It doesn’t sound sexy at all, this medical condition that makes her fingers turn blue in cold weather. Dangerously blue. She worries constantly about frostbite and nerve damage, even amputation. Her fingers are long and slender, like twigs used to start a fire on a camping trip. Twigs do not sound sexy, either. But whenever Jennifer rubs her hands together, briskly, vigorously, you cannot help but think about the way her fingers would feel if they were wrapped around you. The palm of her hand feeling your heft, your warmth. Probably this should never happen because the two of you met in recovery and according to absolutely everyone you have ever spoken to, jumping into bed with a fellow alcoholic is a horrible idea. Still, you know that you will never forget the day Jennifer walked into the very same meeting that you were attending, snugged into a pair of hard rocker jeans and a scoop-necked t-shirt. Legs up to here, sun-kissed cleavage, eyes that were feline and feisty and hard. How in the hell were you supposed to concentrate on sobriety sitting across the table from all of that? Pretty soon both of you stopped going to meetings and started playing tennis on the local high school courts. Buying air mattresses at gravel-driveway rummage sales. Sitting on the couch watching movies from the 80’s, belly laughing at things that were funny at the time (and also at things that were not).Continue reading “These Hands by Rob Vogt”
Sterling Redmond Calico lay sprawled out on his stain-covered recliner, his limbs heavy and lethargic. The poison was snaking its way through his body, he could see with an artist’s imagination its slow and determined march through his veins. Thick, black and ominous, destroying him cell by cell as Red caressed his cheek on the cool salvation of a half-empty beer can. He could see the snow falling fast through the single cracked window in his rent controlled, shitty third floor walk-up. The flakes made neon-white streaks, flying in rapid succession like a warp-speed trip on the Millennium Falcon.Continue reading “End by A. Elizabeth Herting”
Buddha hates us all. And he hates me the most.
The little statue of Buddha I keep in my pocket, the one I stole from the pagoda, stares through me into the next life.Continue reading “Dengue Fever by Alex Sinclair”
Leena’s fingernails are thick as scallop shells, her case worker Victoria observes. Her clinical afterthought is shoe tying and sewing must be near impossible. They are driving to a campground outside of Anacortes where Leena will stay with friends. Borne from desperation and desolation the transitional housing definition has expanded to include camping. To pass the time as they drive Leena recounts traumas with her parents, ex-husband, kids – especially her youngest daughter who kicked her out.Continue reading “To Anacortes by Susan DeFelice”
At Phil’s small memorial—we took his ashes home to the ocean—a man I didn’t know who patronized Phil’s beach asked about his drinking.
Mama wants another glass of Malbec.
“Just one,” she says, motioning to her wine glass, festooned with red and golden swirling leaves.Continue reading “Full Pour by Yash Seyedbagheri “
It’s not difficult to understand how she did it – liver and lungs. They can only take so much abuse, then they quit. I knew for years she was trying to kill herself.Continue reading “They’re Asleep by Thomas Elson”
I had a theory that if I collected enough cigarette boxes and scrutinised the warning pictures – the obscene, grotesque illustrations of the sick and the dying – I would become so repulsed I could finally conquer my addiction. Of course, I knew I would smoke the very cigarettes I had gathered in order to quit. The cure, like chemotherapy fighting a tumour, would be as devastating as the illness. However, I had tried to give up so many times before this felt like my only solution.Continue reading “The Last Cigarette by Tim Frank”
A Day in the Life of 1987
Ever since it was installed in 1951, the carillon atop the Charleston city courthouse plays a piece of classical music after it chimes noon. On a day long since protected by the statute of limitations, I was waiting out a red light in front of the courthouse when the carillon played the Chopin nocturne featured in The Deer Hunter. Maybe I’ve reached the age where my cultural references are “out of print,” but there’s a special sadness in that melody which always sinks me; yet on that day, when I was twenty-eight, I felt nothing at all.Continue reading “The Sisterhood of Nod by Leila Allison”