Kasbeer holding Blackie, and Black holding Kasbeer
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I found my soft, shiny stuffed dog on a tree of puppets at a souvenir shop in Big Sur. He was the color of asphalt with glossy plastic eyes that disappeared under his dark fur and floppy ears, making him look more like a bunny than a black Lab. His rear-end was plump and his tail thick. Through an opening in his chest, you could slip your hand inside. The feeling was intimate, like reaching into a shirt when one of the buttons has been undone.

The first time I did this, he came alive, opening his mouth to show off his pink tongue. I asked if he wanted to come home with me, and he nodded, his tail wagging from the flicker of my fingers. When I scratched behind his ears, he lifted his head as if he were relishing in the feeling. More… “Everyone Gets a Dog”

Sarah Kasbeer’s writing appears or is forthcoming in Elle
, The Hairpin, Jezebel, The Normal School, The Rumpus, Salon, Vice
, and elsewhere. Her essay, “Is it Cancer” received notable mention from the Best American Essays 2015.

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If you need to be mean
be mean to me
I can take it and put it inside of me
-Mitski, “I Don’t Smoke

I have a picture of us from when we were ten years old — Rose, Audrey, Sam, and me. We’re standing on the gravel shoulder of the highway that cuts across our hometown like a life line across a palm. Our arms are wrapped around each other, affectionate and possessive with the weight of preteen desires. Have you noticed the way young girls cling to each other in photographs? Maybe we knew then the terrible possibilities of separation. If we hadn’t held on to each other so tightly through childhood, how would things have ended?

That was all before we grew apart. That was before I hopped on a plane, before Rose came to meet me, before we ended up in the mountains of Italy, alone in a 300-year-old farmhouse. That was when we still lived in our small universe of Halfmoon Bay, in homes secluded from the highway by long gravel driveways and undisturbed forest. What would have happened if the ghost had shown up then, when we were still so connected, instead of a decade later, across the world when there were just two of us in the middle of the night? More… “Gone Ghost”

Gena Ellett’s writing has appeared in literary magazines across North America, including Slice, The Malahat Review, EVENT, and Gulf Coast. She lives and writes in Vancouver, BC. @HeyGenaJay

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As every woman knows, men with mother issues are seriously dangerous. In the early- to mid-20th century, there was a group of such men that decided it could revolutionize the way mothers raise their children. First of all, stop kissing them — lord knows what germs you’re passing on. And really, just put them in this box that B.F. Skinner calls a “baby tender,” throw some toys in there, and they’ll be fine. Don’t pick them up when they cry, and don’t play with them — they have to toughen up some day. While the baby tender failed to catch on outside Skinner’s own family, parenting guides and doctors were telling new mothers that too much affection would weaken their children both physically and emotionally.

Luckily for the world, their reign was short. Harry Harlow arrived on the… More…

When Nana Takahashi arrived as our school’s new manager she had one good thing going for her: Things could not get any worse. An ongoing lack of English students meant we hadn’t come close to meeting our monthly business goals in nearly a year. Wooing new students was difficult with scuffed floors, flimsy desks and bare patches of wall where cheap wallpaper paste had lost the battle against Japanese humidity. Many of the students we did have had been scared away by my perpetually unshaven and hung-over British predecessor, who was finally fired for playing Fatboy Slim to a class of 6-year-olds.

I wasn’t doing much to help the situation. I’d fallen in love with Japan during a summer internship in Tokyo and a semester in Kyoto, and had decided to go back to teach English after graduation. The large chain of schools that hired me said I’d be going… More…

The second worst travel experience I ever had was on a misbegotten trip to a marvelous place that I had returned to for all the wrong reasons. The trip was a few years ago; the place was Bhutan; the reason was love, or what I mistakenly identified as love, which is probably, statistically speaking, the greatest and also the stupidest reason to ever go anywhere. It was not my first time in Bhutan. I had gone there about six months earlier for a story about couples who were attending Bhutanese fertility festivals in hopes of heading home with the ultimate family souvenir. The timing happened to be quite awkward for me – I was writing about happy families fulfilling their dream of having children, but the trip itself, coincidentally, marked the beginning of the end of my marriage. My then-husband had planned to come to Bhutan with me, and we… More…