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**PRINT: STERNUM AS 3, by Louisville writer Jason Jordan, is No. 34.1, the latest in our mini-broadsheet series. What do you do when your best friend in high school has a peculiar ability to pull bones from a "compartment on the underside of his left forearm"? Why, built a skeletal replica of him, of course. This issue also comes with five prose pieces from Rick Henry's "Then" collection.

**PRINT: COLD WAS THE GROUND, by Chicago's Scott Stealey, is No. 34 in our broadsheet series. Gina, protagonist, a rather lonely condo dweller/office manager, strikes up a fleeting friendship with one Porgo, an Eastern European construction worker who is burying on her property what Gina takes for a time capsule. But the metaphorical fix is in -- Porgo, an ESL student, may be leading Gina in directions she canít exactly get her head all the way around. Enjoy. Chicago writer Stealey is editor of the Please Donít online mag.

JUST SAY NO Ben Tanzer
ASYMPTOTES Michael Balatico
AFTER THE FLOOD Pitchfork Battalion
from 'THEN' Rick Henry
WING & FLY: Bubbling up in Nashville, gassing it to Chicago | Todd Dills
CHARLIE's TRAIN a novella by Heather Palmer


A printmaker by day in Richmond, Va., Foust's work has been included in the Minnetonka Review, Smokelong Quarterly, Flash Me, Word Riot and others.

Last night, I climbed into bed wearing jeans and a t-shirt. I planned to get up at 2 a.m., walk down to the park and watch the Perseid shower. I wanted to leave as soon as the clock went off, but I slept through the alarm and all those meteors had to fall without me.

Actually, it's not so unusual for me to sleep in my clothes. Sleeping is what I do. It doesn't matter what time it is. I can drop off anytime, anywhere. I don't sleep for very long, but I do sleep often. I like to think of myself as a frequent sleeper.


My sleeping fragments the world up into disjointed pieces. For example, I missed 9/11. When I turned on my television and saw a replay of the Twin Towers crumpling, I thought the footage was from a '70s disaster movie. I believed Al Gore had won the 2000 election. Most of Hurricane Katrina came and went without me. In conversation, I'm always careful to avoid mentioning current events. I might have missed something.

To support myself, I get jobs through a temp agency. The locations change, but the work is pretty much the same -- collating reports, stuffing envelopes. Sometimes filing. Usually, they put me in a dark little room walled with file cabinets, or in an abandoned cube with an out-of-date desk calendar and a drawer full of paper clips and spent pens. Someone who has other things to do darts in and tells me what needs to be done with the boxes of letters or stacks of manila folders. I'm left alone to work.

I stuff a few envelopes, shift some paper piles around. Then I sleep.

Understand, it's not something I do intentionally. I don't go into an office and start looking for a soft place to curl up or anything. It just happens. First, I feel like I'm being encased in syrup. Or maybe Jell-O. My bones feel heavy. My thoughts thicken. My throat swells with yawns. I blink. Long, slow blinks. Open - close - open - close -oopeeennn -- cclllooosssse. And that's it. I'm asleep. If I'm working at a desk, I fall asleep sitting up. From behind, I look like I'm awake, maybe lost in deep thought. Unraveling a knotty problem. But what I am is asleep.

Sometimes, I continue working after I'm asleep. Usually this happens when a job is something repetitious, like stuffing envelopes or collating. Piles of paper get moved around, but usually my sleeping self does a lousy job and I have to undo everything and start over again when I wake up. So far, this has never caused a problem. I get assignments no one else wants to do, so my temporary employers don't complain if I'm slow. They just want someone to do the crummy job.

In my apartment building, there's an older man who sits in the rental office. Hanging on the wall behind him is a framed poster of the Golden Gate Bridge caught up in fog. A battalion of khaki-colored filing cabinets lines up to his left. The wall in front of his desk is filled up with a big picture window that looks out at the entryway of the building. When you appear in the entryway, if he knows you're a tenant, he buzzes the building door open for you. You don't have to scrabble around for your key. Usually, he'll give a little nod or a slight smile when you react to the sound of the buzzer.

Last month, he had to buzz me in because I was carrying a bag of peaches from the farmers' market on Byrd Avenue. Bigger than a fist and very sweet, so juicy I had to lean over the kitchen sink when I ate one. When I went downstairs to check my mail, the man from the office was out in the lobby. He held a roll of paper towels crimped under his elbow and he was spraying 409 on the plastic palm tree that separates the mailboxes from the elevators. I'd never seen him leave his desk before, and I struck up a conversation with him while he wiped the dust off the leaves.

I told him about my peaches. We debated the advantages of freestone versus cling and speculated about the new white peaches that had shown up in some magazines. He didn't think they would taste as good, certain they were just a novelty. He asked about the farmers' market -- he'd never been. I told him that the best day to go was Wednesday, the day the Mennonites were there with their homemade pies and cakes. He told me a funny story about his grandchildren. We both laughed. I remember noticing that his moustache needed trimming. Every time he closed his mouth, some of the longer hairs got caught and he had to form a little moue with his lips to get them out.

The next day, on my way out I knocked on the door of his office. Our previous conversation made it OK to do this. I wouldn't have done it otherwise. When he opened the door, I held out one of the glorious peaches, offered it to him. He shot me a pained look, almost as if I had offended him, reached into his pants pocket and unfurled a handkerchief. He took the peach by wrapping the handkerchief around it. It was obvious he hated to touch the fuzz, hated the whole idea of peaches. Without looking directly at me, he mumbled thanks and closed the door.

I guess I dreamed our conversation.

Since then, the man in the office still buzzes me in, but he looks busy while he's doing it. He works hard not to catch my eye. For a while, the peach sat forlornly on top of one of the filing cabinets, still partially swaddled in the handkerchief. Eventually, it disappeared. I hope he gave it to someone, but I doubt it. He would have had to touch it.

I believe sleeping is my brain's way to protect me from the world. No matter what's happening, sleep can step in and change everything. In my dreams, I do things I never have the courage to do when I'm awake. I am tall, thin, beautiful, and witty. I meet remarkable people. I date famous men. I travel the world. When I open my eyes and see the blank walls of my little apartment or the pile of unfiled reports on the desk in front of me, sometimes it's hard to bear the disappointment of waking up.

I've heard there's a medication that's supposed to stop all this sleeping, but I can't imagine ever taking it.

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