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By Natalie Warther

You didn’t mean to get married on Mother’s day, it just happened, the way death just happens, but that’s not what you mean to say, this is the happiest season of your life, and before you know it, it’ll be gone, just like her cat is gone, her car is gone, the tree the three of you planted for her in the front yard of the old house is gone, to think the new owners just didn’t like the way it looked, skinny and leaning towards her shutters, you drop your apple in the sand and she’s still gone, ants crawl out of the outlets and still, gone, you buy a veil, and something blue, and none of this makes her un-gone, but you’re getting married, there’s a lot to do, so you schedule her, write MOM on the list next to VENDOR TIPS and EYE LINER, carve out five minutes to pause and be her kid, you step out onto the driveway and say her name out loud, first, middle, and last, it might be the first time in decades that anyone has said it like this, “mother of the bride,” you say it once, twice, three times like some sort of prayer, go back inside, put your dish in the sink, cross her off, as if by acknowledging the want you could fix it, (THANK YOU CARDS, STEAMER,) as if motherlessness could ever be finished,

Natalie Warther is a senior writer at 72andSunny with an MFA from Bennington College, and her most recent fiction has appeared in Smokelong Quarterly, Hobart After Dark, and Maudlin House, and she was a finalist in Smokelong Quarterly’s Grand Micro contest and the recipient of the New Flash Fiction Review Editor’s Choice award, oh, and Natalie lives in Los Angeles.

By Rebecca Grossman-Kahn

So, what do you do, they ask me, at a dinner party (this only happens on the coasts because in Minnesota no one inquires about your profession, or your personal life at all), and I say I work in a psychiatric hospital and when I say this, the guests imagine asylums of the past: looming brick buildings, sprawling lawn worn thin, so I want to say instead, picture this: a modern, eight-story hospital building identical to the one where you had your appendix taken out, with the same overpriced parking, the same crowded elevator banks, the same confusing hallways from hospital additions over the years, the same antiseptic smell, the same bustling shift change at 3pm, the same break room with burnt coffee and someone’s leftover cupcakes; if modern day psychiatric units were shown on TV as much as cardiac wards are, I wouldn’t have to help you imagine this, but the guests are still trying to make sense of where I work while not spilling the wine they’re pouring, so they say oh how interesting, so you treat things like, um, well, what exactly? because the people who have never had a loved one hospitalized for mental illness cannot hide the confusion—in the twitches of their eyebrow I see them trying to work out why people go to the hospital for mental health but before I can reply a woman I’ve just met chimes in with mental health, it’s so important, I’m actually in that field too, I’m on the wellness committee at work because she thinks mental health is corporate-sponsored yoga, insurance-covered therapy sessions, work-life balance, and I nod with a strained smile on my lips, wondering how to convey what I do each day; every morning I meet people whose thoughts or feelings have become too intense to endure alone; this is the best way to explain it, I think, without mentioning suicidal thoughts as we are passing around the salad again; my job is wading through suicidal thoughts with people—some thoughts are thick and full like a stew, bubbling over heat, some trail you like an eager pet, or perhaps they catch you suddenly, like the dust that emerges from under the radiator, or else they hibernate between thick stacks of mail uncollected between the front door and screen; others are wispy and light, like cotton candy; sweet, you say? the dinner guests cock their heads to the side and their eyes grow big over their plates, and everyone has finished eating and the host wonders how long before bringing out dessert; yes, sweet and pink, a comforting companion, an out, an escape from today’s pain; the thoughts try to stick around, but in the hospital we find ways to give them less power, less momentum, but there is still confusion: So, what is it you do exactly? Well, I sit beside humans during their most painful periods of life and we do yoga, too, but we’re also talking about reasons to stay alive, and how does a dinner party conversation follow from there?

Rebecca Grossman-Kahn is a psychiatrist and writer living in the Midwest; you may find her touring historic houses, listening to samba music or entertaining her terrier.

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

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.

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