Lone Ranger

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By Josiah Robb

He was a lone ranger. A man of few words with a mind like a garbage patch swirling in a summer breeze.

She was anxious for his affection, often chewing the skin around her thumbnails until they bled. But hid it well.

Life’s problems were invisible to him—or simply weaker than his ego’s need to remain uncompromised. She ran herself ragged holding flimsy walls upright around them, beneath a tornado that (arguably) only raged inside her mind.

But nothing in the world could draw an ‘I love you’ from his mouth quicker than the buzz of her suitcase zipper.

         
“I write because it gives me peace and strength and I simply love doing it.” – the author

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The Shadow of the Summer

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By Mary Shay McGuire

evening sun slants
across the June grass
that moment
the sun lowering
sending streams of light
repeating, repeating
each time carrying me back

to Massachusetts childhood
near the wide river
near the Atlantic Ocean
where you run to the sea
watch the tides forever
pulling in, pulling out

that June evening sun’s shadow
I remember—crosses the lawn
the moment I hold my father’s hand
my mother bends taking our picture
as if everything is fine

         
“I write because if seems the way to express to something that I cannot say any other way.” – the author

A Broken Eggshell and a Spider

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By Sandra Arnold

My children find a finch’s nest blown out of a tree in a storm. Inside lies half a tiny egg on top of which sits a miniscule spider. I watch their faces as their father shows them how the nest is woven with hair from our dog and lined with fleece from our sheep and feathers from our hens and how it has been fastened to a twig with strands of straw. He shows them how to handle the nest without disturbing the spider. They watch, scarcely breathing.

         
Sandra Arnold’s flash fiction collection, Soul Etchings, was published in the UK in June.

Dry Year

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By Jeff Wood

Dad and I are drinking beer, watching the storm clouds tumble like clowns over the Sangre de Cristos. Between us and the mountain shimmers a thin quilt of rain, falling halfway down the sky and disappearing in wisps as fragile as ghosts.

“It’s called virga,” dad says, “when the rain does that, evaporating on the way down, never reaching the field.”

”Dry year,” I say.

”Dry as bone,” he adds, clearing his throat.

The last few swallows of beer are warm, the glass bottle already dry to the touch. The hot wind blows in our faces. The distant thunder rolls.

         
“I write to remember, and understand.” – the author

The Buffet Conversation Piece

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By Michael Bloor

On Andy’s stag night, Willie Macleod claimed that Joe Stalin was supposed to possess just four English phrases:

‘You said it;’

‘So what;’

‘What the hell goes on here?’ and,

‘The toilet is over there.’

In retrospect, it was clearly unwise for Willie to make a bet that he could conduct himself through the whole of Fiona and Andy’s wedding solely by utterance of Stalin’s four phrases. True, he managed to deliver the first three successfully. But, at the reception, he really should have admitted defeat when Fiona’s mum asked him how he liked the smoked eel canapés.

           
Michael Bloor is a retired sociologist living in Dunblane, Scotland, who has discovered the exhilarations of short fiction.

The Unwanted Visitor

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By Natasha Cabot

The raccoon is watching, as I sit down to eat. Dark eyes sweep over me — sizing me up, as if it knows it could steal my meal. Now its paw is on the window and its nose presses against the glass — translucent puffs of air leaving temporary clouds.

It wants my food. The wheels inside its brain spin with fury, wondering if it could take me in a fight. It probably could. Its pink tongue leaves its black mouth, licking its lips. Then it disappears.

But I’m not safe. I hear scratching at my door, and the knob turns slowly.

           
Natasha Cabot writes because she “has millions of tiny worlds inside of her that will drive her into Jack Torrance-like realms if she doesn’t get it out of her.”

Why Are You Barking?

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By Ruth Polk

I join him at the door and peer out.

Nothing.

There are three women walking down the street. Chatting.

They are on the opposite side.

Could Pettigrew hear them?

Is that what disturbed?

Front legs splayed, muzzle pressed against the crack at the bottom of the door, he does not yield.

We stand side by side: me looking out, him on alert.

I share what I see, reassuring that whatever threat he perceived has passed.

Together we walk away and settle back down, me at the computer, him on the sofa.

         
“I write to capture the moments that won’t let go.” – the author