Jan/Feb 2021

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(These are excerpts—click on the title to view the whole piece!)

Where Are You Going? Where Am I Going?

Across the street, the final hours of sunlight were wasted upon a scaffolded building's face and its boarded up windows. Beneath them: a woman haggling for a faux leather bag in Spanish (¡Tómalo o déjalo!), the vendor laughing (Are you crazy?). All of these little scenes happened around us, and yet we couldn't look into any of them, even if we tried.

Jonathan Paul

A Broken Bird in a Metropolis

Mr. Edalati's gaze then falls upon a necklace almost eclipsed by Ms. Shojooni's scarf. It is a simple necklace of silver or white gold. It carries a delicate pendant of a limpid yellow stone set in a delicate thin frame. He finds the necklace charming, and a faint smile appears on his face. It then occurs to him that Ms. Shojooni is, after all, a woman. A woman who wakes up every morning, stares at herself in the mirror, and sometimes wears a delicate necklace with a limpid yellow pendant, maybe as an afterthought.

Azin Neishaboori


I received a failing grade on the working order of neurons in my brain and the nerve cells in my body. In my defense, I didn't fail it by much. The machine was positive for the most part, reporting my neurons and nerve cells worked well together, but they just didn't work as well as was required to move on. While the machine acknowledged I was capable of complex thought, it could not sufficiently promise I was able to put together unbiased thought with enough regularity. Those were the key issues. It also suggested I could be too easily manipulated. I will admit, I sometimes have a hard time dealing with good salespeople. But that doesn't apply to other areas of my life.

Nirushan Sivagnanasuntharam

Private Eyes

The CEOs live in mansions with basketball courts in their living rooms. There's a movie theater, spa, and a panic room in which to hide. Where's the ballroom? There are 17 bedrooms and as many toilets, but no library. America's elite no longer reads. There's no dining room table, just a trough. There's a drain on the floor as in a pigsty. America's elite goes directly from middle-school to the boardroom. They skip the 19th century education; forget Matthew Arnold, forget Cicero. Latin and the Greek are unneeded. America's future CEOs begin their education with a study of criminality.

David Lohrey

The Appendix

The Internet says the purpose of the human appendix—a finger-shaped oxbow of the colon—remains a mystery. It can become inflamed and rupture, causing peritonitis, sepsis, and death. Doctors began snipping appendices out of kids prophylactically in the 1950s, a practice discontinued decades before I came along. Sleeping on a floor that night seemed the apex of luxury.

Robert P. Kaye

The Nameless Wives Aboard the Ark

Mother, she says, and one roughened hand pushes him-rhinoceros aside so she can arrange herself on the floor beside me. She does everything with such fastidious care, my almost-daughter. Sometimes, when the floodwater rises inside my head, I sit and I watch her work. To see her lay out the beans in their neat rows before another almost-daughter adds them to the pot orders my thoughts in a way they have not been ordered for a century or more.

Elisabeth Hewer

The Parable of Kim

His eyes were the color of the Jim Beam Mama keeps in an unplugged deep freeze and thinks don't nobody know about but her and God. He had thick palms and long, clean fingers, squared-off at the tips. There was a moment after his hand moved. While it hovered over my leg. I could have pulled back, hollered, slapped his face, but I didn't do any of those things. And then he laid it on my thigh and gave me the gentlest squeeze, and I felt myself go all warm down there.

Amelia Franz

An Afternoon At Sonia's

I always wanted to act as though I was more experienced with women than I am. I guess most men want that at some time in their life, to pretend to be more than they are and have the charmed confidence to get women to believe that fabrication, too.

Arthur Davis