Special thanks to Jessica Standifird for her editorial assistance. This week’s artwork by Marylea M. Quintana Madiman.
by Richard Jennis
Mr. Lemieux showed me a flimsy little photograph, black and white, stained with tear marks, crinkled into sixty-fourths from years of folding and unfolding into increasingly smaller wallets. “It just gets bigger,” he explained. “It can’t fit anywhere anymore, it simply consumes everything.” The first girl was soft and yellow like a balloon that might just float away, and the other was bright and musical like a walking serenade. “She died, her sister survived,” Mr. Lemieux explained. I held him for three hours and waited for him to tell me which one, but he only muttered, “My baby. My beautiful baby.”
by Tammy Lynne Stoner
Winter came quickly with a sudden frost. Electrical lines snapped. Olive trees died. And the albino alligators in the zoo froze. She watched them float down the river that curved through the zoo, wondering why their hard bodies didn’t sink. It wasn’t a bad way to go, she thought, they probably fell asleep first. Maybe that’s how I’ll do it. The woman tucked her chin into her scarf and looked down at the green water. The dead alligators drifted on top. She wanted to touch them but instead let them pass by, a parade of ghosts headed for the sun.
by Jessica Standifird
The dishes are growing in number, and there are whispered clinks and rattles every time I walk by the kitchen sink. I fear a coup if I am unable to meet their demands. “Would you want to be covered in three-day-old grease?” One plate spat at me this morning as I was on my way to shower. I waved my oily ponytail at him in response, my lips pulled tight and eyebrows raised. The plate spun around and settled deeper into the crowd of teacups and silverware with a grumble. I am afraid. The knives are in there.
by Tessa Mission
She replaced the sand in the hourglass with dried, dead spiders. Every time her mother made her stand in the corner for sulking, bad posture, or speaking out of turn, the spider bodies would sift through the narrow hole in the hourglass, breaking apart finer and finer as they measured her punishment. Soon they were nearly powder. In the middle of the night she snuck into the kitchen and poured them into the pepper shaker. The following evening over dinner as her parents berated her about her grades, they shook pepper onto their potatoes and ate them all up.
The Ewok and the Orc
by Anne Pem
The ewok was sobbing. Thick brown makeup ran down his face like a mudslide as he sat leaned against the wall at the comicon. Androids passed him, pretending not to notice. Pikachu pointed and whispered to Wonder Woman. Ultimately it was an orc who finally sat beside him.
“Mok’ra,” said the orc.
“Lurd,” the ewok patted his chest. “Lurdo.”
The orc tore a rag from his costume and offered it. The ewok wiped his face as the orc scratched him behind his brown ears and tried not to crush him with a hug.
Special thanks to Jessica Standifird for her editorial assistance. This week’s artwork is by Marylea M. Quintana Madiman.
by Brenda Anderson
Prydyl’s one remaining doctor had seen mushrooms growing from the eye sockets of the plague victims, but kept trying to save lives. When tiny spots appeared on his own hands, he whispered, “Find food elsewhere. Leave this place,” and stumbled home to die.
Next morning, another sufferer dragged himself to the doctor’s door only to find his skeleton lying in bed. Starving, he picked the mushrooms growing from the doctor’s eye sockets and ate them, raw.
Now a monster taps his way through the streets of Prydyl, white stick for guide and mushrooms for eyes. Hungry, he searches for food.
Thick and Thin
by Van G. Garrett
Trees punched like we slept with their wives and girlfriends.
“I’ve never tried so hard in the dark,” Elmore use to say.
We’d laugh, knowing we’d had women scattered like thorns on vines. Loving them in Buicks. Alleys. Motels. We never worked hard to get them; should’ve worked harder to keep them. Coons—another story, hard to find. Harder to keep.
Elmore’s jokes lightened the dark.
“There’s only three times you’ll find me on my knees. Two of ’em are chasin’ the invisible.”
We chased the invisible. Blood and burlap cut us at the knees.
Lights On, Nobody Home
by Aline Carriere
Knock. No response. She shuffles in her slippers from one foot to another, watching the light under the bathroom door.
“Anyone in there?” she asks in a harsh whisper trying not to wake her sleeping roommates.
She turns the knob, and pushes the door open a sliver, the light slashing across the hallway. Hearing no objection, she enters the empty room. She shuts the door and sighs at the mirror.
“Creeping myself out,” she says, but the lips of her reflection don’t move. When she wipes the glass with her sleeve her image disappears.
Then, she hears a knock.
by Kate Ryan
We ushered through the fair gates quickly. The stalker pursuing, only few steps behind. Reminiscent of a police sketch, no definitive features- only a hoody, sunglasses, and transfixed. My breaths increase, and deepen. Flashing glances into the distance, with accompanying hair tosses over the shoulders, checking his presence. Visually consuming the children, I try to divert him. He is always behind, children in front, unaware, and safe. Fourth check forward, children are gone. Standing in front, the stalker, removes his sunglasses, revealing his bright blue eyes. Presses an invitation into my hand, “Ma’am, wouldn’t want to miss this.” He vanishes.
The Tiniest Bit
by Rachel Ambrose
The monster plucked my brain right off its stem, like it was picking a ripe raspberry. The world went white for a moment, then green, purple, black. I could see no more, taste no more, touch no more. Except for that tiny beating part of myself which breathed in its own time to its own music, the part that watches from above and knows all, God-like, star-like, as we are all made of stardust. It knew. Its knowledge frightened the monster in its rubbery soul. And it screamed, deep into the crushing black, knowing its cries would not go unheard.