank 
 says, It only takes one or two 

seconds to become 
 helpless in flowing grain, or among flowering graves, 
            down where the boats are being unloaded. 
   It happens so swift, that one 

Illustration by Sergio Garcia Sanchez

Mary When You Follow Her

In the autumn of Maria’s eighteenth year, the year that her beloved father—amateur coin collector, retired autoworker, lapsed Catholic—died silently of liver cancer three weeks after his diagnosis, and the autumn her favorite dog killed her favorite cat on the brown, crisped grass of their front lawn, and the cold came so early that the apples on the trees froze and fell like stones dropped from heaven, and the fifth local Dominican teenager in as many months disappeared while walking home from her minimum-wage, dead-end job, leaving behind a kid sister and an unfinished journal and a bedroom in her mother’s house she’d never made enough to leave—

Dear Eros,

I have found you where I shouldn’t—in the wrong bodies, 
at the wrong time, and once on a subway platform 
with my feet stuck to a pool of dried soda taking gum 
from a near-stranger’s mouth. That night you were spearmint 
and the 6 train. I have been woken by you, put to bed by you. 

Art by Anna Schuleit Haber

Geometry

Although they are now in their forties and no longer live in the same house, Helen and Phoebe are still referred to as “the Campbell sisters.” This makes them feel less like people than a brand.

Illustration by Lauren Nassef

Fat Swim

Alice spots the fat women through the second-story kitchen window. It’s Wednesday, so Dad is out at his feelings meeting. She has just turned eight and has been dragging her drumsticks over different household surfaces to see what sounds they make. The sink has been working well—a satisfying ting, ting, ting. Also the panes of window glass—higher, though, and more muffled. The kitten meows on the ledge. Shush shush, Alice tells him, then bops him lightly on the head with a stick. 

Trout

Two years after her mother’s death, Jane’s boyfriend asked her to marry him, and nine months later, they moved across the country to start their new life. Jane was twenty-nine, ready to step away from Phoenix after a hard few years. Ryan had taken a job at a recording studio in Tennessee, and he pointed out that the public schools there were as bad as the ones in Arizona, so she could easily fail teaching fourth graders in either place. Her father was a kind, if distant, ichthyologist, and he seemed to think the move was maybe not ideal, but maybe not a bad idea. Jane was excited to start over. She’d been adopted when she was six, and she thought of six as the beginning of her real childhood. As they drove out of town, she decided twenty-nine was the beginning of her real adult life.

Illustration by Jon Krause

Personal Day

I woke on my personal day feeling impersonal. I’d slept long and late, so much I barely recognized the time of day in my bedroom, dust made obvious in the hard light, no job or appointment or interview to rush toward....

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