Rob peered out from behind the Sunday sports section. Across the room he observed his wife Shelia, doing some sort of handwork with tiny needles. Crocheting, maybe? He didn’t know. Had no clue. Didn’t care. She was dressed in a teal blue, floral print skirt and a white peasant blouse. Her auburn hair was pulled back in a ponytail. Her full lips and high cheekbones, once so beguiling to him, were now anything but, just plain and unremarkable, nothing to write home about. He sighed and turned back to check on the baseball scores but only for a minute. He was having trouble concentrating. I wonder, he thought to himself, If today’s the day I tell her I’m thinking of leaving.Continue reading “Maybe I’ll Grow A Beard by Jim Bates”
Leaves by August Miller
The spiced cool air blowing through the car vents comes laced with wood smoke. It is a scent that weaved its way into the fabric of childhood alongside that indoor fireplace, which had been a burning city, or a burning home, or a burning bridge, or any burning spectacle I felt should be extinguished during games of heroism in the autumn and winter months.Continue reading “Leaves by August Miller”
Beside Kam Salem by Adédoyin Àjàyí
I had been dining in Ma Mabel’s bar for three months before I saw Bimpe. But nobody spoke about her. They all spoke about Ma Mabel. Yet it seemed no one knew her. Her bar was on Moloney Street, near the police academy. It wasn’t too far from my workplace in Marina. Everyone came to Old Ma Mabel’s bar. Different people, from various walks of life, Lagosians troubled with Lagosian problems – financial worries, overbearing bosses and cheating spouses, not to mention the long lines of traffic that lined Third Mainland Bridge every other day. No one knew Ma Mabel. Her bar had been near Kam Salem for longer than I remembered. Some of the patrons said she had died, others said she was an old woman confined to a wheelchair, and only came out of her house at night. She was elusive, a poor imitation to Fitzgerald’s Gatsby. I doubt she had Gatsby’s boundless charm though.Continue reading “Beside Kam Salem by Adédoyin Àjàyí”
A Pebble at Dawn by J Bradley Minnick
What most disturbed Ben Sykes about his present situation was how it had crept up on him: Ben had lost his home, his wife, and he had thrown away his job. He wasn’t able to say which one thing brought him to this—the world was certainly a more complex and complicated place than placing blame on one thing. If it wasn’t for his ex-mother-in-law, Mrs. Edna Ferbish, allowing Ben to stay with her, well.Continue reading “A Pebble at Dawn by J Bradley Minnick”
Storm Clouds by James Bates
I’ve had a problem controlling my temper my entire life. It started when I was young. If I didn’t get my way there’d be hell to pay. I used to get into a lot of fights. A few times I even ended up in the hospital. And that all happened before I got out of grade school. Fortunately, over time, I was able to change. What happened? I wish I could say that I had a simple answer or a magic formula, but it really just came down to wanting to do more with my life than spending it being a pugilistic jerk who settled his arguments with his fists. At least I never used a gun.Continue reading “Storm Clouds by James Bates”
Keep Dancing by Antony Osgood
‘I’m so sorry, I really wasn’t paying attention,’ the middle-aged man was told by an older woman. They were the same height. George, being six foot three, had found the novelty of not looking down for their conversation quite refreshing, though he suspected in the morning he’d discover a plethora of aching muscles he never once suspected he possessed. Her attention was fixed on undexterous fingers shaking an empty not-quite-glass, a bubbly flute of clouded plastic. It was as if, George imagined, the last drop of wine had proven impossible for her to access, and for the life of her she had found no way to solve the puzzle. She kept holding the flute up to the noisy strip-light, seemingly either looking for fingerprints or a miracle. She appeared forensic in her analysis of unobtainable alcohol. George was reminded of a video he’d once seen on YouTube, of a goldfish obsessed with its image in a mirror. The poor fish had been unable to free itself from the mistaken belief it was threatened by itself. It was the saddest thing George had seen.Continue reading “Keep Dancing by Antony Osgood”
Wig Shop by Jon Fotch
He sat on the couch with his arms crossed around his middle like he was hiding something precious from some malevolent authority.
“I think I might have gone,” he said.
In a moment the water stopped to a drip in the kitchen sink.
“I’m coming,” she said.
She went to him compressed by the years. Shrunken like wool in the dryer. Her shoulders pushed down from holding all the clouds above the world.
She helped him to the bathroom.Continue reading “Wig Shop by Jon Fotch”
Borrowed Time by Rob O’Keefe
“16 years? Seriously, 16 years? You’re killing me!”
Why do they always yell? I didn’t know this guy, but I knew his story. He was in over his head. That’s how it was with most clockers. Give ‘em a second, they’ll take a year, right? Okay, I know that’s not original, but it’s still true.
“Not yet,” I countered. “Unless you keep borrowing more than you can pay back. And it’s 16 years and 47 days, plus a few hours. How do you want to do this?”Continue reading “Borrowed Time by Rob O’Keefe”
The Riddle of the billigits by Leila Allison
Meet the Hammy Dodgers
The crystal ball on my desk flashed red. This happens whenever the Witch HeXopatha (nee “Hezopatha”) wants to pee in my lager.
HeXopatha is an immortal Wiccan. She has been around for thousands of years and will continue to be around for however long it takes for her to get bored with the world and retire permanently to Hell–but I don’t count on that happening soon. Once upon a time the “peasants” might have been able to do something about HeXopatha, but her skill level has risen beyond river tossing and the pyre. In fact it is a bad idea to mention such previous activities in HeXopatha’s presence; nor is it advised to claim to be of “Puritan stock,” unless you enjoy long hours in pillory stocks.Continue reading “The Riddle of the billigits by Leila Allison”
Burned Toast by Gil Hoy
By the time Sally died, it was too late for Jack to become a better husband and too late to make amends. Car crashes come suddenly, without any warning, and can be as unforgiving as the wife of a cheating husband who feels no remorse. Jack was alone, five days after the accident, sitting in his kitchen eating breakfast and checking for the fourth time to make sure he’d turned the stove off. He had overcooked scrambled eggs and the toast he’d made looked more like burned charcoal than anything fit for human consumption, but he’d eaten most of it anyway, spitting out the darkest of the black, crumbling pieces into the sink (after chewing them until the taste was unbearable). Those buttery, black bits were now stuck to the greasy aluminum pots and pans that lined Jack’s sink and would be onerous to get off.Continue reading “Burned Toast by Gil Hoy”