She could tell I was faking it. My smile felt wrong, though no one else knew. She knew. A glance at the priest standing before us revealed that he was none the wiser to my feelings. But she could tell, I know she could. She stood there, hands grasping mine, tears shining in her eyes, a wide grin stretched across her face. Was she faking it, too? I was panicked this morning, knowing that I was to be married in a few hours. Maybe she felt the same. My calm facade got me through the waiting, but I was nervous...

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Her joints screamed as the winter chill ran through her veins and iced her skin. It was so cold out and this blizzard was never-ending.

Julia huddled around the oven pumping heat into the 500 square-foot apartment, something her mother said to never do but it's not like the heat worked.

"Why the hell did I go out there?" Julia said aloud to the appliances.

She threw Ryan out for a reason but months of anticipation made the actual act much harder. She wasn't even sure if it was going to be today, but in the end it was. He...

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The fields were parched. There was no water. Where was the rain, she wondered as she stared across the cracked land. There were clouds rolling in from the east but they brought no hope of rain. The stream that used to run through here had been clear and sweet, she remembered. Sighing, she turned from the depressing sight and got back to preparing the evening meal. Jim and the boys would be home soon and they would be hungry after a long day in the fields.
"I can help you." A small voice said.
She jumped and looked around in...

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Daring to be noticed for the first time in her life, she pushed her chair back and stood up.

"Malcolm, what are you doing?" The teacher frowned slightly.

"They're not freaks," she said, quiet but emphatic. "And they're not faking for attention. It's not a disorder, and it's not an illness. It's just a way of being."

The words had been running through her head for the past twenty minutes as the teacher had started talking about gender identity disorder, in which people didn't identify with the biological sex that they were born into.

"I'm sorry, Malcolm, but it's in...

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Margaret talked trivia all day to me. Tv shows, online forum friends, recipes, to do lists, celebrity downfalls. Why would an ex-intelligence agent be like this? It was a mystery I wanted to solve.

Whenever I came over for a chat, we sat drinking coffee in a living room bursting with ornaments and pictures on the walls. I don't think there was an inch of space anywhere. Dreamcatchers, statues of the Virgin Mary, shelves of porcelain dolls, angels. I've never seen so many different types of angels in my life! Paintings of them, statues, crystal, hundreds of crochet angel pins...

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Heavy midnight. The crawl of the planchette under our fingertips. The triptych was coming alive. One creature sprang from the painted panel. A beast, horned and elephantine, illuminated by the moon through the cellar window.

It spoke to us through the board:

“Extradimensional bovine dreamfeeders graze upon fronds that sprout from the heads of sleepers. These dreams—long, lush, iridescent fancies rooted in neuronic soil and flowering up into the night—are their food.

“The beasts lumber through a meadow of musing at night, their jaws drooling plasmic sludge, their snorts ruffling moppet heads from across the chasm of dimension. They pass...

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I slowly made my way through the rows of seated people desperate to get out of this ceremony. The elder slowly pushed me on, slowly sighing with defeat i trudged through the long narrow line of people anxiously looking around the crowd only to be met with a sea f unfamiliar faces. Upon my arrival to the temple, the elder smudged glowing paint onto my face whilst chanting words foreign to my ears, he stood up and lit the large pit with fire before the crowd made weird hand gestures and chants that grew louder as the seconds went by....

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Capriciously, I repudiated the sky and all its lighting and thunder, snow and rain, and changing colors.

The paradigm wasn't there. Or was it?

Well, if it wasn't and if it were grounded by gravity, then so many Big Things are just frivolous.

Like love.

And losing a lover.

And even being born here, gasping for breath at first, and fighting through a mob just to climb some ranks and "make it." And those were the Big Things, too.

The paradigm here can't hold such Big Things if it was made to only hold such small, ambiguous entities like eating,...

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Idyllic farmhouse? Well, appearances can be deceiving, I suppose. If the For Sale sign in front had said, "Abandon all hope, ye who enter here," we might have been more wary. As things stood,, when we signed on the dotted line we had no idea what we were really buying into... or signing away. The funny thing about souls, you don't really notice them until they're gone.

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"She'd have preferred the electric chair," Melanie said.

A half grin sat on her lips as she stirred the crinkle fry in the ketchup far longer than anyone stirs crinkle fries in ketchup.

"You know when they were discovering the electric chair, they would like pay kids to bring in stray dogs and cats to electrocute to get the voltage just right," Beloved said.

"That's horrible," Melanie replied and she dropped the crinkle fry. "Why would you say that?"

"They finally tested it on an elephant!" Beloved said.

"Wait, who is they?" Melanie asked. She lifted her nose in the...

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