"Kitchen Sketches"

Today there is cauliflower for dinner, washed and cut, white florets of boredom. Cauliflower was relief till it became an imposition. First grandmother and then mother-in-law told me how to cook it, as if the success of my marriage rested on the cauliflower.

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Shivani Mutneja
"The Scream"

I’ve been in bed for maybe an hour, asleep for just a few minutes I think. And then the scream. My stomach muscles tighten. It feels as though a short sharp blade has been inserted. I freeze but only for a couple of seconds. I need to move.

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Kathleen Langstroth
“Castles in the Sand”

It was the summer of 1972. We had been in the habit of heading to the mountains for our summer holidays, but the Olympics were on, and half the world was going to Bavaria. So instead, Dad had decided to visit the relatives in the Zone.

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Peter Arnds
"Memento Mori"

Something woke me up in the middle of the night. It was dark, the rest of the room kept barely visible by the glow of the living room lamps emanating up the stairs and into the hallway.

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Jessica Milewski
"Island"

Most things with my mom were either broken or about to break. That stood true for the water pump and the boiler on the oil burner, so life always carried an element of pioneering spirit or sad poverty, depending on how you looked at it.

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Tamara Adelman
"Loner Makes Friend: An Experiment"

After eight years of quasi isolation I emerge from the recesses of my mind and venture into the world of humans. I have avoided converse with people most of my life, but in the last eight years my avoidance magnified from the natural detachment of a solitary personality to the active withdrawal of a recluse.

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Stephenson Muret
"Bridges"

When I was very small, I sometimes sat on my dad’s lap in his recliner while he watched the news or a history program — the sober and studied voices of the commentators washed over me, the stories I found confusing. I matched my breath with his deeper inhalations, my head against his white undershirt. It required concentration and was difficult for my smaller lungs to hold as much oxygen as his. It was strangely comforting.

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Meghan Anderson Nathanson
"On Death and Cymbals"

In Galicia, northwest of the Iberian Peninsula, we like to bury our dead quickly. The passage from brand new corpse to six-feet-under should be completed in under forty-eight hours. It is good form to take under thirty-six.

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Eva Ferry