by Ashlie Allen
Her skin smelled like cherry blossom and vinegar. I told her to rest against me and be quiet; I am too timid to respond to affectionate sentences. She doesn’t feel loved. Maybe I don’t either. We stay close because our depression needs to bond. I like it when she tells me I look like a woman and have malevolent eyes. One night she hit me. I cradled my cheek, eyes demonic with hurt. “I meant it,” she hissed. Slumping to my knees, I started laughing at the stinging in my heart. No, I didn’t feel admired. But she didn’t either.
The Tunnel of Love
by Esther Smoller
It looked innocuous. Gleaming, mouth wide open. A man in white telling me he loved me. He would stay with me forever, never leave me when the going got rough. The music! Swirling above my head, pitch a little too high. Ponies, poodles, and puppies. He wrapped me tight in his arms. The music grew louder. It wasn’t music anymore. The sound of breaking cement! He dug a grave. Pussycats, poodles, and ponies. The Tunnel of Love became tight. The three Ps were not working. Paralysis, perdition, and petard came in disguise. The music lightened, bearable. He waited for me.
by Pavelle Wesser
I was on fire after winning the science competition, which may be why, as I was accepting the trophy, it disintegrated in my hands while my synapses short-circuited. Through the haze of my mind, I tried to tell Dad the pics he was snapping of me would be his last. “Dad!” The word burned to cinders before emerging from my charred lips. I extended my arms, which exploded off my shoulders, prompting piercing screams from the audience. Finally, I combusted, and the immense pressure that had been building up within me from the beginning of the competition was released.
Baby Come Back
by Tara Roeder
After you left, all of the plants died. Even the cacti. A swarm of ants has made their home in the kitchen. The buttons have fallen off my favorite shirt. Your newfound devotion to the hermit crab sanctuary at the expense of all human interaction remains as puzzling as it is hurtful. I wish you would reconsider. I await your response.
P.S. The pots and pans are covered with a strange mildew.
by Steve Lucas
Ian returned from his snowboarding holiday in Canada and decided that one day he would build computers or robots, but right now he was drunk and there was nothing to eat in our flat so he unscrewed the lid from a jar of mayonnaise and starting eating it with a tablespoon. It made me feel sick, but he said it was nothing. In the showers of St. Joseph’s rugby club, one of the guys inserted a finger into his own sphincter and pushed it into Ian’s face. Ian was tough, hungry, and left the kitchen taps running.
by Brad Nelms
“Why does your cat always lick me so much?” I asked pulling my hand away from the purring tabby squatting on my chest.
“I read online somewhere, that the Egyptians believed cats would lick people to purify their bodies before death so they wouldn’t get eaten by Ammit, the crocodile god,” she said without looking up from her book.
“Well, tell her to knock it off. It’s not like I am going to die anytime soon,” I said with a weak laugh. Locking eyes with the cat, I rested my hand near its mouth. “Get back to work,” I whispered.
by Ashlie Allen
I climb the mango tree, not to taste sweetness but to see something beautiful and feel the thrill of peace. The people below think I have a ghostly voice and that my teeth are sinister. Maybe I am an animal trying to be attractive so someone will take care of me. I ascend the branches so my shadow will be far away and so the earth can’t touch me. If my feet meet the ground ever again, I will eat fruit and celebrate all the seeds I cannot grow, only consume.
The Year My Mother Died
by Esther Smoller
Miss Kiltenham sat on my porcelain kitten and broke its tail. I begged my father not to make me go to my first day at school. He drove right up to the front door and allowed me to clutch his hand in desperation but let it go as I walked into the classroom. Because I was a small child, I was given a front row desk. Miss Kiltenham liked to sit on the edge of my desk—right where I placed my comfort kitten. I came home that day with a note pinned to my chest: “Esther vomited today.”
by Jen Finelli
We used to climb roofs, at night. Restaurants, chemistry labs—the physics building, with its medieval tower, rails and parapets, was a favorite. We watched people below, dodged security guard flashlights, shivered as the fog descended, tiles moistened, and the stars dimmed. We climbed because teens need adventure, struggle! One night we found charcoal, and drew on the tiles for the next adventurers to find. “What message do you want to leave the world?” I asked my buddy. “I don’t know,” he said. I wrote it down, sadly, but maybe he was right.
by Troy Evans
Brenda stormed out of the store. “I’m never shopping there again!”
Joel shuffled along behind, wishing he was somewhere else.
“Are you listening to me?!”
“I think that guy’s living in his car; he’s always sitting in it.”
Joel had learned that detaching from her rants saved time and was, to some degree, safer than engaging Brenda directly, even in spite of the abuse he would inevitably receive. He turned. She was behind him now, entranced by a display in a shoe store window. Just beyond her, paramedics were pulling the man’s lifeless body from the car.
by Georgene Smith Goodin
Irma said it was bad symbolism to get married in a funeral suit. I’d worn the only one I owned to bury Nana and Uncle Joe, so she ordered me to rent something. I thought that was bad symbolism too, like our marriage was on loan from strangers. There’s no arguing with that woman, so I picked through the rental rack while some pimple faces got outfitted for prom. Irma’s so stubborn, she wouldn’t even say I was right when I found her in the bathroom with our best man. “That didn’t take long,” I said, and closed the door.