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.

read more
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.

read more
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.

read more
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.

read more
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.

read more

Morse Code by Elizabeth Cabrera

The old man fell asleep in his car, his nostrils pressed softly against the steering wheel, but the car kept going, because the old man’s foot was not asleep, was still pressing down hard, and later they would say, it’s not really his fault, he’s such an old man.

Get Your Authentic Stardust Here by JP Relph

The night the sky cracked, I was sprawled on the hood of my car beside that good-for-nothing boy, naming constellations, ignoring his fingers on my neck.

Amelia Earhart Knew Seven Latin Words for Fire by Joe Kapitan

Ignis, the flaming wreckage, bubbling rubber, liquified cloth, her skin charred and blistering, acrid smoke, the tiny thunders of survival’s kicks

I’ll Show You Mine If You Show Me Yours by Eliot Li

I tell you I’ve only ever shown it to a girl who I met on a tour bus in Moscow, where I was traveling with my parents. She had bad acne, and she really liked Duran Duran.

Electric Storm by Kathryn Aldridge-Morris

It’s been twenty minutes since the first bolt of lightning ripped a scar through the purple night sky. Since my mother said to swim in the rain ― it’s fun. Since her boyfriend Colin said he’d join us― to check we’re ok.