by Michaela Brown
They are on their way to a book reading by a bald man who knows everything about the ocean. The restaurant is donned crimson and gold, and in the corner booth sits a young couple sharing a bowl of edamame. “We’re the opening of a joke,” says the Muslim, between bites of rice. “What’s the punchline?” asks the Catholic, who isn’t really Catholic anymore. The Jew offers up a line about how none of them can eat the pork (it’s a Lenten Friday), but in the end, they decide nothing is funny. It’s just a nice night.
Michaela Brown is a proud Midwest transplant currently teaching English in Vigo, Spain. She is the first place recipient of the 2020 Marjorie Stover Short Story Prize and has previously been published in Laurus Magazine, The Fourth River, Unstamatic, and elsewhere. You can find her on Twitter @mikienbrown.
M.R. Mandell (she/her) is a writer living in Los Angeles. A transplant from Katy, Texas, she now lives by the beach with her muse, a Golden Retriever named Chester Blue (at her feet), and her longtime partner (by her side). You can find her work in Chill Subs, Boats Against the Current, The Final Girl Bulletin Board, Dorothy Parker’s Ashes, The Bloom, JAKE, Roi Fainéant, sage cigarettes, and others.