by Lorette C. Luzajic
The future Miss Chatelaine daubs a final explosion of glassine goo on her lower pout and declares herself battle ready. Glowering from her throne of cast and crutches, Maude, her injured sister, records the monumental transformation in her diary. She glows, she gleams, a jewel among beauty queens. She pauses, then crosses a line through her prose. More like an ad for dish soap, she thinks, as Celie flounces out into the pageant pandemonium in a cloud of imposter Obsession.
by Peter Cherches
I’ve got the world on a string. I just adore Victorian wallpaper. I never freeze foods that should never be frozen. I know which side my bread is buttered on. I’ve been praised for my verbal skills and am not afraid to end a sentence with a preposition. I always flush after peeing; I always put the seat down too. It may take me a while, but I eventually get to the point.
I hope you’re sitting down.
I’m mad about you.
by G.J. Williams
A plumper version, but there’s no mistaking those eyes, their worrying shine. And he laughs apropos of nothing. What’s with the daybreaks I don’t know: he’s up predawn, poised and waiting, rain or shine. No use in asking; the answer would only confuse. Vigilance essential. Between the last drunk’s belch and the first bird’s tuning up, who knows what he does, what space he occupies. The room he’s in may be theoretical, and his place in it a phantom show for our deadened sensibilities. Who knows. I don’t. He may.
A Bar Joke
by Peter Cherches
Three things exist in a bar. The bartender notices them for the first time, though they’d been hiding in plain sight for ages. In fact, they’d been in the bar so long they had collected a thick veneer of dust. It’s a slow day, so the bartender dusts the three things off, revealing their true natures. One of the things strikes the bartender’s fancy, so he moves it behind the bar, a place of honor. Now all the customers begin to comment on the thing. It has become a conversation piece, which cannot be said of the other two things!
What Daedalus Really Said to Icarus
by Dave Donovan
As he fastened the straps around the boy’s broadening shoulders, the craftsman spoke: “Listen to me. These wings aren’t built for a joy ride–they’re a means to an end. We’re escaping a dickhead who’s pissed that his wife fucked a bull. So here’s the deal: fly too high, you’re dead. Too low, dead. Got it?”
After a moment, the father sighed with despair: “Still, you are meant to die. That’s what young men do when given a chance like this. To you, it beats farming and growing old. I understand. I’m just letting you know you were loved.”
Documentarians Went There So You Don’t Have To
by Todd Mercer
The film festival Jane and I attended showcased nations that are terrible safety risks for filmgoers to visit. Transitioning from a pitch-dark theater into sunlight, reflecting on why Yemen is disqualified from vacations, I tripped. Laid on the concrete awhile.
Jane said, “See, Marshall? Nowhere is completely safe.”
Then she helped me up.
I didn’t want to draw attention to my bleeding knee. The festival reminded us: people are bleeding all over. People gasp for breath. They starve in a time of plenty.
We recovered at a sandwich shop. Jane’s was a Cuban, mine a Rachel—a turkey Reuben.
Where Did That Leave Him?
by Mel Fawcett
When Michael was learning French he began watching a filmed interview of a famous French actor. Over time, he learned to copy the actor’s intonation–to such an extent that people said he sounded like him. Flattered by this, he began to develop the mannerisms of the actor, and then move like him. He even started to dress like him. Eventually, it got so that in his mind there was no difference between the actor and himself. That was why he started to use his name. But then he read that the actor had committed suicide.
Special thanks to Jessica Standifird for her editorial assistance. This week’s artwork is by Marc D. Regan.
by Rose Blackthorn
“I don’t know why we have to…present our son to him,” Charley muttered. “It’s creepy!”
“He’s my great-grandfather; he’s very old,” Moira replied. “This is the first son born to his line. It’s a big deal.”
Cian MacRaith sat propped up in bed. He’d waited so long for this day, and he was running out of time.
“Great-grandfather,” Moira went to him, taking one parchment-dry hand. “Meet your great-great-grandson.”
“He’s healthy?” Cian asked hoarsely.
“Perfect!” Moira beamed.
Babe and old man locked gazes. When the old man collapsed, no one noticed the cold satisfaction in the child’s eyes.
by Nathan Hystad
The clockmaker squints through his looking glass. His ultimate work is almost done, and he revels in the intricate beauty of the cogs and wheels. With a final twist of his tiny screwdriver, the back plate is in place. He cranks the lever and sets the mahogany piece down. Its hands start ticking slowly, backwards. A smile spreads on his face as the hands move faster. Soon his hair is less grey and his back straighter. It keeps moving backwards and he laughs. His wife comes in the room; tears stream down her face. He smiles. “We have forever.”
by Sarah Vernetti
She had wrapped it carefully in bubble wrap, placed it in a box, and made sure to label it “Fragile! Not for moving truck.” As she glanced back at the old apartment for the last time, it was the only object she held besides her fringe-covered purse and a can of root beer. Ready to prove her trustworthiness, she walked down the stairs to the car, being sure to watch every step. After all, breaking the box’s contents could alter the state of the universe. Just then, a child raced up the stairs, brushing her elbow as he went by.
by Mike Zamzow
“Damn, there you are! How the hell you doin’?”
I didn’t answer. I didn’t know him. I didn’t know a single one of the two million odd Parisians. I didn’t know anyone for five thousand miles.
“Hey, man, where you from?”
“Hell, man, I’m from Chicago.” He spoke with a thick North African accent. “We cool. We cool. Come, man. Let’s go!”
I shrugged, put out the end of my cigarette and followed the man down the street.
“Wanna drink? My friend, we all hangin’ out tonight.”
“Hell yeah.” I shrugged. I could use a drink.
The Taste of Ivory
by Peter Cherches
I don’t remember what I said, but I remember her chasing me around the apartment with the big white bar in her hand, that crazed look in her eyes. I remember her catching me, grabbing me by the hair, trying to pry my jaws open, her long red nails scratching my face. I remember that the bar was too big for my little mouth, and I remember her turning it forty-five degrees so the corner could at least graze my tongue and make me gag. I remember the taste of Ivory soap.