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Brown Dog and Gee

She wasn’t going to the hospital again, no way. It smelled like pee there and her mother always yelled at her to stop kicking her foot against the leg of the chair while they waited for the doctor. She didn’t like the hospital, despite what her dad said: “Well, for not liking it, you sure […]

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Gone Collecting

This variety of spider is born dead, Noll told us. Stiff packets of chitin and darkness. Teensy tiny organs rattling like dried beans if we listened with the right tools (which Noll had). Out-of-state scientist come with his white van and silver knives to explain to us what our forest held. Only when someone warmed […]

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Half Warrior and Weeping Woman

  There’s a girl, Cherise, pronounced sure-EEZ, in my yoga class that meets in the church every Tuesday night at eight. She used to come to class with her boyfriend, a tall guy with a beaky nose and they would stand with their arms around each other, smiling. Or he would lie on his mat, […]

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Fraternalia

There was a time in my mid-twenties when I came to believe that everyone in our family, including my brother Eliot, would be better off if Eliot were dead. I loved him dearly. That was not the point. Dark-haired and dark-eyed in a family of fair-haired people predisposed to good cheer, Eliot was a perfect […]

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Learning Paris

TODAY’S PICTURE was from the Musée d’Orsay: the bright, vaulted windows, gilded finishings, and me, smiling underneath. I thought I’d have time to see most of the museum before the kids’ school let out, but I moved too slowly among the impressionists, then had to hurry with the rest. I did stop for several minutes […]

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Story Ideas That Are Not About The Girl

An optometrist who tortures his clients by giving prescriptions that are slightly off; A prose poem that compares the old Greek men on the local soccer field to Homer’s Greeks, their ancient, tan bodies darting across the green battlefield; A faceless narrator watching a pair on the beach, trying to determine if they are mother […]

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Young Ahab

When Ahab was an infant his mother would bathe him in seawater. They lived on Nantucket Island, where everybody lives by the sea. This comes from the sea, she said, rinsing him, this is the sea, and he giggled and sucked his fingers. And then his father’s ship came home, overflowing with oil from a […]

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October in Montana

We’d been playing pretend for almost a year and he still wouldn’t go back to his life. Meade wouldn’t acknowledge he had another life at all, though he’d bring me into it in ways, mentioning how Cole seemed to like me, driving me by the ranch where he and Cole and his wife had lived […]

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What Was Your Favorite Color Growing Up

If you walked into that house you’d think you’ve just walked out of it. It always smells like toast. Toast and fertilizer. There are a lot of green plants around but none of them are alive, unless you believe plastic breathes, and the man in there does. He does tai chi after breakfast every morning […]

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Jeebie Jeebie

The boyfriend’s girlfriend used to speak to him like he was a baby. She would come up to him stringing nonsense sounds together like “jeebie jeebie” or “newmoo newmoo” and hug him or pinch his cheeks. After she bought the dog, however, the girlfriend stopped talking to the boyfriend like he was a baby. Instead, […]

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Ohio

It’s dark and this is Ohio and we are alone, you and me and oil-movers and tubs of melt-rock rotating. We’re not going to the same place or we are. You pass tankers and I slip behind you. You leave me enough space always. You’re from Illinois, I’m in limbo. You drive fast when you’re […]

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Vacation

On vacation, I meet a man with awful bleachy hair. I am the kind of drunk that means I suck his dick while he brushes his teeth in the hotel room. He is the kind of drunk that means he grabs my tit for just a second before he passes out, mouth open, throat wet […]

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3 Stories of God

38 The child wanted to name the rabbit Actually, and could not be dissuaded from this. It was the first time one of our pets was named after an adverb. It made us uncomfortable. We thought it to be bad luck. But no ill befell any of us nor did any ill befall the people […]

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Ancient Ham

Once a year the Ancient Ham crawls out of the sewer to sit on a curb and answer questions. People line up down the block. Before the Ancient Ham will answer, they have to poke it: they bring offerings—small sewing needles decorated with beads or feathers or floss.  When the Ancient Ham reaches needle capacity, […]

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Drought

Lindy’s yard was studded with containers of rainwater: buckets, trashcans, a red wagon, rubbery industrial barrels that once held Greek olive oil. Already, blossoms were budding on the nectarine tree. Winter in California is a brief affair. One day as Lindy was putting her kids in the car, she glanced at the wheelbarrow half-filled with […]

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The Histories

1 She thought that the moment was probably supposed to be poignant—when she discovered the origins of her name—but since she was sitting on the toilet when she read the letter it lacked elevation. Henceforth, when she imagined her name, she saw it written out in her father’s slanty cursive beneath a harsh yellow light […]

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St. Monica’s

She was late to the Mass dedicated to her boyfriend’s late mother, who died just two months before her father. Stepping into St. Monica’s, making sure her heels didn’t click too loudly, she saw him—Matt the Agnostic—In the very back pew. She slid in next to him. “You told me it was on East 81st,” she hissed. “It’s actually […]

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Women Be Wise

You and I had not seen each other for decades when we decided to meet, with our husbands (acquired in the meantime), at an old hotel built during the gold rush. Of the two of us, you had changed least, looking much the same as the pretty girl I remembered from Maine, an only child, […]

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O. Vulgaris

I hatch. I slip out of my egg cell after tearing through its skin. Slowly, I sink. My arms uncurl. I float. I sink. I float. Hovering over the sandy floor, I see above me the other eggs strung together. Milky pearls hanging from the scratchy rock like necklaces, like clusters of alien grapes. And […]

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Mireille Enos Owns Malta, Montana

One day Quetzalcoatl would pay tribute to Mireille Enos. Quetzalcoatl ran the fabled motel and had grown up at the motel. More recently, he’d given testimony. Now it was up to her PA, Mireille Enos’s PA, to arrange a suitable occasion to pay tribute. After sprinkling a dozen small curses—hazelnut laid side by side—Mireille Enos […]

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What We Were Doing

  “Think of what you were doing at his age,” Andrew said. His fourteen-year-old kid skateboarded a respectful distance ahead, up the dark winding path on the Santa Cruz cliffs, that steep drop into the invisible ocean, so that we could smoke a joint without feeling guilty. We’d all gathered for a friend’s wedding. Andrew […]

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My Father Took Me To Watch

First-born, a girl, but anyway his first-born so he brought me to watch when he touched the other woman.

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How to Eat Chicken Wings

  There’s a map bred in the bones of the bird. Before you ingest the chicken wing, you must know the vertices of its hinge, that place where tendons and gristle connect and shake hands. It’s all very scientific. Step One: The Origin Find a likely tray of sacrifices at the church picnic. You’re in […]

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The Adjunct

It was the final night of the Eagleburger retreat, held at a cluster of chalets owned by an alum’s shell corporation. The mountains were too close to see. Snow hissed into the jacuzzi. The Dean, the Department Head and the Adjunct stewed in the frothing glow. The Adjunct wore boxers. He had forgotten to pack […]

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Pincushion

When they were children, she and her sisters buried their baby teeth in the garden behind their house. Her youngest sister believed the flowers that grew over them—all pink and drooping like pouting mouths—burst straight from the enamel. Roots spread out through the pulpy gums of the earth. She told her youngest sister, Probably Mother […]

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