The Swimmer

He spent every summer swimming on his neighborhood team, cheering at the meets, and sharing awful concession stand food with his friends. Even now, he gets a little nostalgic over slightly soggy nachos.

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Rating: 6.3/10 (8 votes cast)

Last Breaths

After watching people in their last hours at the hospital, she concluded the lungs were the stupidest organs of all. She could never figure out why they insisted on struggling ahead long after the rest of the body seemed to have understood what was happening and given up.

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Rating: 8.6/10 (5 votes cast)

Withdrawal

When her doctor informed her she must stop eating sugar, she followed his advice immediately. For months afterward, she would dream of an imaginary grocery store aisle with nothing but refrigerated cakes as far as they eye could see.

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Rating: 6.3/10 (7 votes cast)

Message to a Jealous Wife

You still think I am coming to satisfy a hunger, but you are wrong: if I come into someone’s house and compliment their selection of art, it doesn’t mean I’ll stuff a statue under my overcoat on the way out. I am well-acquainted with your best possessions and I am uninterested in the inventory or in how you protect them.

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Rating: 5.8/10 (6 votes cast)

Origins

The boy’s mother was insane, and everyone wondered what would become of him as a result. He could have followed in her footsteps, but instead he pushed himself harder than anyone else and became more successful than his classmates and friends with a happier provenance.

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Rating: 5.3/10 (6 votes cast)

Priorities

Her father worked multiple jobs to keep her in a particular house, at a particular school, and routinely participating in the correct extracurricular activities. If anyone had ever asked her, she would’ve said she preferred he work fewer hours, make less money, and spend more time with her doing nothing in particular.

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Rating: 8.5/10 (2 votes cast)

Drunk Answering

He had a crush on my friend Sarah, though she couldn’t stand to be around him. He phoned one night when I was drunk and immediately accepted my completely insincere invitation to visit—meaning I spent the better part of a good weekend kicking myself whilst trying to distract him from the fact that he was being brutally rebuffed.

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Rating: 7.0/10 (3 votes cast)

Stipulations

The will the old woman left behind clearly specified that if any of the objects in her home were moved from the way in which she had originally positioned them, the museum established in her name would lose funding from her heirs and be dissolved. After the night of the art theft, the curators determined that if they hoped to keep the museum open, they had no choice but to leave the empty frames on the walls interspersed with the remaining works.

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Rating: 7.3/10 (4 votes cast)

Guilt

He gave up chocolate every year for lent. Often, he would spend his mornings feeling guilty without knowing why until he suddenly remembered a dream from the night before in which he’d shamelessly gorged on M&Ms or Godiva or brownies.

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Rating: 7.0/10 (3 votes cast)