Vestigial by Thomas Elson

What can loosen a bond of thirty years?

What can strengthen what can no longer be made strong?

David felt as if he were living inside his recurring fear begun decades earlier inside a chanked and abandoned farm building off a path hidden by overhanging branches surrounded by unproductive land more than fifty yards from a gravel county road when he sat on the wooded floor with the tip of a rifle barrel stuffed in his mouth.

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Garuka – Please Come Back by Ernest O. Ogunyemi

Verse 1 – days of innocence.

 Those days are still fresh, they’re all that remain of that time, like bombshells after an explosion, or the remains of a decomposed dead animal. Those days when we chased grasshoppers in the small bush in our backyard. There were basically three types: one had intricate patterns on its body: yellow and black stripes, dotted with white; another had the skin of lush grasses, and it was why we found it on rare occasions. The last appeared only during the dry seasons. It had the body of scorched grasses, dusty brown. We would watch them jump from blade grass to blade grass, leaning the thin grasses. And we would crouch whenever we came close enough to any – I would put my finger across my lips to tell you to be quiet, like they could hear our voices and flee –  and cup our palms closed on them. We didn’t want them to die. We would tie ropes around their legs and watch them jump, making creepy sounds, as far as the rope could get them.

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Pulling Strings by Tom Sheehan

He had awakened with the itch on his face, from a lone and long hair floating across one eye and one lip, or was it a cob web, a remnant, a silver runner of aerial flight? It definitely was cob-web thin, a filament, a gossamer streamer, light as thought, but not the thought of a spider like the one he had seen eye to eye above his camp bed as a kid. That one hung on such a silken, thin, lone strand that almost wasn’t there. He had always believed he had smashed that black-eyed spider into space with the magazine he had been reading earlier.

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The Funeral by Kevin Counterman

Sonny’s hand shook as he took a drag from his cigarette. Rain drops from the eaves above bruised onto Sonny’s faded grey scaly cap. He watched on as his lifelong friend Daniel reached the walkway to the funeral home. With his head down, and hands in his rain slicker’s pockets, Daniel walked down the cobbled path. “Sonny,” he said with a nod, as he reached the tall, twin hinged doors. The two men shared a moment of a silence, backs toward the funeral home, long faces towards the rain, as Sonny’s cigarette began to fade.

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