Page 141: Little Boxes by Meredith Bastien

Little Boxes by Meredith Bastien

He told me his family raised him to believe in the magical powers of gemstones. Maybe that explains it all.

Sam was always more interesting than me, that’s for sure. He dropped out of college and delivered mail for a while. On his first day here, he said how much he liked working indoors for once. In one of the drawers in his desk, he had a box of rubies, sapphires, and topaz. He said they gave him emotional strength.

“I don’t want to hear anything you have to say,” I said on his last day.

“Is any of this new to you? Are any of these feelings new? Have you done all this before? Is this special for you?” he asked in the dark on my bed. Sam was the fucking worst because everything was new to him. His skin looked like it had never been bruised before—like his job was to bathe in milk.

“I mean…I’ve had sex before,” I said.

I could have said something really mean, but instead I just pretended to fall asleep. He hated working here, so he’s quitting to backpack through Europe. He didn’t like cubicles; only dead people should live in boxes, he’d say.

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Page 194: A Case of the Mondays by Sam Finer

A Case of the Mondays by Sam Finer

“The El Paso County Medical Examiner stated that neither an autopsy nor toxicological tests were possible due to the nature of the accident and the condition of the remains.”

I saw some pictures of a man today –
or what used to be one, anyway.

He was filtered
through the turbine of a 737.
Dented blades ground bone to powder.
Burned crisps blasted out behind.
Scraps of red ringed around the bowl
with a lump of melted fat pooling
on the rim, probably dripping
onto the runway with the rest of him.

At least it was over fast.

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Page 43: An Interview with Emily Gould by Maria Paduano

The Internet, Female Narrative, and the Etch-a-Sketch of the Brain: An Interview with Emily Gould by Maria Paduano

You moved from writing memoir to fiction. What was that transition process for you, and what qualities of your memoir writing remains in your fiction writing?

EG: I stopped writing in the first person for a couple of years after And The Heart Says Whatever came out. Both the critical reaction [to first-person writing] and also the reaction from the people I love was really negative. Some of it was positive, but the negative stuff always stands out a lot more, especially with the way it affected my family. I felt sort of crippled. Even when I tried to write in the same mode, I didn’t have access to the same uninhibited way that I had been able to write before.

So I had to try something different, because otherwise I wasn’t going to be able to write anything. There was a solid year of me trying different things and kind of failing at all of them. It was kind of good in retrospect. It gave me perspective on the purpose of this kind of work. That’s when I started working on Emily Books—just because I had to do something and it had to be different. I also started writing in the third person as an exercise, and to trick myself. I was still writing about myself, but I was writing in third person and pretending like I wasn’t. That got very boring and kind of unsustainable, at which point I started to actually write fiction. It got to the point where I had a short draft and a really crappy draft. I decided to show it to Keith, my now husband, and I said, “I don’t want to know anything except if I should keep going with it.” He was like, “you should keep going.” He might have said that no matter what, but I did keep going, and it took me about four years.

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Page 31: Jungleland by Jessica Griscti

Jungleland by Jessica Griscti

Kerry Dahlen sits behind the wheel of her older brother Rick’s Buick. The car is wide and long and stretched out in front of her like a boat, stuffed starboard to port with her brother’s friends. The windows are down and Kerry’s hair whips into a frenzy around her face. The radio is blaring. They’re cruising on the Long Island Expressway behind Rick, who’s at the helm of the family station wagon, switching lanes like a true born-and-bred New Jersey driver. They’re on their way to a Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band concert, and they will not be late.

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Page 25: Quarantine by Lea Ceasrine

Quarantine by Lea Ceasrine

“You lying, no good pendejo” she screeches from the streets,
talking to her boyfriend, f*** buddy, papi chulo,
the categories seem harmonious in the night,
when tequila and love collide.
His replies disintegrate amongst
the honking, the sporadic sirens,
and I assume they’ve made peace.
I press my coral cheek against the window,
fidget with the blinds,
and wait for the conversation to proceed.
Somebody talk to me- I’m six floors high- losing my mind
“Baby, please” pendejo pleads, clenching his Mickey D’s.
She, I, we, refuse to be your happy meal anymore.
Dionne returns home with McNuggets,
harp-shaped lips humming “I’m not lovin’ it”
she hates grease, but loves the musical.
“Why are you awake baby girl?”
Shh, the street is speaking to me
Melodious and congruous with Selena
Here in my room dreaming about you and me
She rocks me to sleep on the anniversary of her death,
as I surrender eavesdropping to the stars and the streets.

Page 76: Finders Keepers by Kathryn Kolouch

Finders Keepers by Kathryn Kolouch

This story is about giving blood. I gave blood three times. The first time, I gave whole blood, which means you get fifty advantage points that you can trade for certain goods. Most goods cost at least 500 points, though. That’s a lot of blood! To be more specific, that’s maybe ten pints of blood. You can only donate blood every fifty-six days. What’s great about donating blood is that you can save up to three lives with each pint. The second time I gave blood, I didn’t really give blood, but I gave platelets—which are useful for creating clots to stop bleeding. I don’t know why the sick need platelets, honestly, but I know they spoil after three days, and the hospitals are always in need, they say.

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