by Alex P. Grover

Left Behind

Omar Eduardo via Creative Commons

I still rub my eye a lot. 

I used to rub both of my eyes. I think that’s why the left one started to twitch. 

I’d always been worried something would get inside—I’d seen too many videos of botfly larvae removals, right from the crevice between the globe and the socket. I had a craving for that kind of macabre.  

I don’t know what I touched—what my finger captured, maybe under one of its deep grooves.

Go to the doctor.

It’s not too bad, I’d said. 

Because it wasn’t horrible at first. It’d happen after laughing at a joke. After sneezing. Innocent.

It took only a month. The twitch became unbearable. My left eye swelled up, ripe with hurt, always semi-closed. I couldn’t move without it stirring.

Go to the doctor.

Tomorrow, I’d finally said.

The night before my appointment, I slept. It was rare, but there were moments of rest in between the irritation. I was happy in bed.

I woke calmly to buzzing pain in my face. Then I screamed.

I could only see with my right eye, since the left was out of its socket, optic nerve pulled taut, the whole thing slowly crawling away on six legs.


Alex P. GroverAlex P. Grover is currently a digital production associate at Penguin Random House. His work has been published at Strange Horizons and A cappella Zoo, among other venues for the weird, as well as on the Quirk Books blog. Fortunately, his rational side left him long ago. You can visit www.alexpgrover.com or follow him on Twitter @AlexPGrover to find out why.

by Elizabeth Archer

We sit, waiting for the cardiologist to come in with the results. Listening to shoes squeak on the fake wood floor. Waiting for them to stop at the door.

It’s been an hour, and there are 64 tiles in the ceiling. A dead gnat sticks to the window, in the otherwise spotless room.

When the door opens, something inside my chest shifts. Opens too, tries to squeeze past him, run down the hall.

The doctor is thin and fit and tan. He looks as if he has been running all morning, breathless and grinning with a smile that reaches his cheek.

“Everything’s okay,” Dr. Flynn says, white back to us, his hand flipping through notes and pictures of the insides of your arteries. “All clear.”

Hole in the Heart

Elton Harding via Creative Commons

I see images of holes. Pictures of your heart.

We breathe out then, both of us, as if we had been sucking a week’s worth of oxygen inside. Exhale fear, in the form of CO2.

“All good. See you in say, May?” he says.

I can hear your heart, beating like a distant drum, in the silence.

That’s what marriage is, after twenty years.

I can’t hear my own heart at all.


Elizabeth Archer writes flash, short stories and poetry. She lives in the Texas Hill country, and haunts Scribophile, a site for serious writers.