Flat Stanley Learns the Definition of Siphon
North and teaches English in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Illustration by Jeremy Anderson.
Mudburgers and Gravy
Jeremy Anderson Best Teen Writing, The Momaya Annual Review, and in a secret notebook buried out back. Illustrated by Jeremy Anderson.  
Monument
jeremy anderson @JosephGehringer, and they love you, like, a lot. Illustration by Jeremy Anderson.
Foreclosure
Jeremy Anderson Tampa Review Online, among others. Illustrated by Jeremy Anderson.
Boselaphus Tragocamelus
Kanya Kanchana In true life my friend lived in the backyard of my uncle the zoologist. He was a skeleton—my friend not my uncle—with two smooth black horns. I could really see him—really—but I didn’t tell anybody because they always laugh. Already they were laughing at me because my teeth were all falling out—so why more. Father put a towel around my tooth called premolar and said I’m just checking that’s all, but not really because he pulled and I said aargh and the tooth came out. He said sorry but his cheeks had a smile inside. In some countries you can get money for that so I asked him can I get twenty? and he said oh? So I just buried it under the neem. He was a skeleton—my friend not my uncle—with two smooth black horns.   My friend was a nilgai. It means blue cow but he was an antelope in true life. He was 4 feet 8 inches tall—I checked. He was bigger than me but I could put my arm around his shoulder easy. I looked him up in my uncle’s book called Encyclopaedia Britannica and it said Boselaphus tragocamelus. It also said he was a ruminant. I said what and he showed me. It was gross—I laughed. He put his snout—which is nose and mouth together—on my arm and said okay. I hugged his skull tight in the crook of my elbow, pulled out his tooth—the one that was already shaking—pushed it into the hole where my premolar used to be and said coming! because Mother was calling me. They have stopped laughing at me. I floss extra careful around his tooth every time. He’s gone now but the book also said nilgai are only moderately gregarious—that means he likes to be with other nilgai only sometimes—so I’m waiting. Kanya Kanchana is an emerging poet, writer, and translator. Her work has appeared in Asymptote Journal, The Common, Hobart, and Buffalo Almanack, and is forthcoming in TrinityJoLT, Aldus Journal, and Circumference. Illustration by Jeremy Anderson.
Looking In, Looking Out
Michael Holladay When he tells me to stop, I stop. When he tells me to leave, I leave. The blanket on my bed he likes is a blue shell, and he drapes it over his shoulders, a cape, a protection, a soft hard skin, and the late spring leaves glaze the window, outside but never in, the way Colin wants, and if he tells me to want, I want. He plays in a band because it’s been a year since he had a baby with his wife and he needs an outlet, he says, something that’s his own. He makes me listen to their low-budget recordings. The coffee I made is on the nightstand, growing colder by the second. I pinch in the earbud to my left, he has the other in his right, and I watch his head bob to the music in a rhythm, the looped string our connection. Sometimes I like to think, what if someone from, like, the 1500s teleported and saw me doing what I was doing at this present moment, and they would probably think, what the motherfuck, is this some kind of mind control? Or, if he takes that thing out of his ear, will he die? And maybe I would. Or what would they think when Colin fucks me because he refuses to be fucked? I asked him once, why? And he draped the blue shelled blanket again over his freckles and farmer-tanned arms, and he cricked his neck and said, I don’t know, I just don’t like the idea. But I know this means he doesn’t want to be penetrated, because that means hurt and hurt means touch and touch means feel and feel means this is too much to handle, so don’t ask me that again, because I’m not like you, I was raised to be a man, and you’re a man. His feet are coarse, coated with an extra layer of skin, extra epidermis, no nerve endings. I take them in my hands, the padded bottoms grafted with floor dirt, suck this toe, you like it, he says, and I do. If he tells me to like, I like, because no one else does this for him, he says. . . . what if someone from, like, the 1500s teleported and saw me doing what I was doing at this present moment, and they would probably think, what the motherfuck, is this some kind of mind control? In my car I’m the cliché. I’m trite. I’m beyond the cliché and trite, whatever that would mean. I tell myself, don’t do it, but then there’s the rev of my engine, the key ignites, and here I am being the cliché. The station wagon in the driveway means he’s home. His door is red. There is a porch swing out front, and maybe he takes a beer out there sometimes during spring to watch storms roll in while his life is behind him in that house. He told me never to say anything about us to anyone, and here I am, in a car across the street from his house, and if he knew I was here, he would say, no. He would say, go away. He would say, this is not a place for you. I don’t know anything about the wife because I don’t want to. He told me some stuff about her, and I tell myself I forgot, and nothing about her belongs here anyway. A lamp lights the front window. Maybe he is cleaning up a broken glass he dropped on the floor. Maybe he made pizza to eat while watching a movie. Maybe he is in a separate room, sound-editing shitty music I always tell him is good. I’m being creepy. I’m the creepiest creep that ever creeped. Other cars whir on the street. Maybe I need to tell myself to leave, but I can’t stop looking in. I can’t. Stop. Michael Holladay is originally from Kentucky and is currently an MFA candidate at Arizona State University in Tempe, AZ, where he lives and teaches. Illustration by Jeremy Anderson. jeremy anderson
The Ex-Mermaid Buys Chocolate Milk
Claire Miye Stanford The ex-mermaid is opening the door of the dairy case when she hears a voice she recognizes behind her, the voice of the ex-mermaid’s ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend. The ex-mermaid looks quickly at the image of herself that is reflected in the glass, a transparency superimposed on bottles of one and two percent. She looks okay. Not as good as the new girlfriend, who has a pert nose and pert breasts and is generally very pert, pert all over. But the ex-mermaid looks fine, and she registers this as she grabs a bottle of low-fat chocolate milk, which is what she came here for. She turns, holding her gallon of chocolate milk. The ex-mermaid’s ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend is holding a bottle of kombucha in one hand and a bag of kale chips in the other. SYNERGY, the bottle says, in large block letters. She looks okay. Not as good as the new girlfriend, who has a pert nose and pert breasts and is generally very pert, pert all over.   The ex-mermaid’s ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend is wearing skinny jeans and a clean, billowy top. The ex-mermaid is wearing sweatpants and a sweater that she only now realizes has a large stain near the hem. She was only going out for ten minutes. She didn’t think she would run into anyone she knew. “__________?” the new girlfriend says, calling the ex-mermaid’s name, louder this time. “I thought that was you!” The ex-mermaid met the new girlfriend for the first time at a party several weeks earlier. On that occasion, the ex-mermaid was overdressed, wearing a shirt that was covered in turquoise sequins like the scales that used to shimmer over her body. She had traded in those scales so that she could be her ex-boyfriend’s girlfriend, but now all that was left to her was this sequined shirt that cost a fortune to dry clean. “How are you?” the new girlfriend asks, a wide smile on her face. “You know,” she says, leaning in confidentially, “I’ve been wanting to tell you that I loved the shirt you wore to that party the other week. It looked really amazing on you.” She had traded in those scales so that she could be her ex-boyfriend’s girlfriend, but now all that was left to her was this sequined shirt that cost a fortune to dry clean.   The ex-mermaid nods, says thank you, can feel herself blushing under the new girlfriend’s surprising attentions. The new girlfriend is very charming. So charming that, somehow, the ex-mermaid finds herself sitting at a metal table outside the store with the new girlfriend, who sips her kombucha and nibbles on the chips. The ex-mermaid’s gallon of chocolate milk sits, unopened, between them. “I’m so glad I ran into you,” the new girlfriend is saying. “I’m always telling ________ that I bet we would be great friends.” The ex-mermaid tries to smile. The new girlfriend is obviously operating under some kind of delusion about how the ex-mermaid and ________ broke up—that it was amicable, or even that it was the ex-mermaid’s doing, when it was neither of those things. The ex-mermaid wishes she could drink her chocolate milk, but she doesn’t have a straw or a glass. If she were alone, she could drink it from the carton, but not only is she not alone, she is with the new girlfriend, who has begun talking about the ex-mermaid’s ex-boyfriend. They are supposed to bond, the ex-mermaid realizes, over his foibles, like his habit of going far too many weeks without trimming his toenails. The new girlfriend brings it up, and the ex-mermaid is supposed to agree, but she only nods her head vaguely because she actually always liked that foible, the feel of his toe-claws against her bare calves at night. Because of him, she thought this was the normal way to keep one’s toenails—protruding and sharp—until one day he looked at her with disgust and said she should get a pedicure. From then on, she kept her toenails short and strawberry pink, the color of bubblegum and tongues. His remained as they were, long and talon-like. His remained as they were, long and talon-like.   The new girlfriend lists more of their mutually-shared boyfriend’s tics: his morning breath like pond water; the way he insists on pronouncing the word charade char-ahd, as if he is French, even though he is not. For a moment, the ex-mermaid feels caught up in the fun, and she almost contributes some observations of her own—his penchant for loud printed shirts, the curls of hair on his back—but she, of course, cannot say anything; she is the ex-girlfriend and so she does not own these foibles, not anymore. It is as if the new girlfriend realizes this at the exact same moment, her laughter coming to an abrupt halt. She has finished her bottle of kombucha. The carton of chocolate milk remains unopened, droplets of water beginning to form on its sides as it sweats. “Well,” the new girlfriend says after a moment, “that was fun. We should do it again.” The ex-mermaid nods. They both know they will not do it again. They both know which one of them is going home to the ex-mermaid’s ex-boyfriend, with his too-long toenails and his pond-water morning breath. He will leave you too, the ex-mermaid thinks. Except maybe he will not. Maybe the ex-mermaid is leave-able in a way that the new girlfriend, with her fermented beverages and her charm, is not. The new girlfriend hugs the ex-mermaid as they part, and she smells like puppies and gardenias. The ex-mermaid smells like musk and firewood, like hers is a body that knows earthly pleasures and earthly pains. Finally back at her apartment, the ex-mermaid takes a long drink of chocolate milk, the cardboard spout pressed against her mouth. She pulls the sequined shirt out of her hamper, where it is still waiting, these many weeks later, to be taken to the dry cleaners. She finds a knife in the kitchen drawer and uses the blade to shear the sequins, which pop off in a metallic spray. She watches them fall, one by one, into a shining pile at her feet. Claire Miye Stanford’s fiction has appeared in Third Coast, Redivider, Tin House Flash Fridays, Booth online, and Front Porch, among other publications. She holds an MFA from the University of Minnesota and is currently a PhD student in the English Department at UCLA. She lives in Los Angeles. Illustration by Jeremy Anderson. jeremy anderson
A Clue
jeremy anderson Tracy Mumford I killed Nancy Drew. She had it coming. That blonde may have charmed her way into the laps of every police officer this side of River Heights, but being a former teen detective only gets you so far. When you’re a strung-out 35-year-old asking the way to “The Hidden Staircase,” it’s not as cute. Nancy and I went to high school together, not that she spent much time in the classroom. She was always off after some old clock or out casing the Shadow Ranch. Driving her little blue roadster wherever she pleased. Pointing her finger at widowers and gas station attendants with little to no evidence. “He did it!” she’d say, with the confidence of a repeat beauty queen. “You can tell by his footprints!” “He did it!” she’d say, with the confidence of a repeat beauty queen, “You can tell by his footprints!” The local paper never published the conviction rate on her cases—let’s just say it was lower than her GPA. She charmed her way into Midwest State after high school—she managed to find the college president’s missing corgi. What a coincidence. Her semester abroad in Argentina was the beginning of the end. The southern hemisphere didn’t stop her snooping; there was the case of la casa mysterioso. She pinned that one on the gardener—she never met a man with dirt on his hands that she liked. It was in Argentina that she discovered a certain white powder, a habit that cinched its way around her life like a trench coat. She started solving cases purely for the reward money—missing dogs, missing babies, missing candlesticks that she’d shoved down the front of her pleated skirt. She started solving cases purely for the reward money—missing dogs, missing babies, missing candlesticks that she’d shoved down the front of her pleated skirt. Some of us came up the right way. Some of us wore blue because it was the uniform, not because it brought out our eyes. Some of us didn’t just play “pin the tail on the donkey” after two martinis to find our suspects. The case of The Thirteenth Pearl put things over the top. Through her father’s connections, she managed to smuggle a rare pearl into the country, a priceless specimen from Japan. Maybe she wanted a fix from it or maybe it was her last score, but Nancy flashed that gem all over town before a fax came in from Interpol: Stolen. I confronted Nancy, River Heights Red Devil to River Heights Red Devil. There was still time, I said, to make things right. She could give up the gem and be the town sweetheart again. But she was in too deep. Her boyfriend Ned had been kidnapped for the fifth time, and if she didn’t make good, he was about to lose two inches off the top. I had her cornered in Sal’s Saloon, but she slipped out the back through a false door. Every place in this town has a false door, enough for us to all move around without ever being seen. It’s hard to fall in love in a city of secret passages. Every place in this town has a false door, enough for us to all move around without ever being seen. My chief ordered me to track her down. Her golden-haired brand of justice had come to an end. I followed her pointy-toed footsteps back to the Moss-Covered Mansion, the site of the last great case she’d solved. It had involved a murder, a gypsy, a missing heiress, a needy elderly lady, a reclusive artist, an airplane accident, and a forest fire. Naturally, the delivery man had done it. Nancy discovered his signature brand of chewing gum at the scene. But the spearmint spree was now a thing of the past, and the mansion stood in disrepair, home only to the ghosts of girl detectives past. I eased the door open with my shoulder, ready for that keen intellect of hers to strike me from afar. The front room was littered with her trophies, and there she sat on a brass-bound trunk, whispering to herself. At the creak of the door, she stuck me with her feverish gaze, and for a moment, I can be sure we both wished we were somewhere else, somewhere far away, at Larkspur Lane or the Haunted Showboat. At Pine Hill or the Hollow Oak. But none of those were in the cards. She smiled as she pulled that little pearl-handled revolver on me, the kind you keep in your leg garter for foreplay. I didn’t have a choice, in the moment. It was me or the world’s greatest disgraced former teen detective. I killed Nancy Drew. Tracy Mumford writes and makes radio in Minneapolis. Her work has appeared in Lit Hub and Revolver, and on the BBC. Illustration by Jeremy Anderson.
Castle Island
Tess Walsh   My mother almost drowned when she was small. She fell off the pier at Castle Island and spent four days in the hospital with tubes in her lungs. My nana clutched her rosary beads so tightly she bruised her hands. Neither of them talk about it. I once asked Mom why she still loved Castle Island so much when it had almost killed her. We were a little ways off from that same pier, plucking hermit crabs out of the sand, letting them scuttle across our palms and plop back into the Atlantic. “Because the ocean is the cheapest medicine there is,” she said. Castle Island does not have a castle, nor is it actually an island; it is the cigarette-scented stub of South Boston that extends into the harbor, and it holds so much of my family’s history that it feels less like a landmark and more like a second backyard. In the competition of Most Irish Catholic Family, mine is rivaled only by that of the Kennedys. My great-grandparents were all a generation removed from the potato famine, and thus harbored the type of cynicism that, if bottled, could be used as poison. They put holy water in their tea and they put their faith in the ocean, particularly Castle Island’s ocean. Growing up, my mother used applesauce jars to scoop up water from the shores around the castle and bring them home. Most of her home remedies call for at least a teaspoon of it. I cannot remember the first time I went to Castle Island; it is like trying to remember my first glass of milk. I spent so many Sunday afternoons there constructing sand castles and flying kites that it is no longer a destination so much as it is a home. My grandfather’s name is carved into the softening wood of a seaside bench, a relic of my grandparent’s first date sixty-odd years ago. My cousin proposed to his wife by the castle doors; they take their anniversary picture there every year, and their baby was christened with water blessed by Castle Island’s shadow and by an Irish priest. My mother kisses both the door and the bench when we pass. I go to Castle Island by myself now; I’ll grab my notebook and jump on a tired train. I’ll wind my way through city streets until the ocean opens up before me, with the dampened fort—my castle—standing guard over the frigid water. I sit on the same bench where my grandparents fell in love, open my notebook, and write. I write about yachts bobbing in the harbor, their owners sleepy and drunk on white wine and hundred-dollar bills, about the sound the planes make when they rip apart the skies above. I write about Boston accents, which I have loved since they sang my first lullabies, and how they drift through the air like honest sandpaper, scrubbing away sins. I write about sticky feel of ice cream between fingers, the sailor knots the wind ties in long hair. I write about that first breath of salty air, and how it scours the soul like steel wool and minty toothpaste. I write because the written word is the only medium as inexhaustible as I am, but I write at Castle Island because there, I am a part of the family without being defined by it. That place is important to all of us, but it is important for different reasons. The ocean fixes us in the ways we most need to be fixed, and lets us figure out the rest. At the end of the day, I go home with a jar of salt water for my mother. It may be the same she choked on years ago, but she smiles, saying, “The ocean is the cheapest medicine there is.” “Sea, riamh,” I answer. Yes, always. Tess Walsh currently attends Saint Michael's College in Vermont. Her work has also appeared in Literary Orphans Journal, The Ampersand Review, and elsewhere. More information can be found at misstesswalsh.wordpress.com. Illustration by Jeremy Anderson.
Radioactive Teeth
Becky Robison It was 1956, and she had radioactive teeth. It was fifth grade, and she had radioactive teeth. So cool. Not for everyone: “Lantern-head, bomb-head, red experiment, Russian spy, glowworm, commie cooties, toxic, get away, freak! Freak!” I thought she was the most. The other kids only guessed her teeth would glow. I knew. She had to keep her mouth shut. Those were the rules—for your safety, said teach. No talking in classes, no talking to us—a whole library world, but without the books. Her mom dropped off a chocolate shake every day for her lunch. She’d slurp it up through a straw, leaning forward, pink lips pursed tight around the edge. But I knew. I got her to show me one day. We slipped into the bathroom before recess, flicked the lightswitch off. “Do it,” I said, but she got scared, shook her head. “Come on,” I said, “I won’t tell.” I backed away a little, plucked up the hem of my skirt and kicked my legs high like these dancers I’d seen on Ed Sullivan. I hummed off-key. It took a while, but she smiled at me. And there they were, green green half-moons glowing in a black sky mouth, the gaps between them barely visible, insignificant. I could feel their heat on my face, my cheeks went red, and their light cast rippling shadows on the cold metal stall doors, the cold cracked tile. “So cool,” I said. At first we wrote notes to each other, passed back and forth between periods. She wrote all over the page, crazy, like she might burst if she didn’t get it all out. She pressed so hard that she usually broke the lead tip of her pencil. I’d find it folded up in the paper with her words. I wish I still had the note where I asked her if she was the only one. She said no, lots of people were like that where she was from. Nowheresville, Tennessee. She was just like everyone else. Mom did something with laundry, dad worked in a factory. I told her I wanted to go there with her, take a walk outside at night, see hundreds of Alice’s cheshire cats yapping through darkened windows. Sometimes, later on, I’d get her to talk to me. Just a little. She put her hot mouth close to my ear, her curls bouncing against the side of my face. Her teeth decayed her words—they sludged off her tongue, slow and warped and simple. HLLLHH FFRNND, HLLLHH BBTH. That was the first thing she said to me. Duck and cover did her in. It was the middle of a math test, quiet, and our teacher yelled FLASH! and we slid down, leapt down, we banged our knees against metal legs, we crouched, and those curls of hers, they got stuck on some chewing gum and she yanked away and it hurt and she opened her mouth and FLASH! and if she screamed no one heard only saw FLASH! and we screamed and shrieked and shivered and I swear those teeth got hotter and brighter and we all thought it was the end of everything or that’s what we would’ve thought if we could think. Before she left, we went into the bathroom again. We could talk there. “I’ll miss you,” I said. She grinned at me, green magic glowing soft. I kissed her. She pulled away. YYRRR SSSKK. That was the last thing she said to me. I think my taste buds are larger than they should be, gums slightly too puffy. And so many cavities. Originally from Chicago, Becky Robison is currently a fiction MFA student at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Yes, it is a weird place to live—in the best possible way. She blogs about life in the desert here. Jeremy Anderson is a freelance illustrator, teaching artist, explorer, and human who currently resides on the blue planet, roughly two-thirds from the center of the Milky Way Galaxy. He has always loved being outdoors, befriending animals, and going on adventures.
20 Tips for Your First Abortion
Madeleine Roe 1. It does not matter if you were on birth control, if you forgot just this once, or if you didn’t think at all. It does not matter if it was your husband, your boyfriend, or someone who was really working those olive corduroy pants. You are pregnant. And you are the one that is freaking the fuck out.   2. Tell someone else who will support you. Tell a friend, a family member, post it on Reddit, or whisper it to your cat, Miss Poke. Know you are not alone in this. Know you are not alone in this.     3. Google is your best friend and worst enemy. Avoid any website that uses the word “life.” They will not help you. Also avoid all images. All of them. Even if it promises to be a cartoon drawing called “Olivia the Ovary.” They will not help you either. Read medical articles. Know your options. Treat it like applying to grad school: too much information and you drown; too little information and you drown. Tread lightly.   4. Make the appointment. Don’t be offended that the person on the phone doesn’t give a shit. Take the nonchalance as a sign that it is no big deal. It could be a teeth cleaning. A very deep teeth cleaning.   5. The time between making the appointment and going to the appointment is the worst. Stay busy. Drink heavily. You are not showing yet. Talk to Miss Poke some more. Drink some more. You are still not showing. It will be over soon.   6. In the waiting room, don’t assume anything about anyone except that they aren’t assuming anything about you. Read the packets. Well, skim the packets. They will repeat it all again later.   7. It will cost around six hundred dollars. Consider the cost of raising a child. Consider the cost of that Beyoncé concert ticket you almost bought. Now, let it go. Consider the cost of raising a child. Consider the cost of that Beyoncé concert ticket you almost bought. Now, let it go.     8. Don’t be offended by the leading questions. The nurses are concerned about your safety. It only sounds like a Lifetime movie. Answer honestly.   9. Technology that tells you exactly how far along you are now exists. And it is terrible. You want to be zero days along, negative days along, but listen when the nurse says, “six weeks and five days.” Don’t dwell on this number.   10. If you say nothing, you will see nothing during the ultrasound. The nurses are humans, not monsters, just like you.   11. There are going to be other people in the room. Don’t wonder why one chose neon green nail polish. Don’t look for fear in the eyes of the puppy dogs dotting their scrubs. They’re professionals. They chose to be here, just like you.   12. You know the medium-sized metal bowl you use to mix pancake batter? The bowl your parents stored Halloween candy in? That bowl will also be in the room. It is for exactly what you think it is for.   13. They are dilating you only to the size of a pencil. But it feels Montana wide and big enough to smuggle kilos of cocaine. Be in awe at the depths of your body.   14. There will be a pain like someone sucking or pulling out your insides.   15. There will be a noise like someone sucking or pulling out your insides. Be mad that the Dyson guy did not put his energies elsewhere. Focus on the classical music playing in the background. Imagine if Bach ever knew what it would be used for.   16. Tell the doctor where you work. Redefine the meaning of small talk. Listen to her as she raves about the new Vietnamese sub shop off Grand. Watch her nod at the nurses. Let her rub your arm and tell you it’s all done.   17. Feel tears well up as they remove the tools propping you open. Let the tears go. Don’t sit up until they tell you. Feel lightheaded. Dress slowly and leave the room.   18. In the next room, listen to the instructions from the nurse with the soothing Caribbean accent. Assume she is in this room because of that nice accent. Eat the animal crackers. Drink the apple juice. Realize the tears were about hormones and relief. Breathe deeply. Eat the animal crackers. Drink the apple juice. Breathe deeply.     19. Go to the bathroom and look at the chart that depicts how much blood is too much blood. Wonder at the verbiage, “a scant amount,” “a surplus.” Steal some extra pads from the basket by the door.   20. Go home. Relax. Eat a big meal. Process your emotions. Take a shower. Talk with your friends. Cry with your friends. Make inappropriate jokes about how you were “killin’ it” today and laugh with your friends. Eat a pound of chocolate. Listen to some Bon Iver. Take aspirin. Listen to some ABBA. Dance with Miss Poke. Watch a movie. Take your antibiotics. Buy a new dress off Zappos. Use a heating pad. Call your mom. Reread a book from your teenage years. Do whatever you want. Maybe make a list of all the things you learned. Madeleine Roe is a waitress in Minneapolis. Illustration by Jeremy Anderson.
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Anderson is a freelance illustrator, teaching artist, explorer, and human residing in Minneapolis. He is having one-sided conversations with her feline roommate. Lead Illustrators Jeremy Anderson Jeremy
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