by Tiffany Grimes
Goldfish were thought to be like freshly cut wildflowers. Decoration only.
I don’t know what to do with my pet goldfish while I’m gone. He will slowly suffer, his tiny body rotten when I return.
I pick him up. It takes a few tries but soon I can predict his movements. I squeeze his golden body between my fingers.
I place him in my mouth. He squirms down my esophagus and then my only friend in the whole world is gone.
I don’t have to stop for lunch.
by Kirsty Holmes
The first thing I notice is the absence of birdsong; a thudding silence as my heart fights, as the panic closes hot, dry hands around my throat; the room shrinks around me until, Alice-like, my awkward limbs fold and my too-big elbows shatter the windows.
The only thing to do is run; choking on vinegar tears. Out; the field. I strike toward the sun; barefoot, dishcloth in hand; one two, nine ten; count the steps, my breaths, my heartbeats. Stare at the sky until it sears into my vision forever, the pain just about clean enough to hold on to.
by Leslie Cairns
I was ribs, bones, and sulking hallways.
Feeding tubes, and a skeleton weight.
A man who would later save my life and buy my graduation gown, would pull in one fluid motion. And, in the same sentence, reminds me of the other girls he’d seen and done the same. He used to call us the tools in his toolbox. Screwdriver, he’d laughed with abandon at that. I was, with some affection, the hammer.
Dashed lines, jagged cliffs, lost rocks. Wandering back, barefoot.
I’m a crevice, a flight path, a steady pattern of people coming and forgetting where they went.
What I Did for Love
by Roberta Beary
At the bar we bonded over favorite musicals. When I went home with him I knew it could turn weird. And it did. His hallway was filled with whips and chains masquerading as shabby chic wall art. He steered me to red silk sheets. It was over before it had started. He said It was good for me was it good for you, before rolling over and falling asleep. His armpits still had that yeasty smell. Like when we were married. Before I left I grabbed $500 from his wallet. For the kids’ music lessons.
On the Right Track
by Mark Reels
She resolved to do three laps around the walking path every day.
She trudged past the blooming daffodils in April.
In May she walked beneath the delicate flowers of a crab apple tree.
A teenager pointed and laughed at her as she jogged and panted past in June.
By July she was running with her earbuds in.
In August the apple tree was producing hard, tart fruit. When the jeering teenager whistled at her and yelled, “Lookin’ good, mama,” she picked an apple and beaned him in the head with it.
He gave chase, but she easily outran him.
An alternate title for “Fish”: “Gulp!”
In “Grounding”, I appreciate the hint at the no man’s land between pleasure and pain.