by Margaret Suganthy Parker
When at last I fall silent and the six-feet hole in the ground is my forever home, I shall cherish the company of maggots, which is more than I can say about you lot, Ben said. Maybe that pissed them off. When the time came, they cremated Ben, tamping down his ashes into a six-inch urn—a rusty, round Van Houten tin. The tin went from mantle (that honor lasted the duration of the wake) to mud-room shelf to cobwebbed garage corner, then to the garden-shed floor. Occasionally a fly rests on the tin, reproach conspicuous on its sulky face.
by Emily Fine
“I feel used, unappreciated,” my dishwasher told me.
I thanked it for its service.
“Too little, too late” it said, then fell silent and refused to turn back on.
After a week of hand washing, I realized I had taken it for granted. I sank to my knees, pleading, “I want you back. It’ll be different this time.” No response.
A week later I replaced it. The new machine was more efficient, less needy. Still, at the end of each load I made sure to give it a little pat of gratitude and whispered, “keep up the good work.”
by Linda Lowe
Barbers look all Christmassy in their candy-cane striped vests, their mustaches frosty and festive. Barbers always wear red and white to match the poles that swirl and. whirl out front, begging for customers. Barbers dream of scissors and clippers that stay sharp forever, and shears that whistle a happy tune. Barbers will sing off key to teach you right from wrong. They sigh before they sing (it’s part of the plan). Everyone comes to visit them in their leafy old home, where they sing “Sweet Adeline,” and the old men say, “that could have been me back in the day.”
I find a jack-in-the-box and crank the handle. The tune ends and out pops the jack. I stuff him back in, and he moans. In darkness the jack continues moaning as I crank the handle and the music plays. Again, the jack pops up, but he isn’t smiling this time. The jack screams when I stuff him in. I crank the handle, and a dirge plays. The jack-in-the-box pops up dead. The jack is silent when I stuff him in his box, which I note for the first time, is a black box with all gold trimmings, veiled in grief.