Santa Monica Review

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Santa Monica Review is distributed locally by Armadillo.

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Sometimes when Karen parked at New Promises, she felt a sense of comfort, but she held on too tight, probed it, and even before she pressed the car alarm on her key chain, the feeling left. Her sleep was a dark shadow in the midst of a bright glare. She woke with dream amnesia and a lingering heaviness. — Victoria Patterson

I parked and clipped the press badge to the pocket of my white button-down shirt, the one I wore to Science Bowls and Academic Decathlons, and realized only then that Mr. Tomlinson had written down an address and the soldier’s rank, battalion, and division, but no family names or who was even inside that house. — Sandy Yang

My wife, she’s what my father and his three brothers used to call a mulatto. My father, at least, had said nothing about race when he’d met Jessica’s father the night before the wedding. “If you’re happy,” he’d said and left it at that, but during the wedding reception Uncle Roy and Uncle Fletcher, his two surviving brothers, huddled up over by the cash bar as if they were taking a race-based census. — Gary Fincke

Christopher read Cormac McCarthy in the Duck and said low to himself Sumbitch, practicing becoming a Southern recluse. There seemed no other way out of this besmitten thing except maybe alcoholism. He was twenty-six. His self-image was of a nervous but adaptable animal that didn’t get out much. — Andrew Nicholls

Death is hard. We cannot hold it. We can’t conceive it. We are the glory of life and we become trash. That summer my arms ached from scooping ice cream. I’d stack up my smudged, dairy-scented cash tips on the bureau at night saying, “Mine, mine.” — Varley O’Connor

Oh, the two of us clad in our white chefs’ caps and smocks! We looked at each other and laughed. For Robert, the once-in-a-lifetime-ness of the situation: making chocolate in an old cannery in Alaska, for God’s sake!, humored him. But also how we could leave the factory at noon, our short day done, and walk out onto the dock that stretched out behind the factory, its scaffolding plunging into the ocean below. — Sommer Schafer

The clock above his workbench says eight-twenty. Forty minutes is plenty of time to cut the flange and banish Nurse Allen for good. Ann has lined up his supplies across the top of his bench: the flange template, a sheet of white plastic, a pen, and, he has to smile at his wife’s efficiency, three different kinds of scissors, in case one pair fits better in his electrician work hands. — Patty Houston

Trying to enlist the boy in his own tired battle against authority, where every road led back to the old man. This littlest rebel routine may have served him once, may even have saved his bacon, but like Laura’s depression, it had long outlasted it’s usefulness, and in his forties now he still had a bone to pick with the teacher, the grocery clerk, the meter maid, and practically anyone else who dared tell him what or what not to do. — Jeffrey Moskowitz

Mr. Edwards looks up at the ceiling, wondering what the noise could possibly be. It sounds like billiard balls being sloshed around in a bathtub. It goes on and on, to a precise, unceasing rhythm, like a massive centrifuge, one thump every half-second. It’s a sound that won’t stop. It’s one of those things that will only worsen if he tries to fight it. — Coby Hoffman

Francine’s mother was more fun than anyone she knew, and laughed until she couldn’t catch her breath, and took dangerous chances. Once, in Monrovia, a bank robber had gotten in her car at a red light. Go straight, lady, he said. Sorry, I’m turning right, Louella told him. The bank robber got out. — Rhoda Huffey

When they’re not throwing stones, they pretend to be statues, balancing on one leg, arms reaching toward the sky, their bodies twitching as they try to be still. The kids remind Kathleen of the pair of pink plastic flamingos Eileen kept in the front yard until Kathleen convinced her they needed to go away. Like the tacky flamingos, Kathleen would like to lock the kids in the shed out back and hide the key. — Kerri Quinn

I used to think that there were baby seasons, you know, certain times of the year when more babies are born than in others. This, I’ve learned from working Baby, is not true. I’m kind of sorry it’s not. The idea of baby seasons is nice, like fresh corn or asparagus seasons. — Janice Shapiro

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