Spraypaint on Granite by Thomas Shea

I had just sprayed some swastikas on my father’s shiny new headstone, and was two letters into a nice double-underlined “BURN IN HELL, NAZI” when I saw her.

Her flowing white dress fairly glowed in the full moon’s light. Her skin and hair were so dark, the way she walked so light and graceful, that my first thought was “ghost”.  But disembodied spirits don’t usually carry duffel bags, or pause their spectral wanderings to shift the straps awkwardly.  Having more to fear from the living than the dead, I swung behind dad’s elaborate (now slightly moreso) stone, and hid.

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This Death by Margaret LaFleur

He found her sitting in a tree. Her legs dangled over the edge, her dusty feet kicking back and forth. It had taken him a while to find her. It wasn’t as simple as it usually was. Each hourglass of life came with coordinates, of course. The tiny numbers ascribed on the bottom gave approximate locations. It wasn’t a perfect system. Humans weren’t as predictable as, say, ants. Things had gotten tricky when they domesticated the horse, for example. It had gotten worse with the engine. Obviously airplanes had kicked things into gear. But the hourglass makers, those bright-eyed creatures, were quick to adjust. They usually got it in the ballpark.

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A Diner and The Cello by Tina Klimas

From outside the coffee shop across the road, Julia watches Charlie Miller leave the diner. It starts to snow again and if she narrows her vision to exclude all else, she can almost believe that she is looking at an idyllic scene. Snowflakes drift softly through the golden glow emanating from the diner window. Waitresses move about inside with coffee pots, amid the chattering, happy diners. Charlie Miller, in jeans and cowboy boots, plaid flannel shirt poking out from a nondescript brown jacket, completes this perfect portrait of nostalgic Americana. But then he pauses outside the diner and crosses his arms in a tight knot across his chest.  He stares straight ahead, as if he is viewing hell. The image of blood and clotted brain-matter leaps up before her eyes. She stuffs it back into the box too small to hold it, only to wait for the demented jack-in-the-box to spring again.

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