From "Books Without Pictures," fiction by Lisa Youngblood:
"Sometimes the sidewalk moves. No one else notices. They just tromp across it to get to wherever it is they’re going. Not me. I stare it down until I understand how it moves. On this particular day, it crescendos in tiny waves, inhaling little breaths and exhaling a thousand times over to where it has the look of a tremble. It is beautiful, really, in the way of an ocean––or a volcano.
A man in polished wingtip shoes approaches. His pant legs are too long and drag across the concrete like heavy oars. True to form, the sidewalk ignores him and goes on with its quiet breathing. I take a seat and run the pads of my fingers over the dimpled surface. The man stops. He stands directly in front of me, looking down as if I am a bug.
“You are blocking the sidewalk,” he says. “Am I supposed to jump over you?”
From "Trying To Leave Colombia," nonfiction by Charles Hinriksson:
"She asked where I was from and what I was doing in Colombia, and while I was telling her my story, the driver splashed back on the bus, the corners of his mustache dripping, and said that landslides had destroyed the road ahead and behind, and we’d have to wait out the rain and see how things looked in the morning. The people on the bus let out a collective groan, and I did too—every minute left in Colombia was precious—but the despair went out of my groan right away because my beautiful neighbor—her name was Ana Maria—offered to share her blankets with me. For a while I forgot about making the most of Colombia before leaving, or even leaving at all."
From "Blood Runs Deep," fiction by Fumiki Takahashi, translated by Toshiya Kamei:
"In his twenty-eight years, Alberchio has had interacted with approximately 20,000 people online, and he has come into physical contact with some 300 people. His networking abilities are expected to receive grade C. This is mediocre, but his grade should be bumped up to a B when his regional dispersion characteristics described below are taken into account. His avatar dispersion rate remains low, and his online behavior hardly diverges from his behavior in reality. Although he has experienced 'flaming' three times, all of them have been mentions on celebrities, and they are nothing political or antisocial."
From "Your American Dream," nonfiction by Amy Amoroso:
"In Maine, you look for a real job. Because being a novelist isn’t a real job. In the suburban Buffalo household in which you grew up, people didn’t become writers or artists. They worked. They worked as teachers or business owners or lawyers or doctors. They didn’t sit around all day and write stories. The MFA in Virginia was a momentary lapse from reality. It was full of books and people who understood you. It was late nights at the bar and at your computer creating lives out of thin air. It was freedom. But it is over. So you apply for a job as a staff writer at an internet marketing company that sells vitamins and supplements to menopausal women."