By the time Sally died, it was too late for Jack to become a better husband and too late to make amends. Car crashes come suddenly, without any warning, and can be as unforgiving as the wife of a cheating husband who feels no remorse. Jack was alone, five days after the accident, sitting in his kitchen eating breakfast and checking for the fourth time to make sure he’d turned the stove off. He had overcooked scrambled eggs and the toast he’d made looked more like burned charcoal than anything fit for human consumption, but he’d eaten most of it anyway, spitting out the darkest of the black, crumbling pieces into the sink (after chewing them until the taste was unbearable). Those buttery, black bits were now stuck to the greasy aluminum pots and pans that lined Jack’s sink and would be onerous to get off.Continue reading “Burned Toast by Gil Hoy”
After the cremation, I felt I had to get away. I found a Perthshire country house hotel on the internet, situated in one of those mysterious winding glens that end abruptly in a wall of rock. The hotel advertised itself as ‘a mecca for hill-walkers,’ but that clearly only applied outside the shooting season, as was evidenced by the stags’ heads in the hallway, bar and library. More like an abattoir than a country house hotel, it seemed on arrival. Nevertheless, the staff were friendly and the weather was surprisingly dry for April, so I decided to stay on for a second week: I didn’t relish returning home to an empty house – her clothes in the wardrobe, her flowers in their pots on the kitchen window. And it wasn’t really until that second week that I got to know Willie Anderson.Continue reading “The Smoothing Stream by Michael Bloor”
After what they’d been through — what they were still going through —Oliver had decided to take a week off to spend with Ben before school started again. “What’ll it be for breakfast, Son — pancakes or ice cream?”
“Can’t we have both?” the 10-year-old boy says.
“Pancakes a-la-mode it is, Buddy.”Continue reading “A Give and Take of Crows by David Henson”
Her nose took the impact, it canted left and snapped perfectly at the bridge. Her mascaraed eyes watered until her vision became a myopic smudge. She staggered, tripping on the raised step between lounge and diner. (A design feature she always hated but he insisted on.) ‘It will define the individual spaces’, he’d said. Another blow staggered her. She remembered her Interior Design professor screaming ‘NEVER BREAK THE FUCKING SPACE,’ as he came in, on, or often just around her slut of a best-friend flatmate. That exalted mantra had stuck, her friendship hadn’t. Her fingers skittered along the edge of the kitchen top, too cold, too polished, nothing to cling to, to hold, to grasp. Her father’s words came to her, ‘you can’t trust stainless steel,’ he’d say, ‘unnatural stuff, use wood, wood has an inherent trust, copper an earned one, stone, who the hell uses stone nowadays?’ He always chuckled at himself when he said that. He also warned her. “Look for the comfortable, the homely, ‘hugge,’ as the Dutch say. No cold marble, no hard granite, no slippery steel and definitely no injection moulded impervious shiny plastic. An interior, my gorgeous girl, is a mirror of soul.”Continue reading “Seeds by Peter O’Connor“
The loose hall board, if you rocked heel to toe, sounded like someone drowning, that bastard son-in-law he hoped. He tried to silence him with new copper nails along its length. For a while it worked. But one evening the gasp returns, quieter now, pitched high. His weighted heel brings his wife, grasping a breath before sinking under a swirling sea. His toe raises her sea-washed face and she gasps again; help me, John, I have her.Continue reading “The Sea by P O’Connor”
There must have been about ten or twenty of Them. Circling above the house like the beginnings of a tornado. Their smooth, steady flight was stark against the clamour from inside. Voices clashed against running footsteps, something clanged in the kitchen, and the phone wouldn’t stop ringing. One man sat huddled in the corner, unable to move. And in the midst of it all was a wail, a cry that every few minutes rose from within and floated slowly outward. But They remained indifferent, a set of black wings and sharp beaks stark against the sun that was just beginning to dip downwards. They soared round and round, while inside the small bungalow chaos reigned. One of Them ruffled its feathers.Continue reading “Relief by Rati Pednekar”
I’ve always scoffed at the concept of a zombie apocalypse. That is, until now. It’s here. Think you already know everything about it? I bet there’s something you don’t know. Read on.Continue reading “Dear Survivor by Gary Opas”
Sooner or later it’s going to happen to you. You forget the hand-me-down hanboks, blaring F-84s, stitched up sacks of half empty barley portions from a bustling market stocked with rows of mung beans and buchu. You weave through scenes of shirts drenched in sticky blood and machine guns shooting your neighbors down to become spine-chilling nightmares. You become another identity that hopes to forget the feeling of a complete family—a sort of silent-lipped desire that keeps you from proudly marching into Olympic Mart with your mother for a touch of authenticity you desperately want to forget. You force yourself to grow up to match the number of times you ate seaweed soup on your birthday, fourteen, to keep your ripped up photographs tightly shut in your safe.Continue reading “Mung Beans and Happiness by Emily Khym”
Yuko says she wants to wear a gray dress. I told her she can’t.
Sachiko sighed at the text from her younger sister. Yuko wasn’t even supposed to be in charge of everything, she was.
No, gray is fine, too, Sachiko texted back.Continue reading “Hatsubon by Sarah Hozumi”
He woke abruptly in the lonely bed. It was still dark. The dolorous memories of yesterday’s events knotted his guts and sent him to the bathroom. Downstairs, he fed the clamorous cat and chucked more fuel on the stove – autopiloting.Continue reading “The Next Morning by Michael Bloor”