by Anne Elizabeth Weisgerber

Green Shades

Evelyn Berg via Creative Commons

When I saw you I saw you with laser-beam sight as I left Empenadas by Stella still singing; I sang my girl’s name and I knew all my light was projected in open-faced stance; as one sinning, her car coat swung in; I pushed open her door; my right hand slipped smoothly along her warm waist, unspooling her laughter, my hand finding more, I could sense my wife passing, my tongue knew her taste and I thought about standing and stammering saying but she is so warm and so firm and so willing – a true son of Belleville, a Belleville worth slaying, whose gold in the palm runs unmelted and chilling –  a moment a minute I feign an excuse, my tongue all a-tumble, unthreaded as Theseus now tired of treading a labyrinth life that reduced me to eyes seeing only the clew… in New York in your bed over more royal tread do I hear the train hear the train hear the train take you but trailing behind were those shining steel threads that were caught in the caught in the stairs’ endless climb; I will pin down your pines, then, Oh Minna: I’ll break you.


Anne Elizabeth Weisgerber has fiction in SmokeLong QuarterlyNew SouthThe Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, Shotgun Honey, and she is a Best Small Fictions 2016 Finalist. She reads for Pithead Chapel, reviews for Change Seven Magazine, and is writing her first novel. Follow her @AEWeisgerber, or visit anneweisgerber.com

by m.nicole.r.wildhood

Balloons

Matthew Peoples via Creative Commons

The first week, my classmates brought their parents in to tell us about their jobs themselves. One girl’s mom is a cop who catches moms like mine wandering the streets in teetering heels and jewelry around their wrists and necks that clatters like teeth in cold. Ms. Shaeffer decorated with balloons and streamer paper that tasted like stale salt.

The second week was for the kids whose parents couldn’t come. Like me. We had to tell our peers about what are parents did to keep us fed. The red and blue and green streamers are still up, though they’re drooping like frowns, and the balloons are heavy looking. Ms. Shaeffer doesn’t understand why I don’t want to share and moves a bouquet of tired green and purple balloons next to me at the front of the room, smiling like my grandma before she forces a spoon of cod liver oil into my mouth every morning at breakfast.

In front of the class, I gag just like that, but as silently as I can. We have to talk for seven minutes. The only thing I can think to say is how my dad splits stones and digs ditches by the roads and how my mom loves any man who needs it.


m.nicole.r.wildhoodm.nicole.r.wildhood is a Colorado native who has been living in Seattle—and missing the sun—since 2006. She has been a saxophone player and registered scuba diver for over half her life.  In addition to blogging at http://megan.thewildhoods.com, she writes poetry, fiction and short nonfiction, which have appeared in The Atlantic, xoJane, The Atticus ReviewFive and elsewhere. She currently writes for Seattle’s street newspaper Real Change and is at work on a novel, two chapbooks (one in Spanish) and two full-length poetry volumes.

by Alice Pow

The ghost waltzed through the table, body passing through wood, leading a missing partner.

“I’ve tried speaking to her, but she only dances,” the elderly woman said, staring at the ghost. “Isn’t she beautiful?”

“Is it always the waltz?” Ellen held a digital camera, chrome red with yellow highlighting. The camera’s display showed the dining room: the table, bare; photographs, framed against the wall’s white paint; but no phantom.

music box

Lindley Ashline via Creative Commons

Overlooking the camera, Ellen watched the dancing woman step in time without music.

“Just the same at eight each morning for the past month,” Ellen’s client said. Eyeglasses hung round her neck by a thin chain. “Oh, but only on weekdays.”

Ellen arranged her camera on the dresser behind her. She pointed it towards the dancer and stepped away. The camera sat alongside an ornate box on the otherwise vacant surface. She opened the box and a melody drizzled out like soft rain. A waltz.

The dancer moved in time with the romantic tune.

“Mrs. Doe,” Ellen said, “where did you get this music box?”

Mrs. Doe did not answer immediately. Dancer and music had captivated her.

Eyes transfixed, she said, “I found that box with some of my wife’s things. It’s been so long. I didn’t realize. She was so much older when we met.”


Alice Pow

A creative writing major with a journalism minor at Bradley University, Alice loves linguistics, ukuleles, and long talks about humanity’s place in existence with relation to God, the universe, and the greater cosmos as a whole. More of her work can be found in Bradley University’s Broadside Magazine and on her blog: 50wordsaday.tumblr.com.

by Ruchira Mandal

I'll follow the sun...

Kaleenxian via Creative Commons

The mountain is like a screw, pressing down the land along the spiral of the road that wounds round it, each bend taking us closer home. I can hear our hearts beating, over the stuttering of the old engine and the noise of the indifferent crowd.

He is standing away from me, under my brothers’ watchful eyes. The mouth that I used to kiss is bleeding. His blood is my blood, the blood of our ancient ancestor. The blood that makes our love forbidden. I wonder if they’ll have DNA testing at the trial. The thought makes me laugh, in spite of the broken bones that feel like they’re on fire. He opens his bruised eye, and smiles at me, like he knows what the joke is. Immediately, my youngest brother bangs his head against the wall. My uncle’s fingers dig deeper around my wrist, warning me to shut up.

“Haven’t you brought us enough dishonor?”

The bus turns at a bend, the wind from the window slashing my face like a knife.

With each turning of the screw, our hearts thump a little louder—a frenzied pumping of iron and oxygen into cells desiring a little more time. The bus rolls on towards our final destination.


Ruchira MandalRuchira Mandal has a day-job as an Assistant Professor of English Literature and tries to write in between checking millions of answer scripts. She has sporadically published travelogues in newspapers, fiction and poetry in a variety of medium and has also been part of a few indie anthologies. You can follow her @RucchiraM on Twitter.

by Isobel Horsburgh

A Girl With Kaleidoscope Eyes

August Brill via Creative Commons

She only came back for funerals. This was worrying, as nobody was known to be dead or dying right now. There was a certain amount of looking sideways at the people on the shortlist, though.

She’d been seen at the station in a dark, tight-fitting suit, heels and a little pillbox hat with a veil. She never had any luggage, and nobody knew where she slept while she was in Cleaburn. She never stayed more than a single night, and though she appeared at the graveside, she never came back to the house. Some said you didn’t see her in the church either, though others said she sat at the back, alone, not singing.

She’d gone away as Judy and come back as Juniper. There were photos, village events at which she must have been present, but her face seemed always to be out of shot or out of focus, turning away from the lens. She was variously said to be a quiet girl running from a bad family, or the wild one from a respectable home.

 When the station closed, years ago, they thought she’d stop coming. She won’t, until everyone she knew here is put under the ground.


Isobel Horsburgh lives in North East England and used to be a long-term carer. She now does casual work in libraries. Her stories have appeared in SpaceSquid, Devilfish Review, The Drabble, The Casket and InkBlink.

by E.N. Loizis

Shattered

Jenny Hudson via Creative Commons

His words cut with blunt edges. The wounds were deep, infected by a poison she couldn’t describe. It lingered on the skin and burned its way through her flesh, until it reached bone and nested quietly.

She had known this kind of torture before. Her mother’s idea of playtime was testing how much Willow’s body could take. The secret was to inflict as much pain as possible without leaving traces for the nosy neighbours to talk about. The surface wounds left barely a mark but the memories simmered in the marrow, eating away at her slowly.

It was the same now. He didn’t use a plastic tube like her mother. His weapon of choice was skilfully chosen, sophisticated, the kind you bought with years of higher education, learning about art, history, philosophy and so many other things she couldn’t possibly comprehend. 

He spoke and his tongue cut her to pieces, fragments sent flying. She would chase after them, try to pick them up, save all she could. But somehow, something was always missing.

She never told him that though. She never did admit to being broken, held together by scotch tape and feeble hope. She never showed him her Frankenstein heart, always wanting more than it could get.


E.N. LoizisE.N. Loizis is a Greek writer trapped inside the body of a technical translator who lives in Germany with her husband und baby daughter. Her stories have appeared in Maudlin House, Apocrypha & Abstractions and Pidgeonholes. You can find her at enloizis.com and https://www.facebook.com/enloizis.

by Russell Hemmell

Herrnhut, 1732. We’ve stayed up all night in the freezing Lusatian spring, the brothers and I. Easter lilies in our hands—pious offering to an already sated graveyard. The new plague arrived and struck like the old ones, like the ruthless hand of an angry deity, leaving behind lifeless bodies and despair. The poorest of the village have died first as they always do, and so did Eve.

karina y via Creative Commons

I stare in silence at the dark forest on my way to the God’s Acre, for an early-morning service and hymns to the Saviour. Today, I carry more than just rosary and torchlight.

“Eve will join us, Hermann.”

“Eve is dead.”

“Today is the day of the Resurrection. If your faith is strong, she’ll rise too. In spirit, brother.”

Or maybe you’ll follow her—in flesh, brother, I murmur, observing the congregation united in prayer. All of you, who had let her die.

Stepping away in silence—unseen in the crepuscular light, my feet on the frosted grass—I lock the cemetery’s gate, and unleash hell.

Fire creeps up, igniting the wood bundles that crown the burial ground like prayer beads, and suddenly spreads, fast and mortal. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, guilty to the innocent—and mercy for no one.


Alien from Mintaka snuggled into a (consenting) human host. Requests for contact and wormhole-powered space travels @SPBianchini.

by Katta Hules

with my heart on my sleeve

Wendy Brolga via Creative Commons

Bruises cover your arms like the smudges of red and purple lipstick around your mouth. Your fingers shake around the brown glass bottle. The Xs drawn on your hands washed off enough that the bartender didn’t even ask for ID. You’re glad, if there was ever a night you needed the alcohol, this is it.

No one knows who you are. You’re just another girl alone at the bar. The band plays behind you, some sort of caustic electropop. The volume makes the stool vibrate under you and another night you might find it pleasant. Tonight it makes you nauseous.

A man sits next to you. You cross your legs, the faint friction of your tights reminding you of the abrasions they hide. He looks at you, noticing the bruises even in the dim light of the bar.

“You okay?”

You shrug. “It’s done.”

He nods and pats your knee, ignoring your wince. “The first is always the worst.”

You take another swig and inspect the blood under your nails. Even your fingers feel sore. “It’s over. It doesn’t matter anymore.”

He grins and pulls you into a one armed hug. “That’s my girl.”

“Yeah, well.” Your lips twitch. “You should’ve seen the other guy.”


Katta HulesKatta Hules is an artist and a writer currently based in California. She is an Editor at TUBE. Magazine, and a freelance journalist for Arcadia Weekly. She is in the throes working on her first novel.

by R. S. Pyne

Eva looked terrible.

morning

M&S Weiss via Creative Commons

“Why didn’t you call me?” I asked, looking at her puffy, red-rimmed eyes and haggard features. She had always been so beautiful, expertly made up and not a hair out of place. In the early days of friendship, I was jealous of her, envying the fact that she appeared to glide serenely though everyday life. She was the swan on the surface of the water, but I felt more like the legs paddling like hell beneath it.

Everything seemed so easy for her. When I got to know her better, she trusted me enough to let her guard down – to show the real Eva who had worked so hard to mask her insecurity. If anything, she had even less self confidence than I did but she did a better job of hiding it.

She muttered an excuse but I saw the thick bandages on both wrists – clear evidence she had tried to take the easy way out.

“Let me help,” I said. She stared out of the window as if expecting the Grim Reaper to make a house call.

She wanted oblivion but I refused to give it to her.


R. S. Pyne is a short story writer/research micropalaeontologist from West Wales. Previous credits include Bête Noire, Albedo One, Aurora Wolf, Neo-opsis, Bards and Sages Quarterly, Christmas is dead..Again – a Zombie Anthology and others.

by Monika McGreal Viola

Mad Hat Variation 6

Michelle Robinson via Creative Commons

The remembrance of time not yet passed pulls her under as she laments the loss of her youth. She picks at her cuticles and scrolls down her Twitter, keening for the moments in the days before. And the coldness of the people makes her angry, and she mouths mutely to those frosted life forms, Do You Not Know How You Behave, can you not melt out your hearts, please give back to the world the empathy it has lost… her hollow howl, again and again and againagainagain, hastening the thud and flickering the eyelid, and she’s swallowed whole, hole holee holeee, falling down into it, Alice before she’s met the Mad Hatter, the Mad Hatter before he’s accepted his bipolar disorder, sinking lower together, sipping their tea and eating their crumpets, all the time asking the world to find some balance, to breathe hard into the plastic tube while squeezing with thumb and index finger — please, follow the instructions — puffing and wheezing, each attempt sucking air out of the lukewarm night, driving her dizzy, dizzy like the lecherous lilt of the world as she slides sideways down her seat, lamenting the mornings where problems were contended, where the following of white rabbits ended in triumph over red queens.


Monika McGreal ViolaMonika McGreal Viola’s work has appeared in Hermeneutic Chaos, AZURE, Icarus, Thirteen Ways Magazine, PennUnion, and Common Ties. Her poetry also has been twice shortlisted for the Fish Anthology Poetry Prize. Find her at www.monikamcgrealviola.com