The Dancer, Maria Elena Gonzalez by R Harlan Smith

Katerina Valencia Contrerez is an angry old bruja who lives outside the village of Dos Cruces. She hates her nephew, Cecilio. She beats him with her fists and chases him away. So Cecilio made her a beautiful walking stick to get in her good graces. Now Katerina beats him with her stick. The villagers say the lesson is, don’t arm your enemies. They say Cecilio is a great teacher.

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Lilly-Anne by James McEwan

When I heard the front door close I dashed to the window. From behind the lace curtain I watched Lilly-Anne skip down the steps onto the street. Palpitations fluttered in my chest, my arrhythmia raced like a motor-cross Kawasaki skidding sideways across sand. She walked along the street in black low-heeled shoes, light blue stockings and her coat flapped with each step exposing her knees, her handbag hung over a shoulder. Those lips glistened with gloss; no colour, such a pale face. She looked ill. I groaned, perhaps her boss will give her the day off; I wished. She made her way along the road out of my view.
I sat down and began my breathing mantra; in for five seconds and out for five until I calmed myself sufficiently to let the pulsating surge in my groin subside. My hands no longer shook and I could pick up my coffee.

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The Distress of Newly Made Ghosts by Karl Miller

I’m on my third slow loop through a nearly-empty parking lot, passing by darkened stores as the last workers depart on a Sunday night.  The land on which the mall sits was once part of the Everglades – I helped survey it as a summer job years ago.  I’d wade into the forest with a machete and mark the trees developers would be saving – the slash pines were going, but the live oaks would stay to be stranded in asphalt.

Three days ago, Tristan, my cousin’s boyfriend, was waiting at a stop sign on his motorcycle when an inattentive driver plowed into him.  If I delay my arrival any longer, I’d miss his viewing completely, so I finally drive across the street to the funeral home.

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