That first night in his bed, I lay atop the sheets, grinning. Aaron rolled toward me as the sweat cooled on my skin. “If we see each other again, I need to start wearing my mouthguard,” he said. Inside my purse, mine lay stashed alongside my just-in-case condoms. “Thank, God,” I said, showing it to him. We laughed about geriatric dating, kissed again, popped in our devices, and set their colorful cases on his nightstands. I ran my tongue against the smooth acrylic which hugged my teeth as tightly as Aaron’s arms entwined my waist. Our imperfections made us perfect together.
Our famously eccentric producer kept aspiring actresses waiting in the lobby to audition (too busy smoking imported cigars). His room was heated like a furnace filled with cigar smoke, scant lighting, and a luxurious couch. Nora’s lips twitched; Szu chewed nails; Sasha smiled at imaginary cameras, pouted occasionally. When he called over the intercom, I sent Nora in. She rushed out, fumbled with her blouse, slammed the door. Szu lasted no longer, stormed past cursing under her breath. Sasha was different. The couch creaked for an hour before she emerged, cast as the vestal virgin in his next epic period blockbuster.
— Mandira Pattnaik
The man views his family through the window. His sons and daughters play and run about the room. They seem happy except for a few worried looks from his wife now and then. God, his wife deserves better.
Touching them is all he wants but it hurts. Is the pain in his head or chest? Children that young should not have such sadness thrust into their lives. Why can’t he just play with them? Is it boredom? ADHD? Guilt?
The glass exists only in his mind, or so everyone says.
He broke the barrier before, but without fail, it always returns.
— Ryan Benson
Strange how we use the word carcass. Primarily for animals and insects. Birds picking at a squirrel’s carcass. A spider’s carcass pressed against a wall. Normal in every day vocabulary in these contexts. What do I call him. The small body no longer breathing. Never taking one breath outside of me. His carcass is small in the glass bassinet. The word is harsh but I can’t think of another. He is a carcass now, picked over, pressed against a glass wall. Stillborn. Cold words. There he is frozen in his icy casket of glass. I wonder if I will ever unfreeze.
Please, prayed Karen, could I have one grocery run without someone asking about Shelly?
Everyone in Huntsville knew about Shelly’s cancer and constantly asked Karen how her sister was doing. It was getting tiresome. Always, “How’s Shelly?” Never, “How are you? How’s work? How are Jeff and the kids?”
Karen sighed and headed into the store.
Marlene told her about her trip to Colorado. Donna talked about the church bazaar. Lisa and her twins shared a preschool song. The clerk chattered about his new puppy.
On her way back to the car, Karen stopped.
Hey—nobody asked about Shelly.
— Coco Jane
Tom regimentally completed his daily log. If nothing else, it eased the boredom.
30,000 feet below
He’d taken the job after a disastrous business venture and an even more disastrous marriage. Every day was a cycle of monotony: 8 hours in the hot, cramped engine room, 8 hours in a bed sandwiched between other skivvies, and 8 brutal hours to fill. Always a breath away from madness or disaster. No space, fresh air, or privacy.
Alone with his memories, he wondered if he’d ever see the sky again. He tossed his lucky quarter.
— Angie Dent