by Sophie Hammond

Trust me, he says. Like it’s that easy.

portrait | Blindfolded

Alessandro Saponi via Creative Commons

The funny thing is, for him trust isn’t easy at all. He always has to be the one in charge, the one keeping the blindfold wrapped around my eyes, the one arranging my hair so that it falls in rough choking silk across my mouth and nose. If I ever offered to do it the other way around—to blindfold him, to hold him steady for the unforgiving gaze of the camera—he’d panic. He wouldn’t protest, but his eyes would go wide and desperate and his knuckles would clench white around the steady base of the tripod.

So I don’t offer. Instead I stare blindly, through layers of hair and crêpe, as he soothes me like I need it. His slow, patronizing voice is perhaps the very opposite of soothing. It sets off itches beneath my skin, shuddering waves of goose pimples, and my stomach clenches. Far more soothing is the anger, dark and hot, which pulses through me like a second heartbeat. This he cannot control, no matter how much he wants to.


Sophie Hammond is sixteen years old and a senior in high school. Her writing has been recognized by the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards and her poetry has been published or is forthcoming in Moledro Magazine and the 2016 Navigating the Maze teen poetry anthology. She is an alumna of the Iowa Young Writers’ Studio and has read on a teen writers’ panel at the Bay Area Book Festival. You can find her on Twitter @SophieCHammond.

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/