“Drifting” by Beth Thomas

WE WALKED TO THE FENCE and saw the birds there, pecking into the gourds that grew wild in that otherwise barren land of rock and shale and dusty bones. An arrowhead plucked up and held, a souvenir, a ghost. We did not stop to check it for blood. We did not speak, only walked, gathering memories, folding them and tucking them safe into back pockets.
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“Dry Bones” by Manuel Trevizo (Excerpt)

A skull, of a bull

Perched on a rotting post of wood

The background, a blood red sunset

With hints of a lack of oxygen

Smeared across the panorama

Saguaro Cacti, erected across the

Barron waste land

Representing generations of life,

While the skull represents generations of death

 

Dry heat is what they said,

But so is fire

Build canals! Sow the seeds! Inhabit this

Illustrious land full of opportunity

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“Uncomfortable Truths” by Kayleen Burdine (Excerpt)

THEY LEFT IN THE MORNING, before the stars had even begun to disappear. The sky that had been purple-blue-black when they first pulled away from the flickering streetlamp just outside Claire’s family’s apartment was now vibrant and alive with the fiery oranges and yellows of sunrise, its reflection settled smack-dab in the center of the rearview mirror like a miniature masterpiece. They had three hours behind them and no particular destination in mind, their duffle bags slung carelessly into the bed of Ethan’s run-down ’82 Ford pickup. The cab was chilly with the last dregs of winter and Claire shivered a little. The heater was busted.

“Alright, screw it,” she announced, propping her feet up on the dash and tossing her book down onto the weathered seat between them. “Uncomfortable truths. Go.”

Ethan turned his eyes from the road for a second, confusion apparent. “What?”

“Uncomfortable truths,” she reiterated, this time more slowly. “Tell me something unsettling about yourself that I don’t already know.”

“Like what?” he asked, still not seeming to understand. Claire sighed.

“Fine. I’ll start,” she fiddled with the radio’s volume until Led Zeppelin faded out to a low hum. “You know those novelty jelly beans people buy as gag-gifts? The really gross ones that taste like mud, earwax, vomit…?

“Yeah?”

“I like the soap-flavored ones.”

“What?” Ethan’s nose crinkled in disgust.

“Seriously?”

“Yup,” she replied proudly. “Your turn.”

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