Gorman, CA

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On the way to the wedding in Los Angeles, they ran out of gas. They were a couple, a man and a woman. The woman was driving them down from San Francisco, where they had spent a few days—it was their first time in California, and they were both from somewhere else.

The man promised they would make it to the gas station. “How could you know that?” she asked. He didn’t answer.

The car was a rental, and it was shitty, and the woman had to press the gas pedal all the way to the floor to make it up and over each mountainous slope. Soon the odometer began its inevitable decline, the needle wilting towards zero, and the woman felt a similar inward wilting, a sinking feeling of coming trouble. […]

The Sun and the Pacific, Flowers

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In the afternoon, I was usually lying in the hammock reading Don Quixote while avocados fell on the roof and the grapefruit tree blew its scent around the yard. Bougainvillea and jasmine grew on all the walls, and several varieties of palm snaked up in the sky. The medians were a riot of rosemary. I remember oleander and trumpet vines and sidewalks littered with jacaranda blooms. Hibiscus and giant agaves. Bella donna. There was a tree that made wooden flowers; I have one still, years later. […]

Lesser Missiles

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We smelled smoke and, out the window, embers rose in the night.

We got out of bed and pulled the red alarm box in the hallway and went outside.

From across the street, we watched fire destroy our apartment building. The woman who lived down the hall from us wore a nightgown and fanned herself with a magazine and shook her head. We found a motel nearby, mostly used by military girlfriends and wives. Then we walked to the beach.

This was Oxnard, a coastal city in Southern California near Port Hueneme and in a severe drought. Dry sugar beet farms stretched out from two military bases and the Kavli Foundation that supports the advancement of science. […]

Listen to our Web Exclusive Stories Read by the Authors

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Since January, we’ve been working on a little project that we hope expands the reach of our web exclusive stories and that gives you, our readers, website visitors, subscribers, supporters and pals, a new way to engage with the fiction we publish.

The Other Woman

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It would end in disaster, everyone said, and everyone was right, but everyone was on the outside of the situation and therefore did not know everything. She was on the inside, living with a man and in love with another woman, loving the man but not being sure anymore she should live with him, loving the extravagant Italian meals he cooked and the way he stood frowning when he painted in the corner of their living room that served as his studio […]

Ramona

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Ramona used to say, “When it’s on the outside I feel self-conscious.” We did overnights at her house that summer. After finishing the sixth grade, we had stopped calling them sleepovers. Ramona had a full-sized bed, but I still felt scrunched up next to her when we were in it. We didn’t press into each other while we slept, but I think I felt pushed up against her because of what I knew about her heart. About how sometimes it flipped and somersaulted and somehow ended up on the outside of her skin, resting there on the wrong side of her body for a few seconds like a wild bird afraid to fly away but so eager to do it. […]

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