by Kristen Walsh
For reasons I could never explain, I have always hated the smell of honeysuckle. I tried explaining this to my mother once, but she simply shuffled past like I had not spoken, had not finally told her something true. I told her there were rotten honeysuckle roots winding inside me. I told her they twisted in the core of my being, connected to something I could feel but not touch. I told her no matter how far I followed them down, no matter how hard I pulled, I could still smell their sickly, sweet scent whenever I saw her face.
Tell Us How You Feel
I’m sitting on a city bench, running on empty. Whatever vividness used to live here has just. Burned out. That space of empty space. Lost in something I have lost. It’s a feeling not like ice, but ash asking, “Where do I go from here?”
And then staring at the ground beneath my feet. Losing myself in the monotonous sameness of the pavement. Wishing that I could have. Wondering where I’m supposed to be. Then speaking the only other question on my mind:
“Do you know how long this train is supposed to take?” I ask, talking to the breeze.
First Time Lucky
by Alison Wassell
He boasts that they’re each other’s first and only. The grandchildren think it’s sweet. There was, she knows, the fling with Eileen in accounts at the knicker factory, and one with Valerie from two doors down who had a Hoover only he could fix. But she lets it go.
She does Wordle while he reads his newspaper and guesses the word the first time. She is raging, cheated of the fun, the tension, the near misses, the hard-won eventual success. It is, she thinks, just one more game she never got to play.