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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 […]

Posted in Fiction, Flash Fridays

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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 […]

Posted in Fiction, Flash Fridays

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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 […]

Posted in Fiction, Flash Fridays, General

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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 […]

Posted in Fiction, Flash Fridays, Tin House Books

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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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Two Weeks Since

Walks up back road, holding on to hat, what he calls a skimmer, sees first one horse then another. Walks on. Climbs gate, jumps, lands wonky. Heart is huge. The lake captivates a loosening rain cloud. Thinks of twilight, privet hedges and a bookcase falling forward. Wishes for something. Raises hem out of the muck. […]

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Marie-Helene Bertino Buys a Bookshelf

For reaching a human milestone, I am given five credit card gift certificates, imprinted with numbers, each containing a different amount of money. Sensing improved finances, my bookshelf surrenders against the weight it’s been expected to carry, sending books tizzying across the floor. I ask everyone, where should I buy a new one? Shelf Barn, […]

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Little Girl

She slept with men who only wanted to play Settlers of Catan. She slept with law students who had framed copies of the Constitution on their bedroom walls. She slept with sound architects, sound engineers, and the second baseman from her softball league. She hardly ever slept. Sometimes she took a pill, but often she […]

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Departed

My husband Jack worked at the steel mill. The smell of diesel and sweat followed him home every afternoon like I once did, three years ago. He tucked his hands deep in his pockets the first time I saw him, so that I wouldn’t see the black half moons that wove under his fingernails. Ashamed, […]

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My Jesus Year

A week after I turned thirty-three, I was listening to cello music on internet radio, contemplating that this was my Jesus year, when my roommate called to say she’d found this dog wandering alone, tagless, no collar, by the Hudson River. She’s sweet and friendly my roommate said. What should I do? Don’t bring her […]

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Uta’s Escape

Two days before the synchronized swimming nationals, our Flyer vanished. I don’t mean she didn’t show up to training, and I don’t mean she left the pool through a door and didn’t re-enter the door. In the ninth hour of training, we threw Uta Franke into the air and Uta Franke did not land. The […]

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The Best Buy on Reserve

At the Best Buy on Reserve, I saw my future self in line to buy an Xbox. He had twenty years and fifty pounds on me, and he’d lost his hair. But he was me; I recognized myself, like you can recognize your red Outback in a parking lot full of them. I don’t play […]

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Neighborhood Notes: Rewind

The diabetic alcoholic across the street had lost all limbs by now. He only came out anymore for Medi-Van transport to dialysis. It took two strong men to hoist him and his wheelchair down the splintered wooden front stairs. He lived alone with his aging mother, who never came out to wave goodbye. That mother? […]

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Grandma’s Sex Robot

Grandma calls her sex robot Sony. We tell her that’s just the company who makes it. “Well,” she says, “he looks like a Sony. Doesn’t he?” We tell her he doesn’t. We tell her ‘he’ looks like an automaton with silver skin and copper eyelashes, which is exactly what he is, one of many mass […]

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Breakfast

There are thick pieces of toast, but his mother is absent, even though she did place the plate in front of him and now leans against the counter watching him eat. In fact, she is waiting for him to ask for something: more butter, another flavor of jam, cinnamon, a different knife—one without these small […]

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Apocope

A friend of mine died last month. We weren’t particularly close, but I liked her a lot—we’d have coffee near Union Square every so often and she’d talk about her budding music career and I’d talk about my long-gestating novel. I tend not to enjoy unifying conversations about art that include me. I admire the […]

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