XP

“Repeat it,” Brian, the seventh-grade DM, says, holding a cigarette lighter directly under my fist. “I can’t play until I’m 14.” “So stop asking.” His grip releases and I shake the pinpricks from my fingertips. “Now hand it over.” I pull a folder crammed with notebook paper from my backpack. Brian yanks out a character …

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The Freshest Phoenix

I hear the satisfying plop of wet clay and then the wheel spins and spins. Each hand curves, pushes, and smooths, lifts new life from a formless muck. The past cakes underneath my fingernails; the future, slick with glaze, blazes in the kiln. I wait to greet the freshest phoenix.

The Galaxy Nightclub

He traced my name into my chest after he heard it, the e blazing across my ribs like a comet. On the dance floor, he grabbed my hips and kissed me. "What's that for?" I asked. "For the stars in your eyes."

The Aniseed

a woman found an aniseed among some withered recipes inside: recumbent fantasies Of gray days swelled with ecstasy  

Searchlights

The War was over, but we didn't know it yet. We threw bio-grenades into schools, blasted blindly into sick bays, screaming, panting, until word came through the ansible, but we are not posthuman. We return home with the rage still in our throats, our eyes searchlights.  

Calamine

I still feel that humid night on me. Back then our apartment perched above the sidewalk like a vulture; my head perched above my heart like a parrot. Just before you wedged that stupid laundry basket you use as a suitcase out the back door, you told me to stop messing with the frays of things, and I spent I don't …

Bubble Gum

Leslie steals Jenny's gum a millisecond before the pink bubble bursts onto glossed lips. Jenny sneers "that's gross," but later she tells her sister about the new girl in her class. Leslie goes home happy that she caught the pretty girl's attention.

Phoenix

The lit match arcs over the blighted carpet before landing gymnast-style on polyester. In the breath before the whole thing goes up, I somehow smell cedar, gasoline, my life before you. I jump on the motel bed to stomp out the flames.

Grimoire

Each page is a history of penmanship: the serifed letters made by phoenix quills, the alternate grace and blotch of fountain pens, the gaudiness of blue-inked BICs. My coven's incantations whisper from the open book, learn more from us, oh cunning one.