"I'm Sorry for Your Loss" by Jeremy Townley

We can’t all be like Lotta Tornberg, environmental crusader. I, for one, never had her strength and confidence, her resilient spirit. She remained optimistic to the end, certain that her peaceful protests, with the speeches and marches and sit-ins, would actually make a difference. Back then, her image was everywhere: a slight twelve year-old girl with braided pigtails and a doughy smile. Politicians, not to mention some of the most egregious corporate polluters, paid her lip service, while working adamantly to undermine her cause and credibility. Lotta simply gritted her teeth and doubled down.

“K-120” by Brett Finlayson

I didn’t used to tell the ski jumpers about the time they have to endure at the top, but in the more than thirty years I’ve worked at the Lake Placid Olympic Jumping Complex—meeting the competitors at the base of the K-120 long jump and directing them to the start—I’ve come to realize that it’s better to get this information on the table immediately. Otherwise, they grow restless. We all do. And that’s when the real accidents happen.

excerpt, “Night Coming Tenderly” by Sandra Jackson-Opoku

The bid-whist-playing, gin-drinking, chit’lin-cooking, barbecuing, party-loving Pattersons. That was Mama’s family–loud, boisterous and slightly disreputable. Miss Jonita declared them “country,” though the Pattersons had been established in Chicago a good half-century before Miss Jonita’s people came Up North, or as Black folks ironically deemed it, “Up South” from Arkansas.

“On My Very Brief Encounter with the Russian Army” by Ilia Rappoport

It becomes increasingly clear, then, that the government does not intend to use its army as an institution of pure militaristic purpose. If it did, then it would have focused on quality over quantity, promoting a career in the army as something prestigious and sought-after rather than what it is now – a year-long fever dream between youth and adulthood for those who don’t do well on the national exams.

“Origin Story” by Felicia Chavez

Imprisoned behind glass in New York City’s Jewish Museum: a sinister grin in graphite.  Too big-teeth and hairy brows crowned with a jester’s coxcomb.  “I wanted something visually exciting,” Jerry Robinson said of his concept sketch of The Joker.  “I wanted something that would make an indelible impression, would be bizarre, would be memorable.”

“Ah, Arthur is Here” by David Linebarger

Solve this problem:  Your daughter’s playing with a doll, a gift she just received from a friend.  The doll is white. 1968: John Carlos gives the black power salute Arthur Ashe wins the first US Open. 1970: Toni Morrison The Bluest Eye the problem of “whiteness” as a standard of beauty Arthur Ashe wins The Australian Open. 1972: Bettye Saar The Liberation of Aunt Jemima 1975 the liberation continues Arthur Ashe outthinks Connors to win Wimbledon “no matter what I do, or where or when I do it, I feel the eyes of others watching me, judging me.”