Special thanks to Jessica Standifird for her editorial assistance. This week’s artwork is by Tobias Oggenfuss.
Fistfighting Etiquette for Girls
by Sue Ann Connaughton
You’re allowed to fistfight another girl if she says “Hi” to your boyfriend, calls you stuck-up, or smirks at you disrespectfully. Do not arm yourself with weapons, including rocks, sticks, and sharpened fingernails. Do not kick, bite, scratch, or pull hair. You may slap, punch, and arm twist. However, you may not strike her face or groin area. Do not cry. Shake hands with your opponent after grownups stop the fistfight. Laugh, when your mother cries while bandaging your bloody knuckles. Never fistfight again. Never mention it to your husband and children. Cry when you see your daughter’s bloody knuckles.
by Arthur Plotnik
“Mommy—you complete me,” Eric said as Linda drove him to pre-school.
“Why thank you! But where’d you hear that?”
“The wall, at naptime.”
“Funny wall,” Linda said, though it seemed less funny following his wall quote yesterday: “I’ve never felt so alive.” She’d blamed television, forgotten about it on seeing husband Gary, whose law work overlapped her hospital shifts. Mrs. Fosset, part-time nanny, fetched and fed Eric. “Sweetheart, does Mrs. Fosset have you nap after daddy gets home?”
“Sometimes.” Then, a giggle. “Silly wall! Nobody wants that.”
He used his moo-cow voice: “I want you in me.”
The Old Woman
by Kyle Hemmings
I loved exploring the abandoned house near a burn-out field. The stairs creaked and the empty rooms whispered. One day I heard a woman’s voice from the top floor. She was smiling in her rocking chair. Her hair was covered with cobwebs. Bees buzzed around her ears. “I’ve been waiting to see you,” she said, staring straight at me. She mumbled that I was her lost son. I ran. Out of curiosity, I returned. She took off her head and clothes. She was nothing but a voice.
by Brad Nelms
She came to check on him. She clicked the handcuffs closer to his skeletal wrists. Steel biting into ragged flesh. He stirred, a dry rattle creeping its way out of his throat. “Hush dear…Shhh…” She cooed. Stroking his thin, damp hair and bringing her mouth close to his ear, she whispered, “Save your strength, it will not be much longer. We need you to be empty so the Lord can fill you up. The stars are almost right.” Her eyes drifted over his gaunt form, bones were fighting to push out through sagging skin. “Soon,” she smiled. “Very Soon.”
How Did I Feel?
by Bertram Allan Mullin
My flesh fell off on its own. I couldn’t see, but I could taste and smell. My limbs were soft tissue. Somehow my ankle broke. I began to drag it everywhere I went. The only word I could say was, “Grawrr,” which was debatably not even a word. Then my right eye up and fell from its socket. The others pointed and cackled. Got hard to think about all of that, though, because I was hungry all the time. Endless cravings for blood, living skin, and of course brains.