The boy is quick to sleep while her waking mind remains stubborn. Twilight through the window illuminates his long aquamarine locks. Its strands slide through her fingers like seawater sluicing—her mind floats to his snow globe gift.
“It’s Rome,” he’d said, knowing she loves traveling.
Beneath the dome, Santorini’s blue roofs mimic its turquoise waters. She knows she’ll never witness the whitewashed walls or feed the island’s famous feral felines with the boy as he’d promised, which was fine.
Because she would again feel the sea on her fingers—sure as she feels his silky hair at that moment.
by DB Cox
A passing breeze lifts dead leaves and scatters them over a tattered rag doll lying beneath the statue of a bronze soldier—forever frozen in an intrepid pose of war movie bravado.
Summer tourists stare at the pathetic apparition wrapped in an army overcoat, nose-down in a pool of piss. Baptized—purified–crucified in the mute humility of his own guilt. An unconscious monument tangled in green, triple-canopy dreams. While inside crusty ears, the noise of city traffic hums like a Huey. Spectral MedEvac searching for a soul—lost more than fifty years ago, somewhere along the Mekong river.
by R.T. Raynaud
Despite what it looks like, the old mental hospital isn’t that scary of a place. Sure, every so often, groups of people will come out of the surrounding woods to attack me. But, they aren’t that hard to kill.
For the life of me, I can’t figure out why they always seem so focused on taking selfies and writing things on the wall in spray paint. It makes it too easy to get the jump on them.
Not that I’m complaining, of course. They always make sure there is plenty to eat around here.
It’s not that difficult to get things into the ground, my grandma had told me every spring. It’s getting them to come back up, to reach for the sun, that was the hard part. I hoped she was right, and that what I’d just buried would never see daylight.
Dinner alone was strange, but something I felt I could get used to. I was draining a second glass of wine when I heard the thunderclaps, followed by the rush of a murderous downpour.
Time will tell, my grandma would have said. I sincerely pray it doesn’t say a word.
by Tim Goldstone
She keeps a dream in which she looks out of a window onto a wide avenue where a hundred yards away uniformed men are advancing, smashing their way into every house they pass. There are charred, smoking tree stumps down both sides of the avenue. She has a baby in her thin arms. Two hours old. The only way out is the front door. She clamps the baby to her and runs out into the avenue. Freezing wind shakes her eyes. She gasps and runs towards the horizon. They fire. She wakes. She knows others who didn’t.
by Voula Labos
She saw herself in New York City.
Sawing through the moving bodies, toward her destination, coffee cup in hand, mint suede shoes, try to not get stepped on, nearly unavoidable at 7:54 on a Monday morning, but it was all in the attempt.
The rain, the shoes all muddied, coffee spilled, burning, and she was two and a half minutes late but it was New York and not okay but half expected and was what you had to do to be a part of the city and she’d gladly trek through quicksand to continue with this life.
by Kent Oswald
Never believing his mother’s repeated reassurances he was just a late bloomer, Mark had always regretted what seemed a burden of terminal normalcy until the day he hid from work in a toilet stall and timed himself reading Victor Hugo’s “Les Miserables” for an hour and three minutes. Thinking “who else would do that?” he resumed his accounting with unbridled optimism, unaware—and finally with no concern—that nobody else noticed nor cared.
Under The Eight-Mile Bridge
by DB Cox
Most nights he slept in the silent space between freights that rolled overhead like a storm. Rocking concrete pillars planted along hidden fault lines—under the eight-mile bridge. Where gods spoke through broken wine bottles and drunken-tongued stumble-bums coughed up old tales that colored the air blue. Haunted faces, like hopeless ghosts, tallying old mistakes under the eight-mile bridge.
His mind was gone when they brought him back to the county home—where he lies under nights too quiet staring up, restless and confused, wondering what happened to the thunder under the eight-mile bridge.
Dish towers sway beside ornithology magazines; a shoe gathers mold in the sink. He tries to be better, like a skunk trying to fly. Junk-winnowings, selective, sparing more than he trashes. Useful items, never used. Still, mail lurks in the bathroom, pamphlets avalanche the unwary—his wife mourns old checks, dated 30 months prior—artifacts from the past, never cashed.
“Let’s see a couple’s therapist,” she says. They don’t. Instead, when they drive to the city two years later, it’s to meet a divorce lawyer, who draws up the paperwork her husband later shoves into the gap behind the sofa.
Silver Years Self-Discovery
by Laxmi Vijayan
Didn’t have the cash nor the courage to leave country, so I kept my ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ near Virginia. My granddaughter says local is en vogue.
I ate my way to my stomach, and through its lining, at them Korean places? It was authentic cuz none o’ them understood a word I said.
Y’know, I meant to find God at that temple in West Virginia. But He wasn’t worth driving through 200 miles of mountain roads, so I settled for Buddha at Luray Caverns.
At my age, I can find love right here, playin’ board games at the Senior Center.
by Maggie Childers
Oh, who am I when I listen to vinyl? My old boorish vinyl—the stories behind these records must be rich and telling! Oh, who am I when I gingerly flip through these stories, pressing them onto my player? Some 70’s song playing intricately in the background, surely the soundtrack to a movie! A glimpse into this room is a glimpse into a cinema. A film of a girl with a record player plays under stars, under bed comforters, under parents’ arguments. She believes in this song. This dance. This subtle nod at all that’s happy. Amongst a wretched summer.
by David Henson
She dreams moonlight turns to frost in his lungs, and he scrapes his breath from the mirror when he shaves, coughs up hail.
His shivering awakens her, his body spooned to hers. She piles blankets. So cold, he says, darkness separating him from his voice. A shiver slithers up her spine. She tries to make her thoughts July.
After he’s gone, she looks through memories on his phone, finds a photo of herself standing near the water, whitecaps riding her shoulders. Her face is shadowed, and her head blocks the sun, its light flaring through her hair.
by Yash Seyedbagheri
Cynicism never abandons you.
It’s easy to laugh at smiles and contemplate what pills people take to induce jocundity.
It’s even easier to laugh at Mercedes and BMWs, imagine that some so-called family man is compensating for extramarital affairs. He doesn’t know his kids’ favorite bands or wife’s worst days.
It’s very easy to dissect Leave It To Beaver reruns.
Ward’s beating Wally and Beaver off-screen. June plans to abandon them, plans disguised within starched smiles and nicknames.
At dusk, I absorb long bursts of tangerine, pale blue, and lavender. I almost smile.
But there are layers beneath clouds too.