Boyish Behavior by Liz Bregenzer

Every single moment of your life is a nail biter. You have no idea why; it’s just been that way for as long as you remember. You picked it up from your father, the way he would absentmindedly send fingers to his mouth, using the action as an outlet for stress. He probably didn’t think much of it then, and maybe he didn’t even realize he was doing it so often. What he didn’t understand was that he was performing for an audience of one – a little girl with an impressionable mind and strong teeth.


It’s a boyish behavior, you know. Your mom has only told you a thousand times: “Get your hands out of your mouth.” Her voice fills your head when you suddenly hear the crunch of a loose fingernail, having no idea when you put your fingers there in the first place. You wish you had the nerve to tell her that all you’ve ever wanted is to burn the bridge between your mouth and your fingertips. What you would give to take a lighter to it all, to feel your life slowly catch flame until someone new rises from the ashes – someone with long, feminine nails.


You gnawed your way through braces, even after the orthodontist’s many warnings. “Most people can’t even bite their nails with braces on,” he said, peering into your mouth as he adjusted some of the brackets. “It’s how lots of kids kick the habit.” Kick the habit? Oh, you would show him. When your mom wasn’t looking, you snuck in nail bites like other kids with braces snuck in popcorn, proving to even the ortho veterans that old habits die hard.


For your senior prom, you asked for French tips at the nail salon. The lady doing your manicure looked down and disapprovingly stated, “You bite?” Brows furrowed, she reluctantly sealed the plastic extensions onto your stubs.

That night, you felt beautiful. Like Cinderella, almost, because here you were at a grand party where no one would question the look of your hands. No one would turn to you and ask, “Why are your fingertips so red?” No one would give you judgmental looks as you pull at loose skin with your teeth. You had the confidence – and the barrier – to stop, even if for a moment. With your billowy pink dress and French manicure to match, you had done what you thought was impossible: stepped into the role of normal teenage girl.


You’ve asked every boy you’ve ever dated if he bites his nails. You do this to see if he’s like you – if he can relate. It evolved into a ritual where you’d pull his hand on top of yours and run the pads of your fingers across his nails, back and forth until you concluded you had him all figured out. You’re not sure why this matters so much, but smooth, clean edges with untouched white bands that form even semicircles perpetuate a nervousness within you. The looks on other girls’ faces have drilled it in your brain: It’s embarrassing when your boyfriend has better nails than you.

You’ve found yourself fooled many times; it may look like he’s a chronic nail biter, but that’s just how a man’s nails are: short, stumpy, and indistinguishable. Boyish behavior. You know. Maybe this is why you’ve always felt more comfortable around men, because you picked it all up from your dad – firm handshakes, the art of the golf swing, and, of course, the nail biting.


You broke 13 brackets in the two years you had braces. Standard procedure was to begin charging patients after the third break, but they didn’t act until the last one, a month before your braces were scheduled to come off. Your mom made a point to scold you about the costs you could have incurred, but that was the only repercussion you suffered. Plus, your teeth were beautiful, so who could really complain? Back then you thought you were lucky. Now you wonder if the dental assistants pitied you.


A week after prom, you couldn’t help put pick at your manicure, first resting the tips on your bottom teeth, then softly biting down. They quickly became shredded and cracked, becoming so jagged you were forced to rip them off yourself. It was the very thing the nail salon told you not to do, but hot shame crept into your face when you imagined what they would say about the chewed-up plastic.

You spent two excruciating hours trying to soften the glue and peel off the tips. What remained underneath was horrifying – a set of ten soft, malleable, real nails. You could press down on the nail with your finger and watch it become a concave structure. The act sent a shiver down your spine until the keratin built up again and your nails were back to the perfect texture for biting.


You were forced to quit golfing after your dad found you unteachable. Your handshake startles a majority of the women you meet. And, when you catch glimpses of your friends’ nails, perfectly shaped and polished, you feel defeated. The contest was womanhood, and you’re beginning to see just how painfully you lost.

Maybe spending more time with your mom wouldn’t have been such a bad thing.


How many nails have you chewed and swallowed over the years? You imagine the little white shards collecting in your stomach, stabbing organs, slicing through skin, pilling up so high that one day you’d throw up tiny knives and get taken to the hospital. What would they even do? You’d probably die, you conclude. And everyone would show up at your funeral saying, “There was only so much we could do to get her to stop.”



You are home from college on a break and watching TV in your living room when your dad walks in. He looks over at you and notices a few things: how your legs are splayed across the couch, how your ratty sweatshirt has a chocolate stain across the torso, how you’re biting away at one of your nails. He asks, “Why do you have your hands in your mouth?” A grimace falls onto his face, the same disappointed look your mom has given you for years.

In that moment, you feel genuinely horrible about the habit. You know he means well – everyone just wants you to grow out of it already – but the plea coming from the mouth of the man you picked it up from stings almost as badly as the exposed skin under the nail you were just biting. To make amends, you walk over to the kitchen and put a band-aid on your finger. When you return to the living room, you keep your hands in your lap and sit straight up on the couch.

Betrayal in its finest form.

A Slow and Ambivalent Demise for Pheidippides Following the Battle of Marathon by Evan Sundermeyer

Philip Pides was a notably busy man.  Life kept him so frequently engaged, that he would often be found running from one such engagement to another.  This notion is quite appropriate, considering that Philip had, for four years, been a star member of his high school track team.  He had been running competitively since the age of eight.  His father, Yiannis Pides, made him do so.

But I digress.

Some mornings, most mornings, Philip Pides would run to the shower.  With cold droplets of water still gathered under his arms and across his scalp, Philip would then run to work at the Walgreens pharmacy counter.  After work he would run to class.  And from class he’d run to his other place of work – a culinary position at a high-end pizzeria.  Philip would even run laps in his head, always considering why his movements were confined to such a busy loop.

The running never seemed to end.

Except, of course, on the few mornings where he didn’t shower.  Such inaction often signaled an entire day where Philip would not even leave his bed.  Perhaps he was just too exhausted from all of that running.  I’m not sure, as Philip didn’t have much to say to me on those days.

What I can say with certainty though, is that the busy nature of Philip Pides’ life was quite difficult to sustain.

He required a near constant influx of nicotine, suffered frequent bouts of insomnia, and rejected typical human relationships.  Besides his parents, Philp only maintained consistent communication with a pair of friends he called “brothers,” despite the two typically ranging between 90 and 328 miles away (or, a physically impossible distance to run).  Philp wasn’t necessarily happy with this situation, or even okay with it, but he barely had enough time to get upset about it.


Of course, Philip Pides wasn’t always this busy.  Like most children of the upper middle-class designation, life was once simple for Philip, and all he had to do was let his parents run for him.  They’d bustle him around from mom’s house to school to dad’s house to school to mom’s house to – so on and so forth.

It’s around this time that I first met Philip.  He was a round-cheeked youth who could be found mimicking lightsaber duels rather than playing kickball.

Philip operated as my primer to the concept of divorced parents – featuring a mom who supplied him with videogames rather than personal interaction, and a dad who had high expectations and loved sports.  Or loved athleticism, I suppose, is more accurate.  Yiannis Pides said to Philip that he would never run fast enough with so much meat on his bones.  This was in the Second Grade.

Philip was promptly enrolled in an afterschool running program, which worked well for his parents’ schedules, considering that up to this point he had been a latchkey kid.  I’d see him out there when my mom drove me home – dashing across the uneven pavement that wove through the elms.  His feet moved so fast that they never even touched the ground.


Here’s where the story’s pace picks up.

Philip Pides gets home from work one night feeling absolutely bushed.  This is no surprise.  The endurance running in which he engages – still enforced by Yiannis, despite Philip’s twenty-two years of age – is a wobbly balance of fifty-hour work weeks and maintaining a 4.0 GPA with eighteen credit hours.

This delicate life arrangement could only be handled by someone who is both a genius and a maniac.  Philip Pides is, of course, both of these things.  And I really mean maniac, as Philip often endures bipolar induced hypomanic episodes.  The man’s brain is, unscientifically speaking, “biologically fractured.”  This means that the various creases along the canyon walls of his cognitive fault-line will pulse and illuminate at a highly disproportionate frequency during the occurrence of neural firing.

Again, I digress.

So Philip is home, the time is night, and he’s feeling exhausted, yet his body refuses to pass out.  This is not an entirely uncommon scenario.

Usually when he’s afforded these miniscule periods of relaxation, Philip embraces the momentary pleasure they allow by smoking a bowl and playing World of Warcraft until he can’t keep his eyes open.

Should this effort not grant the desirable measure of dopamine to slip away into unfettered nothingness, Philip will get anxious and go down another path.  On this path he drinks a tremendous amount of alcohol to increase the production rate of inhibitory GABA neurotransmitters which force relaxation.  And seeing how Philip is also diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder…well he’s quite prone to getting anxious, among other things.

Here’s the scene for this particular evening.  The weed induces a state of paranoia, World of Warcraft fails to reproduce the associated sense of childlike magic, and the alcohol does nothing to sooth his split brain.  All at once there are heightened levels of excitement and fear and depression.  This is the race going on inside his mind, the race that he is always running to some extent.

For a moment, Philip’s overly stimulated brain tells him that something drastic must be done to successfully complete the race.  This isn’t a search for pleasure; it’s a desperate grasping to break free.  Philip is giving everything he can to the race, yet everything is not enough.

So, he decides to make an offering, and give ten percent on top of one hundred.

He enters his kitchen, sets a clean cutting board, pulls a carving knife from the faux-bamboo block with his left hand, lays down his right hand on the cutting board – palm facing up, and then lifts the knife so that it’s parallel with his head.  Philip breathes slowly, in through the nose and out through the mouth.  A precise methodology is at play here, and for once, Philip doesn’t feel like he’s running.  This is when he slams the knife down on his wrist, slicing through flesh and instantly splitting bone.  He pulls back his right arm and the newly separated hand stays pinned on the board by the blade. There is no matter of blood, as the strike was clean and surgical – a motion Philip is well practiced in from so many nights at the pizzeria.

If you are feeling any bit distressed about this, then calm yourself with the knowledge that Philip Pides is a leftie.


Philip Pides’ evening-time hand-chopping is not the first instance of self-mutilation.  The very first time, that I know of at least, occurred during his senior year of high school.

Late one February afternoon, both gendered track teams were holding an indoor practice.  I did not run for the school at this point in time, so my understanding of what happened is only Philip’s words and a few scattered reports.  Building this up any further would be an act of dramatization that I’m not interested in, so let’s just go ahead and jump in.

Philip and his then-girlfriend Elpis had been having it out almost routinely for months on end.  After six years of dating, those two had done a tremendous amount of damage to each other.  Nothing too out of the ordinary though – just two people who didn’t realize yet that their relationship was past mending.

Elpis, a long-distance track runner, was jogging laps around the school atrium when she passed by Philip and the rest of the male sprinters.  I don’t know what she said to Philip – he’s never told me – but whatever collection of words she presented were ultimately successful in pushing him over an edge.  In fact, I theorize that this was the precise moment in which Philip’s brain split open irreparably.

Without a hint of hesitation, he charged down Elpis, seizing her small shoulders and propelling her backwards until she slammed into a wall.

It took three sprinters to pull a screaming Philip off little Elpis.  Left behind her was a moderately-sized indent in the wall’s plaster that, to my knowledge, has yet to be filled.  The school can’t afford to patch every hole or dent that guys bash in using their girlfriends as battering rams.

When Philip returned home from school, he was inconsolable – not that anyone was home to console him.  In a fright of overwhelming and impenetrable emotions, he pilfers a serrated blade from the kitchen, and gets to work on his left foot, heaving and cleaving away.  Due to the little knife experience Philip had, the process of severing foot from ankle is arduous, and leaves quite a mess on the taupe living-room carpet.

Just a couple days after Phillip Pides attacked Elpis and did away with a foot, he was diagnosed with type-II bipolar disorder.  That’s the version where you constantly teeter on the threshold of depression.  Psychiatrists say that returning to a normal state of functioning becomes less likely with every episode.

Philip was prescribed a gambler’s cocktail of mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, and antidepressants.  Then he was told to hope for the best.


If you don’t mind, I’m going to rewind things back to the unexceptional occurrence of a hand removal we discussed earlier.

The morning after Philip’s hand removal, he went into work at Walgreens like it was any other day.  Coworkers and customers alike saw his usual resigned attitude, as well as the fresh stump where a hand used to be located.  Their eyes would flash momentarily, but never did they ask about it.  In fact, they didn’t say anything out of the ordinary at all.  Their faint interest could not be confused for care.

Interactions with his coworkers went like this:

“Deal with the guy in the drive-through please, this asshole won’t stop complaining about some pills that made his leg itch weird.”

“What pills did he take?”

“I don’t know.”

“What does he mean by a weird leg itch?”

“I don’t know, just handle him for me.”


Interactions with Philip’s customers went like this:

“Are you fucking kidding me?  My doctor told me I need this.  He wrote me the prescription, and I think a doctor would understand the situation far better than you would.”

“I’m sorry ma’am, but your insurance won’t cover the entire price.  You can pay with cash for the copay or–”

“Do you actually think I can afford this?”

“I’m really sorry but there’s nothing I can do about the–”

“Don’t you dare disrespect me.”


People didn’t care that Philip’s hand was missing, just as no one ever cared that his foot was missing.  As long as he could work, and run errands for management, they looked the other way.  Similarly, the management at this particular Walgreens continued to employ Philip as a pharmacy tech, despite knowing that he had dropped out of pharmacy school the previous year.

Actually, he’d been kicked out.

The price of Philip’s pharmacy education was three years of his time, approximately one-hundred-thousand dollars, and the last vestiges of his mental fortitude.

All that Philip got out of his pharmacy education was alcoholism, another woman who hated his guts, and of course, this job at Walgreens.


You might be wondering why Philip was kicked out of pharmacy school.  Well, there are plenty of reasons.  Poor relations with other students, vaping on the necks of professors, passing out drunk in a campus bathroom stall.  If any of Philip’s actions existed in isolation, they would not have been cause enough to eject him.  But the school precisely tracked all that he did.  They were tallying every slipup he made with anticipatory glee.

You see, the guy posed a massive risk towards himself, and therefore he posed a risk towards the school’s reputation at large.  They didn’t want to be known as the institution that drove people to insanity.  They didn’t want to answer why their dorm-room windows were outfitted with metal bars.  That’s the real reason Philip was kicked out.

The school started watching Philip after an instance of his brain fracture making consciousness impossibly confusing.  A depressive episode had overlapped with a hypomanic episode.  And he was drunk.

I remember Philip’s other “brother” calling me up around 1:30AM.  He said check Philip’s Twitter, it sounds bad.

I did check, and it did sound bad.

After that I called Philip, and he sounded delirious, barely able to deliver a coherent sentence when I asked what he was doing, and if he was okay.  The only information I was able to extract was that he was in his dorm room.  Then he hung up on me.

I called him maybe twenty times after that, to no answer.

At 2:00AM I called his school’s office of public safety and told them that I thought my friend wasn’t well, that he might hurt himself.  The guy on the other side of the line yawned before sleepily asking what his room number was.  Reduced to near-hysteria, I yelled that I didn’t know, just that I could give his name.

Philip Pides.

By the time public safety burst into his dorm room, they found a half-conscious Philip splayed on the carpet.  Instead of working through an appendage or extremity, he was halfway through a self-lobotomy.  Trying to fix himself.  To repair the fracture.

Everyone notices a missing hand or foot, but it’s hard to see the scars at the base of his scalp.

After he was stabilized, Philip had about two minutes to use his phone before the doctors would confiscate it and confine him to the psychiatric wing.

He texted me in that time and said that he was okay for now.  Then he asked me to explain the situation to his other “brother.”

His final text simply said, “Joy to you.”


The story of Philip Pides doesn’t have an ending.  He’s still running.  The race can’t be finished until every part of him has been incised, flayed, and destroyed, but he’s still running.  And that’s what I find saddest about it all.

Evan Sundermeyer is a Writing and Computer Science major on the precipice of adulthood. He has thus far withheld his writing and views from the world, but is now offering a window into his edgy psyche with Agora.

Audio transcripts of Janine Dunn’s voicemails left on Dr. Lewis Harley’s answering machine the week before she died of a ruptured stomach by Zoe Hanna

September 3rd, 3:32 pm: Voicemail #1
Hey, Dr. Harley, it’s Janine.
Some weird shit is going on right now and I don’t really know who else to talk to. I know you said that you
were gonna be on vacation or whatever but I don’t think this can wait.
So it started with my dresser. One of the handles came off when I was trying to find a dress for that date I
didn’t want to go on. Yeah, so the handle came off in my hand, and I just glued it back on but I ended up
glueing my damn hand to the wood. I ended up just ripping it off, but it got blood fucking everywhere. I got
the handle back on, though. There’s just also some blood and a bit of my skin on it. That was like a week
ago, I think.
So then the next day all of my shelves just broke in half. Like, right in half. It looks like someone cut them
with a saw or something, except the edges are all jagged. I called the company I got them from and yelled
for a while, but they said they couldn’t give me a refund. They said it was because of the warranty, but I
think it’s because they don’t like me. So now I don’t have shelves to organize things, and my room is
covered in books and clothes and blood.

September 4th, 7:12 am: Voicemail #2
Hey, it’s Janine again. Sorry for calling so early in the morning, I woke up to a slamming noise. One of the
legs of my kitchen table broke a couple days ago, so it was just teetering on three legs. Well, another one
of the legs snapped and I jolted awake to the sound of the table hitting the tile, where I was sleeping. I don’t
know why I was sleeping on the kitchen floor instead of my bed but maybe I drank more wine than I thought
I did.
Anyways, I had to eat my cereal on the ground today since my table is useless now and I couldn’t help but
pick at the scab from the dresser incident. There’s a chunk of skin missing from my palm and I like how it
feels when it bleeds. Don’t worry, though, I didn’t get any blood in my cereal.

September 4th, 2:58 pm: Voicemail #3
It’s Janine. My stomach has been hurting a lot today. I haven’t eaten since this morning because just the
thought of it makes me wanna hurl. I haven’t thrown up, though. It just hurts a lot and it feels like there’s a
brick in there or something. Like it’s heavy and uncomfortable? I don’t know how to describe it, but it feels
like I ate something I wasn’t supposed to, even though I just ate cereal? Maybe I’m lactose-intolerant or

September 5th, 12:09 am: Voicemail #4
Why won’t you answer me? I thought you were supposed to make me feel better. Please call me back. I
know it’s late, but I had an awful nightmare. I had a dream that there were rats all around my house.
Underneath sofa cushions, in my bed, in the refrigerator. I was trying to fight them off but then there was
this horrible smell and smoke filled the room and it turns out there were rats burning alive in my oven.
When I jolted awake, my bed was on the ground. The wooden stand it was on is all fucked up, it looks like it
was gnawed on and parts of it are just straight up missing.
My stomach hurts so much, and now everything else seems to be hurting too. My throat feels like there are
needles in it, and today I can physically feel these hard objects in my stomach. I Googled it and everything I
saw said that I’m just really constipated, but I don’t think that’s it. Maybe I’m just sick.

September 5th, 11:24 am: Voicemail #5
I had another dream about the rats. This time they were all over me, scurrying and crawling on me and I
couldn’t move. They kept biting on my fingers and all I could do was cry. I can’t stop thinking about it,
because when I woke up my hands were covered in tiny cuts. There have to be rats in my house, there has
to be.
My stomach finally stopped hurting. I woke up at like 8 am to an awful pain in my lower stomach, and when
I used the bathroom blood came pouring out of me. I know, that’s gross, but it hurt like hell. Maybe I was
just constipated, because I feel a lot better now. But my mouth has started to hurt. Today I found bits of
wood in-between my teeth and my tongue had what looked like millions of cuts. What the fuck is going on?
Tomorrow I’ll go to the store and get some traps, but I can’t leave the house right now. I have to keep watch
for the rats, because I know they’re here. I can feel them.

September 6th, 10:09 am: Voicemail #6
Janine here! Hi Dr. Harley! I was just wondering why you’re being such a dick! I need your fucking help and
all I’m getting is your new dumbass voicemail. What’s the deal? And who’s the new bitch on your answering
machine? Are you hiring new people and just ignoring me?
I left the house today to get traps for those fucking rats. I’ve stepped on them a couple times and now my
toes keep bleeding and staining my socks but it’s worth it, I need to catch those pieces of shit. My god
damn pantry door has been gnawed through. Like, there’s a hole in the pantry door. I don’t know how many
fucking rats are in my house but the hole is at least a foot wide. I’m gonna find them.
My stomach is hurting again, but I think it’s just from stress. Everything around me is breaking, anyways, all
because of these fucking rats.

September 7th, 3:52 am: Voicemail #7
My teeth are bleeding. My teeth are bleeding. I can’t stop bleeding and the rats are going to come and eat
my body and it’s all because you can’t answer your fucking phone! The traps are going off but I haven’t
found any rats. I know they’re here, and I’ve been staying up to catch them.
I haven’t eaten in days but I’m not hungry at all and I think that’s because I know I need to find these rats.
My stomach is hurting but all I can think about are these rats and how I’m going to kill them all.
My fingernails are coming off and I don’t know why. I don’t know anything. All I know is that I’m covered in
cuts and splinters and my mouth is bleeding and my teeth are falling out and the rats are here and my
stomach is full of god knows what.

September 7th, 6:33 am: Voicemail #8
Hey, Dr. Harley, it’s (unintelligible).
Some really weird shit is going on right now and I don’t know who else to talk to. I fell asleep while on watch
last night, and most of my teeth are gone. (unintelligible) my mouth still won’t stop bleeding and my
stomach hurts again. Half of my fucking pantry door is gone, because of the rats. I’m still going to find them,
I know they did this (unintelligible).
My stomach hurts and my teeth are bleeding and you haven’t done a thing to help. I think I’m dying and you
don’t even fucking care. I’m sick of that dumb bitch on your answering (unintelligible). You did this. Way to
do your job.
DECEASED: Janine Louise Dunn
SEX: Female
AGE: 26
DATE AND HOUR OF DEATH: September 7th, 1991, 9:00 AM
DATE AND HOUR OF AUTOPSY: September 9th, 1991, 2:48 PM
PATHOLOGIST: Dr. Yvette Collins
The patient was a 26 year old Caucasian woman with no significant past medical history. An elderly woman
had called 911 after she returned from a week long visit to her grandson’s and found multiple concerning
voicemails on her answering machine. Upon EMS arrival, patient was deceased and surrounded by broken
furniture and mousetraps. Upon examination, it has been discovered that the patient’s stomach ruptured
after the assumed consumption of various pieces of furniture. It is unknown if the patient was aware that
she was eating her belongings, but the voicemail transcripts provided seem to suggest that she was not.

Zoe Hanna is currently earning her BA in both writing and graphic design at Drake University. They have been published in Periphery and The Laurel Review, and lives in Des Moines, IA with her cat, Ripley.

Women and Love by Olive Riley

 Author’s Note:

These are fictional stories with themes form real people’s stories. Almost everything is made up, but the emotions are as real as I could make them. My goal is to make people feel less alone in their experiences, or at least somewhat understood.


She sat at her desk Thursday after school working on an assignment due the next day. Her spindly fingers urgently typing trying to get her assignment done so she could go to bed. It is 8:08 p.m. She has to wait two more hours until bed is a socially acceptable thing to commit to. Outside she hears laughter from people who are celebrating the end of their Thursdays a bit differently than she.

This happens most Thursdays through Saturdays, so she purposefully keeps her assignments unfinished until the last minute. This gives her a reason to tell herself why she is staying in. The door slams below her window and she hears laughter from the group of girls who had uncomfortably invited her to their “non-solidified” plans that evening in the dining hall. From the sounds of their laughter diminishing with the growing distance between them and her spot at the desk she concludes that their solidified plans did not include her as a detail.

Another hour passes and she is almost done with the homework that is due on Friday. Elizabeth decides she needs to procrastinate. Procrastination now meant less lonely feelings later.

Continue reading “Women and Love by Olive Riley”

Oya by Rai Ahmed-Green

Once there was an island that lay in the middle of a clamorous sea. She had beautiful flowers adorning her like jewels and large trees draping over one another, their leaves blowing on a lazy breeze. The birds gave music and the bugs crawled over her land chomping soil between their mandibles, taking in death to make their living. She sighed into herself and planted further into the ocean. The tide would attempt to overtake her but the sweetness of her soil coaxed it to caress her borders rather than ravage her shores. Continue reading “Oya by Rai Ahmed-Green”

Reasons for the Pit in My Stomach by Zoe Hanna

Broken glasses at an events center

Last year, I lost my glasses at a concert.

Someone pushed me in the mosh pit and they flew away. I watched them get stepped on while I listened to the first song.

I couldn’t see a thing, but I could hear them play my favorite songs from outside the venue. I couldn’t see through the tears, I thought I might drown from them.

I tried my hardest to convince myself that I saw an opening band that I liked, that it was worth it. But I cried in the car until the concert was over.

My friend came back with broken glasses that weren’t mine.

I guess I wasn’t the only one, and that made me smile. But they probably stayed.

They could see, because I kept my tears to myself. Continue reading “Reasons for the Pit in My Stomach by Zoe Hanna”

Piles on the Lawn, Readying for the Sprinklers by Maddy Lemons

She throws the bouquet at the back of his head as he runs away. Why he thought a shitty little collection of cheap flowers would make up for what he did, she doesn’t know. Why with his secretary? A 22-year-old little slut with short skirts, tight shirts and red lipstick. He’s 55, for God’s sake. She had gotten older, as all women… no… as all people do, she thought. But he was no master prize. A fat little man with very little hair. Continue reading “Piles on the Lawn, Readying for the Sprinklers by Maddy Lemons”

Reflection by Deanna Krikorian


In her reflection in the bathroom mirror, Ashley searched for her mother. She surveyed her face, looking for features she knew weren’t there. Her tired eyes remained the wrong shade, her nose too small, her cheekbones unrefined. Despite her efforts to fabricate similarities between them, her reflection refused to change. Her older sisters, with their towering height, tight blonde curls, and clear blue eyes, were their mother’s spitting image, a feat Ashley had desired her entire life. Having just turned thirty, they had a little over a decade before they’d live longer than mom ever had, and even then they’ll still see themselves in each other. Soon Ashely wouldn’t even look like herself. “You and me,” her mom used to tell her, “we’re the same on the inside, deep down where it matters most.” It used to comfort her; now she laughed at the irony.  Continue reading “Reflection by Deanna Krikorian”

The Unfortunate Misplacement of Thumbelina by Liz Bregenzer

1. Can we even file a missing person report for a girl that’s 10-inches tall?

a. The entire police station thought this was a joke. When Tommie, a young, frantic mother, rushed into the building begging for someone’s help, the sheriff considered calling for medical transport. But then she produced a wallet-sized photograph of a wallet-sized girl, and that was when things started to get interesting.

2. Okay, ma’am, can you give us some information on your…daughter?

a. Name: Thumbelina Floweret

b. Age: 15 years

c. Height: 10 inches

d. Hair Color: Blonde, down to her calves, never been cut. Eyes: Blue, like a sky full of sun. Weight: a few grams? Medical history in the family: No idea, she’s not mine biologically, she’s mine by magic, by luck.

e. Last Seen: Sleeping in her bed. In the morning it was a crime scene: the walnut shell cradle gone, the rose petal blankets torn to shreds. A Thumbelina-sized hole poked through the window screen. Continue reading “The Unfortunate Misplacement of Thumbelina by Liz Bregenzer”