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  • “Magnificent Desolation”

    By Jess Walter

    I have a crush on the mother of my worst student.I suppose crush might seem an odd word for someone my age, 50, but it’s an apt one. I feel crushed by this woman who appears in my classroom doorway to talk about why her son is …

  • “Many Crowns”

    By S.M. Hulse

    In the final month of her final summer working at Dairy Palace, Debbie Baker’s boss asked her to be the Dairy Princess in the end-of-summer parade. After three-and-a-half years of wearing a black-and-white cowhide-patterned paper crown while dispensing cone after cone of soft-serve every afternoon, it was …

  • “Summer of Love”

    By Thom Caraway

    “You know what the problem is, don’t you?” Paul leaned forward. It had been a sunny day, but evening settled in cool. It smelled like grass and hot concrete.Al knew this look, the tone. “Geez, Paul, can’t you wait until we start drinking?” He poured the scotch.Earl …

  • “Where Oh Where Is Tommy Parker?”

    By Chris Crutcher

    Tommy rolls another joint and hands it over the back of the bench seat to the hippie chick riding shotgun in the 1966 VW van that picked him up more than an hour ago hitching on Highway 80 across the southern Idaho desert. He nods at the …

  • “Eat, Drink, and be Merry”

    By Sherry Jones

    All Jack wants for his 69th birthday is to celebrate the way the people used to: around the table, feasting with friends, everyone happy. Is that too much to ask?

    “A party in these times?” When Jack had apparated to his daughter’s place with the invitation, her …

  • “The Island”

    By Kris Dinnison

    Charlie got on his knees, leaning out the car window. He was looking for landmarks. They were close to the cabin. He knew that. But until he saw the “No Trespassing” sign and then caught a glimpse of the island, he couldn’t be sure.

    “Charlie, sit down, …

  • “Good Little Mice”

    By Sharma Shields

    After the offensives, after the riots, the murders, and then – to their surprise – the music, the mother shuttered the windows and locked the doors.

    “To keep you safe,” she said.

    Her three children blinked up at her from the divan. She switched on a lamp, …

  • “Tranquility Base”

    By Megan Louise Rowe

    Leading up to the launch, Janet Shearon told Life magazine, “I’m not married to ‘an astronaut.’ I’m married to Neil Armstrong. I knew he wanted to go to the moon, somehow, some way, when I married him.”

    With children living and dead, Jan observed Apollo 11’s …

  • “New Mom”

    By Shawn Vestal

    Lunch was bologna, Wonder Bread and red Fanta in glass bottles bought at Safeway in Sandpoint and eaten in the car as they rode north with the windows rolled down. When the bottles were empty, their father would lob them, left-handed, at the road signs along the …

  • “Oracle”

    By Stephanie Oakes

    Hannah could see the future in car parts. In the slick backs of brake pads, and the calcified pathways charted by battery acid, in the shattered bodies of taillights, metal and filaments and needles of glass spread like entrails on the oiled garage floor.

    She’d crouch in …