Animal Hospital

by Midge Raymond

The vet tech’s name was Kristy, and she had a shrill, candied voice that grated on Monica’s nerves. Her husband, Louis, was the one who usually took the dog to the vet.

“Oh, poor baby,” Kristy crooned as she took the dog from Louis’s arms. “What happened to you?”

“She had a seizure,” Louis said. He started to follow them into the back, but another tech intercepted him.

“If you can just fill out these forms,” she said, “we can get started on treatment right away. What happened exactly?”

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Day’s Face

by Janet Sunderland

            Topolobampo, Mexico

Dew beards the grass heads, heavy
in dawn’s thin light.
Wake…wake whispers the breeze 
like a mother lifting aside curls
on a sleeping child’s face.

Day strides the mountain’s ridge.

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Pogrzeby [Funerals]

by James Warren Boyd

Though the Laguna Beach hospital was familiar to me, the ICU was not. The entrance seemed like something out of a Cold War spy thriller, with its doubled-paned glass on thick doors, flat rectangle of steel covering the lock case, flashing lights, and wall-mounted phone. I picked up the handset, identified myself as the son of Eva Marie Boyd—so strange to use any name other than “Mother”—and was admitted with a loud buzz and the metallic thunk of the door being unbolted. The nurses’ station directed me to a room across from their administrative island. When I walked in, my Dad looked up me, his eyes puffy and swollen, and then back at my mother. I followed his gaze. A large tube, which stretched one corner of her half-opened mouth, jerked and hissed to initiate her chest’s rise and fall. I approached the bed and reached for her hand, getting tangled in the wire clipped to her forefinger. Continue reading

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Ghost Road

by John Sibley Williams

 

1.
Empathy for the barren is not enough to heal the landscape. Soil still wails for fallen timber,fears for the newly planted. Whatever roots we nourish, it seems these same hands must flatten. Continue reading

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The Locusts

by Kristen N. Arnett

The cousins gathered acorns beneath the wide canopy of oak trees, filling up the pockets of their shirts and pants until they bulged open. Though there were hundreds carpeting the ground behind their grandparents’ house, they kept only the unblemished ones, tossing out any that were punctured or hollow. They pried off the acorn’s caps and rubbed their thumbs across the smooth surfaces. Sometimes they broke them open and poked at the swollen orange kernels, imagining what it would be like to eat them. The kids did this every summer, and their parents had done it before them. The grandparents had owned the house for over thirty years. It sat in the middle of a large suburban neighborhood, but before the other houses had sprouted up, there’d been orange groves bordered by patchy dirt roads and fields full of wild grasses. Continue reading

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