The house keys fell from my pocket when I reached for my gloves. Attached to a silver ring, they clattered on the sewer grate, slipped through, and disappeared with a splash.
I cursed, threw my head back, and considered the enormity of the problem: it was the week between Christmas and New Year’s; my wife was at a yoga retreat with her sister, in upstate New York; my landlord was probably out of town; I had only loose change in my pocket; less than a quarter-charge on my phone; and my bladder was almost full.
After donning the gloves, I tried lifting the grate but it wouldn’t budge. Recovering the keys was unlikely, what I wanted was a hiding place from my shame.
An Epic Season Finale Feeble Fable of the Fantasmagorical by Leila Allison
Mary and the Photobomb Fairy
Mary was lying on a couch at a psychiatrist’s office, getting her head explored. It was your typical wood panelled and diploma-laden psychiatrist’s office, the kind you see in films, TV and New Yorker cartoons. There were the already described walls, the couch containing Mary, an occasional table on which lay a box of Kleenex, and a seated shrink, who, if she resembled Dr. Melfi from The Sopranos one atom more, might prompt a lawsuit. No creativity was spent on the presentation of this office, for it was borrowed from the Public Domain Library for use in this story. In fact the sloth in this paragraph alone is so prevalent that your author hasn’t bothered to look up whether Dr. Melfi is a psychiatrist or a psychologist. It’s because all that’s required of this paragraph is for the author to get across the image of a woman named Mary getting her head explored by a professional in that field (from here, “Dr. Morley”) at a place where such explorations normally take place.
How better to celebrate a milestone than to have a re-run featuring Mr Cron. Leila has presented this little gem from the dungeons and this is what she said:
This is one of those weeks where I haven’t a clue what I’m going to write about.
Talk amongst yourself if you’d prefer!!
I could sing a wee song…
‘A piston thrust
A moment shared’
Definitely not!! (I’ll come back to that)
If I think back to it, I can still feel that moment when I really thought you were going to burst my skull. Your whole weight pushing my head into the ground, your mouth right next to my ear, hissing at me that I couldn’t tell anyone. Like somehow if I did, people would mistake her illness for your weakness. Even after the first three times I’d promised I wouldn’t, you didn’t let go, and when you did, you left your knee buried in my chest. I carried that weight, your weight, every day until she died, all those years later. But I never told anyone, not even my parents. I even lied to them when it happened, and I pretended to share their shock and grief at the news.
The smell of garlic and oil filled the gaps between my fork and her brown eyes, one darker than the other. Her eyes followed my fork down to my plate where it picked up one of the eighteen left over ziti noodles.
“When you say you love me, do you really mean it?” Iris asked.
“Of course I do. I love you.” I said.
“No, I mean, is this just a sentence to you? Like when I say ‘I love you’ in German, I don’t really feel that much.”
“I feel it’s cheesy to say ‘I love you’ in Chinese.”
Long and lanky and always of a dark eye, ever adept at study of any kind, Wingsy held a broad maple leaf aloft, with fine fingers at the end of one long thin arm, against an angle of penetrating August sunlight. To a young friend he pointed out the webbing of shadowed filaments. As he pointed out the leafy veins, he spoke in an instructive manner, yet indirectly, as if for the moment he had but half interest, which was somewhat unlike him. Interest was something he had a facility of generating, no matter the subject.
So, Hugh now joins the teeny tiny group – well I say group – there’s only one other, of writers with 100 posts on the site. CONGRATULATIONS. It is fair to say that it has probably been harder for Hugh. As editors I think we are tougher on ourselves than we are on other authors. We are so keen not to be seen to be showing any sort of positive bias that we are brutal with each other. However, Hugh always accepts rejections and edit suggestions with good humour, humility and professionalism.
He is the backbone of Literally Stories, he has kept on going through his own personal traumas, never letting what is happening in his life get in the way of his work on the site. He has been an incredible rock when the rest of us have had our own dramas, kind, sympathetic and stoic (hahahahaha – his hate word – ha) and he makes the work, which at times can feel overwhelming, worthwhile and rewarding. As well as the reading and emails, Hugh comments on the stories and together with other of us give feedback to authors who have requested such or who we feel deserve an explanation as to our decisions or a suggested edit. He writes almost all the Saturday roundup posts and let’s be honest they are hilarious and a brilliant end to the week, even though the times when he says ‘That’s it there, Diane. Sorry’ I do quake in my boots.
I have never actually met Hugh, or Nik in person, or Adam or Tobias for that matter, but I count them among dear friends, but Hugh, and Nik are the blokes I want to have a drink with, the blokes I can count on to unload to when life throws cabbages at me and I just want to say thanks and, Hugh, my life is richer for knowing you. You are a fearless, uncompromising writer and I admire that more than I can say and many, many Congratulations on reaching this outstanding milestone.
Never Being Confused
It was a typical day in the life of Jim and Debbie, the parents of SeptemberThe28th.
They were on The High Street championing their offspring’s cause as usual. They wore their ‘Asexual Is Not Fluid UCUNT!’ Tshirts, The back of which said ‘LGBTQI+Forever!!‘ And underneath that was ‘I am not a label!’