by Nicole Brogdon
“Honey, I swear, in the middle of the night, someone pulled our bodies out the bed by our feet. Then replaced us with two old people.”
Curtis stroked Annabelle’s thinning hair, yawning. “Is that so?”
“Look at yourself!” She removed the sheet, exposing grey chest hairs, soft belly, thin legs.
“Seriously! And me!” She jiggled underarm waddles. “I used to plank pose forever, on strong slender arms. These breasts… so firm once, I coulda served cocktails off of them.”
Curtis pulled Annabelle close. “Go back to sleep, Old Lady.” He smelled like himself, like a pear. But spoiling.
by Brian Beatty
Crows as big around as footballs filled the yard out front of Hurley’s rented trailer home.
As if taunting the hippie junk dealer and his decrepit hound. As if daring them to take their chances by stepping outside.
Hurley chuckled. “Where are you nasty buggers at the first of the month when rent’s due? Sure not around here.”
He understood talking to those birds meant he was essentially talking to himself again.
Monroe’s nose was working like crazy on the safer side of the screen door. Hurley had zero intention of letting his old dog out after them.
by Benny Biesek
His pastries took 1st. After the gala, he escaped to his bakery to think.
“What is it to become untouchable?”
Quite weary, he turned dough in his hands, then laughed.
He’d leave it all behind: renounce his riches.
In search of answers, he waits in line at the food pantry, quietly avoiding the dessert section.
I’m Not Creepy
by John Young
“I’m not creepy. I’m observant.”
That’s what I told Lulu looking through my binoculars across the street at the man who buttoned up his shirt every morning at 8:15.
“Observant means you notice details that others don’t see, not that they can’t see.”
The man stuffed his shirt in his pants, wrapped a tie around his neck, and grabbed a jacket hanging on the back of the chair.
“And just like that, he’s out the door.”
“What color shirt was he wearing?”
“What?” I said narrowing my binoculars on Lulu.
“His shirt. What color was it?”
Made in the Shade
by Brian Beatty
Young women gallivanted around the flea market grounds in skimpy cut-off jean shorts and bikini tops like they were auditioning for nudie bar jobs. Gawping teenage boys followed not far behind. Hurley took it all in from a hammock hanging between two shade trees near his tent full of merchandise. He pretended to be reading a Hardy Boys mystery from his inventory. Kids showed up at sales to be seen, not to buy. You only had to look down at their ridiculous shoes. The women wobbled along on high heels. Their admirers wore bright sneakers fresh out of the box.
by Fiona Evans
Mum hands me the spoon to lick. The mixture looks disgusting, like gritty brown poo. Chocolate, butter, and sugar whipped up ready for my birthday cake. It tastes like heaven.
She shakes her head and says, “I don’t know how you always look so untidy.”
“It’s my superpower.”
Mum doesn’t laugh. She hasn’t since Dad left. I spread my arms wide and run around the room pretending to fly like superman.
Still no laugh. She just wipes the sweat from her brow and says, “Go on and clean up now.”
by David Henson
Fingers snap. She’s a grade-school girl, fires apples at the teacher, stops them in midair like a string of beads. A stripper, she wears red balloons she lets the men pop with their cigarettes. When she finishes her act, there’s nothing left but glowing ashes and half-empty mugs. A nun, she dances in the air with a Jesus from a life-sized crucifix as the congregation flees the pews. She enters beauty contests, her talent — dousing herself with gasoline. She strikes a match, while blazing embraces every judge, sits down, and smiles at the screams.
Duty to Protect
When Haruki was drafted into the military, he had accepted death. He’d envisioned a brass bullet whizzing through smoke and blood and shrapnel, puncturing his helmet and splintering his brain, killing him instantly. Instead, one hand of a poacher squeezed his neck, suffocating his screams, while the other thrust a spear beneath Haruki’s ribs, a spear more often used to pierce the endangered eels around the Bemo islands sanctuary where Haruki was deployed, guardian to marine flora and fauna. His last thought was of neglecting his childhood goldfish and his apathy at finding them floating belly up in the water.