Artwork: “City Garden” by Kyle Hemmings
by Sarah Vernetti
She could barely see her neighbor’s yard. She had to open the blinds all the way and stand just so: over to the right side of the window, hugging the wall while looking sideways. But the view felt unavoidable. She wanted to spend more time in her own backyard, checking on the cacti, pruning the lantana, watching hummingbirds flit in and out of the spires of autumn sage. But her job, her role, had become inseparable from herself, and so she stood each morning, pressing her chest against the textured drywall. Waiting patiently, reporting to no one.
by Michael Jagunic
He laid his forehead against the backseat window and undid his bow tie. Beside him, she cradled the smashed up layer cake in her lap like a dead baby.
“We can fix this,” she whimpered, trying to convince herself. “We can still fix this.”
He feared the same thing that she did: that life was crumbly, that some things cannot be fixed. So he reached for her arm and gave it a squeeze. “I know.”
The cabbie, a real professional, suffered their boozy nonsense in silence.
by Chad Greene
Doubt that anyone on the streetcar clattering across the steel bridge noticed us at the edge of the river, let alone the circle of empty Pabst cans we had arranged around the base of the white cross. I had loved him the most; that’s why I left the tallboy. It towered over the 12-ouncers everyone else had left.
A Song Before Dying
by C.C. Russell
The twang of another guitar through another bridge bringing us back again to the familiar chorus. Someone says “Didn’t we just leave this party?” as a joke, but it falls flat. Outside, over the music, we can hear them scratching their way through the trees. We can hear them coming; closer every second. No one thinks to reach over and turn off the stereo. No one thinks of anything that could save us.
by Marc D. Regan
That ubiquitous moon lights dark heavens and reflects now as it did then: the burning hole in me; my corrupted innocence and the lengths to which the word love could be stretched. When my back was no longer able to bear that shameful weight, I shed bloodied sheets and a childhood of midnight lies. But after five years, I still cannot outrun that moon.
Special thanks to Jessica Standifird for her editorial assistance. This week’s artwork is by Marylea Madiman.
by Gena LeBlanc
The Devil’s in the details. He’s in the cupboards, too, waiting for idle hands to edge inside and prod the prince of darkness into action. He was there the day Judd killed all those roosters. Judd believed that Jesus had commanded him to wring feathered necks until the squawking stopped. Unfortunately for Judd, Christ has no need for dead birds. The Devil, on the other hand, loves a good sacrifice.
by Brian Schaab
I see the tendrils of midnight stretching out towards me. Grasping, groping for me, or are they beckoning, reaching towards me to envelope me in a warm embrace? I keep walking, trying to fight against it. Color has left me. Light has left me. Only a few feet around me resist the growing shadow. Something passes in front of me, it turns, black eyes staring, and smiles. Color and light radiate out of that smile. The darkness is thrown back, driven before that smile. She turns and walks down the street, fading into the New York bustle. The unknowing hero.
by Dennis E. Thompson
Mornings were quiet now. Carl Saebo had never liked arguing, normally avoided it at all cost, but sitting alone at the table was too much stillness, like a warm summer day when the heat becomes stifling from no air movement. Life was different. His wife had passed before him and that was not how it was supposed to be. He lit another cigarette and drank deeply from his coffee. He wondered where sixty-four years of his life had gone, how each had blended and passed, like rivulets after a hard rain running together and disappearing in sand.
by Chris Deal
The dying started in the early evening. Nights stretched cold and long and the fire needed wood, sending Llewellyn out to bring down trees. He had become near an expert. The angles were easy, though there were always variables. A railroad spike driven into the old growth, to defend against loggers long gone. The saw’s chain caught and exploded with a high squeal, lashing out and slashing his chest, neck. He weighed his options as he leaned against the unfelled tree. The fading sun left a gash of purple and red across the sky.
Chinese Fire Drill
by C.C. Russell
Red light pulsed through the windshield, the thump of Jenny’s playlist as the Buick stopped, shuddering. “Again!” a voice laughed, yelled and we were out, screaming around the car. I ended up in the backseat. Jill leaned in, kissed me hard, tongue darting. I tingled – less from the kiss than the whiskey kicking in. J.D. was driving now, his eyes wild, warm from the fifth we had split. I grabbed Jill and returned the favor. Harder. And the whole world turned green. I hit J.D. in the shoulder. “Punch it!” I yelled. Jill laughed, pulled my face towards hers.