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By Jessica Klimesh

There is only one rule: when the car turns, stops, or starts again, no matter how gently, no matter how jackrabbit hard, you are to let your body fall as though you were a rag doll, limp; as though your skin were fabric, supple, soft and smooth, without gently budding curves or awkward angles; as though your hair were yarn, unable to be brushed or altered; as though you were small enough to fit in crevices, cracks, small enough to get lost under a seat, amid discarded candy and Cheerios, so small that an adult or young child will cease looking for you if they don’t find you right away; as though your body could be squeezed without breaking, yielding but seemingly impenetrable; as though you were filled with spare scraps, batting, or cotton, without a mind of your own, without lungs, without a heart; as though if one of your seams were to burst open, you could simply be stitched up, no one the wiser, your laughter and your smile sewn on, your expression never changing.

Jessica Klimesh is a US-based writer and editor whose creative work can be found in Brink, Cleaver, Atticus Review, trampset, Ghost Parachute, and elsewhere.

Art by Jeff Tamblyn.

By Lesley Jenike

We’re at Panera for the mac and cheese and as usual my daughter has to pee twice so twice we notice a flyer pinned to a corkboard near the bathrooms that reads, “Bible study on Mondays!” and the sign on the back of the stall door that warns, “Please don’t flush feminine products!” and my daughter says she has “two questions” for me and I can guess what they are and you probably can too, though what you may not have guessed is that this is just another essay about the “Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living,” and I both do and don’t mean the artist Damien Hirst’s dead shark installation since I’m of two minds when it comes to the big questions and the first is to answer them whole-heartedly there and then at the moment they’re posed, and the other is to ignore them and hope they go away, but my second mind always wins

and sure, I could be quick and literal—the Bible’s a book and feminine products are napkins that’ll clog a toilet—but quick and literal isn’t my forte since I’m a lugubrious sort, a long-form dirge of a person, and while it’s funny that most people who know me think I’m upbeat, my daughter’s got my number, always has, and the way she looks at me sometimes fills me with shame because I wear my love like a costume and at night I crawl out of it and into bed, exhausted by the play I’m in called motherhood and no, they shouldn’t have cast me, but here I am, and my daughter’s the critic in the audience with a notepad and a light-pen.

Lesley Jenike's essays have appeared in The Kenyon Review, West Branch, The Bennington Review, The Rumpus, Image, and many other journals as well as on Ploughshares' blog.

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

By Amber Nuyens

In harvesting her eggs, a sturgeon is sliced from jaw to tail, her pink and full organs are splayed out on the wrong side of her grey skin onto the reflective silver table; the eggs, bundled together, are scooped out of her body cavity by full arms, careful and gentle, to be processed and packaged into tiny luxury tins, just as she has been born for, prehistoric fish, spikes still running down her spine where evolution got lost, farmed for tiny black beads bathed in salt, her body— a husk— discarded, no more tangible value once her eggs have been evacuated and the whole time I can’t look them in their eyes, it hurts deep in my stomach, all the way until I’m finished scooping their insides out, maybe it’s sympathy pains, like I’m feeling for her as I gut her for one specific piece, discarding the rest, up until I carry her smell home, like the guilt follows me on purpose, but still, I can’t leave the giant fishes because if I stop slicing and gutting and scooping and processing and packaging, someone will replace me and they won’t care about her as much as I do– they’ll push her hollow cave-no-longer-body down the production line like she never mattered, they’ll wash her scent off and they’ll brag about the fish they emptied, nothing following them like she follows me– I care about you, fossil fish, so much that only I can be the one to smash the mallet down on the base of your skull and flip you over and slice you open and hollow you out and turn you into rich people finger food.

Amber Nuyens (she/her) is an MFA student living on unceded lək̓ʷəŋən and W̱SÁNEĆ territory with her elderly lizard and her work has previously appeared in Perhappened, Complete Sentence, Glitchwords, and elsewhere.

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

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