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Issue 66: Coming Soon!

ASF 66 Cover for WebJamel Brinkley, “Wolf and Rhonda”

“Wolf still had an instinctive response to it, a raw physical reaction, his head perking up and the muscles tightening around his ears in recognition of his truest name. It reminded him of what it felt like to be not accomplished but perfected, filled to completion with energy and pride. Wolf knew that people laughed about those who were said to have peaked too soon in life. He laughed too, though it pained him to do so. The pain articulated what otherwise stayed submerged, his knowledge that most of these people laughing had yet to peak, and most of them never would. All they had were the undiminished measures of their longing. While they looked ahead and hoped for themselves in vain, he had already lived as the best incarnation of himself. He’d had that feeling, and every five years, the reunions helped him clearly recall it and savor it as an irrefutable fact.”

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Jennifer Tseng, “The Window”

“He dressed me in red when I was a child, as if to protect me from sadness. When I turned eighteen, he bought me a red dress. He made me feel like a girl and then he made me feel like a woman. I, with my crab-apple-size breasts; my willingness to bring him his slippers, to make him tea at all hours; I, with my secret desires, was the nearest thing he had to a wife!”

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Justin Sanders, “Bridgeways”

“It wasn’t the first time either of us had seen a dead body, but it was the first time we’d seen one together. Immediately, the rules of boy world took over.

‘I dare you to go touch it. Hold your hand there for ten seconds, come on, don’t be a little bitch about it.’

We argued over who was gonna go first, though I remember that it was Jay who upped the ante. ‘I’ma get his shoes,’ he said. And I laughed ’cause I thought he was joking at first, but he climbed down the hill and crept up on the body, moving slow like he was careful not to wake him, and I really didn’t believe he would go through with it until I watched him start to undo the kid’s laces. He did it so gingerly too, almost reverently. Holding the foot up on his thigh and unworking the knots slowly. Then he slid the shoes off and tied the laces together and slung them over his shoulder and climbed back up to meet me. ‘Dead man’s shoes,’ he said grinning. ‘Got me some free Airs.'”

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Claire Robbins, “Arms Out”

“They collect small stones in their hands and bigger stones in the pockets of their Levi’s. They scuff their toes along the gravel on the shoulder of the highway, and they do not know that in three years they will sit on the overpass a half mile away drinking canned beer and flashing their smiles and breasts at truckers. Today they practice throwing stones across both lanes until they are bored and Abbie says, Dare you to hit a semi.”

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Blair Lee, “Filament”

“Soft wheat hairs along my skin, but the kissing was too wet. He was focused on something else. His hand moved blindly and sloppily, just a shapeless pressure on my back, feeling around for what I thought all boys wanted: The hooked closure. The laced lock. But then Chris slid farther still, up my shoulders to my hijab, fumbling around the nape of my neck at the folds of cloth.”

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Kevin A. González, “The Jayuya Uprising”

“And this is the thing about our island: You leave your private school, you leave your gated complex, you take a right at the McDonald’s, go six blocks, take another right at the McDonald’s, and all of a sudden, you’re in a different island. At your house, the sprinklers sweep the lawn, discharging water like toy guns, but here, you can turn the faucet all day long and all you get is a callus on your thumb. Here, there are dogs being trained to fight on rooftops, there are fathers tugging leashes and mothers wearing blindfolds and daughters whose milk is coming in. What I remember thinking is I couldn’t wait to walk into my house, step under the shower, crank up the A/C, and play Silvio Rodríguez on repeat. “Tranquilo,” I told Picky. ‘My lips are sealed.’”

 

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