Karan came to visit them once, Meera and her husband, soon after the wedding. She had cracked open the door with quiet trepidation, for he had told only her he was coming. Even after having seen innumerable pictures of him in her husband’s old, milky photo albums, she was unprepared for his beauty, and, for a moment, she cupped her cheek in astonishment as she gazed at him. She was wearing her favorite patterned frock and trousers, and knew she looked pleasant. To her, his eyes were pools of chocolate kindness, his voice lilting. She couldn’t possibly imagine how her husband had given him up – a younger, even lovelier, even more unsettling iteration of him. He folded his slender hands in greeting; she slowly unlatched the door and led him inside, feeling the corners of her vision contract to focus on Karan.Continue reading “Sweet Tea by Radhika Kapoor”
Each night, he sprinkles an array of lanterns across the front yard. Arranges the lawn chairs, so there’s ample distance between each, but so they’re still close enough to create a shapely formation. He sets out little plastic tables in between each.Continue reading “Echoes by Yash Seyedbagheri “
He places the cloth bag carefully on the kitchen table; Formica, worn and chipped. She had trained him in in the use of cloth bags. You would have thought the simple act of remembering to take a cloth bag to the shops was a panacea against climate change. More like a superstitious tick, like genuflecting at church or throwing salt over your shoulder. Something to make you feel like you are warding off an even greater calamity when the real damage has already been done. He unpacks the bag carefully: a hammer, a hatchet, some rope, an apple. The apple was impulsive, they looked fresh. Crisp and juicy. He tells himself he must eat it soon. He has his own superstitions and the longer an apple is the house the more he suspects that it is mealy. Many a good apple has gone to waste because he couldn’t shake the feeling it was imperfect in a sickening, unnameable way. Of course, you can never tell with apples, not until you take a bite, but he could never bring himself to take that risk.Continue reading “Summer and Sweet Peas by Oso Jones”
‘Eric Morecambe, Tommy Cooper, Sid James.’ I read the names off the notepad sitting on the table in front of Harry Oakes. It was a bit cheeky, but here he was, sitting on his own in the pub. I’d discovered him while making my way to the loo, abandoning a bunch of bright young things gathered on the other side of the room. Their testosterone had been overpowering. We had come together for a conference entitled ‘Alternative Comedy through the Ages’, which had been officially opened earlier that evening. We’d had our Cava reception then listened to the opening keynote before dispersing, ready for tomorrow’s full day. The speaker was an American professor, an expert on the psychology of humour, who argued that all humour was, by its nature, ‘alternative’.Continue reading “Dying for a Laugh by David Rudd”
Eddy Cutmore grinned as he placed the large black briefcase containing the bioweapon next to the channel of water flowing into the city’s underground reservoir. Depressing the green button on the side of the briefcase, he linked it with the other bioweapons he’d hidden close to the city’s vital ventilation and water sources. All that was left was to activate the trigger and release the plethora of pathogens. He leaned forward and put his finger on the switch.Continue reading “Ghosting By Tom Koperwas”
As all of earth once growled and gnarled its way to an instant conflagration, a calamitous roar, all its gears beginning to shift, in the near-middle of the last century, Saugus, Massachusetts, a small town just north of Boston, started to empty its bedrooms… the ones in the attic, in the space out over the garage, third floor second door on the left, the bedrooms facing on the pond or the cemetery or those looking broadly down on the wide marshes or quickly down on quiet Cliftondale Square. The bedrooms where boys cruised into manhood, almost overnight at that.Continue reading ” The Quiet, Empty Bedrooms of Saugus by Tom Sheehan “
My father, long-divorced, proclaims the joys of fucking women. Not making love. Not sexual intimacy, even. Fucking. He prowls dating sites, beady black eyes assessing thin-figured women with names like Irina, Tatiana, Sandra, Svetlana, Lara. Of course, they’re not only thin figured but voluptuous. He’s always kept abreast of that.Continue reading “Looking At Women by Yashar Seyedbagheri”
Betty sat on a 2B pencil as if on a bench, her high heels hooked against a dip nib pen that lay at the base of an inkwell. Elbows on her knees and chin cupped in her palms she stared at a black smudge smeared across an eight-and-a-half by eleven sheet of white paper tacked to a drafting board. She followed its diagonal downward path onto the desktop until it ended at her feet.Continue reading “Escaping the Good Old Days by Mark Russo”
One Christmas many years ago there was for me one present from my parents, a little, done-over red wagon with a long hauling handle, and slatted sides. The sides were for extra cargo! For overload! The name, the logo, of the wagon has not stuck with me, but its ownership has. That the wounded wagon, from some wars of its own, had been touched-up, repainted, a bit of rust covered over, two wheels replaced, had no interest for me. Early and mid-Thirties had all ready made their impressionable slash in the mind of a seven-year old. This one, now, was mine!Continue reading ” A Little Red Wagon, a Long-remembered Face III by Tom Sheehan”
My life is a sea of ifs.
What if I’d published this collection? if I’d studied harder? If I hadn’t shot off my mouth at home? What if I hadn’t eaten too many potato chips and drank too much Merlot?
On my thirtieth birthday, they all rise up like the ghosts of Christmas past, whispering. If, if, if, a hollowed-out word that sits next to me in the coffee shops, follows me on my nightly walks, snuggles too close to me.
I procure the biggest whiteboard possible. Eliminate ifs. Draw up concrete whens in lavender marker. No red markers bleeding with psychological pressure, thank you. I lay out goals and visions.Continue reading “What If? by Yash Seyedbagheri “