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'The Gradual Extinction of Softness' by Chantha Nguon with Kim Green

The first time I cooked rice by myself, at five years old, I burned it to a tarry blackness. My mother saw how much I loved to “help” her in the kitchen, so she bought me a clay cookpot and a small sack of rice to play with. I ran to visit my friend Yet, who lived in the village behind my parents’ house in Battambang, Cambodia. We gathered branches and stones and built a fire in front of her house, constructed of bamboo and grass mixed with elephant dung. As the rice simmered, Yet and I sat on the rungs of the steep entry stairs and stoked the fire while we clapped our hands and sang. I left the rice on the fire for a long time, to be sure it was well done, then ran home and presented it to my mother — “Mae,” as I called her in Khmer.
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'My Grandma Picks Fights with the Contestants on The Price is Right' by K.B. Carle

This time over toothpaste. No way some Colgate costs some $2.99, she says. It ain’t Crest! I don’t know the difference but I nod and cross my arms because she’s my grandma. I mean mug the TV, the contestant. We are ready to fight them all, we’ll even take down Bob Barker between our naps. My Grandma Gets Called to Come On Down on The Price is Right Maybe she’s wearing her pearls and best dress. A velvet hat. Red lipstick. Shoes with a short heel. She’ll keep her poise, won’t high five anyone while walking down the aisle. I don’t know these fools, she might say. Someone might bet $1500. She’ll bet $1501.
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'Salisbury Steak Day' by Michelle Strausbaugh

Breaded Fish, Potatoes, Flavor Fiesta Vegetables, Red and White Slaw, Peach Cobbler They wake me up most days with a knock at the door. A blonde woman and her blonde daughter. A red-faced older gentleman. A man and woman in polyester suiting. A group of girls and their scout leader. “Are you Michelle?” Surprised to see a woman in her early thirties in pigtails and pajamas. They hand me a warm Styrofoam clamshell. Consult a sheet of paper. And then they are gone. Like handing meals out to prisoners in solitary. This is so not what I thought Meals-on-Wheels would be like.
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'Sharp' by Vanessa Chan

The thing about chronic back pain isn’t just that pain, which of course is sharp, and feels like someone is sawing your spine in two. No, it’s about what happens when you’re not in pain. When you’re not in pain – whether it’s because that day your spine decided to align itself properly and you woke up standing relatively straight, or because the copious drug cocktail you concocted alongside the awkward stretches you do seem to be working – you know it’s going to last max a few hours, so you need to get every damn thing in. So, you’re productive. You clean your apartment, you take out all the trash that’s been accumulating because normally you can’t bend in half to pick up the trash bag and walk it to the apartment garbage room. You collapse the recycling with vigor and revel in the smell of card box and Amazon tape, feeling some guilt for Prime-ing your groceries all week. But really, you spent all of the previous day lying in bed with an itchy ass crack since your spine wouldn’t allow you to reach around and wipe sufficiently, so how could you even get up to get groceries, guilt be damned.
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