End of the Summer Season
by M J Christie
Answer the call of a deserted beach. Welcome the silence filled with memories of her. Look not for phantom footprints washed away by rolling tide. Instead, endure the pain. Suffer the change her leaving brings. Let it shape the man inside. Be him.
Remember the day she left. Blow a kiss. Au revoir, mon amour. Au revoir does not mean goodbye. Futile wishes foster hope but then collapse like castles made of sand.
A hand tugs. ‘Dad?’
Embrace him. Capture his grin. Revisit the love that made him.
Smile. Accept his challenge. Make this moment about him.
by Joseph House
He leans back, eyes closed. His glass dully clicks against the bar. Its contents burn Sherman’s Path down his throat. The whiskey is cheap, primordial… speaking to the onrushing progress of fire. There’s no flavor, nuance, substance. There is only burn, marching forward… conquering… destroying while creating. It is purely penance, paid for in cash and hangovers.
He doesn’t look at his phone. He doesn’t think about the calls… the texts…. His thoughts slide over the roll of hundreds in his pocket… the corporate account he emptied.
He needs to move on in the morning. He orders another whiskey now.
Johnnys On The Half Shell
by Mark Pearson
Salty winds stung his scowling face as he reviewed the Dear John Snapchat, the shore pines resolute before the cliff. A dark blue seascape beckoned 20 fathoms below. Jump, said the purple starfish on the inter-tidal rocks, basking in the cool sun. Don’t you have enough smartphones? asked the seal. Not an iPhone X with a charged battery, said the echinoderm. Dibs on his eyes, said the crab, clinging to the barnacle covered basalt, seaweed hanging like long green Jheri curls. You Cancers are all the same, said the Octopus. The cephalopod flashed JUSTDOIT in red letters across his body.
by Tommy Mack
When Dad moved in, I resolved to kill him with kindness. Topping up his glass, passing the M&Ms, fetching and carrying to keep him on the sofa. Picturing the fat hardening in his arteries as I troweled butter onto his morning toast.
Blood vessels burst in his face and his eyes yellowed with jaundice. Diabetes came, gout too but the bugger refused to die.
He sits, outlined by twenty years of sweat: a pasty, bloated mound of dough, pudgy fingers drumming on the table as my shaking hands pour six measures of cheap supermarket scotch into his cracked glass tumbler.
by Catherine Stratton
Divorce is cynicism unmasked. Or, perhaps, it’s hope set free that hearkens an escape?
Then, one day I make the call. Something with the kids and I hear his voice and I’m flung back to the time I burrowed into his softer parts; the window shades raised to reveal a dark and wintry wonderland of snow latching onto the trees with a clingy embrace.
He says something. The moment passes and, like a boomerang, I’m flung back to the present and I feel cold.
by Eliza Mimski
Her smile leads the way. She is a dream leaning against a streetlight, breath coming from a doorway. Glossy and detached, she presses against you. There is the roof of her mouth. You enter her eyelids. A breeze circles your ankles. You swim inside her remedies. She owns your footsteps.
The next day, her smile sits upright in a booth. Time is a tunnel and she pulls you through it.
Later, the soft sidewalk. She is drunken streetlights, a locked car, red lips breaking into dark buildings. The moon is an apron and the night inhales.
by B.E. Seidl
The moment I try to fixate my gaze on a detail, it changes its face. A smile contorts into a grimace, a structure resolves into chaos, beauty fades away. At times, when I’m tired or tipsy, I watch as the broken becomes whole again and the weathered blooms with new life. Yet, nothing ever stays the same. Whenever I seek to catch an instant, it slips away, leaving only a faint impression like a falling star. My eyes have become sore from their constant blinking. I’m tired of this kaleidoscope world. Still, I cannot stop myself stop from chasing consistency.
by Louella Lester
Cow has already been milked so she lies here with feet tucked, eyes closed, and face held up to the sun that sifts down through a gauze of cloud. She smiles and thinks she’s dreaming what is really a past life reminiscence of basking on a yacht off a warm coast with friends who flirt and nibble canapés. Cow is still unaware, so she’s able to ignore things like the bluebottle flies that buzz and land on her nose in a vain attempt to remind her of just how she got here.
by Kari Treese
I opened the sliver of my surgical scar that covers a hard lump under my right knee. When that thin skin split, I pulled the top half of a miniature statue of liberty, bleached white, out of my leg by her torch. This bloody half popped free and skin snapped back. Next, I fished out a shard of plastic, a thick splinter, also white. Two flat copper disks the size of a fingernail that smelled like dirty pennies. The abjection relieved the pressure inside the joint, as expected. Waking, I felt her there, under the skin, yearning to break free.
Man and Dog Crossing the Street
by Louella Lester
There he is, about to cross the street, not at the light of course. He wears a frayed plaid shirt—the one I gave him the week before I ran out of choices and ran. When did he get a dog? Shiny short-hair, muscles, no extra fat—both of them. He grips its leash. I slip back behind the parking lot hedge and hold my breath. He steps out—chin up at an angle. No horns honk. No drivers yell. They would never imagine his tears, snot, and apologies soaking my shoulder while I made silent plans.
Seaside View of a Woman
by Melissa Bobe
Quentin could not decide whether the woman in the yellow bathing suit had neglected to shave her armpits or not. From his purview, the pleasant curves of hip and ass and arches of back and neck were visible, the hair tied back in a coy manner, even the arousing side of the one breast he could make out. But to his frustration, he could not determine whether it was a shadow or a patch of hair there beneath the place the languid arm met its socket, and so he could not decide if the woman herself was alluring or revolting.
by Andrew Taylor-Troutman
By junior year, every cool white boy I knew leaned against his truck and spat tobacco juice into Coke bottles, never Diet, and constantly used the word “epic”: epic party, epic hook-up, epic burrito. My best friend got braces and I did not. There were rumors other guys got laid. We all got drunk. He and I got our alcohol by asking men on downtown street corners. We called it playing Hey Mister. We enticed them by saying they could keep the change. More than a few took off with all of our money. And that was always a relief.
by Robin Perry Politan
The first hit – like a small stone, thrown – took him in the throat, mid-sentence.
The hit, bigger this time, caught him mid-stride, in the chest. His eyes watered.
Drinking alone, watching TV, a small boulder got him right in the gut. He wasn’t one to well up at predictable song cues, sappy movies, pet deaths. He was a bucker-upper. He hadn’t shed a tear over their bloodless divorce. It’s not like he missed the bitch.
And, after all, she did it to herself.
The avalanche landed on his head. His howls woke the cat.
by Dan Cohen
As a boy fishes along a mountain stream, he comes across what he first thinks is an animal, but turns out to be a man on all fours, face immersed. When the boy asks what he is doing, he says he’s drinking the top of the stream, the sweet part, where it meets the air. He leaves the layers below, which taste of fish and mud, for others. The boy points out that, once he has drunk the top, the surface of whatever remains is now the top. The old man laughs. The boy knows nothing about streams.