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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 long it usually takes for you to convince yourself to take a shower on an unstructured day.

We stare at each other. Naked. Almost in love. She says, What one thing about me do you want to know? She waits. Can you bake cookies? I ask.

"One wish," the genie said , and just like that- every regret, every mistake I'd ever wished I could take back, bobbed up in my mind and tangled together like a river choked with weeds. Everything I could think of seemed insufficient. As if no one wish would be enough.

"I wish," I said, the golden lamp heavy in my hands. "I wish... "

"I wish I could go back in time and change the biggest mistake of my life," I said, the words spilling out of me.

I closed my eyes. "My biggest mistake. Whichever one it was."

"As you wish, O Mistress," the genie said, and there was a rush of air, my ears popping, as I tensed and felt the world reverse around me.

I let out a breath, and opened my eyes.

"Wait," I said, and blinked. I was standing in the exact same spot, the lamp still in my hands, the genie floating in front of me. For a moment I wondered if anything had happened, if I had just slipped into some fugue state for a second.

Then the genie nodded to me. "Your wish, O Mistress?" he said.

"Wait, fuck," I said. "You're screwing with me. You - Did you just take me back in time to before I made my wish to go back in time?"

The genie made a little shrug. "As you say, O Mistress. I am but a humble genie. If my future self sent you here, I am yet to know of it."

"Oh fuck this!" I said, "You know what this is like? This is like that guy who gets to ask one question to the smartest guy in the world. So he asks, 'What is the best question I could ask you, and what is the answer to it?' And then the smartass says, 'That was the best question you could have asked, and this was the answer to it.' That asshole!"

I flung the lamp down anyway with a resounding clang, and it bounced off the ground, dented. The genie flinched, and looked at it sadly.

"That was my home, O Mistress. I shall still have to live in it."

"I don't care!" I yelled back. "I wanted -" There was something crazy bubbling up in my chest. "I thought I was going to be able change my biggest mistake! I - I thought I had a chance, you piece of shit!"

I swung at the genie and there was a burst of sparks, and the sensation of all the little hairs on my arm being singed off.

"Fuck! Fuck!" It felt like an open wound dipped in alcohol. "It's all this recursive, pseudo-philosophical bullshit! And the real answer is: fuck you, you're a fucking idiot for trying! You're an idiot for trying to be better than yourself! You're an idiot for actually trying to do some good for once!"

My eyes were stinging. "Here's your answer: I'll spit in your face and pretend I'm being wise!"

"Ah," the genie said, and reached for my arm. I kept it cramped up, holding it tight, but finally relinquished it to him. His massive hands were warm, like heating pads, and somehow drove the stinging down. "I believe I understand, O Mistress." He looked at me hesitantly.

"What?" I said. "So what? So spit it out already."

"That was no rebuke, O Mistress," he said. "That was simply the truth of your wish."

He released my arm and spread out his hands and grew like a bonfire, like a forest fire. Like what Moses must've seen at the burning bush. He'd been holding my hand. I collapsed, expecting to be swallowed whole.

"I have been gifted the boundless capacity of the universe," he said, his voice echoing like a bell. "And pressed into service of mortal souls. I am limitless potential. I am a heart's desire. I am the burning wish of humanity made manifest." His burning eyes met mine. "And now I am made yours."

He cooled, still bright as an ember, and once more took my hand, helping me up. "No matter what you have done previously, no matter your greatest regret, it pales in comparison to what you have yet to achieve. If you were to waste your one wish on mere regret, that would indeed be your greatest mistake." He released my hand and floated backwards, arms folding into position. "That mistake has yet to be made. Your wish remains intact."

I swallowed hard, and so as not to look at him turned my eyes to the discarded lamp. I picked it up, turning it over, seeing the ugly dent I had made. "I - I'm sorry about your lamp."

"A moment's error," he said, "and now it has passed, and still you remain." He laid his hands over mine and pressed his fingers into the soft gold, smoothing it out.

"You see? Nothing that cannot be fixed." He met my eyes and smiled. "Now, are you prepared to make your wish?"

I held his lamp, rubbing my thumb over the newly-smoothed surface, seeing my own reflection looking back at me.

"No," I said. "I'm not ready. Not quite yet."

One Wish was written by Sadoeuphemist. Check out their reddit account for more awesome r/writingprompts stories. Over 17k comment karma ain't nothing to sneeze at.

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Skyler, who has a city in Alaska tattooed on his palms, plays a procedurally-generated video game where he spends most of his time building houses for tiny clergy.

They call him "Nome hands" Sky, No Man's Sky gnome mance guy.

Skyler was written by Nofrillsoculus.

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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.
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 words convey emotion, an inner life made public with each utterance, every sound we make. So when she finally says, 'Wow', I feel complete.

One night in a bar, Lucy saw a girl with a shaved head and expensive black platform heels and asked why. She gave her the number of Mr. Keefer, a day-time tax attorney. The shows weren’t illegal but not everybody did it, so they might as well have been.

Two hours later at lunch with Greta on the patio of the Belle Garden, over frittata and fruit salad, she decided to bring it up.

“ I’ve never done enough for sick people.”

Greta bit into her frittata. “What’s that mean?”

“Well, my grandmother died sick.”

“So does everybody else’s grandmother.”

“Yeah, but there’s sick because you can’t handle shit and sick you’re dying. She had no hair there at the end.”

Greta gesticulated to all the people, older couples drinking water out of Mason Jars. “Your manners could use work.”

“I’m donating my hair.” She pointed to her hair: black, straight, a bit over her shoulders.

Greta blinked a few times. “What?”

“I’m shaving my head bald. For cancer patients.”

“To one of those charities?”

“Yeah.”

“My uncle worked for one. They sell all the hair that isn’t “pretty”. What if they think you have ugly hair? Which you don’t.”

Greta fished through her purse, pulled out a cigarette case with a black cartoon cat on a sky-blue background, and offered a handrolled cigarette to Lucy.

“Do you think you’ll be able to be fine being bald for so long, love?” She affected her stage brit voice.

“It grows back. Always has, always will. Besides,” Lucy reached across the table and grabbed a strawberry Greta didn’t eat and put it in her mouth. “I might look good.”

“You say that now.”

Lucy never understood uptown’s logic. Both uptown and downtown had hair shows. Only downtown told you you weren’t a weirdo for trying to set one up.

When she got into the cab, the cabby asked, “Where you going?”

She rattled off the address. She wondered if cabby’s hands ever sweat during the day, gripping the wheel for so long.

Uptown was full; families eating dinner and dates feeding each other popcorn from striped red cardboard buckets.  The place was a brownstone between a Chinese buffet and an eyeglasses place. When the car stopped and she prepared to get out, the cabby looked over.

“Sorry I don’t ask where you were going or any of the other cabby stuff.”

“Oh! It’s okay.”

“I dropped people off here the other night. They said they were coming here for a show.”

Lucy swallowed. “That’s different. I’m just meeting someone upstairs,” then remembered what she was wearing.

“It’s fine.” He told her the fare and then said, “You look nice tonight, by the way.”

“Thank you.”

“Be careful, you hear?”

She stepped into the night, into the street, thought about how at the end of a fairy tale, how the cabby would propose, and then walked into the brownstone.

Awful green stringy carpet with bare spots covered the floor and the walls were peach. Keefer, smiling and his mustache thin, wore a lavender dress shirt open at the chest waved to her. He stubbed out his cigarette.

“Let’s get you upstairs.” They began walking up the stairs. “This place used to be a flop-house.” He said, proud.

“What’s changed?”

“Feisty. I like that.”

He took her in one of the two rooms, spare, with only a full sized bed covered by fitted sheet and a bedside table with a lamp. There was only a window into a room and she could see a couch. At least there was a bathroom. “You got 15 minutes set up before we turn on the lights. Clippers are in the bathroom.” He shut the door.

She went into the bathroom and wet her face, grabbed the clippers and walked to the bed and laid down. She wondered if there was a dead body under the box spring. The whole thing hit her, like the ceiling was caving in on her, her dead in her silver dress like Snow White, except surrounded by sheetrock and wood.

She looked up a second and saw in the other room the door swing open and two men in suits walk into the other room with Keefer, and she laid back down. The light came on.

One man, with a reedy voice, like he was forced to explain why he was there, thanked Keefer. All Lucy thought was he looked like a crane posing as a person, with spectacles on the end of a beaked nose. Another man stood behind them, a fat man with a baritone voice.

The baritone said: “Well, happy birthday, Harry.”

She heard Mr. Keefer. “You sick bastard.”

Harry, with the reedy voice, said, “Thanks, Keef.”

“Yeah, fine. How’d this even become a thing for you, anyway?”

“Saw it in a movie when I was a kid. I walked in the living room, some girl’s head being forced to be shaved, and it stuck with me. Of course, by this point, I’ve experienced pretty much everything.”

“Is that how this got started?” The baritone asked.

“The shit you see as a kid develops your tastes later. Somebody had to have seen it.”

“I guess that’s why I have to see someone strangled to get hard.”  Keefer said. Everyone but Lucy laughed.

“So, Keef. You know the girl? What’s she using the money for?”

“If she’s smart, D-Cups and a nose job.” Lucy wanted to throw a lamp through the glass. From where she was laying things looked alright; now she hated her body just a little.

She rolled off the bed and covered herself in the fitted sheet, now laying in the floor in a lump.

She heard muffled protests on the other side of the glass. Someone got up.

“Harry,” said Mr. Keefer, “Sometimes they get shy.”

"Fuck this, man." Harry knocked on the door. “If I wanna see someone in a hajib, I’ll go to fucking Pakistan.”

Lucy stood up and let the fitted sheet fall from her body. She stood there for a second and wondered what to do. She puckered her lips and kissed the window. Keefer looked confused, and Harry was beginning to calm down. The man with the baritone voice had a repulsed look on his face.

Harry leaned back in his seat. Lucy walked back to the bed and shot a look over her shoulder to see the baritone man getting up.

“Where the fuck are you heading, Clarence?”

“I need to get home to the wife.” His voice broke.

“It’s your money.”

“Fuck this, man. This is sick.”

“Bag your ass. This ain’t your birthday party. It’s mine.”

She turned on the clippers and heard them buzz over the chaos on the other side of the glass.

“Guys,” Mr Keefer said.

Clarence was still standing. “Fuck both of you. I’m going home.”

Before he could leave, she took the clippers to the left side of her head, each clump fell to the fitted sheet around her. Her eyes darted between the three men. Clarence hurting, Keefer bored, and Harry enthralled. She buzzed each strand. It was over quick.

A young boy came back inside and took the fitted sheet full of hair. Keefer watched.

“You gave them a good show. The little touches you added, Harry loved them.”

She watched the young boy dragging away the fitted sheet with all the hair in it. She stood in her dress and went inside to see her face in the bathroom mirror. She didn’t mind how she looked.

Keefer stood. “Well, in case you never seen $1500 dollars in cash.”

He passed her an envelope. She always thought more money weighed more. This could have only been a pound at best.

“Is it all there?”

“You want me to count it?”

She sat on the bed and stacked the 30 sheets of paper. “It’s all here.”

She put them in the paper bag. Keefer nodded. “In a couple months, you want work again, your hair gets long, let me know.”

“Sure,” she said.

She walked down the stairs and into the street, where she saw Clarence crying with Harry and Harry patting his back half-assed.

When she sat down, she hoped that small silence she kept about her most of her life would keep her invisible to these three men. A cab came up, one she had arranged for this time before she came, from a different company.

She started to walk in and stood one last to look at the two men.

“Did you like it?” She asked.

“Fuck you, skinhead.” Clarence shouted.

Harry bust out laughing. She got inside the taxi, with the light paper bag. The cabby looked at her.

“Nice cut you got.”

“Just get me out of here.” Lucy said. The brown stone receded but what Clarence said sat next to her the whole way home, more a passenger than the money.

The Hair Show was written by Christopher Sloce. He is a delivery driver who lives in Richmond, Virginia. He has previously been published in Jimson Weed, Silver Birch Press, Quail Bell, and Poictesme.

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That girl’s cute, he thinks. He walks toward her and trips on the curb and wants to die right there. She notices him. He’s cute, she thinks.

They told me yes,

M'han dit que sí,

Yes, yes, that I shall come in and wait

que sí, que sí, que passi

In that office next door,

a aquesta altra saleta,

And he’ll be receiving me shortly,

que de seguida em rep,

I should light a cigarette.

que encengui un cigarret.

They told me yes,

M'han dit que sí,

Told me yes, yes,

m'han dit que sí, que sí,

That it’s a matter of an instant,

que és cosa d'un moment,

Just to clarify some issue.

d'aclarir un document.

I was told yes,

M'han dit que sí,

Yes, just to sign off here,

que sí, que firmi aquí,

Put down my name,

que posi clar el meu nom,

And they will answer something.

que ja em diran quelcom.

They told me yes,

M'han dit que sí,

Told me yes, yes,

m'han dit que sí, que sí,

Yes, I can already tell

que sí, que ja ho puc dir

My wife, my neighbor,

a la dona, al veí,

That yes, it’s all over and done with,

que sí, que ja és un fet,

And things are looking bright,

que ja tot és perfet,

That yes, maybe yes,

que sí, que potser sí,

Can’t be this year though,

que aquest any no pot ser,

Yes, next year,

que sí, que l'any que ve,

And I should still keep working hard.

que m'ho treballi bé.

They told me yes, yes,

M'han dit que sí, que sí,

They’ve found me some good connections,

que m'han trobat padrí,

Can’t go wrong this time,

que ja no pot fallar,

That I can just lay back and relax.

que puc dormir-hi pla.

There’s a cat and a collie,

Vet aquí un gat i un gos

That’s the end of the story.

i el conte ja s'ha fos.

There’s a pooch and a cat,

Vet aquí un gos i un gat

And the pitcher has cracked.

i el càntir s'ha esquerdat.

I’ve resigned to my fate,

Vet aquí el meu destí:

For they’ve once again said,

m'ho han tornat a dir,

Said yes, oh yes.

m'han dit que sí, que sí…

They Told Me Yes was written by Joan Vergés i Calduch and translated by Juan Ribó Chalmeta and Irina Urumova. Together, they translate Spanish, Portugese, and Catalan poetry on their official blog.

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Love wants to be found

It’s your turn to find them.

Love is a hide and seek pro

Cry for love

Love won't buy it at first

Love will think you're trying to reveal her hiding spot

But love will come to her senses soon

and then she'll smile and walk away

You want to follow her but you were crying too hard to see the crucial moment and now you try but you can't and you're lost without trying to be lost, without anyone left to try and find you.

Love gets lonely too. Love will miss you.

Love will enjoy the lonely.

She will write books with it, and when she gets tired of that, she will write songs with it.

Others will hear the songs, and she will start writing for them as she starts seeing them.

Eventually, you will listen to her latest release and find that it is no longer written for you, that you no longer know the places she sings, that you’re not in the memories she writes into her songs.

Someday, you will miss love so much more, miss her for the person she became without you and the person she was when she wasn't with you.

But she will no longer miss you, she won't even be lonely.

Love carries many confidences.

She doesn't falter easily, and when she falters, she catches herself with the poise you lost the day you met her.

Sometimes, jokingly, you suggest she took it when she left you, when she took your clothes and your cat, your breakfasts and your laugh.

She always scoffs but rarely looks up from her phone.

You know this love wouldn't want anything of yours anyways.

You take quiet joy in the thought that once, she cared enough to take something.

You just wish this love were more in your memory than a suave nothing in between your greatest joys and deepest sorrows.

You wish you had kept track of the ephemeral her and not just the experience of being with her.

Because, you see, love never waits.

‍It's not that love doesn't wait, but love is impatient.

The best you can do is to hope that you can make love stay.

I have 25 floating paper lanterns. If you want a few, I will let you have them. Don't burn Anchorage down.

Go to Skyline Drive in Eagle River on a clear night. Drive up that road up the mountain. Don't get stuck in a ditch. Look'em in the eyes, then look'em in the stars, light the lantern charcoal, put it in the dish, wait until the hot air builds up in the balloon. Let go. Set Eagle River on fire.

Take the fucker to Mooses Tooth before midnight. Fill up on pizza. Drive around downtown. Begin smoking socially. Talk about your feelings. Cry.

How do you make love stay? Wake love up in the middle of the night. Tell him the world is on fire. Dash to the bedroom window and pee out of it. Casually return to bed and assure love that everything is going to be all right. Fall asleep. Love will be there in the morning. 

Cry.

If he really is still there, man the fuck up. Take him out to Kaladi Bros Coffee. Patronize the baristas for their bad life decisions. Go out to lunch. Yelp that shit. Take him to Beluga Point on Turnagain. Go past the sign that says do not trespass. Yell at the wind and take pictures. Talk about feelings. Cry.

Go on a hike in the wintertime. Wear socks that don't strafe your ankles. Man the fuck up. Cry.

Build a snowman. Cry.

Learn to ski. Check out the Out North Theatre for events. Cuddle by the fucking fireplace. Fuck for fucks sake. Hold his hand when he doesn't want to be seen with you in public. Go to the Dimond Mall. Win a bunch of tickets at the arcade. Buy a bunch of plastic parachute men. Go to the top floor of the mall. Unleash God's wrath on the preschoolers learning how to play hockey. Watch them cry. Feel bad.

Let me guess. Cry?

You're catching on.

Go to Walmart. Bring your booklets of the Communist Manifesto that you printed off with your mom's printer. Make sure they're double sided, use the sparknotes so that people will find it easy to read. Hide them behind the preteen girl magazines in the literature aisle. Shoplift some nail polish while you're at it. Eat at McDonalds. Cry.

Get really high. High enough that his face starts reminding you of certain genuses of the animal kingdom. Have a sober friend drive you two to China Lights. Talk to the waitress to butter her up and get you to a booth seat instead of one in the middle of the restaurant. Go to the buffet tables. Eat foods starting from the bottom of the food pyramid. Watch him laugh as you attempt to eat a plate of just white rice. Eat because you are high and everything will be delicious. Eat until you can feel your insides trying to eat their way out of you. Eat until you are crying and on the floor. It will hurt like a motherfucker.

Go to the drive-thru of the Taco Bell on Old Seward at night. Tell them you want your nachos crushed up in a tortilla. The tortilla should be free. Ask for a drink consisting of half a mango fruitista and half of a tropicana lemonade. It will taste reminiscent of Sunny D. Sunny D tastes like shit. Drive in the middle of the group of douchebags with pimped out trucks. Take your shitty Sunny D and throw it at the alpha Dodge Caravan. Drive away fast. Cry.

Go ice skating. Buy some skates from Play it Again sports. Tell them that you are new to Alaska. Let them make fun of you. Cry. Go to the West Chester Lagoon. Put on your skates. Find out they are too small, help each other put your skates on. That'll be romantic as fuck. Get onto the ice. Fall on your ass. It'll be fun. Cry.

Tell love you want a momento and obtain a lock of his hair. Burn the hair in a dime-store incense burner with yin/yang symbols on three sides. Face southwest. Talk fast over the burning hair in a convincingly exotic language. Remove the ashes of the burnt hair and use them to paint a mustache on your face. Find love. Tell him you are someone new. Love will stay.

He'll make you so happy that you'll cry.

 

Seen by ○ on Wednesday at 3:22am

love wants to be found was written by mari asai. mari acts like they are five, has never forgone a conclusion, is so over threesomes, has two cats, and cared, once.

Date Night Ideas in Anchorage, Alaska was written by Jaron Saturnino. This poem uses an excerpt from Still Life with Woodpecker by Tom Robbins, which he definitely recommends.

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He brushes his teeth, regretting last night. He remembers thinking, I have children, and he brushes harder, until his mouth is full of blood.
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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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