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What was saving, anyway? From what? For what?

THE TRANSFIGURATION BY ELLEN MCGRATH SMITH 34THPARALLEL MAGAZINE ISSUE 88

The television was the only light in the room, screening an infomercial about the longevity of people in Okinawa and a doctor’s willingness to share their secret for just $30 a month in six-month installments.

My visa expired at midnight.

UKRAINIAN FUDGE BY JAMES ROBERTOVICH MARTIN 34THPARALLEL MAGAZINE ISSUE 88

I had to leave Ukraine before midnight or I would be illegal. In Poland I could apply for a new visa to stay for another year in Ukraine.

I think it sucks.

DEATH DOESN’T SUCK BY LEE GROSSMAN 34THPARALLEL MAGAZINE ISSUE 88

Well, I was a loving daughter while my sisters plotted and connived, so the old man gave everything to them and I got bubkes. I tried so hard to be good. I missed out on everything! I never had a smoke or shoplifted a ribbon or got felt up by a boy. Daddy’s little angel. And I took grief from those bitch sisters all the time. What a sap I was! If I could go back—


Sounded like dirty work to me.

CRAIG’S FOLLY BY GUNTHER BOCCIUS 34THPARALLEL MAGAZINE ISSUE 88

Tell me what you want and why. I’ll tell you whether I can and will help you. I shot the rubber band. It hit the window and landed on the sill on a pile of rubber bands.

I am the drunk driver who killed them.

RUBICON BY MARK CONNELLY 34THPARALLEL MAGAZINE ISSUE 88

One day they flew to Milwaukee to see a concert. They rented a car and headed to the Hyatt where they had booked a room. But they never made it.

What were the odds of me being seated next to Maris?

MS WILLOWY BY CLAYTON VAN HOOK 34THPARALLEL MAGAZINE ISSUE 88

Somewhere in her journey she had confronted and mastered the art of coping with despair and reduced circumstances, once quoting her favorite passage from Solzhenitsyn, “Live in the needs of the day, that is, find forgetfulness.”


34THPARALLEL MAGAZINE ISSUE 88

THE TRANSFIGURATION BY ELLEN MCGRATH SMITH, UKRAINIAN FUDGE BY JAMES ROBERTOVICH MARTIN, DEATH DOESN’T SUCK BY LEE GROSSMAN, CRAIG’S FOLLY BY GUNTHER BOCCIUS, RUBICON BY MARK CONNELLY, MS WILLOWY BY CLAYTON VAN HOOK

Not only sadness but love and joy.

HEART ON ICE BY UTE CARSON  34THPARALLEL MAGAZINE ISSUE 87

“How many more deaths can we bear?” my grandmother sighed. I thought so too and asked if life was like this, “Always sadness and tears?” My grandmother had no immediate answer but held me tight. After a long pause she said, “No child, what we have between us is not only sadness but love and joy.”

All the girls knew your 

Asian putz was smaller.

HALF-FOOT HEROES BY BEN UMAYAM  34THPARALLEL MAGAZINE ISSUE 87

At the age of 13, a typical pubescent Filipino boy, I was obsessed with my inadequacy in the penis department. I was taught the Asian Myth. Asians have minuscule members. The other guys and all the girls knew your Asian putz was smaller.

Words are all we have.

The glimpses that we have of the intensely private Samuel Beckett from his friends reveal a man, a writer, driven by his commitment to words, not just any words, but words stripped bare, edited, and reduced, as if by doing this he could remove every inconsequential modifier and reveal meaning in its simplest form, the most direct form, without embellishment, without fluff. 

You must not come lightly to the page.

SERVICE CALL BY GABRIELLE ESPOSITO 34THPARALLEL MAGAZINE ISSUE 85

Mr Christopher DiLeo, horror author and teacher extraordinaire, who taught my creative writing class,  required students to read a chapter from Stephen King’s On Writing. It was late, maybe 10 o’clock at night, but I wanted to finish the reading before class the next day. I was sitting up in bed, holding the photocopied paper to the bedside lamp. I read something fantastic. King wrote, “You must not come lightly to the blank page.” 

You wore my hat and laughed as 

we walked home hand in hand.

LOVE AND PHILODENDRON BY PATRICK SEAMAN 34THPARALLEL MAGAZINE ISSUE 83



Do you remember when we would go fishing together? It was a quick walk down to the little creek that ran through your father’s backyard. We would kick off our shoes and ball our socks into our pockets and feel which rocks were the slimiest and search for crayfish with our toes. I remember you wore my hat and laughed as we walked home hand in hand and I told you to keep it and you did.

Let life happen.

Let life happen to you regardless of the pain and so on but with its soaring joy, says Terry McDonell in The Accidental Life.  I find the most marvelous things in the everyday, the ordinary, the common, the simple.

Let life happen. Yeah let it be. And keep a look out for the joy, the glorious stuff. (No harm either in trying to make sense of it all.)