Special thanks to Jessica Standifird for her editorial assistance. This week’s artwork is by Kate Salvi.
Leaving on a Ghost Train
by Mir-Yashar Seyedbagheri
The ghost train came to take me, the night after the dead took over. It came through the kitchen, blinding my sister and me with its melting light.
“Bugger off,” Margaret said, wrapping an arm around me. “You can’t have him.”
“All twelve-year olds work for the dead,” the train said in a Yorkshire accent. “They’re the most fit to serve the new order.”
“I’m not going,” I said. “Take the neighbors.”
The train plunged into my sister, wheels grinding up strands of red hair, eyes, spinning like hypnotic Ferris wheels. She waved and smiled, her smile turning to crinkled stardust, falling away.
by Joey To
Jane slipped her shoes off, then glanced at the longcase clock and sighed: 10 p.m. and unsurprisingly quiet. She dragged her feet into the dark lounge room, then froze. The glowing spiral staircase was lined with little candles all the way up. Red petals were scattered all over. Jane’s lips curled a little as she sprung up the first steps… “Honey?” Silence. But she continued her ascent. “Mike?” No answer. Jane paused… then padded up the last steps—”Mike, you alright?”—and dimly saw a snoring mass, her husband with his arms around another: it was Kayla, their 150-pound Rottweiler.
by Rachel Tanner
Her cleavage is visible, respectable, nothing she wouldn’t wear to college. An unknown guy grabs her arms, holds her in place. Another stands in front, licks his lips, caresses her face. “What about me?” he says as he slips his hand inside the top of her dress, clutching firmly. In this room full of people, he brings her breast out into plain sight. Plays with it. She tries to escape; she’s held back. Finally she’s freed as his hand reaches for more. She runs outside into the street, grabbing for her phone. Grabbing for anything to make her feel safe.
by Cheyenne Marco
You’re a lifeguard. Up at four for work at six, spending the extra hour scouring the house for hidden six packs, pouring what you find down the drain. Then it’s off to work to break the back that was healed by luck after that car crash forty years ago. Home at five. She’s flooded with Coors. From where? From who? You remember her standing by your hospital bed, holding your hand when you thought you’d never walk again. You want her back. But you stare in the depths of those eyes, and you know that that woman has drowned.
by Joanne Hayle
He’s smacking his lips together over a glass of red wine. He claims that his reluctance to go out is proof of his contentment and that “home is where the heart is.” Satisfied, he sprawls on the sofa night after night. He’s haphazardly flicking through TV channels, doesn’t bother to wave as I leave for my salsa class. He knows that I’d rather dance with him. We used to enjoy and explore life together. I can’t tempt him out anywhere these days. When I return he’ll be snoring, inexplicably exhausted. He’s not dynamic enough to have an affair, is he?