Angelo by Mark O’Connor

‘Ah, when to the heart of man

Was it ever less than a treason

To go with the drift of things…’ Robert Frost


Daphne Robins decided to end her life immediately. Not in the conventional way with bullets or paracetamol or dangling from a beam. Far too dramatic. It was more of a replacement she was looking for. She’d been drifting. She knew it, and a change was needed. Not a small, measly, January-the-first-gym joining change, that wouldn’t do at all. She needed a profound, wow-your-so-brave-I-never-thought-you-would-could-facebook-status-update-to-all change. She placed her well-thumbed copy of the complete works of Robert Frost onto the speckled granite breakfast bar, but not before placing a soft kiss onto Robert’s sun-faded profile.

‘Thank you, Robert.’

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Special Knowledge by Martyn Clayton

His sister had suggested he contacted the TV production company that made the programme about hoarders. Those strange folks who collect things from bins, who live in houses so filled with clutter that they’ve been reduced to a small window of space in a back bedroom.  Sometimes they’re rescued through a gap in the rubbish bags by the fire brigade. They argue until they’re blue in the face about the possible future utility of a broken coat hanger or a plastic duck.

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Step by Step by Step by Deva Mari

 Out there, it was a storm rioting, the type that Marion faced when arriving at the Bates Motel, and I was sitting in this stranger’s freshly vacuumed Mitsubishi with my muddy, turn-out-not-to-be-waterproof hiking boots, him telling me how he hadn’t been home in nearly two decades. That, back there, he had a wife still mourning his death. That his daughter wasn’t the little princess she used to be, but married recently and was pregnant now with two little princesses herself. His voice a warm drone against the rain that was drumming against the Mitsubishi’s metal frame. I was just happy that I was in there, and not stuck at the last lonely gas station, biding my time with overpriced Cheetos and overweight truck drivers.

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Washing in the Adige by Evan Massey

Emilio is sitting across from me. I can barely understand his broken English as it mixes with his native Italian tongue. They sometimes overlap. He makes a new language of which I understand very little. He is going on about something, something about a child and a woman. He is talking fast and touching his face and tapping his mouth with his finger. I’m thinking that I am the woman that he is going on about and that he is trying to describe. The child, I do not know. Emilio is talking fast and I’m giving it my best effort.

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Lessons by Gigi Papoulias

The first time the piano teacher walked up the two flights to our apartment, my mother rushed to help him. “Thank you, but I can manage,” he said as he tap-tapped his way up.  He wore the thickest glasses I had ever seen. His eyeballs, massive behind the lenses, wobbled and darted – not quite focused on anything in particular. Tallish and round, he always wore a suit. His big shoes were shiny. Before he even entered the room, I could smell his cologne – heavy and manly. When he opened his mouth to speak, he sounded airy, womanly. Sometimes, when I’d play, he’d sing along in a shrilly opera-singer voice.   I’M a yankee doodle dan-DEE…

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