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Cover
Table of Contents
Editor's Notes
Donations
Submission Guidelines
Website

Stories & Essays
...gone tomorrow
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By jp Rodriguez
Barbie and the Burn Scars
_ By Dion OReilly
Bright Lights
_ By Nicole Exposito
Cricket Theory
_ By Sophia Alev
Dieciseis
_ By Kate Delany
Fines Double In Work Zone
_ By Brian Stumbaugh
Guy and Doll
_ By John P. Loonam
Lake
_ By Erlynda Jacqui Chan
Lala's Diner
_ By Nicole Exposito
Laundry
_ By Allison P. Boye
Love Story
_ By Cynthia Burke
Magic Bags and Forgotten Princesses
_ By Ken Goldman
Squirrels
_ By Benjamin Buchholz

Poetry
Baking Bread and Other Subtleties
_ By Leland Jamieson
Corpus Christi
_ By Taylor Collier
Early Cold
_ By Yvette A. Schnoeker-Shorb
Ekphrasis at the Mall
_ By James Owens
Games In Your Uncle's Den
_ By Robin Stratton
My Spanish Rose
_ By Jose Rivera
Northern Lights, Southern Soul
_ By E.F. Kramer
Posted on Fifth Avenue
_ By J.R. Salling
Sirens
_ By Naiya Wright
Summer Sojourn
_ By Cheryl Butterweck-Bucher
The Himalayan Sunset
_ By Rohith Sundararaman
Time Decays, Clots
_ By Kristine Ong Muslim
Turn
_ By Terrance Schaefer
Where You Rest
_ By Stephanie N. Barnes

Art & Photography
Bissan Alhussein
_ Paintings
E.W. Hung
_ Photography
Papa Osmubal
_ Drawings
Linda Pakkas
_ Drawings
Anastasiya Tarasenko
_ Paintings
Filip Wierzbicki
_ Paintings and Digital Photography
Nancy Xu
_ Paintings and Drawings

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Laundry
By Allison P. Boye


Congealed egg crusted in the center of the plates like jaundice. Ellen scratched at it with the dark green scrubby side of the sponge, then stacked the plates on the drain board. The blue ceramic flowers were visible again. She turned away from the sink and found her husband Carl's coffee mug still sitting on the breakfast table where he left it, starting to leave a ring on the cherry wood because he could never seem to remember to keep it on the placemat, and starting to deepen the brown stain at the bottom because he could never seem to remember to rinse it out when he was finished. She closed her eyes and cracked a bone in her neck with a slow twist. The mug landed in the steel sink with a sick clunk, just like it did yesterday.

Ellen tightened the belt of her plaid robe and shuffled to the laundry room. A full basket of colors awaited her and she numbly started the machine. Click. Swish. The detergent crystals swirled in celestial clumps she knew would reappear as undissolved white streaks later. She began to toss in the shirts with sweat stains and grass stains and food stains and who-knew-what stains. She paused just before adding her daughter's favorite shirt to the churning soap.

She didn't know what her sister-in-law was thinking when she bought that awful shirt for Mira's birthday. It was pink, which didn't bother Ellen. But it was sequined and stopped just short of Mira's seven-year-old navel, which did bother Ellen. "Just relax, Ellen," the sister-in-law had said, scratching her substantial ass, which she had squeezed into a black mini-skirt for the occasion. "Mira loves it. Stop being such a stick-in-the mud." Mira's squeals of delight made it virtually impossible for Ellen to return the pink sequined atrocity. Ellen blanched at the thought of her daughter going to school dressed like a tiny whore, but was too tired to fight.

Today she held the pink shirt and suddenly felt ashamed. She'd been bullied. She brought the shirt up to her nose, halfway expecting it to smell of cigarettes and cheap perfume. But it didn't—just chalk and bologna. Her hand poised over the washing machine, Ellen stopped herself from releasing the shirt. Instead she closed the lid and listened to the agitator whir to life.

***

Ellen wiped the steam away from the bathroom mirror with the cuff of her robe and once again stared with dismay and surprise at the almost middle-aged woman gazing back at her. She hardly knew her, this pale woman with the early crease creeping across her forehead and the bluish circles beneath her eyes that blinked cliché. The doctor's wife. The little woman. The rest of the day before her held little to look forward to: a trip to the grocery store for milk and chicken for dinner. A trip to the dry cleaners to pick up Carl's shirts. Vacuuming up the dog food crumbs from the tile grout in the kitchen and the carpet in the den. More laundry. Perhaps an at-home hair-coloring treatment in a shade of beige to cover the few wiry grays that had begun to emerge in the last year. Ellen pinched her cheeks right on the apples and watched them pink up for a moment, and she could almost see the twenty-year-old girl she used to know.

Still in her bathrobe—much later this morning than usual—Ellen found herself marching into Carl's study. The room was not supposed to be just his study, but rather the "family library," and yet she thought of it as his. Ellen stood in front of the back wall and looked at Carl's enormous medical school diploma in its shining mahogany frame. Her own college diploma sat on one of the expensive built-in bookshelves lining the wall, near the top.

She had met Carl in a freshman biology class at college. They became lab partners, sharing shy glances over the steel sinks and protective eyewear. He was gentle and smart, wooing her with music on her answering machine. Of course they fell in love. Carl went on to medical school, and Ellen happily followed him. She thought she had earned a Master's degree in something while he struggled through Gross Anatomy—she barely remembered now—and they soon got married. She knew she must have been smart once, capable of more than carpooling and spot cleaning. At least she thought she had been smart, or good at something. Hadn't she?

Suddenly, Ellen hiked up her robe, flicking it behind her damp knees, and in her bare feet, climbed up the heavy shelving. She could just reach the edge of her framed diploma. Her fingers fumbled, grappled. Her toes slipped, and she knocked the frame off the shelf altogether. It fell onto the rug with a jangly clatter. Ellen hung onto the shelving for a second, her robe flapping open, and she wrenched her neck looking over her shoulder at the frame lying face down on the floor. She closed her eyes, let go, hoped it wasn't broken.

***

Ellen had gotten pregnant with Mira near the end of Carl's medical schooling. They were poor, choking on student loans, but took comfort in the fact that his medical residency at least came with a reasonable paycheck. But the hospital Carl got assigned to was in a small town, and Ellen couldn't find a job. She panicked.

(Turn the page)