“My Fake Brother” by Leonora Desar

My parents are throwing a party. It’s for my fake brother, Johnny. He’s the son they should have had. You may think I’m exaggerating but no, they say it, we should have had a son. Every year they whip out the good china. They light candles and get the scrapbook and there he is. It’s …

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“Dad’s Manila Envelope” by Annie Bien

My dad lifted himself into the parked wheelchair. “The day I can’t do this anymore you’ll be pushing me out on a gurney straight into the stove.” “Oh come on, Dad, you had a great checkup this year.” “Thank you, Margaret, you look lovely in that saucy sweater. Cashmere?” I’m not Margaret, but lately he …

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“Stiff As Boards” by S.B. BORGERSEN

The line of wash crackles in the freezing salt wind. “Stiff as boards,” Ma says as she unpins the ice encrusted flannel shirts, letting them fall like cedar planks into the old tin bath she uses as a laundry basket. How her fingers don’t freeze as she hauls it back across the frozen waste that …

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“Siren” by Fiona Jane Mackintosh

In the wet slap of the haar, the lassies slit the herring mouth to tail and pack them into briny barrels. I see her head move among the rest, brown curls escaping from her shawl. She has the juice of silver fishes in her veins – it’s in the raised blue of her wrists, her …

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“The Sacrifice of Teeth” by Sandra Arnold

She had a photographic memory, so she could recall conversations, the expressions on people’s faces, the tone of their voices, the setting, the weather, the colours, the smells. If she needed a detail in the telling of a tale all she had to do was rewind the film in her head. What she wasn’t good …

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“Something is out of Place” by Louella Lester

At first she had liked the bird, when it was just a gentle chirping sound wafting into her open window as she woke up in the morning. But now, it is hanging out on the balcony at all hours of the day. And where birds go, bird poop follows. From the corner of her eye, …

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“I Thought” By Pia Z. EHRHARDT

I thought my job in life was to be in the service of quasi-famous people. Keep their house calm, quiet, keep my room clean, clear the way for my mother so she could walk through the house practicing her violin, too many scales and repeating of passages and not enough music for me. I wanted …

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“Invisible To Men” by Steve Passey

She said to me: “Since I turned fifty I have become invisible to men.” It sounded like a complaint. I said “Well, for the first forty-nine how many men were invisible to you?” It was a rhetorical question. She said something, but I didn’t catch it. The news was on, something about a man inventing …

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“The Piano Man” by Lorette C. Luzajic

The first time you visited him at the hospital, there was a gray, thin man who played at the piano. His hands were shaking, but his notes were pristine white flames. By chance you and your friend are talking about those years when you would see him like that, shuffling to the visitor station in …

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“The Begging Bowl” by Atma Frans

The boy stands back and looks at them. Their orange robes swirl around their bony legs. The shaved heads bend forward. The right hand holds a wooden bowl, a begging bowl, his mother says. Slender fingers grasp the rim of the bowl while the other hand rests on the heavy gate, pushes it open, then …

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“Waltzing With Ma” by Andrew Stancek

Last Thursday she gave away her parrot, on Saturday her mother’s Bible. When I walk in for my regular visit, I find her on her knees, scrubbing the kitchen floor. I take off my jacket and kneel next to her, cover her hand with mine, share a little of my body heat, apply pressure on …

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“Zig Zag” by Jacqueline Doyle

1. I ran into the house, the screen door banging behind me. I was scrubbing my hands at the kitchen sink when I saw her through the window. She was crossing the cornfield, making a beeline for the barn. The water ran red in the sink. 2. I didn’t go into the house. I stood …

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