My Mother, My Daughter, My Self | Diane Kastiel

I lost my mother when I was 15. I don’t mean that’s when she died – I mean that’s when she stopped being my mom. My parents’ tortured marriage had finally ended, and my mother wanted my three sisters and I to choose sides. When I refused she chose for me, leaving any parenting I was going to get to my father. For a variety of reasons, I couldn’t live with my dad. So I stayed with my mom, but […]

The Name You Give Yourself | Ellen Blum Barish

So there’s the name you are bestowed at birth, the one on that certificate with the curlicue border that you can never find when you need it for some official purpose. Then there’s the name you get from your mother or your older brother or your cousin that highlights some attribute that only they see, or maybe, their rhyming abilities – like in my case, Ellie Bellie, Ellen Ellen Watermelon or, my personal favorite, Ellen Blum the Sugar Blum For […]

Ask | C.A. Aiken

I have a friend. I use the word friend because the word fuckbuddy is, as of late, something as ethereal as the beautiful human-unicorn. We’re friends but we’re mostly benefits, so awhile back we did what adult pals do together- we had a play date. He came over. Our friendship at that point was based on the logistics surrounding the benefits, where we gave each other directions, a brief hug of hello, a little bit of chit-chat. (How’s work? Congrats! […]

Confronting Pete | Dennis Frymire

It’s impossible to feel like a badass in a turquoise Ford Tempo. That’s unfortunate, because right now, I need to feel like a badass. I need to feel like a tough guy. I need to feel like the baddest motherfucker in White County, Illinois as I’m driving to do maybe the bravest thing I’ve done in my 16 years: tell a grown man to keep his hands off my girlfriend. *** That morning started like most other mornings my junior […]

Exploding Rainbow | Karen Gennelly

Room 376 is a quiet eighth-grade classroom. We have just come back from spring vacation. Suddenly- BAM! The door slams open with such force that the windows shake. In walks, no, in struts a skinny boy, who exclaims: “Hey hey hey homies, it’s me, Michael. I’m the new kid in school.” I have to tell you, from the point of view of a teacher, it is never a good sign when the kids announce themselves. Our aging security guard Mr. […]

My Dad’s Housemate | Ramona Richards

I’ve called my dad on the phone every Sunday since college. We talk about normal, boring, old man things: the weather, the meals we ate that week, how our respective cars have been running, our cardiovascular health. The only thing that has really changed about our calls in the past couple years has to do with my dad’s housemate, who is usually gone when I call. Each Sunday his housemate volunteers at the aquarium, or as my dad calls it, […]

After School Special | Ali Kelley

In sixth grade, we had the fear of drugs put into us by a D.A.R.E. officer. His name was Officer Ren and he was the father of one of my classmates. He told us D.A.R.E. stood for Drug Awareness Resistance Education, but locally it also meant Do As Ren Expects. Officer Ren was actually a pretty cool dude, and my whole class really did want him to be proud of us. One definite way that we could let him down […]

Maria | James Gordon

Dear Maria, I like you a lot, a whole lot. I want you to be my girlfriend. I’ll be the best boyfriend ever. Even though we are both only in the 5th grade, we would make a great couple forever. I promise to never ever hurt cheat on you or hurt you. For real!! Think about it, and pick yes or no.  My Dad says maybe is for cowards. Love Always, Me PS. When you say yes, I’m going to […]

Broken | Stephanie Chavara

Cold scratches at my face as I slowly peal the blankets to look through an open space. The deep men’s voices on the other side of the wall are pitching louder and angrier. Muffled threats. A thud against the door. One of the men laughs. The other gets louder. Mental calculations click down in my head. Ten steps to the door—three seconds tops. Run across the cement floor, heave the door open, and fly past them. Quickly, so they won’t have time […]