Artwork: “City Garden” by Kyle Hemmings
by Sarah Vernetti
She could barely see her neighbor’s yard. She had to open the blinds all the way and stand just so: over to the right side of the window, hugging the wall while looking sideways. But the view felt unavoidable. She wanted to spend more time in her own backyard, checking on the cacti, pruning the lantana, watching hummingbirds flit in and out of the spires of autumn sage. But her job, her role, had become inseparable from herself, and so she stood each morning, pressing her chest against the textured drywall. Waiting patiently, reporting to no one.
by Michael Jagunic
He laid his forehead against the backseat window and undid his bow tie. Beside him, she cradled the smashed up layer cake in her lap like a dead baby.
“We can fix this,” she whimpered, trying to convince herself. “We can still fix this.”
He feared the same thing that she did: that life was crumbly, that some things cannot be fixed. So he reached for her arm and gave it a squeeze. “I know.”
The cabbie, a real professional, suffered their boozy nonsense in silence.
by Chad Greene
Doubt that anyone on the streetcar clattering across the steel bridge noticed us at the edge of the river, let alone the circle of empty Pabst cans we had arranged around the base of the white cross. I had loved him the most; that’s why I left the tallboy. It towered over the 12-ouncers everyone else had left.
A Song Before Dying
by C.C. Russell
The twang of another guitar through another bridge bringing us back again to the familiar chorus. Someone says “Didn’t we just leave this party?” as a joke, but it falls flat. Outside, over the music, we can hear them scratching their way through the trees. We can hear them coming; closer every second. No one thinks to reach over and turn off the stereo. No one thinks of anything that could save us.
by Marc D. Regan
That ubiquitous moon lights dark heavens and reflects now as it did then: the burning hole in me; my corrupted innocence and the lengths to which the word love could be stretched. When my back was no longer able to bear that shameful weight, I shed bloodied sheets and a childhood of midnight lies. But after five years, I still cannot outrun that moon.
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.