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“Can I help you?” Adrian Ward says, looking up from his desk.

A young and colorfully dressed girl in a pencil skirt, her vintage glasses holding such a glare that Adrian can’t see her eyes, plops bright pink and green note cards on the desk and takes a deep breath.

“Hi, yes,” she says. “I’m looking for The Anatomy of Melancholy by Robert Burton?”

“I don’t know if we have that one,” he says. “What’s its number?”

“ISBN?” The girl’s mouth slants.  

Adrian snorts. “No, sweets. DDC?”

She looks at him as if he’s joking. “What is that?”

Adrian laughs. When the girl doesn’t smile in return, he says, “You’re being serious?”

[…]

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Finding the Words

Henry sits on a bench in Washington Square Park, not too close to the frozen fountain yet not in the corner with the drug dealers. His face and neck sting with the combination of razor burn and the whipping wind’s crack. With tears in his eyes—from the wind—Henry waits for Sophie to arrive. The last time they spoke, maybe three weeks ago now, they didn’t leave things on the greatest note. As usual Henry did not say the right thing and was not ready for the next step, whatever that might have been.

Henry accesses his camera app to gauge his look before Sophie has the chance to criticize it. His eyes are dark and puffy with round red […]

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On Sight

It’s five in the morning when you yawn yourself awake. Quietly, with the covers thrown back, you scurry out of bed so as not to wake your father, but those damn stairs have been creaking since before you were walking, and a rustle and muffled cough make you stop and turn about face. You fear his anger at your waking him, but that’s it; nothing more comes from your dad’s bed. You tiptoe downstairs.

Next is your mom. She won’t be mad if you wake her, but she’d be worried why her little sweet tart is up and about so early in the morning in the dead of winter. Christmas has passed already and your birthday’s not until March […]

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A Ghost Story

In the still quiet of the night, there is a knock. Nothing will stop it, this steady thumping. Before tonight there were only ghosts who peered into souls then vanished upon notice. But this knock is different yet not new. I have heard it somewhere some time ago.

The knocking woke me. Adrift in another dreamless sleep, the darkness cradled me in the chilly air. Comforted, I did not wish to wake until the end of October. I slept through the entire day, through the doorbells and screeches of trick-or-treaters. Intermittently I rolled over to note the sun passing through the sky. The orange glow accosted me as an unrelenting yet misunderstood spirit does a dysfunctional family in […]

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