by Carrie Cuinn

The little tree sat out, overhead light reflecting off its shiny, plastic, needles. There were boxes packed full of dishes and clothes, being donated before their departure, but the fake tree didn’t have a destination. Jenny caught her wife looking at it and asked, again, if there was a reason it was still in the living room.

“It was ours,” Sarah said, again. “Everything else is just stuff, but Christmas was ours.” Jenny sat next to her, and put her arm around Sarah’s shoulders. “We can still have holidays in space, baby.” “If we’re assigned to the same ship. If we don’t blow up leaving orbit.”

Christmas Ornament

Gerd Altmann via Public Domain

“That’s the plan, Sarah. We’ll be together.”

“But we won’t have our tree.” Jenny smiled a little, and pulled Sarah into a hug. “I will find you a new tree.”

“You’re going to find me a Christmas tree. In space.”

“If that’s what you need to feel better about going, yes, yes I will.”

They both smiled at that, and Sarah relaxed, leaning in toward Jenny.

“We’re really doing this, aren’t we? Leaving everything behind.”

“Everything but each other.”

“Goodbye, Christmas tree,” Sarah said. “Take care of the Earth for us while we’re gone.”


Carrie CuinnCarrie Cuinn is an author, editor, college student, and geek. In her spare time she works toward a degree in Creative Writing, listens to music, watches indie films, cooks everything, reads voraciously, and sometimes gets enough sleep. Find her online at @CarrieCuinn or at http://carriecuinn.com.

by Kathryn McBride

He caught up to her outside, lit her cigarette before his own. They stood close, silent at first, keeping warm beneath the glow of the marquee.

“Do you remember our first apartment?”

Waikiki Beach Silhouettes at Sunset

Andy via Creative Commons

She thought for a moment, “Of course. The tiny cottage by the beach.”

“It was tiny, wasn’t it? The kitchen was practically in our bedroom.”

“Didn’t matter to us then. Remember the smell of the ocean?”

“We’d leave the windows open every day, that salty breeze billowing through the sheers.”

“That’s how the stray cat got in.”

“But never left. Windows wide open, she chose to stay.”

“Tell me what else you remember.”

“Lazy nights tangled up in bed. Tasting moonlight on your shoulders. And you?”

“Waves crashing against the shore. Making love with the ebb and flow of the tide.”

“In time, the sea’s rhythm kept pace with the ebb and flow of us. Our love changed an ocean.”

Inside the lobby, the lights dimmed twice. She left their cottage first. At the bar, she took her husband’s arm and disappeared into the theatre. The stranger watched her go, fed the cat, closed the windows. Once inside, he returned to the stage, still brushing sand from his feet as the curtain parted.


Kathryn McBrideKathryn McBride is the author of an anthology of short stories currently featured in a boxed set (literally a set of boxes) under her bed. She is delighted to finally let them see the light of day. She welcomes feedback and craft beer suggestions @finishwhatyou.

by Steve Spalding

بسرعة! - 27

Abdulla Al Muhairi via Creative Commons

This is a piece of flash fiction written in an Indiana hotel room on 2 hours of sleep. 

In it there’s a protagonist – probably male, probably angry. Male because the author finds cheap, male rage easy to tap into. Angry because dramatic engines don’t grow on trees. 

He’s in hate with someone he loves, and flits between the axes with all the grace of a drunken gymnast with inner ear disease. Melodrama masquerades as conflict, every tear spilled in service of word count. 

The author holds back the target of our man’s love addled ravings, both because he’s convinced you’ll never see it coming, and because if he didn’t, he’d have dangerously little plot to pull a real ending out of. 

Not to worry, our hero says something edgy and becomes an anti-hero in the span of a paragraph – we love him even more now because he’s suddenly as complex as we’ve always believed we were. We pray that he can fix in 200 words what our lives haven’t in twenty years. 

It all ends with a lesson, something trite and universal that makes us feel literate, while at the same time giving lie to the fact that we’ve absorbed, into our immortal souls, the spiritual equivalent of a double cheeseburger. 

And in case you were wondering, our man was in love with a robot, and you never saw it coming.


Steve SpaldingWriter of words, lover of fiction, dabbler in data, builder of web things—Steve also helps companies sell stuff. At the beginning of 2016, he promised himself to write one short story every weekday for a year, we’ll see how that goes.

http://thecoldstorage.com/

https://twitter.com/sbspalding/

by Adiba Jaigirdar

Match

Andreas Levers via Creative Commons

The matchsticks in the broken drawer don’t tempt me now that you’re gone.

We sat on my bed and shared scorch marks like stories of old boyfriends. The one between your thumb and forefinger? Two years ago. Darkened to a deep shade of brown on your already dark skin. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love it. I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t dream about it with my eyelids half closed, imagining you beside me, imagining me running my fingers along that scorch mark.

I like the one on your right shoulder the best. It’s nothing but a giant brown blob. There’s a strange beauty in it. Perhaps the most enticing thing about is the way you showed me, slowly rolling up the sleeves of your overly-long, baggy t-shirt.

My scorch marks seem like nothing in comparison. Even now.

Fire has lost its delight too, since you left. Like I never understood the spark, the heat, until you brushed your fingers along my collarbone.

Those two months, sharing stories on my bed, our limbs entangled in each other carelessly; those were the days I was on fire.

The matches, the bedroom, the lick of fire against my skin? Nothing without you in it. No spark.


Adiba JaigirdarAdiba Jaigirdar is a twenty-two year old writer and poet. She is of Bangladeshi descent but Irish by nationality. She has graduated from University College Dublin with a BA double major in English and History, along with an MA in Postcolonial Studies from the University of Kent. She has previously been published in literary magazines such as About Place Journal, wordlegs and Outburst. You can find her on twitter at @adiba_j.

162.

Lauren Parnell Marino via Creative Commons

Dear T███,

I’m writing this with rain hitting the window and it reminds me of that night we got trapped in your dad’s Tahoe with the dead battery on Westlake. Do you remember? We just sat there and listened to the drops pounding against the roof, holding hands, scared of our approaching curfews and mudslides and lightning and whatever. I think about that night sometimes, the part before we moved to the back seat, and I miss that sound.

I miss a lot of things about us. I miss not fighting over R████. I miss going out and doing things. I miss everything being us against the world instead of us against us. For a long time I swore the brighter days were just around the corner. Every relationship has rough patches, okay? This was ours. If we were meant for each other the way you always say, we’d probably have a lot of rough patches over time, you know? So this was one.

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