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Real life?

Story no. 32.


The slip splattered on Janice’s face, a long splotch of off-white goop.

Van took her hands, each finger encased in a fine layer of soggy porcelain clay, off the wheel. “I am really sorry,” she said. “Do you want me to get you a paper towel? I can totally get you a paper towel.”

“Um.” Janice didn’t meet her eyes. “Can you just point me to where they are? I’ll get it myself.”

“No no no, I’ll get it,” Van said, the pitch of her voice rising. She coughed and pushed up from her stool. “Bill, where do you have the new rolls of paper towels?” she yelled.

“What about your pot?” Janice asked, gesturing toward the slumping clay bag still spinning furiously.

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Story no. 26. 


Little Jimmy lay next to her for still, long, slow minutes, breathing. Emma could feel the weave of the sheets rubbing across her shoulders, the backs of her hips, the backs of her thighs. The afternoon was dry and crisp and brittle like the winter-kill grass beside the stoop. An air conditioner still clung to the windowsill of his bedroom. He mostly didn’t heat the trailer in the winter months; when it was his weekend to have Lucia he dragged an old electric radiator into her bedroom.

Story no. 25.


Charlie’s car was affectionately known by his coworkers and students as the Doughnut. The crash had completely destroyed the driver’s side door, crunching it up like a ball of aluminum foil and leaving a a crumple all down the back that meant you had to fold down the back seat from the inside to get inside the trunk.

Pretty much all his money had gone for his legs: the reconstruction; then, when that failed, the amputation; then, when he’d recovered a bit, a wheelchair; and finally the physical thterapy to get used to his technosticks. It hadn’t left much money for the car, so Zach, his younger brother, had rummaged through the scrap yard until he found a door that matched his ’87 Oldsmobile. It was pink. The rest of the car was brown, with silver streaks where the fucking truck had dug in its fucking claws. Somehow that made it the Doughnut.

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Story no. 23.


She didn’t look like a stereotype to him.

“Of course, this is exactly the stereotype,” she explained, gesturing to herself. “The scarf and the jacket and the falling-down bun — ” here she touched the side of her head ” — and the skinny jeans and the Converse — all the stereotype. I fit it to a tee.”

They sat across from each other in the ice cream shop just south of Harvard Square. She had a scoop of maple walnut with wafers crumbled over the top. He had a chocolate milkshake.

“It would have been one worse if not for this stupid fucking thing,” she said, jerking her head toward the limb that splayed out awkwardly from underneath the table. Her right leg was encased entirely in black plastic and straps, a polka-dot besocked foot just poking out from the very tip of the whole mess. “I was going to make you do something quirky with me. Roller-skating.”

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Story no. 22. 


The day the Germans came was a Thursday.

I had let a flat in the 20eme arrondissement — a lovely flat on the third floor of a building contemporaneous with Hausmann’s dissection of the city — for a mere 1200 euro a month. Well, it was a lovely price for what it was; but I couldn’t afford it for more than a month or so, so I duly advertised for roommates.
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Story no. 21. Lord God, I am irregular. Resuming now!


When she went home, she slid headfirst into an old mold, a child’s mannequin. The arms posed rigidly at her sides; the hair sizzled and cracked in poor storage conditions. The lips stiffened around her new words, the names of Berlin streets, even her boyfriend’s name. Those words did not fit here, in this old-new place full of dust.

Her mannequin-arm crooked, frozen around Xhevahire’s, they toured up and down Nënë Tereze’s boulevard. Her cousin had gone to Skopje with Auntie and Grandfather when the family had left, coming back on weekends sometimes, as well as the big holidays and in the summer. Her mold had not gotten quite so dusty and out of order as Ada’s had.

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