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 Steve Cartwright
by Jonathan Lyons
All afternoon, Marissa shaped sand into towers, turrets, a moat. She avoided broken bottles near the trashcan. “Marissa,” mother called, “dinner.” Marissa returned to the beach house. Later, summer sun still high, others’ footprints cratered her castle. Marissa rebuilt, gathered shards, and slipped them into castle walls. Smiling, she skipped home.
by Aline Carriere
“I dare you to do it,” Sandra teased.
Eager to take the challenge, Jen ran up the stone staircase. Legend declared that at night, when shadows conquered the twisting rocks, a weeping Madonna appeared at the top to reveal the saddest moment of a person’s life, past or future.
“Behold, my destiny,” Jen announced giggling. Dramatically circling her arm, she settled her hand on the apparition, closed her eyes and screamed.
Sandra laughed at the pantomime until Jen began to tumble down the unforgiving steps. Jen’s lifeless body splayed beside her, Sandra watched the spider skitter from a bloodied sleeve.
Oppositional Defiant Disorder
by Clay Greysteel
Officer says, “This time we caught him breaking into the prison.”
Brian flips me off as blood drips from between his fingers.
“Can you get him a towel?”
Officer nods to his partner. Partner steps out. “Ten times we’ve picked him up in the last six months.
“He broke into the prison?”
“Attempted. Cut his hand on razor wire.”
Partner returns, hands Brian a towel.
“You charging him?”
Officer sighs. “Your brother needs help.”
“So that’s a no?” I nod toward Brian, “Let’s go.”
As we leave, Brian wipes the bloodied towel along the wall.
by Tessa Mission
Lana drew fractal designs all over her arms with a green ink pen. Like maybe she wanted to be a tree. Without looking at me, she said, “I want to kiss him underwater. I think that would be fun.”
“Wouldn’t your mouths fill with water when you opened them?”
“Exactly,” she smiled, cap back on the pen. She looked out over the lake. “No, really the trick is to make a good seal. You have to press your mouths together hard enough. Then your tongues can go back and forth doing whatever.”
“But how do you breathe?”
by Seth Oden
She photoshopped his picture, giving him absurdly large muscles, and emailed it to him.
He responded with a picture of her, photoshopped so that a finger went up a nostril and poked out her eye.
She aged him in return, made him a hundred and two.
He photographed himself on one knee, holding a box with a ring in it, and shopped it into a picture of her smiling with surprise.
She messaged him back: You’re funny.