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 Brendan Foley

There’s a clearing in the forest, a clearing where you’ll find six stumps.

Study the gnarls of bark and discover the lines and woes of life. See what once were men.

a face in the woods

Anjan Chatterjee via Creative Commons

The world got to be too much. So they left. Went here. Went wodwo. Spent their wildness and came to rest. They wanted to be one with the woods. Now they are.

There’s one with lips still parted. His eyes still frozen half-lidded.

Listen, and you will hear his whisper.

He will tell you his name, for he alone among the circle still remembers his name.

He will tell you his grief, for he alone among the circle still knows what it is to hurt.

He will ask you a boon. Your heart will got out to the fading whisper and you will ask how you might help.

He will beg for death.

And you will have no way of giving this to him, save a fire that would only serve to destroy that holy place. And you will not commit such sacrilege, not for just one soul.

So you will back slowly away from the clearing.

His screams will be faint. You will hear them all the same.


Brendan Foley lives in Massachusetts, where he has made a habit out of not knowing what he’s doing. He’d like to make a career out of it. You can follow his ramblings on Twitter: @TheTrueBrendanF, or email him at brendanmfoley@outlook.com. Three years from now, it will be revealed that he was dead the entire time.

by Mickie Bolling-Burke

The trees stood in the silent night, watching as the cottage door opened and children danced out, the adults laughing behind.

“All right kids, which one is our Christmas tree?” Father called out. “This one?”

“No, it’s ugly! We should put it out of its misery.” The children laughed, breaking its young branches. They ran deeper into the clearing. “Here, this one, this is our tree!”

Pre-dawn fog, Mount Rainier National Park

Justin Kern via Creative Commons

The children shrieked with glee, counting out each cut as Father chopped down the biggest, greenest pine. When it fell, he tied a rope around it and dragged it back to the cottage. They knocked the snow off and shoved it inside as they sang Christmas carols.

The curtains stood open, showing the family nailing the dead tree onto a platform and posing it in front of the window. Showing the children hanging gaudy objects from its branches. Showing the resin tears of the dead tree clinging to its trunk. Outside, the trees whispered to each other. Their limbs pressed forward, the trees in the back pushing through to add their strength, shattering the window.

The trees crowded into the room, surrounding the family. Held tightly in the trees’ embraces, the boughs suffocated the family’s screams.


mickie_bolling-burkeGrowing up on the east coast, Mickie kept her wrist watch at California time. When she finally made it to the palm trees and Pacific Ocean of the west coast, she knew she’d come home. Working as an actor fed her creative soul, until her beloved Los Angeles grew too big for her. She and her family now live in a small corner of the southwest, where she finds the sky as majestic and blue as she did the ocean. Mickie spends her time writing, reading, hiking and watching ‘The Three Stooges’ with her much adored rescue cat, Pal.

Mickie has three short story collections available on Amazon.