A Beautiful Girl — By Alex Hogan



My daughter is five. She has started school. Every morning I drive her there, then peel myself away from her to sit at home, alone. Cameron is at work. He leaves the house at 7.00 am and catches the train into the city. I stay in bed until he leaves, only then I rush around getting Katie ready for school.

I sit in my chair at home, alone, drinking coffee and staring into the steam rising from the cup in the dim light of closed curtains. Sometimes I stare for what feels like hours. I wish Cameron were home, yet I’m glad he isn’t. We can talk and laugh and discuss the world’s problems, but when it comes to bed time I’m too tired. Or I have headaches. He has taken to staying up late at night, long after Katie and I have gone to bed.

Katie was my dream…

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This Shirt — By Gregory A. Kompes



He didn’t remember where it had come from. It was possible that it had been mixed with his at the cleaners and returned with his laundry. Maybe it had been left behind by someone, although he couldn’t remember ever seeing it on a date or a trick. What he did remember each time he pulled the soft, washed, faded cotton over his long arms—he met men to date when he had this shirt on. He got compliments about the color of his eyes in it. He felt confident in its embrace. It was powerful.

The thing barely held any color, but it wasn’t white. A hint of blue, perhaps a strange pattern that had been over-bleached? The buttons slid easily into their holes. The sleeves rolled up gently, pushed up easily, showed his tanned arms to perfection, highlighted his silver wristwatch.

Tucked or untucked, the power remained. Now, untucked over…

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My Garden September — by Andres Fragoso


I ran through the garden hiding from an evil man, Jose, who has come back to hurt me once again? Was it not enough what I did for him? I gave him my trust, my life, my being. He asked, I gave willingly. Jose left, and with him, he took my heart, my soul, my confidence in humankind. I cried, I yelled, I got sick. A broken heart is hard to mend when it’s shattered into a million pieces.

I had just found peace found among the cacti, weeds, and the brown grass of the desert. And I ran faster away. A familiar voice yelled, “Stop!” I froze on my heels and dropped to the ground, bleeding tears.

Lilly bloomed from my blood on the soil. “I had lost Adam to Eve. He didn’t come back for me. Your Jose may not be either. Be brave and strong, and you…

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El Rocio – by Chuck Teixeira


(c) Chuck Teixeira, 2017

Miquel, my Venezuelan jefe, was drop-dead gorgeous.  He had not come to Colombia as a refugee – he had merely seized an opportunity outside his country despite his mother’s reluctance to see him go.  Then, as the economy at home collapsed with the price of oil, he became the life-line for his family, sending essentials not available in Caracas, Maracaibo or elsewhere.

Good looks aside – to the extent one can put looks aside – Miquel was also the only manager who had advocated for my hire, and the only one who greeted me with soft eyes my first day at work.  Not surprising, then, that hope soared when, early on, he clarified that the boys in the photo on his desk were his nephews, not his sons – hope that soared then quickly sputtered.

Anyway, I had not come to Colombia to fall in love…

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My Father Cringes When He Sees Kyle Hold My Hand – by Andres Fragoso, Jr.


(c) Andres Fragoso, Jr., 2017

Barefoot I stand over the edge of the pool. Water swells beneath waiting for my soul. I look ahead. My father cringes when he sees Kyle hold my hand. What is my father doing here? He places his hands in a circle around his mouth and screams. I’m sure he’s calling my name. “Jake.” I can’t hear him through the cacophony of the crowd. He runs towards me.

He looks angry. I’m certain that if there were a bat around, my father would use Kyle’s head as a baseball and hit a home run.

Kyles squeezes my hand in reassurance. “It’s okay. We can do this.”

Really? He doesn’t know my father. I’m a dead man. I won’t be old enough to go to the Saloon and have a drink with the man I love. “I love you. No matter what happens, I’ll always love…

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Glitter me Smitten – by Madison Lawson


The first thing you notice is glitter. Glitter everywhere. Yes, that sounds cliché and annoying, but it’s actually fun. It encompasses the entire celebration.

It’s light and bright. It flies through the air, traveling from body to body. It shines with every turn and glints in the sun. It does not hide and will not be hidden.

That’s the whole point of Pride, right? To not hide? To be seen? To shine?

So you go to the parade and you gladly accept the fistful of glitter that is thrown in your general direction. Smiling, you hold your hands out, giving the glitter more body area to cover as it floats down from the sky.

You make the mistake of smiling while looking up, though, and soon you’re doubled over, coughing up glitter.

Even pride pain is fabulous.

You spit out on the empty sidewalk before straightening up, glancing around for…

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Beyond Fresno – by Chuck Teixeira


(c) 2016 Chuck Teixeira

This story was supposed to encourage – if not you — an older friend of yours.  Maybe much older.  Too old to be in a love story.  But not too old for a story about coming to terms with the absence of love.  Legal terms as in a binding accord or agreement.  Your friend, let’s call him Stosh, recently retired from the Agricultural Welfare Commission, is one party to such an agreement; the universe – that universe! — is the other party.  Under the agreement, Stosh accepts dying without ever fulfilling his prayer for love.  In exchange, the universe enables Stosh to persist in that prayer until the final moment without regret or shame.  The agreement provides explicitly that one date can be both an acceptable prayer and a sufficient answer. The agreement also provides that Stosh must stop doubting and complaining — since these destroy the…

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Little Boy Blue – by Alex Hogan


(c) Alex Hogan, 2006

“Where is that boy?  He should be mucking out the stables.  He’s probably asleep behind the hay, like little boy blue.  Beth, go find him and send him here.”

What?  How could mother ask me to do that?  The boy was one of our farm boys, and he could well be asleep by now, since he arrived here every morning at dawn.

‘The boy’ was Jack.  He had been working here for three years.  When he first started I did not take much notice of him – he was just a boy.  But now, I thought he looked very nice.   Trouble was, I had spent two years ignoring him, while he and my brother played stupid boy games, throwing cats down wells and such things. So now he took no notice of me.

I left mother by the clothes tub in the laundry and went out…

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Jennifer – by Michael Ampersant


(c) Michael Ampersant, 2016

jeffreys-picture-450 by Jennifer

The town house was located in an off-center residential street of Amsterdam inside its own red-light bubble: Blue Boys said the neon-sign on the façade. Jeffrey was one of the boys, although he’d come into the picture only after I’d failed to talk up a hot guy who sat behind the improvised bar on the second floor and assured me he’s a customer himself.

The sex with Jeffrey on the third floor was so-so, so we had time to talk. He’d just enrolled with the Blue Boys because he had no place to stay, and no money, and a bright future, provided he could stay with me, that is, at my place, which wasn’t far.

Jeffrey spent one more working night at the brothel and then we had sex one more time, although I failed to penetrate. He pushed me away, wrapping himself in…

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