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A Rosie By Any Other Name

A Rosie By Any Other Name

I wiped down the counter for at least the tenth time. The circular motions were swift, curt, practically sanding the surface with each swipe of the soft cloth. Fucking assholes better not leave all the cleaning to me again, I muttered as the sticky mess finally disappeared under soap suds. Damn new hires not doing the bare minimum… “Hey Liv, missed ya last night,” Chef said over the clatter and clang of dishes, pots, and pans being put away. Cooks scurried behind him readying sauces and that goddamned romance risotto. The earthy, complex aroma wafted through the still-empty restaurant. “What’d...

Droplet Drummers

Droplet Drummers

Cool breeze through the kitchen window. Jezi smiled wistfully as she raised her mug to her lips—not to drink, just to breathe the steam. Today, every sensation she experienced at a heightened state. Late-summer’s radiated warmth, yes, and the coming of fall’s chill to tickle the senses; but also the wedding. “The wedding,” Papa said, filling the kitchen doorway. He raised his arms and pursed his lips in a smile hiding tears. “My love, you glow.” “I always glow, Papa,” Jezi said, smiling too, her own tears threatening to burst out in sobs. But she contained it—as she always did,...

Dodging A Silver Bullet

Dodging A Silver Bullet

Dozens of hopeful couples murmured private conversations in the (recently renamed) Lovegood Café, busy, no matter that it was a Thursday. But this was the new usual. I rolled my eyes every time I saw the new logo, all swooping calligraphy and red hearts, trying to capitalize on the fame of their “romance risotto.” It all clashed horribly with the randomly hung St. Patrick’s Day clovers and wee lil pots o’ gold with fluttering crepe paper rainbows. “Yo, Liv!” Chef called from the kitchen. “Only got a few orders left. Sucks to be you.” And he flashed a shiny pair...

All Hands on Deck

All Hands on Deck

“I’ve gathered you all here today because…” Hanna chokes on her words mid-sentence and muffles the rest of it with her over-long sweatshirt sleeves. “…because I’m pretty sure Chloe is a demon.” There are four others gathered around Hanna’s platform of gym mats: Priya with her twin endless braids; Leo of the bottomless closet of basketball shorts and Nike t-shirts; Ruby with her fuzzy, untamable curls; and Malik, uncharacteristically keeping his opinions to himself. They all look up at Hanna with a gentle combination of affection and concern. “Hann, Chloe is a raging bitch.” Ruby reaches up and tweaks Hanna’s...

Wine glasses hanging upside down in a bar bathed in red and blue lights

How The Rumor Spills

I sighed. Of course they wanted the risotto. Who didn’t these days? But I smiled and placed the order, along with their drinks, ignoring the hopeful, dopey smiles on their faces. Ignoring the smirk on the chef’s greasy face as he asked, “So, Liv, any bets to how many orders tonight?” No. Because it was always ridiculously high. And I didn’t even want to think what would happen if we ran out. I don’t know how the rumor started, but it didn’t take long for it to spread as fast as poison coursing through living veins. Fridays and Saturdays had...

Tears of a Sock Monkey

Tears of a Sock Monkey

Chatter and giggles greeted Jess as she approached the bus stop. God, everyone here hated her. And the feeling was totally mutual. It was too late to fake some vague illness. Mom would see right through that. Especially since she had a math test first period. She ignore the just-too-loud conversations with their pointed words–weirdo; she’s coming this way; slut; nerd–and stood as off to the side as she could, a blank expression instead of the designer makeup contouring the girls’ faces. She shuffled, a mindless drone, to first math. She hadn’t studied for the test. She hadn’t needed to....

Speak No Lies

Speak No Lies

Looking down from the top of a newly budded oak tree, hidden in evening shadows and obliviousness, they snickered. Humans…always missing what was right in front of them. *** Mona was a million miles away, her thoughts branching from the obvious: she and Monty were collectively insane (together, like so many other times in their life as twins) to the fantabulous, that something magical was going on. Monty relished the unknownness of the mess; Mona did not. He actually woke up disappointed when something weird didn’t present itself; Mona rejoiced. Monty wanted to figure out what was going on and...

The Instinct

The Instinct

I peer into the rear-view mirror of the Model 3, carefully lifting and tucking rolls of golden hair off my neck. Both my hair and my neck look best that way, and tonight I need to look my best. The Uber driver, who the app introduced to me as “Randy,” slams on his brakes and the Model 3 lurches. I go into his headrest hairdo-first, clawing for purchase to preserve the shape I so painstakingly crafted. I bounce off cursing as my fingers get tangled in the crocheted cover, tearing a wide hole. “Are you fucking serious?” I shout at...

Little Miss Know-It-All

Little Miss Know-It-All

Today. The weirdness was today! More than a month had passed without incident. Zillah knew the shit was really about to fly, like all over the place. She didn’t know how she knew. She just did. Like, when she woke up (not got out of bed; awake and blearily standing were two distinct events), the world wobbled and stretched out in front of her, then snapped back into place, like in those old cartoons Mom showed her online. But, like, everything seemed extra sharp and hyper clear. And it happened while she was brushing her teeth. Like mid-spit and wham!...

Read-Write

Read-Write

Hent never held his breath. A witch’s curse kept his family from being swimmers or blowing out birthday candles or taking advantage of the wish-enhancing powers of tunnels, for fear of their held breath catching as per the terms of the curse. But here and now—in the Upper Bough of the supply tree, on Clean Out Your Computer Day—Hent held his breath ever so slightly while he flattened his wings against his back to slip past a trio of grandmothers walking at one quarter speed. He would have arrived earlier to avoid the crowds, but Elyse’s appointment with Healer Jessen...

When It Rains

When It Rains

It wasn’t enough that the past few months had been way weird. Like, Twilight Zone weird. Mona wanted nothing to do with any of it, most especially since pretty much no one else around her realized the weirdness. Pretty much because at least she had Monty. Sure, he was annoying AF, but he was her brother and they kinda had to watch each other’s backs. If she was alone in her knowledge, she’d have gone crazy by now. The biggest pain in the butt was not knowing when the weirdness was going to happen. It could be any day, randomly,...

Honey & Vinegar

Honey & Vinegar

“Isn’t your hair just so adorable in the mornings, my little rumple-head?” The room brightened as her Mom opened the shades. “Mnhuh?” “Your hair, Jess, your hair. Specifically the bedhead. It’s simply adorable. Always has been. Ever since you were a little baby. The way it sticks up in the back there. So sweet.” Mom clucked, then sighed at the clutter scattered about her bedroom. “Now, get your sleepy little rumple-head out of bed and come downstairs. You’ll be late.” Jess sat up on one elbow, running the other hand through her spiky hair and blinking in confusion. Sleepy little…?...