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Today's quiz features 

 

 

, and 

 

. It also features 

 

 

, and 

 

. It will take 

 

 minutes to read in its entirety, which 

is how much time you have left to sit through this class and you're bored out of your wits.

There it is, she squeals, and I look at her triumphantly and she says, Believe me you aren’t the first one, and I say, So more like Columbus.

I figured out the best way to relieve some election stress and anxiety. As I know that a good many are experiencing the same, I thought I would share. Here are the step by step instructions:

  • Have a dog.
  • Dog escapes out the door past a Dad and takes off towards the creek and the fields.
  • Dog has a history of running far and killing chickens.
  • There is a house several kms down the road that now has chickens outside all day.
  • Dog has run several kms for 12hrs at a time before.
  • No one tells you dog is out. You sit drinking coffee, reading the internet and trying not to stress about an election.
  • You go downstairs to get something eat.
  • A Mom says all casual 'oh dog got out.'
  • You get a shot of adrenaline, run upstairs, throw on a t-shirt, pants and shoes, race downstairs, grab dog treats and run outside.
  • A Dad is there puttering in the shed.
  • 'Where is dog?'
  • 'Oh I don't know. She was down there a while ago.'
  • Get mad at Dad.
  • Hurry down to the creek and call dog.
  • Finally see dog on other side of the creek next to the 500 acre corn field. 
  • See dog ignore you and trot down the side of corn, in the direction of the road which would eventually lead to chickens.
  • Decide that getting to the road and crossing the creek there to head down the side of corn towards dog is best course of action.
  • Wade through really long grass and burdock.
  • Curse at all the burdock sticky things that are wadding up all over your pants.
  • Get to road, cross the bridge to other side of the creek and walk down side of corn.
  • Ponder life for a while.
  • Look at shoes and see mud on them.
  • Curse yourself for not putting on old shoes.
  • See dog!
  • Dog looks and thinks no way and trots into corn.
  • Follow dog.
  • Think ‘gosh, I haven't gone in corn like this since I was a kid. It’s kinda neat and oh my god it’s taller than me! Oh wait, dog. Focus on dog.’
  • Dog decides that corn is the wrong direction, turns and heads back to creek.
  • Follow.
  • Dog now in creek looking at you.
  • Hold out dog treat.
  • Watch dog slowly come to you and reluctantly take treat.
  • Grab dog collar.
  • Dog will be stubborn and doesn't move.
  • Start dragging dog.
  • Realize that dragging dog by the collar through creeks and heavy brush is difficult. 
  • Curse yourself for not bringing a leash.
  • Think 'hey I can use my shirt and loop it through the collar'.
  • Think 'I have no bra on'.
  • Think 'I'm in the country, who the fuck cares'.
  • Have a not so bad, shirtless walk, with your dog, on a unseasonably warm and sunny fall day.
  • Realize that letting it all hang out feels pretty awesome. Walk tall and proud.
  • Walk around the side of the house, pulling your dog with your shirt, covering your boobs with your hands because you know a Dad might be there.
  • Have him see you and stare in shock, "What? Why have you no shirt on!"
  • There. Stress all gone for now.

I hope these instructions will help others.

The Best Way to Relieve Election Stress was written by Jenni E. Prada.

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Socrates never ate a donut. 
Jesus couldn’t work a telephone. 
Helen Keller didn’t play Tetris. 
Moses never saw a penguin. 
Winston Churchill didn’t even have an email address.
Charlemagne couldn’t dunk. 
Karl Marx didn’t use credit cards. 
Galileo Galilei had never even heard of New York City. 
Thomas Jefferson couldn’t parallel park.

The Anachronistics was written by James Bezerra, who is a writer and MFA student in Portland Oregon. He is a recipient of The Northridge Review Fiction Award, The Oliver W. Evans Writing Prize, and was a 2016 artist-in-residence with the Angeles National Forest.

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Once, we were an annoyingly happy couple. Car commercial happy. But soon we were running on fumes. Especially after eating her famous beans.
Dear Ashley,
I hope you are well. I didn't mean to steal your kidney. It was an honest-to-goodness accident. I actually thought it was urine. My wife's urine. An honest mistake, like I say.
Let me explain: she's pregnant and has to get tested for gestational diabetes. For 24 hours, every time she had to go to the bathroom she had to first put a little plastic catcher on the toilet seat, go in it, and then pour it into a plastic jug. Then she had to put the jug on ice in a styrofoam cooler and store it in our bathroom and keep adding to it. How much humiliation can one person take?
Driving to the medical complex with a cooler full of your own pee on the passenger seat and then carrying it around was apparently one humiliation too many, so my wife tasked me with taking it into the lab, which is located on the bottom floor of the hospital. It was fate, really. On the way to the lab I stopped to use the hospital bathroom. I set my cooler on the counter by the sink. Somebody came in and used the urinal next to me. He was wearing a uniform, and I know now that he worked for the organ transport service. When I got to the sink, there were two identical coolers there. They both had orange biohazard stickers on them and a bunch of similar labels, and I grabbed the one I thought was mine.
I ran back to the bathroom but the courier was gone. I couldn't have returned it even if I had wanted to. There's not, like, a lost and found for kidneys.
I thought long and hard before keeping it. As it turns out, kidneys are worth a fortune on the “black” market, and as I said earlier, we're expecting a baby and those things cost a mint. I've already lined up a buyer. For the kidney, not the baby.
I saw you on the news and when they said the kidney was donated by your mom, that really made me feel awful. And when they said they're not sure how long it will be until you can get another matching one, that just made me feel even worse.
They're trying to make me out to be a professional organ thief, but it was just a random accident. It was meant to be. What are the odds that I'd be in that particular bathroom at just the right time?
They're trying to say I’m some sort of a monster, but I'm not. I just have a lot of bills. That's why I wanted to write you this letter. I hope you don't think I'm a terrible person, although I know that's asking a lot. Just know that there are lots of kidneys in the world, and you'll find yours soon, just like I found mine. Maybe you can get your mom to give you another one.
Respectfully,
Anonymous

There are lots of kidneys in the world was written by Jesse Barben, who is an aspiring writer and comedian from Albuquerque, New Mexico. He is a father to two small boys and only regrets becoming a parent a small percentage of the time. He is also an occasional blogger and fast food enthusiast.

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Our teeth clashed and I released her. I said, You have big teeth. She opened her mouth and she said, I like to think of them as experienced.

Doctor Home emerged from the stairwell onto the roof of Sacred Lung Hospital. He looked around at the small crowd gathering at the far side. High above a crescent moon posed menacingly, like a diamond scalpel waiting to drive down on its foe. Doctor Home stepped out into the cool night, felt the gravel crunch beneath his feet and tasted the earthy tones of autumnal air. Fight night, he grimaced, 'Bout time.

The crowd turned to him as he approached. Home scanned their faces. Tonights crowd was composed of nurses and orderlies he recognized, there was even the weird giant of a janitor present. Standing in the corner the man looked more akin to Mary Shelley's monster than the man who cleaned the bathrooms. Doctor Stephan from obstetrics had decided to show up as well, his face still black and blue from last weeks fight. Home reveled in his handiwork. From the edge of the roof an announcer with a megaphone introduced him, "Ladies and gentlemen, it is my pleasure to introduce the Prescriber of Pain, the Defender of Dialysis, your Crazy Colonoscoper, Doctor Charles Home!"

Whoops and hollers filled the night as Doctor Home waved at his fans. His white coat billowed behind him. He decided to add a little flourish to his entrance by raising up his titanium stethoscope and pumping up the crowd. Home approached the arena in a swagger. Crudely made, the arena was a circle defined by glow in the dark paint and intersected by a single line that cut through its diameter. Doctor Home took up residence at the far side of the circle, nearest the edge of the roof. He waited patiently for his opponent to appear.

"Home! Home! Doctor Home!" The crowd chanted. He'd have home field advantage tonight and Doctor Home always loved a good match on friendly turf.

From the far side of the arena a male nurse appeared and signaled to the announcer. Silence fell upon the crowd as the door opened. Through the dark threshold stepped Home's opponent. The crowd gasped. From his perch the announcer introduced, "That's right ladies and gents. We got a surprise fight tonight! Standing against my homeboy Doc Home is none other than the Fearsome Physicist, the Newtanic Necromancer, Doctor Haytham Ford!" The announcer paused for effect, then; "That's right folks tonight we're giving you a double dosing of the doctorates!"

The crowd was ecstatic. Almost instantly Home saw bets exchanged in the audience. Lines were being drawn and odds calculated. The finance dweebs calculated fiercely on their TI-89's. He scowled. Home had known his fight would be against a fellow Doctor, he however did not realize that meant this doctor. It was an inside curveball, a nasty trick. He made a mental note to berate the dean of medicine about it tomorrow morning.

Doctor Haytham Ford, graduate of MIT with degrees in physics and aeronautical engineering, was a force of nature. With a win-loss record that match Home's own; 32-nill. Ford stood at the top of the underground NASA bracket. This would be a cross-league match then, very well.

Ford approached the ring and dropped his heavy peacoat. Beneath he wore an argyle sweater vest over white button down, complete with corduroy pants. A classy, yet nimble outfit, Home had to respect the decorum. He was equally ready to teach a 400 level class as he was to throw down. Likewise Home dropped his white coat. Beneath he wore his iconic mismatched pair of blood stained scrubs, still unwashed from his first fight. His raiment of terror, Home smiled as Ford look at him appalled. This would be an easy victory, Home thought to himself with a fearsome grin.

The announcer began to initiate the fight. He spoke, "Place your final bets now. Place your final bets! This is a league match and as such will follow league rules; no genital mutilation, no trash talking of alma maters, no using of the belt, or Oxford shoe, or prescription glasses, and finally absolutely no tearing of degrees. Are we clear?"

"Yes!" The two doctors replied in unison.

"Then let this rumble on the rooftop begin!" He sounded the blow horn on his megaphone and the two doctors sprang into action.

The fight started slow at first, with the two circling on another measuring each other up.

"You look well Charles." Doctor Ford said sardonically. "How long has it been?"

"Four years I believe, since Sawgrass." Home replied casually, yet carefully watching for his moment to strike.

"You played a good game that day, though if I recall you never quite mastered that slice of yours." Haytham teased. A childish tactic, he meant to goad Home into an attack, but the MD of Orthopedics was smarter than that.

"Helped me out on the 18th hole if I remember correctly. Beat your ass." Home replied easily.

"By one stroke, I'd hardly call it a victory." Ford replied.

The two launched at each other simultaneously. Locking together Home tried to swing his leg beneath Ford's, but the master of physics batted him away with a knee. In an instant Ford was behind Home and with the momentum of two bodies they tumbled to the ground.

"Newton's first law old chap." Ford grunted.

"You think you're so clever." Home hacked through an armbar. "But you never learned Newton's fifth!"

"Newton's fifth?" Ford said confused. Then Home swung him over in a perfectly executed Japanese wizard motion. Ford landed hard on his back.

"An object in motion tends to go fuck yourself." Home said separating himself from Ford. The crowd cheered wildly. Home paced around his foe as Ford hobbled back to his feet.

The two squared off again and began to pace in a circle. Home smiled with Colgate-Dazzling white teeth. "I know you Haytham. Do you forget I was there when you dislocated your hip. I know about your broken pinky, how it causes you chronic pain, and oh I know about that prostate. I know all about that shit, motherfucker."

"You think you've got me beat?" Ford snapped back, "Bitch I'm about to take your ass to the moon."

The two collided, roaring. Punches were thrown, kicks exchanged, beautifully executed wrestling moves traded. The scrap went on for a good ten minutes before Ford started to weaken. Home still going strong, forced his way through Haytham's defenses and caught him in a stiff chokehold. Behind them the edge of the roof mere inches away. The crowd gasped in anticipation.

"This is it, Ford." Home grunted. "Yield now and I won't humiliate you in front of all these people. Think a fall from this height'll kill you?"

"N-never." Ford hacked.

Gravel shifted underfoot and in a blink, Home felt his weight shift off the balls of his feet. Air whooshed past his face as he was swung around. Home felt his body accelerate rapidly as he spun around the planted Ford. Next thing he knew he was facing upward, staring at the crescent moon. He half expected the gravel rooftop to come up and meet him, but it never did. Instead rows of windows passed through his peripheral faster and faster and Home realized all too late that he'd been thrown clean from the rooftop.

Back on the roof the crowd watched aghast. Doctor Haytham Ford stepped up onto the precipice and looked down at the bloody scene below. He spit a wad of blood in its general direction and said,

"It's not the fall that kills you, it's the sudden change in momentum."

From behind the janitor approached. The freakishly tall man gazed over the edge at the mess that was Doctor Home and winced. "Yeesh," He said as a cold chill passed over him.

Haytham turned to the janitor and looked him up and down. The man's gray jumpsuit looked quite lackluster compared to his own ruffled attire. "Best get to cleaning that then." Haytham said, nodding his head down.

The janitor shrugged, "Eh, guess its still not as bad as that jerk that lodged a penny in one of my doors."

Duel of the Doctors was written by Chase Schneider. Chase has been writing short stories for the last decade and a half. When he was 11 he was published in The Anthology of Short Stories for Young Americans. A poem he wrote once was featured on The Flying Island Literary Journal website, which he thought was pretty neat as well. He archives most of his short stories on his Reddit sub at https://www.reddit.com/r/ScribeSchneid/.

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He thinks about her, about the raw taste of her love, how she comes with the possibility of regret, and he drowns his omelette in hot sauce.
Ma’am, thought I’d correspond as a sorta counselor to inform his person of record/ ?mother how Jackson’s done + what’s up 1 month since camp began.
In short, basically very ok given the circumstances.  Looks younger, grins more with less face tics than on arrival.
Working out’s a positive. Despite notoriously starchy grub, slimmed down since he quit scarfing canteen Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.
The negative’s no one deposits commissary credits or comes to see & buy him crap only available from the outside vending machines.
Well-regarded by a few though disliked by other cabin mates, your ?son bragged how unrehabilitated recidivists he hangs with’ve taken to calling him Action Jackson.
Last Visitors’ Day which I’m sorry you missed, a handsome con with his wife maybe sister avoided Jack at first but then winked while serenading, “Hola mi Señor Jacksoff!
Which I think kinda documented my point about making friends even if there were some questions about what those personal relationships say about how he gets his rocks off.
Your ?boy borrows fancypants Camus from our Enrichment Program. To quote his ex-Stanford smartass, “Like life, an absurd % of Nobel Prize lit doesn’t fit in easy categories.”
Jack’s also watching the 17 episode allegorical BBC series, The Prisoner, in the library; he’s preparing a lecture to mark its 50th anniversary next year.
I hope you can gather from this assessment -- which is required by federal regulation after the first 30 days -- that we are not unhopeful for Jackson.
However, one area he unconditionally must work on diligently if he wants to be paroled in 15 months is genuine remorse for heinous dorm assaults back on Stanford’s campus.
Given above, please don’t hesitate to jot a line if I can ease any concerns you may have about inmate #32761. Cordially, Clamence, badge #86391, cell block 12 guard, Lompoc.

The Myth of Sisyphus was written by Gerard Sarnat, who is the author of Homeless Chronicles: from Abraham to Burning Man and Melting The Ice King. Gerry’s worked in jails, built and staffed clinics for the marginalized and been a CEO of a healthcare organization and Stanford Medical School professor. Check out his website here.

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A sigh escaped her lips as she stared, eyes glazed, into the cafe dining room. She had a college degree. She was smart. She was in massive debt. Strangely, she sometimes enjoyed serving customers, felt pride in knowing she could work for hours on her feet with a smile plastered on her face. Mentally, it was exhausting. But physically, she loved feeling drained at the end of a shift. It made it easier for her to go to sleep at night.

She was mentally restless. She had nothing to stimulate her, and friendships were few and far between. This was not to say that she was without friends; she had one or two that she loved dearly. She was simply tired of constantly starting over, answering the same questions, explaining the same things about herself, her past, her family. It was nobody’s fucking business, she thought. She’d been through it, lived it. Anyone curious about her life at this point was just a nosey asshole, she told herself. After all, she often found herself curious about a coworker’s life or circumstances, and then would realize that she was only curious because she was being nosey. Wanted to feel like she wasn’t the only one with her life in pieces. Wanted to have someone else to talk about, because there was nothing in her life worth mentioning.

She felt so small and mean here. Customers were chatting and smiling to each other, some she figured were on a date. Others might be like her, alone and trying to look not so alone, so as to remain unbothered by strangers and well-meaning types who themselves only wanted to go to bed at night feeling like a good person for making the lonely looking girl smile.

Her mind raced daily, and she was tired of doing customer service. Sometimes, she would get lost in the giving of herself and feel like she had a purpose. But most of the time, she would drown in thoughts, daily, continuously. It was a bath of self-loathing; a general disgust for those around her and a deeply rooted disgust in herself.

 

At twenty-three, the thing she looked forward to was dying. She could finally stop acting, and just rest. Keeping up appearances was hard, and she felt like she owed it to the entire world to never look upset. She could not and would not be a burden.

She always thought to herself, ever since she was little, that she would die young. She didn’t know why; she didn’t know how. She just thought she would.

The girl cleaned up her small apartment, erased all her appointments from her calendar, and wrote “EVERYTHING OF MINE GOES TO MY MOTHER” in big, black marker on it. She’d envisioned dying, and the police walking in to find her body, and that note. She thought leaving it all to her mother would be best. She didn’t talk to the rest of her family, so who would've cared?

She felt a huge relief, but also felt restless, because she was scared. She didn’t know how she’d do it, and any easily available method to her was likely to be painful. She was afraid of pain, and deep down she knew she didn’t really want to die.

Then her ex-fiance contacted her. He still wanted to be with her. She knew he was lying, saying those things because he didn’t want her to hate him. He wanted her to be friends with him, because he didn’t want to feel bad about hurting her. By her acceptance of him as her friend, he rationalized that he must still be a good person.

He had already proven he didn’t care. She’d told him about her feelings, about the miscarriage, and he still found someone else to replace her almost immediately. She’d played the dedicated and dutiful girlfriend and fiance, and supported him financially while he struggled. What a fucking loser, she thought. I can’t believe I let him fuck me.

Then, she realized she never loved him. She just loved having a purpose.

She texted him back. Said she was giving up. To never contact her again, because he wouldn’t be able to anyway. She would force him to accept what he’d done. He frantically started calling her and texting her, pleading with her to not do anything crazy.

She looked around her apartment, turned off her phone, and decided that she might try to go to the church on campus and see a priest. She knew how she felt, but the Catholic in her was strong still. She hadn’t practiced her faith in years, but she knew she’d be damned to hell if she killed herself. She drove to campus crying, and could barely get out of her car. Shame overwhelmed her, but she couldn’t seek a priest in desperation. God either loved her or not, but right now she needed help.

She walked straight to the campus counseling center, and asked to speak to someone. The counselor called her mother, and then let the girl know that her best friend was outside waiting for her. Her friend had been contacted by her ex-fiancé, and cried uncontrollably when she saw the girl in the counselor’s office. The girl felt horrible; she really hadn’t planned for any of this. Her friend took her to the emergency room, and stayed with her while the doctors and nurses examined her body for any evidence of self-harm.

She stayed with her while the nurse questioned why the girl had no interests. The repeated “why don’t’ you think you’re good at anything? You must be good at something”. While the girl stared blankly at this woman and did her best not to bite back with “well, if I thought I was good at something, I wouldn’t be here now, would I?” Instead, the girl had again lied that yes, she thought she was good at writing, just to shut that nurse up and get on with it. Satisfied, the nurse had clicked her pin and smiled approvingly. “See,” she’d said fondly to the girl. “You just have to try harder to believe in yourself dear. You’ll be okay.” And with a quick pat on the girl’s shoulder, she walked out, clipboard in hand.

The treatment center was no help, and she left quickly. Her mother came to stay with her, and shortly after, the girl stopped talking to her mother entirely.

 

With another sigh, she picked up a rag and meandered over to the table with dying flowers. She pretended not to hear the happy looking couple nearby talking about their weekend plans. Tried not to roll her eyes when the table of graduate students talked about how their fourth language wasn’t nearly as hard to learn as their second, or even third.

Self-loathing washed over her again as she shut her eyes and silently, methodically, picked up each flower petal that had fallen to the table. In her palm, they looked small. Slightly curved, tinged pink, and smooth. She let them rest in her palm, then slowly made a fist, watching as the petals became crushed, twisted, mangled pieces of nature in her hand. She went to the trashcan, slowly letting the petals tumble down into the bin. Another day, another shift, she thought.

She sighed once more as she turned back toward the counter.  

A Mid-Twenties Existence was written by K. Denton, who was born and raised in a very small town in the Midwest. After completing a bachelor’s in English, she moved to the South and learned all about culture shock. A struggling-to-be-optimistic twenty-something, K. can be found working in her cubicle by day, teaching English as a Second Language by night, and hanging out with her two cats in between.

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He grows tired of making money. It’s never enough, he tells his wife. That’s my line, she says. And he realizes he’s let her down once again.
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The five micro stories in this issue are written by Arjun Basu, who has around 10,000 of them on his Twitter 

 

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