All Stories, General Fiction

Empty Histories by Yash Seyedbagheri

At the coffee shop, all the tables are full, both the rectangular tables and the smaller square ones. People fill each side, hunched over computers and stacks of notes. There are boyfriends and girlfriends in turd-colored hoodies and skimpy white tank-tops, parents and children dissecting fractions and Abraham Lincoln, laughter, hugs, shoving, F-bombs deployed with cheer, fusillades of life fired into my ears.

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All Stories, General Fiction

Cohort Retirees by Tom Sheehan

Each Raytheon retiree’s email, each contact with an old co-worker, though distant, departed, an accidental approach, brings me back to places, offices, plant sections and locations, that I left in my past and where I find those that never let go, holding on with clever clutches; some of my favorite people ever climb back into my present circumstance, letting me know they do not let go, not easily, not knowingly, not without a sidewise look I can remember as if it was sent my way yesterday.

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All Stories, General Fiction

Sunday Papers by Darren A Deth

Bill McCullister is usually tilling in the garden, sweeping off the porch, or oiling the hinges on the banged-up screen door. Except Sundays. He wakes in the morning and washes away soil and sweat not worked into his weathered skin. Two quick swipes through what hair is left him and the comb is deposited into the broken-handled mug on the porcelain sink. A clean tee shirt mostly by faded overalls, work boots, and a tattered baseball cap promoting a grain company no longer in business completes the look. If the wind is especially biting, he might toss on his wool coat. He drives the ‘58 Ford truck down the shady lane to Hagmans Crossing, the rusty rocker panels and fenders rattling. Stones kicked up from the tires bang against the undercarriage. The road ends on Route 10 and he cranks her hard to the right, rolling through the stop sign, heading for Ashwell. Bill watches the signpost for the county line slide across the chipped side view mirror before he pitches over Devil’s Hill.

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All Stories, General Fiction

All My Darlings Waiting by Antony Osgood

I caught her eye. Recognised a kindred spirit. Her head then converted into cruor popcorn. Colour of grey nail varnish, millet porridge. Scarlet white and woeful.

I feared I’d lose my lonesome bench for good.

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All Stories, General Fiction

Ladybird by Joy Florentine

The waitress who has taken my order wears a sepia-coloured dress, checkers faded and hem ruffled. She excuses herself as she leans in and wipes the table with a damp cloth. On her sleeve is a single red, round button. It gleams. She asks me something. My car is parked between two cargo trucks. I’m not usually the type of person who visits roadside diners. The red, round button reflects the light from the fluorescent lamp, its four holes laced with loose black thread.

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All Stories, General Fiction

The Shadow of Your Smile by Yash Seyedbagheri

Nick takes pictures of smiles, in coffee shops, at the store.

He especially likes crooked smiles, like his older sister Nan’s. When she smiled. When she was a being and not a shadow in the past tense.  He’s tried to store her smiles like contraband. A smile on the way to bed, the two of them exchanging a glance. A smile pronouncing his nickname. Nicky. Or a smile while watching The Big Lebowski, a smile transforming into real, crackled laughter, especially when The Dude lit a joint without care.

But time makes it impossible to store things.

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All Stories, General Fiction

Whacky Ideas by Dave Henson

One morning over coffee, Jessica says she wants us to take a horse to church. My wife doesn’t mean using the animal for transportation. She wants to walk a horse up the steps, down the aisle, and let it stand there during services.

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All Stories, General Fiction

Iceberg Theory by Yash Seyedbagheri

I slink across January ice. The sun shimmers over clear, cold icy sheen.

I look ahead, but still slip.

I flail, feeling the world tumbling. The sky leers, pale blue, puffed-up clouds surveying me. Frame houses line the street, staring with cheerful yellows and greens. Oak trees stare with naked arms.

I right myself, arms flailing. It’s a miracle, but relief evaporates, replaced by shadows of shame.

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