Practically Asking For It
Nadine is shopping for a new boyfriend – she’s looking for a two-takeaways-a-week, comes-with-his-own toothbrush type. She doesn’t have the budget for anything else.
In aisle three, there’s been some kind of spillage. A muscular man labeled Colin is clearing up. Watch out love, he says and points at the luminous Hazard, Keep Clear.
In court, Colin will say she stepped out anyway, right into his path. The judge will smirk. Silly Nadine. Too dumb to read the signs.
by David M Wallace
A thin stream of drool traveled from the corner of his mouth. It hung off his chin like a translucent strand of whitish fish eggs. His lips moved silently as he swayed back and forth. Gently tossed on an invisible tide. The beads of his rosary slipping through his fingers.
At the Hardware Store
by Jennifer Lai
A couple considers paint swatches: Desire Pink, Sleepy Blue, and Lauren’s Surprise. “Lyin’ Eyes” plays in the background while “Special assistance needed in the tools area” blares overhead. I’m wandering aimlessly when an employee asks if I need help. Her tag says Ask Me Anything. I want to know why my best friend hasn’t returned my calls in over a week and why my boyfriend broke up with me last night. Instead, I ask for the bathroom. She gestures left, right, then left again.
“There’s signs along the way”, she says, “but they’re easy to miss if you’re not looking.”
by H. A. Eugene
Michael couldn’t afford new ideas. So he regurgitated the words he’d read and presented the book to the librarian, closed; a good-faith gesture meaning the ideas within remained uncomprehended.
“I am choosing not to learn,” Michael announced, walking backward through the library’s entrance.
He continued, carefully placing one foot behind the other until his backside arrived at home, where he resolved to remain until such time that change may not feel so expensive.
by David Henson
This time we let the silence lie between us. It rolls onto its back, lolls out its tongue, invites someone to scratch its stomach. When no one does, the silence sits, whines, pumps its paws, stands and chases its tail. Neither of us reacts, so the silence scampers into another room, comes back squeaking, drops its playfulness between us. Still ignored, the silence stiffens, ears back, tail erect, hackles raised. Its lips curl, and rising snarls lather its jaws. The silence eyes your throat, mine. I take my chances, bite my tongue.
by Mikki Aronoff
One night I had a dream. I watched a blue whale slap its tail on the calm ocean surface, saw green anacondas slick their way through the steamy Amazon. I ambled along the Left Bank observing painters painting lovers, drove a car through a hole carved through a giant sequoia.
When I awoke, I thought this meant I was going to die. I went to my desk and filled my fountain pen to write my will. It skittered and scratched and blotched the page blue until I relented and replaced it in its stand.
Deep In The Woods
Summer weekends were spent in the old farmhouse. My brother and I sitting in the glow of the fire, our parents reading The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the smoky aromas of dinner lingering, cricket-song punctuated by the snap of escaping sparks. We’d found a tin box of toys which we gripped as we listened to the story of the lost little girl. When the fire and comforting smells receded and we were tucked in, I listened to the scratch of mice in the walls, drip of rain seeping through musty beams and wondered if the dark might swallow us up.
by Jennifer Lai
After the divorce, her heart turned to stone. He said she was dead weight who kept him from his dreams. From becoming the astronaut he was destined to become. She argued she was his rock, her words heavy like gravity. But he was light-years away. Silenced into a cosmic void. Years later, she saw him on TV. Orbiting in space on a broken shuttle. Outside he went but forgot to tether in and drifted away. Fast and light like a plume into the obsidian expanse, with no one around to keep him grounded.