By Kirsten Reneau

I grew up in Grafton, so I can tell you there’s no such thing as a Grafton Monster – hell, there wasn’t anything like a Grafton Monster myth or cryptid or like what Flatwoods or Point Pleasant has always had (that is, a legit monster with a real mythology, something people can grab onto) not till some TV show decided so and then the Fallout Games decided so and then all the sudden, where there was once nothing, now the only coffee shop in downtown (which is the only coffee shop in the county) is selling Find the Grafton Monster t-shirts and cookies in the shape of him (if he had a shape, which he doesn’t, because he’s not real and also if he was that’s not what he looks like anyways) with hopes that some tourists may pop in, but I’ll tell you I’ve never seen a tourist in Grafton (not counting when I bring my boyfriend home with me) since it’s too far out of the way and if you’re there you might as well be in Morgantown, or go another few miles and see those big Flatwoods Monster chairs that the Braxton County commission put up or even take a left on old route 50 and go to the Mothman Museum in Point Pleasant and take your photo with the statue or hell, go all the way down state and check out the cave where Batboy is from, just don’t come to my hometown because we don’t have any monsters except black lung and opioids, which is what the whole state has anyways so not even that is special, and I just want to make it clear that I’m not deviling you, there is no Grafton Monster here, not a single one, so don’t go looking and if you do, well, don’t say I didn’t tell you.

Kirsten Reneau is a writer from West Virginia, where all the good monsters come from.

Art by Jay Baker, an artist from Colorado living in Oregon, by way of New Mexico; he records music as Tom Foe.

By Nicole Zimmerman

I’ll make you a little something to eat, just finish what’s on your plate and then brush your teeth, no, don’t lick your fingers, that’s obscene, use your napkin, please, would you stop picking your nose, and if you keep biting that lip it might peel right off, goddammit, get your feet off that chair, unless you want to pay for it, now why don’t you go get dressed, just holler when you’re ready, well, there’s no need to yell, I’m right here, why must you always torture me with that horrid sound, come on, suck in your stomach so we can pull these tights on, you know I don’t care for white stockings with black shoes, never did, nor white shoes in winter, unless it’s winter-white, of course, a beautiful ivory—in California it just looks stupid, like wearing velvet on a hot day; you have to be in Cleveland with the lights and snow—which reminds me, your father better dress appropriately, at least a blazer or jacket, and not those old tennis shoes, anyway, I’m sure the food will be divine, the hors d’oeuvres and wine and, oh dear, you forgot to put a slip under that dress!

Nicole R. Zimmerman is a queer Jewish writer whose work appears in Litro, Cagibi, Sonora Review, The Rumpus, Creative Nonfiction, and elsewhere.

Art by Nicole R. Zimmerman.

By Adrienne Crezo

All your ghosts showed up and put on Sublime and ate all the food and trashed the place, packed in good and tight, wearing their newest outfits, your house full to the roof, ghosts pouring forth from the windows and doors, so many of your goddamned ghosts, so goddamned many of your ghosts, and no room for you, no air to breathe because the air is just your ghosts, so you swim and push through as hard as you can but then you realize, oh shit, all your ghosts can feel your fear, so now you have to play it cool, swim like a cool guy through your living room, Chili Peppers on now, high-five the people you knew before they died, dance briefly with disembodied shames you thought had passed on, accept a drink from the idea you had about what your life could be, keep it cool, keep it level, breathe slow and easy and smile at the men who told you to smile smile smile so you dreamt of dropping each of them into a vat of green acid, one by one, and now here they are, Jokering while you breathe in counts of five like you learned in yoga, and make your way not to an exit but to the door of your own bedroom and Jesus christ, what is this miracle of miracles, it's empty, just you in your own bedroom while your ghosts haunt everything else, and when you look out of the window you see the deck and balcony and woods and sky are all your ghosts, only this room is safe from your ghosts, the whole goddamn world is to the gills with your ghosts except this room, so you decide to change into pajamas, decide to climb into bed, decide to lie down and wait for the party to end, but then you're just at the edge of sleep, impossibly tired even as the earth—the entire goddamned earth—is swimming in your ghosts and there, at the precipice of cool and liquid sleep, a soft warm hand slides up your leg, ankle to thigh, hot like the only hands you ever dream about, then back down, one smooth and gentle and human thumb strokes you softly along the curve of your heel, the arch of your instep, swoops the bone of your ankle, softly, slowly, so sweetly, and you know if you can stay brave until morning you will make it out of this room alive, but you do the math in your head—the time from the bed to the window, the distance from the window to the ground, the odds of living through that jump, of surviving a landing on the deck below—and you know leaping headlong into the air and land of your ghosts is a certain death, and you know that death scares you less than a warm and tender touch in the dark.

Adrienne Crezo is an editor and writer who lives in Ohio and the 90s (but not simultaneously).

Art by Jay Baker, an artist from Colorado living in Oregon, by way of New Mexico; he records music as Tom Foe.