A Prayer in Cinnamon
by Ellen Perleberg
Wander to the kitchen at one a.m., sleepless. She’s there, of course. Try politely not to notice She’s been crying. She looks up, smiles, conspiratorial. It’s less lonely when there are people in the house. “I was about to make hot chocolate,” She says. “Want some?” She hadn’t really been intending on cocoa. But it’s what people do for each other in midnight kitchens. She respects that. People need their litanies and lullabies. Take a seat at the table while She whisks chocolate, the kind that comes in disks and dissolves grainy, imperfect, into milk. Real cinnamon. Taste and see.
The Pastor and His Dark Church
by Stephen D Gibson
Someone changes the porch light bulb to red again. A “red-light district” bulb. A persistent prank. It doesn’t seem, to him, an accusation: “Pastor, you prostitute.” His parishioners are always outraged. It bothers him less. He advises turning the other cheek. Changing bulbs. They want private security. “No,” he says. “Who wants angrier, more expensive vandalism?” They’re conservative. Sharing wealth, even with God from whence it came, is difficult for them. So, he walks toward his building, sunrise only a glow. The barest pink behind the silhouette of the church comforts him. Stepping inside, he leaves the porch light burning.
The Summer of Love
by Jim Doss
1967. They were Barbie and Ken. Everything perfect, the world before sex and death. Plenty of money, Cadillacs, steaks cut into precise squares. Each evening always full debonair dress, hand in hand, hand on waist, violins swirling. Nothing could spoil the magic, not even war, that distant echo growing louder in foreign jungles. Then the draft, daddy’s money failures, deferment that didn’t happen. Mekong, Tet Offensive, napalm, flame throwers, tunnel rats scurrying past bullet-riddled bodies. Fear that makes a person retreat into themselves, cowering behind a wall of corpses. In his room the light goes on, off, on, off. Forever.
by Mark Reels
When Chelsea stopped by the supermarket, they were setting up for the wine tasting. The store put on a “Six for Six Celebration” with six appetizers and six samples of wine at little stations throughout the store. She bought a pregnancy test and headed home. When Brad picked her up, Chelsea didn’t tell him about the baby. Instead, they complimented each other’s outfits and drove to the store. Later, she stood in the gluten free aisle sipping a dry Chardonnay while scrolling through her phone looking for a clinic. She used the online form to make an appointment for Monday.
by Kelsey Maccombs
“I got you cinnamon tea. Is that okay?” Cinnamon tea tastes like screeching brakes and burned skin. Like pushing open the classroom door, still gasping, forty minutes after the exam started and explaining to the teacher I canttakethetest, needtogohome, donthavedryclothes, cantstopcrying. I spent an hour cleaning cinnamon tea out of the seats before I learned what totaled meant, so no, it’s not okay. But this is a first date, so I drink it anyway.
by Ashlie Allen
She cries when I don’t touch her. I know I make her sad, but I’m depressed too. I throw my trench coat over the chair when I get home, grab a bottle of Merlot and snicker. Tears leak down my face when she comes to kiss my neck. “Why are you so enticing?” I wine. “Please admire me. I have bad anxiety tonight.” “I do too.” I bite her lip, taste some blood, which make my eyes protrude. I know I’m a selfish beast and will push her away. I’ll come home tomorrow night and offer the same disappointment.
by Amy Bartley
We’d always done it thatta way. Bruised our knuckles on the glass washboards. Scraped our skin on the metal ‘n’s. On that particular Saturday, me ‘n Sis were washin’ ‘n beatin’ up our hands when Momma yelled.
“Girls! Come in!”
We ran. There in her hands she had it open. The Harper’s Bazaar. Her finger pointin’, tappin’ on a full page, full color ad. “Look,” she said.
It was huge, a big square machine that automatic like magic does the washin’. Momma did a scoff then said, “Who in the world could afford a contraption like that?”
by Lara Lewis
“More.” He spoke with a smooth voice, his young hand holding forth the empty glass. Hands of bone tilted a pitcher of sand forward and poured.
He watched it spill down, and as it seeped into his glass his hands shriveled, and his throat tightened. It dripped down the thin hole in the stem and he watched it, letting it slip to the floor below.
The last grain of sand hit the floor, and he turned the hourglass over.
“More,” he said, and the hands poured.
by Stephen D. Gibson
Her shoes sounded like claps against the bank’s granite floor, like gunshots. She was there to argue. I sat in the lobby while she quietly displayed page after page to the collections officer. They were people you could speak with then. I didn’t know it, but she argued for me, my safety and shelter. The bank actually had made an error. And the man had to admit it, though he couldn’t explain. Young, I thought the shoes proud: “look at me” they said. Old, I think they claimed space, claimed it with sound. She was the author of that noise.