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By Sarah Marie Kosch

Three years alive and the little girl has begun to demand stories from our heads, devouring them like a beautiful little beast, too hungry to pause for plot or craft she wants them when she wants them “with a mommy horsie and two babies and a green pata” a bribe in exchange for learning how to human: she sits on her tiny pink toilet and I sit on the other spinning sugar fluff and stealing whatever’s handy, wondering how much darkness to let in and when and what’s not mine to tell even disguised in some uncanny form to warn and filter out the worst poisons with my tongue as fast as she picks up words like stones from the ground and tucks them in her cheeks, twice as many as I have ever swallowed; I scratch for old learning my lazy skin has let evaporate (only the easiest and most delicious shards remain: hola, delicioso, rascacielos—pebbles in a whole other way to call things) stumbling with a child’s mouth trying out shapes, I give her a mommy horsie and two babies eating berries and napping in a sun-warmed bed of hay hoping I can distract her from what I don’t know, but only three years alive she already knows stories are better with loss—she claws out the bottom as fast as I build: “… dreaming on their beds of hay… (“They don’t have beds!” she laughs with delight at her theft)…they curled up on the fresh green grass… (“No grass!”)…on the rich brown dirt” (“No dirt!”) and our animal feet keep stamping down through crust and mantle to find the center of the earth.

Sarah Marie Kosch lives in Omaha, edits Random Sample Review and occasionally tweets from @smkosch.

Art by the author's niece.

By Denise Mills

That time my mother was dying from breast cancer and had booked in for a mastectomy, my father told her, “I’ll still love you with only one boob," while smiling to himself over what a great catch he was as a husband (his head tilted to the side and there was a look on his face that reminded me of a good puppy, waiting for a pat), that was the first time I saw a flicker of rage in my mother’s pale blue eyes (instead of the sadness), but her mouth replied: “I know you will”.

Denise Mills is a reader, writer and reformed accountant living in Central West NSW, Australia.

Image by Nick Botka, an artist living in Oregon; find his visuals here and his music here.

By Justin Mundhenk

It was the mail carrier churning gravel that stirred us, and we spilled into August scaring up grasshoppers and pulling pincers off crawdads with ears bent open in case Mom yelled, but when she did, it was only “Supper” in that voice like a ragged wash cloth, us holding out hope through the whippoorwills and crickets until she clicked our light off and became a sound at the other end of the house that would also disappear—another day was coming, same as the last.

Justin Mundhenk lives in Ohio.

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