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By Wendy Newbury

Mornings on the scale have gone awry, and I’ve had to call an intervention with my bodies; well, one half; the one I dumped for another; yes her; she’s back raining on our parade, though I’m certain I was over her; replaced her with a much disciplined version, a run for miles, calorie counting, green eating lean machine; one that willed me through thick to get slim; we were quite the pair; life changing; true out with the old, in with the new stuff; but you’ve become wallpaper, grown quiet as we’ve moved through the passing months; or maybe I drowned you out, invited her in again, allowed her to speak up, advocate for her place in the relationship, interrupting our self accolades, our high praise; I’ve forgotten how addictive she is, how she lacks control, barges in and grabs whatever she likes without thinking, asking; she’s reckless like that, going out of her way, driving across town to fulfill cravings, Welch’s fruit snacks, if anyone’s wondering; she tells cashiers they’re for the kids; they say, “wow, I didn’t know they came in these bigger bags, better than the small pouches, that’s great”, and she grins and says, “yeah, it’s marvelous”, then devours the whole 8 oz bag in the car; handfuls; sinking her teeth into every gummy bite; falling into that sugary cocoon of comfort; yes her; old me; I was sure she was gone; that I left her several years ago promising she’d change; she has to go; she will ruin us; but you say I should relax, take a minute, give her chances; plural, like we should keep letting this happen; I think it’s absurd; we can’t reason with her; she wants what she wants; you suggest we work it out together; look at her, she needs a team; balance, not banishment; you say to search for the big picture in our reflection, the silver lining in these mirror conversations; because after all, you need you.

Wendy Newbury is a writer and music educator living in the PNW with her family of five and her work has appeared in The New York Times and Roi Faineant Press; find her on Twitter @newburywrites.

Art by Verena Raban.

By Shannon Layne

There are a lot of angles to look at a negative pregnancy test, from the inches-away-squint to the flashlight-illuminating inspection, but all of them feel like a hand stuck deep into black water, the emptiness of clutching at your caved-in stomach, the hollowed-out tree sensation that comes only from losing something you’ve never seen or held in your hands, a dream hissing toward death as the sun rises and the dark, safe places are set on fire.

Shannon Layne (she/her) is from humboldt county in the far reaches of northern california, and her writing can be found online at betches and in various lit mags she submitted to while drinking red wine.

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

By Christian Gilman Whitney

Come and take it—take the 148 grams of sugar, the 1500 rounds of 9mm per resident, the avoidable tragedies, the hashtags about a city’s strength, a six-figure hip replacement, a pre-fab by the interstate, an eight-dollar latte, avocado toast, avocado toast from Dunkin’ Donuts, sirens in the middle of the night, the 200-foot tall crucifix by the interstate, the unending wars, MQ-9 Reaper Drones, ATM overdraft fees, come and take the lifted Dodge Ram with the leather seats and the Punisher sticker on the back window and the silver testicles hanging from the bumper, the 300 square feet of exposed brick for three thousand a month, an overpriced quarter acre in a decent neighborhood, vinyl siding, leaf blowers in the morning, sirens in the morning, HMMWVs, come and take a whole forest plowed to nothing to make way for the sprawl, the schools, the new Starbucks, McMansions by the interstate, a row of yellow school busses spewing diesel smoke, eight refills of oxycodone, come and take the warehouses by the interstate, a new self-storage facility, the heroes on minimum wage, teachers with three jobs, thank you for your service, thank you for your sacrifice, moral bankruptcy, medical bankruptcy, come and take the corn syrup, the bulletproof backpacks, the active shooter drills for kindergartners, a flag at perpetual half mast, please, please, come and take it all away, come and take me.

Christian Gilman Whitney was born and raised in Western Massachusetts and received his MFA from Bennington College.

Art by Jeff Kallet.

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