The Winter War
by Gen Del Raye
Something about the contacts on the bulb. For some reason, it wouldn’t light without the weight of the blackout cloth draped over it. We tried many times, but nothing worked. So on that first night after the war, when houses all over the city were casting off shadows they’d had for years, we spent a few hours huddled around a cone of light on the floor before giving up and going to sleep. A bad omen, said Shinji. No, I said. Just bad wiring. Outside, we saw children huddled around a lamp in the dark, searching for frogs to eat.
by Ashlie Allen
I like sitting on the steps while everyone has dinner. The sound of their smothered laughter makes me tingle. Maybe this is what self-pity is, tingling in the heart. I see a bird sucking a worm from the gravel and imagine the worm feels like me when I don’t eat anything, desperate and dizzy. I am embarrassed I do not try to save him or myself.
by Brenda Anderson
Our Gran checks the catalog. Companions don’t come cheap. After much thought, she makes a choice. Next day, the Home Care Company installs a spa-style Bubbling Bog next to her chair. It extrudes long, warm, brown fingers that massage her shoulders. It bubbles, “Wanna play cards?” The Bog plays well, but Gran always wins. It doesn’t bubble so much now. Maybe it’s mad. One morning, we find Gran arm wrestling it and winning. The Bog’s gone cold. Maybe it’s sulking. Gran gives it a prod. “Wakey wakey!” It rises and swings back. Gran smiles. It’s a fighter. Good Bog!
by Cole Meyer
She can’t get the smell of him from her hair, from her clothes. Can’t get his taste from her tongue, like he’s stuck between her teeth. It’s autumn and the leaves are falling. She thinks, this is what love is. She isn’t right or wrong. She can’t bring herself to cross bridges anymore, won’t buckle her seatbelt. She leaves a window cracked at all times and she holds her breath for minutes, just to see if she can. The cold soaks through her window at night and she dreams of mermen driving cars in a city beneath the lake.
by Jonathan Cardew
I tend to my secrets like they’re my children. Each one is sent off in the morning with a kiss and a packed lunch, possibly a note, and they spend the day away in a building that assists in their growth. When they return, we are all surprised by our incivility—harsh words, slammed doors—but always there are moments of reconciliation, reminders of what we mean to one another. At night, when they are asleep, I drink wine with my husband, kicking back with Netflix on. I do not breathe a word about it.
The Modern Hunter
by Andrew Ramos
Lost, he stumbled upon a yonic clearing of oak where a woman bathed in waist-deep pond water. Between two wilted arms that smelled of syrup and mold he watched her through his rifle’s gilded scope, which had grown heavier with the past three moons, and her hair fluttered with whispers of an ancient legend he’d once known. There was a howl from some far off hound, and she whirled her gaze to where he hid, and his instinct pulled the trigger before his mind registered the sadness that man’s hunger could bring.