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The stories in this issue (one of which is a play!) span a range of styles and subjects—from an old-fashioned gothic ghost story to a political allegory that helps us better understand our own politically divided times, a war veteran reminiscing on a lost friend , and the brave revolutionary uprisings of the Arab Spring. But what unites these pieces is their focus on friendship and connection.

Friends lift us up personally and, on a broader level, social ties between people—our community—is what enables political movements and social change to happen. The pandemic has been so difficult in large part because it cut off those ties. Yes, many of us were FaceTiming and Zooming with friends and family, but we lost all those other moments for random connection—the stranger who smiles at us in a coffee shop, the shared joke, the pleasantries exchanged in the park. At first, everyone became suspect, making the idea of community seem like a memory.

After reading this issue, I hope you’ll be motivated to pick up a brush or a pen and create something that captures the vital necessity of friendship, or community more broadly.

Happy reading!