Out of Oregon

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By Lee Finch

Your breath didn’t cloud in the cold. After you picked the music and crawled onto the car roof, the animals ran back into the woods. My cheeks pinked, bunny-eared cap useless in the cold. You unfurled beside me.

I would not look at your eyes. I didn’t want that kind of night. But you bizarred the air with sound, touched my hair, and began to braid, fingers and hair twisting. Your eyes drained the red from my cheeks, darkling, as a whippoorwill began to sing against the radio. I still can’t tell if I slept or if I was awake.

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Try Again

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By D.T. Mattingly

Matte white tiles stained red with her blood. She crouched, cascades flowing down her vitreous legs following open veins. It dwelled in her, a terrarium to our world—at peril. She stared at me, wearing pain as a mask.

Silence plagued behind clicking drops of faucet water. I gazed off, those kinds of moments leading to distorted worlds. In each one, I held her tightly, our fabric tainted by grim realities.

Our eyes met again, her watch piercing like daggers, strong enough to snap me out of my trance. She whispered, “We can always try again.”

Eternal silence sounded better.

Black & White

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By D. Avery

He was a good bicyclist, skillful and considerate, always riding to the right of the white line. He used lights and always wore reflective clothing, making himself visible to drivers. They say he was a good man, teaching children to ride, fixing their bikes.

His road bike was the green of a sent text message. The truck was black, they think. They found his bike tangled on the yellow line. His white helmet had somehow come off, somehow whole and spinning, spinning, on the silent black tar of the highway. They marked the spot with a white ghost bike.

Her Today

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By Kelvin M. Knight

She could do this.

Today she wouldn’t recoil from the cannula’s bite. Today she wouldn’t fear that dripping sound drowning her. Today her watchword was welcome. Welcome the medication. Welcome this boredom. Welcome that afterwards pain and energy drain.

“All streams flow to the ocean because it is lower than they are. Humility gives the ocean its power.”

Lao Tzu’s words rippled over her as she closed her eyes. She saw her brain as a waterfall, her veins as rivers of light flowing into the ocean of herself. As her fears washed away, she positioned her arm, whispering, “Thank you.”

Forty Smokes a Day

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By Eva Rivers

Mama was always having an existential crisis.
‘What is the purpose of my life?’ she’d say.
Papa said maybe it was to cook and keep house. A clean shirt now and again. But mama never saw it like that. She tried to adjust but mostly she just spent her days tearful or asleep. The last time we spoke she was lying in a hospital bed.
‘Baby, why did God put me on this earth?’
Not for forty smokes a day and all the Jack Daniels you can swallow, I wanted to chide. But I didn’t. I just held her hand as she cried.

     
Eva Rivers’ fiction has appeared in Fictive Dream, Sick Lit Magazine, Penny Shorts, The Drabble, 101 Words, Firefly Magazine, Storgy and Scribble Magazine.

Lipstick Car Wreck

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By Wyatt Martin

Finally alone, you open your coat in the snow
Revealing the soft hum of your pilot light
Living, walking to the water’s edge
To pray for the river’s cleanse
But the water is polluted with your reflection
So run, like you always do, into an idle
Your car on the street outside
Of where you need to be, you’ve circled around
3 times already (you’re not getting any more inside)
So drive, flooding down the avenue to the last bridge
Left erect from your axe of burned out comings-alive
to switch, from automatic to manual so you
Stop self-correcting and just let careen all that you are
A smile like wreckage smears across your face

A Visit to Anne Frank’s House

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By Alexander Hill

We’d read the diary you wrote and visited the Secret Annex hidden behind the bookcase in the tall building on Prinsengracht. Everything is sepia in these narrow rooms, brightened only by the few color photographs you collected, movie stars, princes, pictures of your family and oddly DaVinci. There’s an old man gazing at the marks on the wall of your changing height. A tear runs down his wrinkled cheek, caught for a moment by a shaft of light and briefly a rainbow, smile shaped, curves across his face.

Perhaps there is hope for us after all.