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The Great Pretender

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“You really should have had that second fitting done, honey.  Closer to the day.”

“It doesn’t matter now, Mum,” said Corinne, shifting uneasily in her seat.  Carefully sipping her water as if each mouthful might burst her seams, she lamented the fact her beautiful dress was already much fuller than its maker had intended.

“Are you feeling any better?  Can you make it to the end?”

“I’ll last as long as I can but it doesn’t matter anyway.”

Susan was horrified and grabbed her daughter’s hand.  “How can you say that?”

“Look at him,” said Corinne waving her hand dismissively in the direction of her new husband, Andrew.  “He doesn’t care.  He’s oblivious.”

“He’s a little drunk, and enjoying this special day.”

“Rubbish,” scoffed Corinne.  “He’s almost legless and he’s drinking to take away the pain of the realization he’s married now.”

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The Grinder

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Joey saw the grinder and knew there would be trouble. The tilt of the thing in the weeds of the abandoned Cheshire Flea Market, the rust on it, hinted at the monstrous.

His friends—Art, Charlie, Rupe—dropped the empty pop bottles and rebar they’d collected. They clustered around the grinder’s gaping mouth. They buzzed, fidgeted, leaked steam through fixed smiles as they peered from under their snow caps into the black throat of the machine.

All but for Del, who hung back, small in his parka and frowning.

Joey shot a reproachful look at Del. His brother had to brave up before the others noticed.

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You'll End Up Alone. Marrus and Alanna. Part Two.

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Marrus and Alanna made camp in the forest. They’d been able to agree that they wanted to be far from the escarpment where Marrus had killed the soldier and crater where they’d seen so much. Maybe the events of the day had left him feeling fatalistic, or maybe he just wasn’t thinking: Marrus lit a fire. In response to Alanna’s raised eyebrows, he said, “I need real food after what we just saw.”

Alanna didn’t say anything. She had gone quiet after the spirit touched her. She seemed constantly distracted and walked slowly, without moving her arms. Marrus finished building the fire and sat beside her for a few minutes while the flames grew. He kept turning his head to look at her, trying to think of something to say and wishing she would speak. Alanna’s head stayed still. She was staring into the flames.

“You saved my life today,” Marrus finally said.

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Watching Kaitlyn Ross

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Dwayne lit another cigarette. He took a deep drag and exhaled a large cloud of smoke. Even with the window cracked, his Honda Civic filled with the fumes. He sat in a parking lot waiting for her to come out. He looked at the clock; the neon green numbers read 4:57. She should be coming out any minute.
PT's was the club she worked at. He’d been in there a few times, though that’s not where he first saw her. He’d first laid eyes on her stunning beauty at a Walmart. She was wearing a tight, almost see through, white shirt and a small black miniskirt. She obviously was not wearing a bra because he could clearly see her nipple rings as if she were completely topless. And in her little hand basket she carried pizza rolls and a bottle of Jose Cuervo.

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A Song of Danard

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The town of Danard was sung the world over, its walls old before the foundations of many a lodge were laid. Thon looked up as he left the forest that lay north of the place.

The town spilled down the two sides of the peak he could see, and those sides he couldn't. A road ran from the main gate, following the course of a small river, source of the town's water.

He nodded appreciation for the town's builders. "A hard place to overthrow," he said. Thon settled his shield on his back and began the steep road to the town. There was little shade to be had and he stopped after an hour to quench his thirst.

"You are far from home, Man of the River."

Thon whirled at the sound of the voice, his black knife ready in his hand. A scraggly tree, branches bare but for a few leaves, stood near a curve in the river. Beside it sat a woman of many years, her brown robe shapeless on her, her hair thin and gray. Her face was leathered from years of sun, her eyes bright with intelligence.

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A villain,me? Nah

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Most people shy away as soon as they see me. That is why I tend to stay at home in my forest which everyone says is bewitched. The young man knocking on my door almost shocks me. He probably wants a job doing. Business has been slow this month. Yes I better sell myself here to gain some coinage. I step out from my door, into the light. My caller looks hopefully at me.

“Good afternoon,” I say and hold out a hand for him to shake which he reaches out to touch. Unfortunately we never make contact because of my next words. “Who can I resurrect for you today?”

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Hunka, Hunka, Burning Love

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All my earthly relationships have proceeded from dinner to drinks, from drinks to desperate groping, from desperate groping  to awkward phone calls, from it’s me not you to it's you not me, or more truthfully, from drinks to desperate groping devoid of the rest of the drama, but I do so adore theater and what could be more theatrical than a man dressed as a woman appearing, as if sent from heaven, in the desperate hour of my need.

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Déjà vu

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“Stupid piece of crap!” Fists clenched, I scream, and kick the flat Michelin so hard that pain shoots through my foot. Whimpering, I pull the cell phone from my pocket. No reception. My jaw clenches, but before I verbalize my colorful thoughts, my father’s voice whispers in my ear: “You’re stranded two hours on a deserted highway and you wonder why your cell phone still doesn’t work. How stupid can you get?”

I whirl, breath caught in my throat. He’s not there. Nothing is—just giant cactus, sand, and miles and miles of empty road. All I see in either direction are heat waves shimmering above the asphalt. My eyes dart to the trunk … closed. “Get a grip, girl,” I tell myself then fold my hands to calm their shake.

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Pools of Red

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Jenny felt her frown fade a little as the feel of familiar arms wrap around her.

“What are you thinking, Jenny?” a voice asked. Jenny didn’t answer, preferring just to listen to the breathing of the person behind her. The man pressed up against her back, his arms lowering until they were placed firmly on her hips; she smiled.

“I’m thinking, Justin,” Jenny began as she rested her head against the chiselled body behind her, her smoke coloured hair fell loosely down her back tugging in places, but she ignored it.

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Lenny The Louse

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They found Lenny the Louse dead that Friday morning from two gunshot wounds to the chest.  A neighbor heard a noise in the night, but she didn't call the cops until the next morning.  She knew something was wrong when she went outside before breakfast and found her newspaper still lying wrapped in plastic on her lawn.  Lenny, she said in her official statement, always stole her newspaper, read it, and returned it sans the plastic wrapping before she woke up.  Until that morning she had always found it on the lawn, the first few pages soaked with morning dew.

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