2018 Winter Exclusive

Featuring stories by Caro Claire Burke, Daniel Paul, Jonathan Durbin, Frankie Barnet, and Gunnar Jaeck, and poems by Kateri Kosek, David O’Connell, Christopher Brean Murray, Dylan Loring, Lance Larsen, Cody Wilson, and Susan Ramsey.

Dark Matter

by Caro Claire Burke

The mother and father received the news on a Friday afternoon and were in the car driving south an hour later. They drove until midnight, then checked into a Courtyard Marriott for five hours before hopping back onto the road at dawn to cover the last hundred miles. They were silent in the car, which was strange: in their twenty years of marriage, they had never run out of things to talk about. There were, of course, things to talk about now—perhaps more than ever before—but neither the mother nor the father could find the words to start the conversation. By the time they navigated through the college town and parked at the police station where their son was held, they were both exhausted, irritable, and fit to burst with all the questions they’d swallowed on the way down.

The police officer behind the desk looked up as the entrance bells went off. “You must be the boy’s parents.”

The father stepped forward to shake the police officer’s hand. “That we are. Where is he?”

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Hurricane, 3rd Day

by Melissa Studdard

We hid in the belly of porcelain. The world 
sang sirens overlapping, the sound of wind

taking gates from the hinge. That whistling, yes.
Whistling and whipping, the world the cry 

of a cow caught in the spin of a twister and lifted. 
Water creeping to the back door like a thief. 

It wanted the jewels of our eyes.

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Love Story in an Alternate Universe in Which Small Talk Is Answered Honestly and in Detail

by Daniel Paul

I run into her on the street. We haven’t seen each other in a few years. “The weather is really nice today, especially for winter,” I say.

“I know,” she says. “It’s been so gray and depressing lately that I’ve been thinking a lot about how much I hate living here. Or at least I hope I hate living here. Otherwise it means that I just hate living in general.”

“No,” I reassure her. “I’m sure you just hate living here; this city is terrible.”

“I feel a bit better today,” she continues, “though it’s probably only warmer outside because of climate change, which makes me feel like enjoying a day like this is stealing joy directly from future generations . . . which I guess is okay, because I don’t want to have children: babies look like aliens, and I can’t even keep a houseplant alive; honestly, sometimes I don’t even want to keep the plant alive; I’d rather lord over it with my power to decide its fate, though that’s probably just a way of rationalizing the fact that even if I did want to keep a plant alive—to feel like I was contributing to the cycle of life and warmth even if just in my living room—I’m sure I would fail somehow and it would die anyway.”

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