Here you’ll find merch, Issue #15 story excerpts, interviews, the issue’s Spotify playlist, & links to reviews. So take a look, and make sure you haven’t missed anything!
On the day I die my husband ties a red cloth on our gate. His hands are shaking. The cloth is from my favorite doek, the one that looks like a rose when I tied it around my head on special occasions. He keeps the gates open for mourners to trickle in. The women wear black doeks, the strands of their hair tucked behind the thick cloth.
“Beauty has no place at a funeral!” my auntie screams at any woman who arrives uncovered. She never explains why the dead consider a woman’s hair disrespectful.
Wails and glum hymns ricochet through the house in the twilight. The red cloth marks the commencement of the all-night vigils that happen every night until I am to be buried.
Initiating ‘smiling.’ There are 100,042 ways not to smile. I look at the picture and study it. I am matching the picture in front of me to my own actuators and filaments that behave as muscle fiber. I am trying to match Zahir’s smile. The picture that I have is the best match for Zahir’s smile.
I am not Zahir.
The picture is one that Zahir took his senior year of high school. I measure the surface area of his exposed teeth. I measure the distance between his upper and lower jaw. I calculate the function that produces the parabola that is his smile. My adjustments are many, but small. I look in the mirror. I look at the picture. I see the match.
What is the woman but a keeper of fear?
What is the woman but a gate?
If all goes well, when the story ends, the woman-who-is-a-gate will be opened.
Where will the fear go then? Who will hold it, who will keep it safe?
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Alta owns the Menagerie: a twin-gabled, brown shingled colossus. The whole house sits on the eastern edge of a square green park on Larkin Street, and is teethed with a row of white windows that overlook the street where Alta stands, having walked this early morning from North Beach to Russian Hill. Her reflection gleams in oiled blacks and white, caught in a larger dormer window inset beneath the gabled roof. The new sun sketches the line of distant rooftops behind; roughly, and then fine. The reflection in the window bleeds, burns in the new light, and twists into something no longer a woman.
Your name is Oblivia and you work at a bar.
You don’t remember how you came to work at the bar, but truth be told, it doesn’t matter. The money is decent and the schedule remains consistent. It sits out on the edge of town, the Styx and Stones Bar & Grill. Despite working there for (months?) a long time, no one’s ever ordered something off the grill. You’re willing to bet there isn’t one.
“Another Summer Tryst, please.” The man almost slurs his words when he speaks. His hands are rough when he leans forward, holding out an empty glass in hand. Unsurprisingly, it slips out of his fingers and shatters on the ground. He doesn’t notice. You want to cut him off but you can’t. This isn’t that kind of bar. The owner is clear about patrons like this and besides, the cops don’t come out to this part of town. Not anymore.
Poem: The Technicolor Simulations: Test #2020-Z by Maya C. James
Poem: Late Moonwalk by Uche Ogbuji
Poem: Libations by Soonest Nathaniel