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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Snakes & Lasses by Christopher Stanley

Jock’s folding his pyjamas back under his pillow when he hears it. A low, growling hiss. His twin daughters are elsewhere, probably playing in the walls, so it’s just him and the mannequin dressed as his wife in the bedroom. He’s searching for the source of the noise when the duvet shifts on the bed. It’s a slight movement, like wind-ruffled marram grass, but it’s something. Carefully, he pulls back the covers, revealing the green and yellow-chevroned scales of a king cobra.

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February by Nik Eveleigh

Some days bring sunshine. Some bring rain. And somewhere along the line life settles in hard as a February sky. Locks down your dreams tight against the iron earth and dares you to object. For such a short month it exacts a long toll.

A bunch of scientists did an experiment once with fleas. They took half a dozen of the brightest and bounciest, dropped them in a jar and screwed on the lid. For a couple of days those fleas launched themselves into almost continually. Eventually, through pain or weariness or both, they stopped jumping so high. They settled on a spot two thirds of the way up the sides of the jar and that was their limit. Even after the lid came off and they could have bounded their way to freedom those fleas kept right on jumping to a place well below the potential of possibility.

Maybe I’m being melodramatic but if that leaden February sky ever clears I wonder how high I can still jump.

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It’s My Funeral!by Paulene Turner

Oh man! That was the Mother of all nights out. What a headache! I can’t remember much about it. Must have been a great night!

But, where am I? In a place with dark carpets, velvety wall paper, fussy gold mirrors. Some woman’s house, I suppose. A sexy babe who whisked me back to her place for a night cap and a game of Hide-the-Sausage. Was it the surfer chick from Bondi in the barely-there bikini? Talk about hot. And the way she rode those waves. I’d better find a mirror to see how bad I look and whether I need a shower. Don’t you hate it when the girl gets her first peek at you in daylight and throws up?

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Totality by A. Elizabeth Herting

The entire world had gone mad. Completely bat-shit crazy which was really saying something in this over-sexed, social-media crazed, smartphone obsessed cesspool that made up modern life. Douglas Garuder had long been a man whose time had passed him by. Hell, he still had an ancient flip phone with a long, spidery crack up the screen. Not that he ever used it. Since Joan had passed away some five years ago, there really wasn’t anyone he cared to talk to. Most of the time if he even remembered to look at the damn thing, he always expected her to call, reminding him to pick up eggs or some other mundane item at the grocery store. That feeling was always followed by the crushing, black sadness that he would never hear his wife’s voice again. At least not in this life anyway.

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