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.
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.
Krimora by Linus Mumford
I plunge deeper into a slouch in the booth’s cushion, slip on a pair of shades, then fold my arms together. I watch the passing scenery while Khloe periodically takes generous sips from her iced coffee, without breaking her focus on the pages in front of her. Now where did she pick that one up? Oh, just around. My mind wanders. I let it. Several years ago, our family spent spring break at our vacation house in Arizona. We stayed up late one night gathered around a fire pit eating s’mores. I took a swallow from the mezcal. What could we call a chihuahua bought on a impulse from a Native American man earlier that day. Khloe sat on the ground playing with the dog, until he snatched one of her golden brown marshmallows off the stick while it was roasting. He kept jumping around the fire and barking at the shadows on the rocks. We pass out in our chairs around two or so.
Plastic Ponies by Ellen Carpenter
Cindy wasn’t sure how many plastic pony dolls she’d lit on fire by now, but she knew the number must be over a hundred. She felt a perverse kind of pleasure watching their bright painted faces and shiny mouths slowly melt into the ground. Not to mention the smell. Burnt plastic had always been one of her favorite smells, the same way some people felt a strange attraction to the smell of gasoline or rubbing alcohol. She liked how the plastic burned in her nose and the back of her throat, the way each pony melted into the grass, pink and swollen, like flesh. The way they twisted into grotesque shapes, their four legs splaying open until they resembled the sick figures more reminiscent of the sordid pornos she’d found shoved under her ex boyfriend’s bed than the playthings for young children. The titles blared, “GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS UNCUT AND UNTAMED WILD EXOTIC PLAY FULL CENTERFOLD PICS.” Cindy had come across these items while in the process of hiding her own beneath the same bed.
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