Still Here by Melanie Haws

Wipe off my chin. Please. There is a handkerchief in my pocket. That’s the way I was raised. Get it out and wipe the drool off. Now. And look at me when you talk to me, the way you used to, when we were first married. I’m still here, you know, I’m still here. The older the violin, the sweeter the music. My mother fiddled. I remember the feel of her gloved hand in mine one afternoon, walking me down Market Street, when she stopped and gasped, There’s your daddy. I looked across the street at the man watching us, and he didn’t seem at all a father to me. Only another guy on the street. I squeezed my mother’s hand and we walked quickly in the other direction. I did not look back. I was eight then. I cannot remember the sound of my mother’s voice, or when she passed, but I know that she is gone.

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Punxsutawney Elegy by Patrick Winters

His black containment suit stood out stark against the all-encompassing white and gray of the forest about him. Specks of white swirled through the chilly air, both whipping and wafting against the thick outer padding of the Level A gear; still, he could feel the cold seeping through the protective layers and across his skin. He shivered as he huffed his way through shin-thick drifts of white, his thick boots awkward to trek in, his breather working overtime in the closed hood about his head, and his gloved hands grasping his rifle with determination.

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Merlot is a Monster by Ashlie Allen

There was water boiling over the pot on the stove the night my niece died. She told me she was craving wheat noodles, so I stopped everything I was doing to satisfy her. I heard the water sizzling as it leaked over the scalding edges of the pot, and immediately ran to turn off the flames. “I’m hungry!” she kept yelling. “Please tell me you did not ruin dinner!” “I’m sorry little love.” I chanted as I rushed the noodles to the sink. I let cold water run over them, but it was too late. The noodles had burnt up and were sticking to the steel. I could see the shadow of her bowing in the doorway, her tiny body shuddering with hysterical sobs. I scratched out the charred noodles and handed them to her. “Wipe your tears.” I whispered. I was crying too. She grabbed my leg and cuddled it when she noticed. I leaned against the wall like a ghost watching his loved ones play on without him, expression doleful and hateful at once.  I knew she was drying when I felt her grip loosen around my limb. “It’s okay dear. Go ahead, die. I cannot take care of you the way death can.” Her body dropped from me, carefully sprawling across the floor. I stared at her, face white with grief, eyes bulging as if I despised her, and kneeling at her side, I lifted her over my shoulder and carried her upstairs.

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Who Weeps for Cthulhu? by Douglas Rudoff

Concealed just beneath Pier 63 on the Seattle waterfront, Rob and Lonnie await in the open 16 foot aluminum boat. Between them face down on the boat’s floor is the mock bride, a mannequin wearing a white wedding dress slowly absorbing the moisture of the inch and half puddle it lies in. Lonnie looks at the mock bride, the veil and the blond wig fluttering in a cool breeze. A bouquet of spring flowers, freesias, peonies and daisies, is duct taped to her rigid right hand, the best they could do to make the flowers appear they are being held. She wears a pair of scuffed white leather pumps. Within the fiberglass body of the bride is a six -gallon polypropylene bladder full of Trader Joe’s brand tequila mixed with red dye and corn syrup, based on a recipe Lonnie used twenty-five years earlier for the blood needed for a community theatre production of Sweeny Todd. Three leftover bottles of tequila lie in the puddle beside the bride. Beneath the tequila-filled bladder, in the mannequin’s lower torso is a jumbled pile of twenty-one and a half pounds of turkey kielbasa, also bought at Trader Joe’s, a decent enough imitation of entrails for the Wedding.

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Pooboogle by Adam Kluger

The delivery guy from Arturo’s Italian Restaurant had a sixth finger. It waved about like a little pink antenna. Horace always gave him a big tip and tried not to stare at it. They would link eyes and smile at each other. There was a tacit agreement not to stare at the unusual little digit —and to tip big…and move on. Every time that Horace ordered from Arturo’s he forgot about the delivery guy. The chicken parmesan was so outstanding that the gross-out factor at the door was but a minor inconvenience.

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