At a department store, I came upon two mannequins in vogue poses: hands on hips, elbows straight back, pelvises thrust outward -- the picture of fashionable confidence. A cheerful dog mannequin stood next to them.

One of the mannequin arms had fallen. I surreptitiously slid the limb across the floor until it was situated directly below the dog's muzzle.

With plaster arms drawn back as far as possible, they recoiled from the dog, who loomed triumphantly over the severed appendage . . .

Another satisfying retail experience.

Gloria Federico


The week after graduation I ran into my college poetry professor in a coffeeshop. Congratulations preceded a piece of abstract advice: "After I graduated, things started to look flat," she said. "Don't let your world get flat." It was a month later, when I left my college town, moved back in with my parents and got a job in an office, that it came to me as I was filing tax forms one morning: sheet after sheet into thin manila envelopes, a parade of papers marching through a metal cabinet. This is what flat looks like.

Elissa Milanowski


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