Ronda 12 by David Henson

Ensign Ronda-12 tapped the door to the ready room as she entered. Her long, slender legs devoured the space to Captain Blade’s desk in five strides. The captain arched his eyebrows. “Sir,” she said, “you have to exempt Lt. Hickok from the Jalatis Large landing team.” More arching. She wondered if a human’s eyebrows could ever touch their hairline. “It’s too dangerous.”

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Coeur de Lion by Chris Cleary

Magnificently justified, she teeters on the parapet of her limestone tower. The herd lows below, and in the autumn air all stands still except for Tom, who has spied her from a distance and now is racing to her rescue. Her foot shifts and slips a bit, sending down a pebble cascade, but her heart is strong, and she refuses to be petrified. She stares straight ahead at the hillside, where leaves fall from their trees, drifting, dropping, like children’s valentines into makeshift paper-bag mailboxes taped to her classroom wall many years before. Cards of teddy bears with hearts, Hello Kitty with hearts, blooming flowers with hearts, circus lions proclaiming, “You’re purr-fect!” Suppressing squeals, children scurry. Others’ bags fill up. In hers, not one. Eyes anchored on the hillside, all she sees is disregard. That and the teacher frowning with pity for poor Samantha San Gabriel, so shy and so odd.

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Simple Pleasures by Fred Vogel

Muffy had a feeling her relationship with her boyfriend was on rocky ground when he professed he loved her with most of his heart.

“Come on now, darlin’. I gotta keep a little of myself in reserve. Who knows when the next Dolly Parton might show up looking for a guy like me? There’s not a single red-blooded American man worth his salt who wouldn’t want a piece of that action.”

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