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Issue number three




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Exorbitance by Marc Kipniss

One of them came loose. It fell into the coffee cup I was about to drink from. Everybody in the lunchroom saw. They were all watching, staring at me.

I had to choose: either pretend not to have noticed and take a sip and risk swallowing it, or put the cup down on the table and, implicitly admitting that the most embarrassing thing in the world--the universe--had occurred, let myself be engulfed by the dark, scornful laughter.

A third possibility was to create a diversion, so I could sneak off for a quick refill. But I would need help for this, an accomplice, someone trustworthy. . . Harold from Accounting? Fay from Personnel? Gina in Marketing? I would also need a secret signal, perhaps a subtle glance at the light switches, or a . . .

No, I thought. Forget it. There is no time to plan a diversion. I have no accomplices. People have already started tittering. I can feel their eyes bearing down on me, the derision and cruelty in them. This is it.

I tightened my grip on the handle. My thumbnail went white. I steadied my forearm, lifted it a little farther. The tittering dropped to a hush. Don't tremble, I told myself as the cup touched my lips. Don't show them your fear. Then I raised my elbow and torqued my wrist. The cup seemed to tip up of its own accord, with no effort on my part. The silence of the lunchroom was profound.

Looking down, I observed the shimmering black hole. It got closer, and larger, until it filled my field of vision. I felt myself being truncated, pulled inside. The lights seemed to all go out, as if a collapsing star, winking out of existence . . .

Synesthesia by Marc Kipniss

Sorry," he said, standing out on the balcony.

"What?" she said from inside.

There'd been an argument, a big one.

"Hold on," he said, coming in.

She didn't want--among other things--to spend Thanksgiving with his parents.

"I said I'm . . . . "

He noticed something about the way she was dressed, about her green slacks and tan sweater.

"You know, you blend in perfectly."


He refused--among other things--to get a cat.

"With the easy chair," he said. "The color of your clothes . . . they match."

She glanced down at herself, at where she was sitting, and looked up at him with a puzzled expression.

"You couldn't hear me because you were camouflaged."

She saw his mouth move, but there were still no words.

"What are you saying?"

He pulled her up, so she was standing. Then he walked back out to the balcony and they started over.

Three phases of Babinski by Marc Kipniss

One phase, not necessarily the first, uses a stroking motion, which travels along the sole of your foot and causes your big toe to rise. Do not be concerned if there is a sluggish response, or by the removal of whisper-thin slices of calf. Do not be concerned when the new springs are inserted, either.

Another phase, sometimes referred to as "Babinski in a Basket," radiates out from your instep before looping overhead. You will assume a supine position at this point, with arms crossed and resting on your chest. Then you will attempt to sit up. If no emission takes place, and if there are no signs of a limp, you will get to increase your posture by half.

Though the final phase does not always occur at the end, you might expect it to, and so, well--in any case, it lasts only a short while. And since your gait now seems almost all better, one detects a note of anticipation, a slight quaver of joy in your voice. You say, "Babinski, mon amour," and this alters the degree of tenderness. Even the dizzy spells pass. You can kick straight again. The whole team welcomes you back to the roster.

Marc Kipniss holds a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of Washington. His stories and poems have appeared/will appear in Black Warrior Review, Salt Hill, Bogg, Short Fuse, Etcetera, Nerve Cowboy, Pangolin Papers, Parting Gifts, American Tanka, Happy, The Maverick Press, Dirigible, Pudding Magazine, The Silver Web, and Neotrope. He has published criticism in The Journal of the Kafka Society of America, Discourse, Rethinking Marxism, and The Cincinnati Romance Review.

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