The sheet snaps crisply in the wind, perfectly white, a blank canvas hanging on a line. A woman, neither young nor particularly old, bends over a large, wicker basket. Her hands are large and red, prematurely knotted from the harsh, unceasing wind. She is a good-sized woman. An old floral print dress clings to generous haunches as she efficiently plucks each item from the line and places it in the basket. She is one of an unbroken line of generations past, hardened and forged by life on the plains.Continue reading “Dust to Dust by A. Elizabeth Herting”
One day, you look for money in your sister’s drawers and you discover something else completely. You started out the day Nick Botkin, sister of Nancy, son of Penelope. Now Penelope’s your grandmother and Nancy’s your mother.Continue reading “Sister Mother by Yash Seyedbagheri”
Christ. Almighty. Aunt Nell. Aunt. Fucking. Nell.
Bloodshot, enflamed eyes – well, eye: the right one. Skin like crumpled autumn leaves. Fleshy folds beneath her chin, dangling down like an over-spill tray on a coffee machine. A red, bulbous nose, courtesy of the ‘bloody rosacea’ that plagued Aunt Nell her whole adult life and transformed her nose into a beetroot.
It had happened. The unthinkable. The thing that she had been dreading for four years since finding out. She was morphing into Aunt Nell. Weird, you might think, turning into her aunt; turning into her mother would be more like it. A natural progression. What happens. This was what she found out: Aunt Nell was her mother. More on that can-of-worms later.
Lost and found.
That’s where Kathleen would go if this had happened at a big box store, her carelessness broadcast over the loudspeaker. Instead, she lost something precious in the snow, in deep, cold, silent snow. Beautiful, but impossible to search — unlike the hard floors and ordered aisles of housewares and sports equipment, toiletries and toys.
She looked at the baby, and wondered – is there something wrong with me?
She took in its ten little fingers and toes, the soft folds of fat around its upper legs, its arms, its wrists. The perfect little mouth. She had never known such softness. And she wondered – what kind of monster am I?
A young man sat on a darkened stoop with a small child in his arms. There was lamplight at the head of the street and lamplight at the end, but the stoop where the young man sat was at the middle of the block. Only a bit of the light stretched down to where he watched with the child.
This story deals with subjects that some readers may find upsetting.
I’m willing the old lady to take her seat already so the driver can go. Come on, come on, old girl, just pick a seat, any seat.
“Please take mine,” I say and stand. She smiles a paper-thin smile and eases herself onto the damp fabric. I hold onto a pole as the bus shudders onwards and we’re off again. I take out my phone and replay the message. “Miss Hart, Tabitha is unwell again. Please come and pick her up as soon as possible.”
The way Tabby’s teacher lingers on the word “again” sends a painful throb to my stomach.
The grass was wet round the back of the job centre; ten am here was a damp ass and frozen toes. Stella pulled a 70cl bottle of Gordon’s Sloe Gin that she didn’t pay for out of her bag, slotted it between her thighs, and rolled a cigarette she didn’t plan to smoke.