by Edward Ahern
The man wore his clothes well and wasn’t ugly. Valerie, bored by arty conversations, weaved through the museum exhibits and stood in front of him.
“Tell me something I won’t believe.”
He smiled. “I’m boring. I don’t drink, smoke, gamble, or do drugs.”
“No, that’s sad but believable.”
His smile turned wistful.
“The model for this statue and I were lovers.”
“The plaque says the statue is two millennia old. It’s impossible.”
“There you go.”
“Tell me more.”
“She left me because of my profession.”
“I weigh souls using a feather.”
“What about mine?”
“Don’t die for a while.”
by Charlotte M. Porter
No question, she stood out like an exclamation point among the literary crowd. Kissing was her idea, and here they are making out. Frankly, he doesn’t find her attractive. Why? She has children. He doesn’t like kids. He has two of his own. End of story.
From birth, his brood were zeros, and he gladly pays child support for the privilege of absence and bad behavior, his, theirs. And hers. At some point, he’ll tell the woman on the hotel couch he has tongue cancer. Maybe next week, to shock her, to shame her, after she’s back home.
I Keep Doing This
by TQ Sims
I have always had this secret power. I draw out the poison, the sticky, dense, tar that blinds him. I remind him. I’m your brother. Nothing changes that.
He forgets. His tone shifts. He slips, says something about some misinterpreted or contradictory verse. He speaks with someone else’s voice before he realizes. I’m the one listening.
He sees me, remembers, maybe subconsciously feels me working to strip away the odious gloom, uncovering his heart again and again. He sighs with relief but looks away from me.
The poison keeps coming, and again, I uncover his heart. I keep doing this.
by Wendy Cobourne
I sneak onto the dock, wishing I could dive in. The airborne arc of me, the piercing of the water’s smooth skin with my fingertips hands arms head shoulders torso thighs shins ankles toes, Oh my god, I’m in. Bulleting through the cold liquid underground. I am swallowed whole into a deep wet kiss, engulfed, sealed in the cool redeeming silence of submersion. Decompressing, reaching languorously for handful after handful of the ungraspable, pulling my weightless self forward. Into the unknown. I was not born to be earthbound, I will tell them at home.
I found my sketches, cleaning the house. Blueprints of all the buildings I had planned to design someday, back when my dreams flowed without end like leaves down an autumn creek.
*I wasn’t wrong*, I told myself immediately, at the pang in my heart. I looked out at my partner, playing with the kids on the lawn. I looked out at my choices.
And then I folded those designs carefully. I didn’t recycle them, didn’t use them. I just put them back, forced the memories silent, and moved on and away.
The Time Machine
I wake up—
Nope. Same day. The sun has moved, though, to get a better look inside my apartment: without her things, it’s a magazine page with pictures cut out.
And he’s here. I admit it (finally).
“Admit?” Ihhh. Confess? Maybe?
Recognize. I recognize him. Who. Uh. Is me.
Well not…me-me. But a me that I recognize I don’t want to be. Anymore. Who still treats relationships like I’m 20. Like he’s 20.
Oh fuck it.
I adjust the blanket, set the pillow, and go off in search of a future where I can handle that guy.