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sex

Illustration by Melody Newcomb

Annihilation

It was the winter that I had spent bleeding, attuned to no particular rhythm. Sometimes my period would come on twice in one month, or last for four weeks instead of one. Or, in between spells of bleeding, I would find rust-colored specks in my underwear, or else what seemed like rivers of blood, dark and sticky as blackberry jam. Mostly, it hurt only a little, a pain I could store in the back of my mind and ignore. Sometimes when I was on my feet all day I would feel woozy and cold, and when I went home at night I’d lie awake for a long time, wondering as I turned from my back to my stomach whether there was some position that might keep me from waking up with blood staining my sheets, like a marriage bed visited by an incubus. I took iron supplements. Eventually, I went to a doctor.

Illustration by Anders Nilsen

The Boys [private]

It happens. A close relative dies. One who lives elsewhere. And then some time has to be set aside, even if no such thing is possible. Because of work, because of a lack of funds when it comes to traveling. And also because of one’s own dear family at home, a husband and two daughters, who need to be fed and petted and listened to and sympathized with and tolerated. Even just ignoring them or quietly loathing them takes its toll.


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The Soul Wishes It Could Blow on the Wound

His teeth are lilies bursting from asphalt—white, many petaled opulences;
amid danger, there is also beauty. When he whips me with the riding crop
of his tongue, I curl into the earth’s first question: To desire what exactly?
                                                                                                      He has nothing

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 [private]

I.

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. It is a brand with a consistent equity, expressed recently by a woman at a party who said to Phoebe, “I’ve heard about you and your sister. How you’re both super beautiful and smart.”

Beautiful and smart. How was she supposed to respond to a comment like that? The word “super” bothered her, she tells Helen now. As if they are not mere mortals, but crusaders in capes. 


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Illustration by Melody Newcomb

High Pursuit [private]

Blood pulls up in a near-new new Caddy, heaven white, with flesh-colored guts and the white walls on his tires thick as rulers side by side.  It’s the kind of ride that hurts my feelings to look at but I can’t keep from looking at it, from hawking him as he parks and cools out wearing a grass-green velour tracksuit—unzipped so you see he’s shirtless—and reptile cowboy boots. He swaggers across the street and up the pathway, the same path that from the time I was a wee bit has been my chore to keep swept and weeded, like in the few years since he night-schooled his way to a diploma, dropped out the only college for miles, and got booted out the house, he’s become a grown-ass man who believes in himself so much you can’t convince him not to. He stops just short of the porch and cheeses. I set my magazine (I stay in these custom-car magazines) aside and stand. 


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Dina Litovsky

Mating Rituals

In New York, the neighborhoods evolve according to the generations that claim them. In the early nineteenth century, Manhattan’s Meatpacking District, bracketed by Chelsea to the north and the West Village to the south, included a military fort and then a mixed-use neighborhood. As the city grew, working-class tenements slowly gave way to produce markets that eventually expanded to serve larger appetites. By 1900, the district boasted at least 250 slaughterhouses and packing plants, which were replaced in turn by entrepreneurs catering to different appetites altogether: underground gay clubs, leather and fetish shops, followed by bottle-service lounges and couture retail. All the while, more than a touch of that ragged grittiness has remained.

Illustration by Gosia Herba

Your Father Would Be Proud

His father’s apartment, with its floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, Oriental rugs, and views of Central Park, filled Helen with longing. She had always imagined herself in New York. She had always wanted a claim to that city’s streets. 

Illustration by Gosia Herba

Efficient Breaches: A Romance

As he fished the curds into his mouth, they gushed with the holy taste of rosewater. When the curds were done, he let himself drink the buffalo milk left in the cup, and, for the rest of the ride, Narayan could taste the grease on his lips. 

 

 

 

Illustration by Gosia Herba

The Lineaments of Gratified Desire

When he thought about it, he could see that this thing with Alexa Jamison was a betrayal of the idea of what Sonya and he had been: the romance of that. Such a sweet beginning seems always to create a following inertia: the two families, everybody coming together as part of the story. 

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