Special thanks to Jessica Standifird for her editorial assistance. This week’s artwork is “Moon & Sun” by Ross P. Wilson
by R.F. Marazas
The signs reminded Foley of Burma Shave jingles. Feel free. To indulge. Until you bulge. Then you will see. Foley gaped at an acre of mushrooms large as a man. Scent pulled him. He salivated, tore chunks from one and ignored a faint scream. He chewed, swallowed. Visions blossomed, psychedelic, kaleidoscopic. Knowledge flooded him. All questions answered. He ate. Stomach ballooned, legs rooted, arms shrunk to gray stubs. Using only his teeth he chomped. Visions faded. Knowledge slowed, stopped. Where Foley once stood, a new mushroom towered, fat, scent beckoning. Next to it, tiny leftover pieces began to grow.
Playground Where I Grew Up
by Adam Loewen
Two empty swings move back and forth, retrograde, near the sandbox hardly wider than a grave for toy army men. I sit atop the slide that burned skin and busted teeth, concerned with pea gravel staining my shoes and parents spying from the apartments. The jungle gym, cold as dusk, won’t return my stare. I’ve forgotten how to play.
I ran away from home once, tried to live burrowed under the wooden walkway, even before teenage girls and malt liquor. Soon, they’ll dig up this entire tiny world and replace the equipment with things that kids these days are into.
by Anna Lea Jancewicz
She started up with him because of his hands. They were practically identical to those of that other boy she’d known. She’d twirled her skirts and bit her lip, it was easy enough. She got those hands on her skin. She watched the friction more than she felt it. She’d done this once before, with one who’d had the same voice if she just closed her eyes. But this time, she had to keep her eyes open. Stand behind me, she’d say. She’d drape his arms around, fasten the hands on her breasts. And she’d look down. Just like this.
by Angela Maracle
My mother demanded a TV in the delivery room so she could watch the playoffs. When Montreal lost the cup she stopped pushing.
“I don’t want this baby anymore.”
They sedated her and pulled me out with forceps.
When I was five I knew the names of all the players. Reciting them for company made me special.
“Isn’t she smart? She’s such a hockey fan. I’ll tell you a funny story about the night she was born.”
I heard this anecdote for forty years. I don’t mind hockey, but I hate my mother.
Jim from Critical Theory 2012: Born Under a Bad Signifier
by Damian Dressick
The clocks have been stuck at three for days, and while some people blamed the aliens who hover above Mellon Arena in their shimmering silver ship, Jim is pretty sure he’s responsible. He’s vowed to cease his chronic navel gazing and scale way back on his unrelenting what-if-ery, but even now catches himself wondering: “If only I’d stopped ruminating on all my past mistakes sooner, this might never have happened.”
Special thanks to Jessica Standifird for her editorial assistance. This week’s artwork is by Anna Lea Jancewicz.
What with Daddy Gone and All
by Mathew Pereda
She keeps her eyes closed, not caring that she’s got to wear a dress that doesn’t cover her knees enough. Mr. Avery’s here with some papers. She hugs a corner of the house, arms out, gripping, as if that’ll prevent him shirking it right out from under them like a tablecloth—like those men on TV do it—leaving them all stalk-still and leftover, like fine china, she thinks. Her mother’s crying smells like whiskey. Mr. Avery has a face like an owl: a chin and jaws that skip a neck, with eyes that could just swallow her up.
by Diana Kirk
“You haven’t eaten your peas.” His fist would hit the oak table if my fork didn’t reach my mouth. I had about five seconds to make this happen. Meatloaf, potatoes, peas, meatloaf, potatoes, peas. I must have skipped the peas and he had seen. Scoop, bite, don’t look up, just chew. Thirty times, then swallow. Maybe he won’t throw our plates tonight if I can just remember. If I don’t mess up and look at her. Keep your eyes focused on this plate or he’ll throw her too. Just…chew. 1, 2, 3. Meatloaf, potatoes, peas.
by Alex Sobel
“Who’d want to live to ninety-eight, anyway?” she says, on his lap, six years to her name, sweetness in audacity. “Anyone who’s ninety-seven,” he says, an uncle. I eat pineapple chunks, pastries, drink soda. You’re in the other room, the casket, old stories that can get nothing but older, vaguer. “But she was loved,” he continues, “and she’ll continue to be loved.” I throw away my plate, uneaten pastries. I want to be that girl, have those questions, that lack of limitations. Instead, I leave to find you, wondering how strange it is that some death is worse than others.
by Nupur Balain
I knew little Timothy had been bullied again. I could tell by his shuffling gait, how he flinched whenever anyone neared him. I pitied little Timothy. His parents didn’t care about his situation; they figured putting him into a wealthy boarding school would make all their problems go away. They left it up to us, the teachers, to care for him. As he passed, I stopped him and asked if he was alright. He looked at me and said, “It’s fine. She said she’s coming for them.”
by Lee L. Krecklow
He asked if she had change for a five, and she said she did not, which was a lie, a small lie, but within it she realized a perverse power. She watched him go from table to table, asking the same and hearing the same, and she reveled in her control, understanding that it was a thing she hadn’t owned for years. It lasted until he found what he was after, from some naive teenage girl. He put his dollar in the machine, received his drink and returned to their table. “It’s not cold,” he said. Good, she thought.