Our Alice

One day late in life, Alice acquired a husband. Our Alice…or so we’d assumed.

He was a small, dark presence in her house. Measly. Scrawny. Slope-shouldered. A husband, we were told, but in our view more like an ill-matched suitor. A timid if persistent petitioner. We could have easily ignored him except for the shock of his showing up in the first place.

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We Always Start with the Seduction

The word “secret” is alluring, particularly in Official DC, and catches a woman’s ear, but beyond that, he’s truly convinced that these anonymous walks carry him into an unfathomable, private space, peeling through exoskeleton, de-layering to a forgotten scrap of soul, where he imagines himself capable of surprise and what he would call “intimacy.”

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A Taxonomy of Cover Letters

Oh, cover letters. After 10 years and 22 issues, TSR has accumulated a mountain of them. They fall into distinct groups: the useful (name, contact info, simultaneous submission, word count, etc.) and the awesome. The latter is bursting with sub-categories, a few of which we showcase here. We hope you enjoy these excerpts from some of the numerous cover letters we’ve received throughout the years as much as we do.

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Emily Gilbert
The Empty Places

Our doctor gave us a decent prognosis, a reasonable chance to live. He said that if we did everything right: if we quit smoking, and ate green leafy vegetables, if we did the chemotherapy, and maybe a round or two of radiation, there was a reasonable chance we’d go into remission.

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Mary JonesEmily GilbertFICTION

It was the first time I’d had to think of God as something like a person, with eyes and, perhaps, hands. When I’d heard stories about God in church, He always seemed an awfully touchy character, so it made sense at the time that He wouldn’t want us acting above our station.

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The Desk Fans

On the table behind him rusty Seagulls wait their turn. Silver Swans perch on the bookshelf. Sidewinders lie motionless on the floor. After breakfast he opens the window and sits down with a turn-of-the-century Peerless—steel, non-oscillating, thin spokes curved like heat waves.

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Parcel Post

There lives a woman who keeps her baby in a box.  

She works as a letter sorter at the post office and keeps the box at her feet. Her parents died when she was young, leaving her with nothing but debt, and after a solitary upbringing she finds solace in her work and in her baby. Not one to gossip or flirt, she is able to sort the mail with one hand and tickle the baby’s chin, or check her diaper, with the other. Even when her mind is occupied with distribution routes and sorting codes, her hands remember what needs to be done.

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Things We've Read (Lately)
Dear FAA

This possibility really never
occurred to me. I knew it

could happen, but I assumed
I would be at home.

I pictured my own comforter,
my own ringed tub. Certainly I

thought I could stretch out. The woman
on the plane beside me works for you.

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The Haunting

I always believed in blind dates, especially when arranged by my kid brother. He's the tall, good-looking one surrounded by beautiful people in the ad agency where he runs their biggest accounts. Then there's me, the bookworm—the divorced woman with two young boys holding down a job while juggling joint custody rules. You can image how little time I had to meet men. 

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Commute #2

With smallness; with the ritual scratch
of the aperture, the suctioning force of the wound, 
the day pressed itself into the hours, a glance shot
askew and wrapping against the rocky shore
that breaks the water open like an oil.   

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Brand Values

The changes to the restrooms were similarly striking. In the men’s room, a woman’s sultry voice trilled out of an overhead speaker: “I love my luxe, luxe luxury brand. Sexy. Beautiful. Don’t you? Don’t you love me?” Then she started to scream.

Or maybe laugh. Leonard wasn’t sure.

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