The Way You Get Worked Up

By John L. Malone

The way you get worked up towards the end.
I can hear you, the noise of your coming, three rooms away.
Are such outbursts necessary?
Why, even the walls vibrate,
Now you’re really going.
Hope you don’t bust anything.
You’re not that young anymore, remember.
There’s no doubt you give it your all.
Do you enjoy it?
Sounds as if you do.
Now you’ve gone quiet, can I come in?
Yes ! The clothes are done.
One hour, twenty. Wish I had your stamina.
You must be exhausted.

“I get my material from the every day: an inexhaustible supply.” – the writer

The Tuxedo Man

By Andy Lind

Yeah, I was there the day The Tuxedo Man died. We were at the same bar together. He was there to impress some girl. I was there to drink. She asked me for help. He got mad when he found out she was talking to me. He threw down some dough, stormed out of the bar, and made his way to the bridge. I followed him to see where he was going. As he was leaning over and throwing up into the water, he fell. Maybe I pushed him, maybe I didn’t. Even if I did, nobody will ever know.

Andy Lind enjoys sharing his love of noir and hard-boiled mysteries. He writes to keep the genre alive.

Note To A Young Mother

By Paul Rousseau

Room 6, Intensive Care Unit
March 2020

A rattle of tired breath passes your lips. Your heart shudders and stops. I glance at your face; your eyes are still, your pupils as big as dinner plates. My hands plunge to your chest and pump and push. Your body twitches and trembles as I struggle to resuscitate.

A door slides open. A young boy reaches for my hands, hands that were just on your chest. “Is momma okay?”

One week later I learn of a viral pandemic. You were the first to die in this small southern town.

“I write to tell the stories of those who suffer with the betrayal of their bodies.” – the writer

Wish You Were Here

By Sandy Wilson

It is a place of memories: salt on lips, screech of gulls, the aroma of sun lotion. Here Sylvia sits hunched watching her son play.

It is a place of memories. Noah’s military father told himself the sacrifice – their son being brought home draped in the flag – had been an honour. But her grief, her keening, still echoes in her skull. She joins her son at the edge of the sea where the cool waves rise to numb her memory of his birth, rise to wash away the grief, and silence the song of lament in her head.

“I write short stories, memoirs and poetry, in a vain attempt to understand life.” – the writer

I Only Know You Naked

By Holly Huzar

“So nice to see you!” she said. Her halter-top bulged with baby. I couldn’t place her, this smiling woman. Forty-ish, long red hair, eyes crinkled from laughter.

I could have asked her name, but instead, just smiled and listened about her joyful pregnancy. We hugged goodbye; she walked away.

Suddenly, startled recognition. Her naked back with raised scars. A skinny bald teen, body sliced and ravaged from spinal cancer surgeries. She’d wanted a relaxation massage. My hands had softly rested on her back while she silently wept, exhausted. She must be dying, I’d thought.

Today, I taste grateful salt tears.

“I write because the stories want to get out.” – the writer

Shaken on Alder Street

By Kevin Campbell

In an office of four on the main floor of a converted heritage house, soft ringtones hover over a hypnosis of tapping keys. Two speak of concern for the flooding one county over. Outside the landscaper snips, leveling the waist-high hedges to the porch entrance.

Mr. Bleer, without appointment, raises his voice to demand his permit application be approved. He takes a threatening tone, then leaves, bouncing the door on its hinges.

The staff circle together with some fresh coffee. The manager tells everyone it will be okay.

The landscaper, paused by the commotion, snips and measures again for balance.

“I write to revel, relive and reveal … or at least that’s the intention.” – the writer

Etymology of [Unsolicited] Silence

By Sama Fattah

alpenglow strokes napa, strawberry-kissed hillcrests,
parting my cross-stitched lips into a windswept yawn,
as aspartame-sylphs tug, drawing my last breath,
and somniferous tendrils enwrap my trachea.

chambermaids of dawn pluck insolent draperies
open / and recede the threadbare hearthrug that is
my verglassen tongue into blasphemous silence;
blooming briars enclasp the archwire—I speak, eyes peek.

“I write to express all the things I never said.” – the writer

Vow of Silence

By Stevieslaw

Tired of talk.
How hard
to take this dreadful season
in silence.

The reason
for the pleading
has passed
like last summer.

I did not see
it going. Only gone.
To quiet

against those
tedious arguments —
and repetition.

“I love/hate the challenge (of writing.)” – the writer

Old Photographs

By Brian Maycock

Going through box after drawer after box as I help clear my parent’s house out, I find old photographs of so many things.

My dad at school, a cheeky grin on his face. Their wedding day, with a homemade dress and a shy, pretty girl centre stage.

There is one.

Of my brother and me, we were either side of five or six, sitting on the floor playing with a toy truck.

I always thought this was one of my first memories but maybe I just remembered the picture.

I add it to the pile of things to keep.

“I write because I love it.” – the writer

Immaculate Conception

By Laura Besley

The woman tears the head off Barbie and swallows it. Barbie’s glossy locks catch and scratch in her throat. Four long limbs, with ten little fingers and ten little toes, follow, the pungent plastic making her retch. Last is the body. Hers repels Barbie’s – hips too wide, breasts too round – but eventually, the woman coaxes it down. She caresses, cradles, the swell of her stomach, the weight lying leaden.

When the pains start, she smiles, breathes like she’s been taught to all the other times, for all the other babies who didn’t survive. Knowing, this time, everything will be perfect.

Laura Besley writes to stop life falling down around her and to ignore the housework.