Special Issue: Banned CDC Words
The Pink Balloon by David Drury

My daughter chooses blue, but the balloon man talks her into pink. A helium-filled latex teardrop bouncing at the end of a long string at the end of a long afternoon brining in the smells of the county fair.

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Laboratory by Nod Ghosh

It’s quiet in the laboratory today, so I do some paperwork. The office has made a code for thingy-maternal hemorrhage kits, so I can order one without typing the f-word. Without appropriate testing and treatment, pregnant women might develop antibodies.

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The Word Is Diversity by Dan Crawley

I’m sitting with my mother this morning at the rehab hospital. She is learning how not to be so vulnerable, using a walker, working at not dragging her leg after her like a heavy sack, lifting small weights over her head.

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Soft Spot by Jude Higgins

Since Brexit, they’ve opened a tanning studio where the Polish deli used to be. I’m inside, curled up on a sun-bed like a fetus. Going to make my skin invulnerable.

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Based on a True Story by Kat Gonso

He asked her if he could try something. Her lips were wrapped around him, so she looked up to meet his eyes. She nodded. In one swift motion he grabbed her head and pushed it down once, twice, three times—harder each.

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Little Red Riding Hood by Katerina Kishchynska

Grandma gets her episodes at least once a month. She’ll grow out her jaws and if it happens on a rainy day, claws will tear out of her fingers.

Café Mozart Dreamin’ by Tracey Meloni

Judie bangs on my hotel door. “The dressmaker is here! Hurry! You have Christmas lunch with Noah at Café Mozart at 1PM!” 

Initiation by Stuart Dybek

The doors snap open on Addison, and the kid in dirty hightops and a sleeveless denim jacket that shows off a blue pitchfork tattooed on his bicep jogs forward beneath a backward baseball cap and grabs the purse off a babushka’s lap.

Hermit & Bleeding Faucet by Ana María Shua

With the population now well aware of the physical and mental benefits of asceticism (low cholesterol, bradycardia, a delicate sense of happiness, spiritual fulfillment), everyone wants to become a hermit.

Conversation in Hotel Lounge by Lydia Davis

Two women sit together on the sofa in the hotel lounge, bent over and deep in conversation.  I am walking through, on my way to my room.