Packard Plant, Detroit
David J. Thompson

robin white

j potter

jaimie eubanks

ashley hutson

rachel anne bondurant

cara dempsey

fiona helmsley


I just fucked a horrible woman for seventy dollars, plus lunch. Her armpits smelled like mayonnaise and when she came she punched me in the side of the head.

Tonight might be better. I'll work the McDonalds -- the manager feeds me chicken nuggets in between chewing on his nipples, and the evenings roll faster on a full stomach. This one time I got booked by a girl who said she was a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader. She took me to the Olive Garden: all-I-could-eat pasta and a finger up my ass in the ladies’ room. Not bad for fifty bucks.

Robin White
Twitter @robinjameswhite
Tenth of December
George Saunders


Looking at it this way, I guess there are a lot of things to be looking at. Networks of people posting images to look at. Advertisements and videos of things about things to look at. If looking at things translates to thinking about things, then by all means, we should keep looking at things—keep typing words in the blank and laughing or gasping at the suggestions, observing the spectrum of images that define each specific query. I look at things and make things to look at, not because I want people to look at them, but because I know people will. People are looking at everything, and that's where I get hyper self-conscious, knowing that people are looking at everything. It's the first step to interpreting things, and interpretations are infinite, like good, bad, and all the places in between and undefined, like 'okay'. Infinite is strange, oblique. I can't imagine being lost in space and feeling infiniteness in all directions. Though I can imagine you'd feel fear. But maybe not, considering there'd be nothing to look at.

J Potter
The Dead Father
Donald Barthelme


In the conference room, the man seated to my left has kind eyes and a skinny body and I will not look at him directly. I cannot, because if I look, he will see into my soul with his kind eyes and know I am considering him. It’s a violation, how much I discover about this man without looking. So skinny, he’s maybe skinnier than any man I’ve seen before. Slight, wiry, but too old to be called scrawny. He has no hair on his arms, but he’s got enough five o’clock shadow to show that there’s some on his chest, just a small patch over his sternum, which must protrude from his body like the exoskeleton of an alien trying to escape. Does he have a tiny penis and tiny balls, proportional to his matchstick legs? Or because these appendages are flesh, not muscle, are they normal size? Does his having a normal size penis and a normal set of balls create the optical illusion of his being well endowed? When the conference facilitator asks us to find a partner, I turn to my right, clinging to a woman whose soft body does not hold any mystery.

My one contribution to the conference is when I tell a Turkish man that constant praise is more than just an American thing. It’s a millennial thing. They need it. We need it. I need it. If you do not say good job (three times, at least) a millennial will believe that they have failed in some way. People my age and younger, that’s what they think. When we break for lunch, the conference facilitator thanks me for my comment. Very astute. Good job. Is it that I have done a good job? Or is it that he knows this is what I need to hear in order to fall asleep sober in my hotel room tonight, in order to sit in this conference room again tomorrow?

On the wall of the conference room there is a large portrait of a man sitting in a metal folding chair, wearing ripped jeans, and he is staring at me. The canvas is maybe four feet by five feet, and his plain olive T-shirt hangs limp off his shoulders with such realism that I can smell him. He’s a sour man with coffee breath and cigarette smoke in his hair. He’s the same as any man I loved when I was young. He has moved beyond the realm of the tortured artist. More than a creative man, he’s a man worth creating. He looks at me through dark eyes under dirty Kurt Cobain hair, and I know what he is thinking: I have sold out. I have betrayed him. I have grown up.

Jaimie Eubanks
The Heaven of Animals
David James Poissant

THE GRAIN OF RICE - ashley hutson

I'm washing the dishes and there's a grain of burnt rice sticking to the side of the sink. I keep looking at it thinking it's an insect even though I know exactly what it is, that it's only a grain of rice that fell out of the pan when I was cooking earlier.

But it's looking meaner now. Bigger. Hardened and shiny like the back of a bug that leaves a smear of something gross behind it.

You gotta keep on top of this shit or it gets out of control, just like the greeting cards that remind me of everyone I don't talk to anymore. Mom-Dad-Tammy-Janet-Grandma-Matt. All these colorful cards I taped to my blank fridge a long time ago because they matched my kitchen. They looked so pretty back then but now collect clots of dust, making everything sad and filthy with their faded, brittle paper and warped corners. I should really trash them but can't quite bring myself to do it, just like I can't bring myself to squash this bug whose crusty ugliness seems to remind me of something else. Something good, maybe.  

I have to kill it, though. What am I waiting for?

Ashley Hutson
Édouard Levé

IN FITS AND STARTS - rachel anne bondurant

When he sleeps, his dreams move him in fits and starts, and she wakes. To her they seem to shout and fight: his arms and toes, his legs and hands.

No, there—
But, what—
I’m not—

All of his limbs speak to her at once. They vie for the right to share their stress.

Her back is pressed to his chest. His breaths are quick. His heart is the beat skip beat of a small drum. She rolls to face him.  
At dawn, he is brave and sure.

Now, his face is pinched with fear.

She puts her hand to his chest, to his heart.

“I’m here,” she says.
He sighs and stirs, but his eyes stay closed. He stills. He does not wake.

He is true in a world where she is sure not much else is.

At dawn, he will be her truth.

But now, she keeps him safe. 

Rachel Anne Bondurant
Safe as Houses
Marie-Helene Bertino


He jokes, I've always been scared of pretty girls. Then, he looks at me and says, No, not like that, like, high school pretty. Then, You know what I mean, and I say that I do. I do know what he means. Because I do.

He means pretty like the way a high ponytail fits when it falls between two spiky shoulder blades, pretty like the shadow a mini skirt casts on a pair of legs, pretty like the knees bent and the elbows straight like a cheerleader's, pretty like a thick ring of black eyeliner, pretty like when the freckles come out, pretty like two girls in two-pieces walking towards an ice cream truck in the middle of the day, pretty like a blue tank top and pink lip gloss, pretty like the hand that wipes it away, pretty like nail polish with hardly any chips, pretty like vanilla perfume with glitter in it, pretty like shiny Disney glam, pretty like a pop-princess prom dress and a flower that matches. And for the first time since I grew up, I wish I was pretty like that. Just to scare the fuck out of him.

Cara Dempsey
Ways of Going Home
Alejandro Zambra 


A memory from my childhood: We’re at the beach. A bunch of older, cool kids are there, too. Something is going on. Two older, cool girls are huddled together, and one of them is crying. One girl puts her hand on the other girl's elbow, trying to calm her. It’s clear they are having a serious conversation; it appears something’s at stake. Two older, cool boys are also huddled together. “Alright. Great idea. Let's mix it up,” one of the boys says. “We’re good?” They shake hands. One of the friends I’m there with is the little sister of one of the girls in the cool group, though her sister isn’t one of the girls huddled together. Whatever has happened, it’s dramatic, and all us younger kids want to know what it is, so my friend asks her sister, once things have calmed down. “The boys decided to swap girlfriends,” she says. “At first Jen wasn’t cool with it, but finally she agreed.” I look over to where the cool kids are sitting on a blanket. Jen's cheeks are red from crying. Her new boyfriend is putting suntan lotion on her back. She looks like she might throw up.

Fiona Helmsley
A Portrait of Cookie Mueller
Chloe Griffin