A GUIDE TO AVOIDING THE PRESENT MOMENT - ARI MOSKOWITZ

Keep your phone in your pocket and every time you feel it buzz, take it out and check your new messages. Occasionally, you will feel the buzz of an UberBlack, a Google Bus, or an overzealous protester yelling about a wall or how the future is female. Sometimes you will brush your leg against a table or another person. You may mistake the fabric from your jeans for the vibration of your phone. Don’t beat yourself up over it. Calmly take your phone out of your pocket and look at it. You either have a new message or you don’t. Other phones sound exactly like yours.

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Bird Fair - Katherine Ann Davis

There’s black ice on Jackson Street, and right now I wish Jojo was the girl sitting next to me. Shoes off, feet up on the dash, hand stuck out the window like she’s egging on the 20 below wind chill—that’d be Jojo. “We got this, Les,” she’d say, and our car would fall in sync with the stoplights and the potholes and the other cars, like we’re playing that game at the bar where you have to guide a silver marble through a maze by tilting the board to avoid the traps.

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Una Vida Mejor - Brian Whalen

I’m sitting in a plastic chair at a fold-out table in my sister’s kitchen, eating pizza straight out of the box. It’s a hot afternoon in Richmond and the section 8 apartment doesn’t have A/C. The windows are shut, the curtains drawn. My sister tosses me a lemon-lime Jarritos soda from a six pack on the counter and slides a rusted bottle opener across the table. The bottle is a twist cap, but I use the opener for show.

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I, Ester - Shannon Sweetnam

"Mother and I hardly resemble each other, except to be both tall of stature, with the square jaws and prominent brows of many who live in this area. Our shoulders are wide, not sloping like those of so many women, and there is enough meat upon us to be considered farm-worthy. We have the strength and agility to catch a flustered chicken and wring its neck without getting clawed, to chop firewood and do a man’s work in whatever weather happens along."

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Birthday Boy - K Vish

"It makes you feel inadequate and threatened and lost so you get on a train that’s headed out of the city singing slow ballads to your disco heartbeat to slow it down but of course there’s no slowing down now the train is only getting faster and you wonder if you should pull the chain and grind the wheels to a halt and go back home but your parents probably stripped off all their clothes and started screwing the moment you stepped out the door."

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