From the Sky
by Trevor Dunnigan
I flick my cigarette and the hot ash is taken by the wind. As I sit on the sun-soaked steel beam, I look down at the birds flying far below my throne. I look out, imagining the building completed. Covered in a beautiful skin of metal and glass. I try and picture myself standing on the soon to be completed floor wearing a suit and tie, but I cannot, I can only see myself, sitting on the skeleton of the beautiful building, shirtless, smoking my cigarette.
by Kathy Pendrill
“Will I see you again?” I ask.
She nods, and smiles a smile that doesn’t quite reach her eyes, those foggy blue eyes obscured by the smoke of a thousand last cigarettes smoked by a thousand Jane Does; eyes that seem covered by the cloud that hangs low in the room whenever I’m alone with her, that feels like breathing in the smoke my father used to blow just below the open window while driving in the front seat so that I, sat in the back seat directly behind him, could quietly choke.
“Sure thing,” she lies. I smile back.
by Albert Hughes
A huge tree grew in the garden of his childhood, casting its dark shadow over even his sunnier days. He and his mother had always hated it. When his father died, it was cut down.
by Celeste Regal
The moon over Louisiana bayous trick the mind into believing in magic. Mist of morning feels poetic, transformational. The shrimpers were romantic for ocean. Rough men. Hard working men. Their lives off shrimp boats produced a great longing. Florescent Mantis shrimp glowed like fairies in the darkness. The force of water bodies, cyan-blackened sky was powerful voodoo. A shrimper called Godzilla because a tattoo of the beast on his back pulling boats while breathing fire, told the tale. It is seasonal work. The mundane jobs taken off season dim the spirit, craving return to watery effusion.
Your Own Norma Desmond
by Jim Doss
From the outside, the house looked like a giant cobweb. Stepping through the front door, you heard the sound of flies buzzing against the windows. The live-in nurse greeted you with the thousand-year-old eyes of a Nile Queen, her fingers imprinted with gossip magazines. Climbing the winding staircase, you entered a twilight bedroom where an old woman lay motionless on the bed barely able to blink. Surrounding her were clocks of various ages, large, small, stopped and still ticking, affirming the countdown of hours in every corner of the world. The wall-mounted TV screen looped endlessly through her home movies.
by Zack Butovich
Based on the flies, the cows had been dead for two days. That was what Marcello said. Two days. Like a mantra, over and over. He was shaking, his boots too big for his feet, when Mika convinced us to keep hiking past the corpses, which she insisted was just hamburger meat left out too long. Bad burgers, she said, in her poor English, her thick-tongued German accent. “I am from Hamburg, I would know.”
My boots were soggy. I didn’t notice when they splashed in puddles that could have been more than just water.
The Hungarian Underground
by Patricia Quintana Bidar
My neighbor Lisa was a retired member of the Hungarian underground. Her husband, a suspendered attorney, decreed they’d leave New York for the sticks. There, he’d command the locals as a gentleman farmer. Lisa mended socks with staples, lobbed dirty dishes out the window, all in her peignoir and fur puff slippers. From her, I learned to advance my aims through eyeliner and misdirection. Because before long they returned to their penthouse on the upper East Side. As long as Lisa and I kept discreet, her husband was content as a connoisseur of bourbon and collector of handmade neckties.
Breakfast for Ghosts
by Lora Kilpatrick
Every morning, a man walks out of our pond and stares in the back door. His skin is bloated and purple. Algae hangs off his hat. At first, Mama fainted. Now we just let him in and save him a seat at the table. Mama serves him a plate of eggs and a cup of coffee. He never eats, but we think something like a smile splits his swollen lips. When we’re done, he tips his hat to Mama and walks back to the pond. Mama says not all ghosts want to scare people. Some just want breakfast.
by Barbara Schilling Hurwitz
The land shook senseless for days before the tremors ceased. All was still but the movement of the sea. The world once heated by the warmth of the sun was left cold, grey and lifeless. We approached with caution the petrified hand, covered in ash, rising from the packed granules of sand, its fingers motioning us closer. “You,” a thundering voice spoke, “have been gifted a fresh canvas on which to paint the world anew. But heed my warning, choose your colors with care or like the previous holders of the brush, you will bring forth the apocalypse once again.”
by Howie Good
One person in six hasn’t heard of the Holocaust, doesn’t know what it is, a planet of smoke and flames. Seventy year ago my relatives didn’t believe it was there, and then they walked through the gate and under the slogan, Arbeit Macht Frei, and found they suddenly had a dismal view of God’s back from inside the barbed wire. So I look around, and though the times are terrifying, try to act like a kind of thunderstorm blue, like I can see clouds in the shape of a woman’s mighty body and feel the rain that hasn’t fallen yet.
If Not for Love
by Lacie Semenovich
I’m married. Happily married. Except at 2 AM when I’m homicidal. I don’t sleep well anymore. My bladder. My bones. My memories. My husband sleeps like a drunken teen and snores like an asthmatic. I imagine the weight of the memory foam pillow in my hands, hovering above his face, still handsome after all these years. He’ll think he’s dreaming. Then blissful silence. Ah, if not for love… Instead, I plant my foot in the middle of his back and push. The dog knows better than to sleep on his side of the bed. I roll over and feign sleep.
by Celeste Regal
It was always winter in her heart. Even in this torrid country where dogs go mad, locals walk like zombies inert and unsurprised. A dearth of freedoms profound, though. On this day, awash in light, a fantastic bird perched on the gallery and spoke. “Outliving them allows transition to the acropolis.” It disappeared in a rainbow flutter. She looked askance at the cloak of hidden desires bursting at the seams. Back to her desk, she wrote away regrets with strokes full of color and confidence. Each paragraph left trails for another oracular bird to arrive unannounced.