Three months later and back into my routine, I returned to church. I noticed all the families at early service. Little girls with exquisite ribbons, little boys all about their first ties. My father couldn’t teach me how to tie a tie. He was dyslexic. I was left-handed. Charming, the pair of us. Unsuccess greeted us at every skinned knee of childhood. Laces. Did it matter whether on new or old shoes, no. Scouting badges for all kinds of knots and things? Well, we attempted all that! Every sport imaginable involving foot or paw, naw. The neck tie was the worst. Eventually, I’d give up or stammer off. Or he would. Often crying throughout. He’d stopped cursing at some point. Sometimes, I would start cussin’ at another point. Only for Mom to intervene. She said she had to pray: “No boy, no tie, no boy.” I promise I remember that prayer.Continue reading “No boy, no Tie by R. P. Singletary”
The Van by Peter O Connor
Claire Jones took my virginity. It was in the back of her father’s 1968 Morris Minor van. The van, an F-reg MK II, crouched on the drive of 68 Moor View on four splintering wooden blocks. The engine removed, along with the bonnet, wings, lights and windscreen. It perched blind and unmoving in that pose for five long years of my life. Even today, years later, the ghost dark patch of dripped, fluids can be seen on the drive of No 68.Continue reading “The Van by Peter O Connor”
Photogenic Memory by Santiago Márquez Ramos
Carlos López Andrade sat at a rickety red table, bathing in the sea of glowing colors that was Times Square. The luminous ads and billboards high into the night sky – ads of phones that ensured happiness and apps that promised love – trickled down white and blue and red colors that danced across his dusty brown skin. It was the texture of a ripe avocado, his skin, and the lights highlighted every ridge and crevice, every memory held within the rind. Even the ones that he didn’t want illuminated. He sighed.Continue reading “Photogenic Memory by Santiago Márquez Ramos”
Trailer Parks and Sagebrush by Rachel Sievers
The old woman in front of me is dead, this is an absolute, something I cannot change regardless of the power I have. She has been dead for quite some time, but she flutters around the broken-down trailer house like she has just been reborn, and in a way, I guess she has. It is my job to facilitate these things but she seems not to need me and moves in a busy rhythm to a beat only she can hear.Continue reading “Trailer Parks and Sagebrush by Rachel Sievers”
Summer and Sweet Peas by Oso Jones
He places the cloth bag carefully on the kitchen table; Formica, worn and chipped. She had trained him in in the use of cloth bags. You would have thought the simple act of remembering to take a cloth bag to the shops was a panacea against climate change. More like a superstitious tick, like genuflecting at church or throwing salt over your shoulder. Something to make you feel like you are warding off an even greater calamity when the real damage has already been done. He unpacks the bag carefully: a hammer, a hatchet, some rope, an apple. The apple was impulsive, they looked fresh. Crisp and juicy. He tells himself he must eat it soon. He has his own superstitions and the longer an apple is the house the more he suspects that it is mealy. Many a good apple has gone to waste because he couldn’t shake the feeling it was imperfect in a sickening, unnameable way. Of course, you can never tell with apples, not until you take a bite, but he could never bring himself to take that risk.Continue reading “Summer and Sweet Peas by Oso Jones”
The Quiet, Empty Bedrooms of Saugus by Tom Sheehan
As all of earth once growled and gnarled its way to an instant conflagration, a calamitous roar, all its gears beginning to shift, in the near-middle of the last century, Saugus, Massachusetts, a small town just north of Boston, started to empty its bedrooms… the ones in the attic, in the space out over the garage, third floor second door on the left, the bedrooms facing on the pond or the cemetery or those looking broadly down on the wide marshes or quickly down on quiet Cliftondale Square. The bedrooms where boys cruised into manhood, almost overnight at that.Continue reading ” The Quiet, Empty Bedrooms of Saugus by Tom Sheehan “
Festival by Simon Bell
The room is empty. The oak floorboards have a dull shine, the finish spoiled by dusty foot prints and the sad circular stains of glasses consumed. A yet to be attended to feel. The wisps of laughter hang in the air. She was alone.
The Saugus at Odd Hours, Odd Times by Tom Sheehan
The river here heaves up on the bank like an old man getting into bed.
Birds cry downstream. A gull perfects a theft, executes drastic turn in air that could break bones. I do my duty walks like perimeter guard, shoulder walking cudgel the way I carried my carbine back there at 23, know the pound of it to an ounce; knowledge of the scabbard hangs on.
I’d rather the river and the tired water’s run as 86 years weigh a heavy canteen. Nothing is like a river’s to and fro against this sea, tide-wash, catch of kelp, air sting full of briny sea’s salad smells, perpetual anger, always earth-dig, sand-flush and rock-wear, drag on the moon, where a ship’s ghost and canvas call.
Continue reading “The Saugus at Odd Hours, Odd Times by Tom Sheehan “
So, Where Are You Now by Jeffrey L Higgs
The distance between the house and the cliff isn’t long, nor is it short. The distance is the distance. Years ago flowers bloomed here in ever increasing numbers, filling the landscape. Their lithe youthful necks stretched upwards basking in the warmth of the sun’s rays. But no more. Time’s passage stole the flowers beauty and they began a slow, steady decline.
In Flight Memory by Nik Eveleigh
The ice will wake you. You’ll hear it dropping in the plastic cup, sense it being passed in front of you to the woman in the window seat you haven’t spoken to since the flight began. You’ll drift, then you’ll open your eyes and stare into a face that would be prettier with less make-up. Her strip-light smile won’t fade as she asks you, patiently, for the third time if you’d like something to drink. You’ll order a gin and tonic even though you don’t want one because that’s what you do on flights. While she rummages for the gin needle in the haystack of unwanted brandy you’ll wonder if you’ll get peanuts or mini pretzels.
You’ll bet on pretzels.
And you’ll be right.