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    Politely Decline by Sandra King

    When you’re a seventeen year old bridesmaid at a wedding reception polka band dance looking a little too sexy in post-ceremony wardrobe-change coverall pants and the groomsman who’s six years older than you shows you the bowie knife he carries hidden in his cowboy boot, then asks you, as he crushes another empty beer can, if you would like to check out the plush carpeting— freshly installed—in his van, politely decline; say something like, “Perhaps another time.”   Sandra King is an avid fan of the plethora of arts events/activities offered in Tacoma. She has been published in local projects such as Wrist Magazine, the Tacoma Laureate Listening Project, and…

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    The Butte by Jesse Keeter

         “You’re a hack! Bring the other guy back out so I can at least get some reading done! You suck! Boo! Boo!”       For the second night in a row that Unicorn was up on the Butte hollering at the moon. Reed lived in the shadow of the Butte on the edge of town. Across his property line the Old Forest ran wild. The Unicorn’s heckling echoed through the fields of barley and in through Reed’s Venetian shutters. If he didn’t do something, and do it soon, that doggone Unicorn would keep him up all night, again.       “Gosh darndit!” Reed rasped, “How am I supposed to get any friggin’ sleep around here with that pointy headed horse flappin’ his dumb lips…

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    The Eagle Tree (Chapter Excerpt) by Ned Hayes

    I wait in my bed until it is very dark and I can hear that no one else in my neighborhood is awake. Then I stand up again. I put on my favorite gray sweatshirt and my raincoat. I put what I will need in my pockets, and I make sure to include a flashlight. It is still rainy and windy. Also, it is dark, and I cannot see in the dark like the northern flying squirrel—Glaucomys sabrinus—who lives in the trees of the Pacific Northwest and is strictly nocturnal. I would love to be able to glide between trees and see in the dark. But I cannot. So I…

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    Do You Have Cancer or Something? by Paige Seligman

    “Yeah or something” I lied not wanting to go into the long winded explanation of my disorder in which, based on past experiences, the conversation would either end in awkward silence or confusion and then awkward silence. It was easier to say what they wanted to hear, to give an explanation that they wanted, that they knew; it was better to lie. I plastered on a smile and finished up her transaction, unable to do much of anything else. I handed over her receipt. “Thank you, have a good day” I said mechanically. “You too, oh and good luck with… that” she said hurriedly grabbing her groceries. I choked back…

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    Elected (Chapter Excerpt) by Rori Shay

    One blonde curl is wrapped lusciously around my pointer finger. I gaze down at it and then force my eyes upward to drink in the image of my face. Long, blonde hair trails past my shoulders and onto my back. In the cracked mirror, my eyes squint, trying to capture this one fleeting picture of myself as a girl. This is what I could look like if I weren’t forced to masquerade as a boy. I am staring so intently into the mirror I don’t even hear my mother—my Ama—come into the room behind me. “Take that off immediately!” Her voice is tight and stiff, like rubber being stretched too…