By Thomas Tilton
“If there are aliens out there, let’s hope they’re friendly,” I said, my attempt at levity after our basement screening of The Thing from Another World.
“He was a vegetable,” my son said. “Like a carrot.”
“The Thing? Yeah, I guess he was. James Arness as the big carrot.”
“If only the scientists could have controlled him, but he was too big and frightened.”
It never occurred to me to connect this conversation to my son’s burgeoning interest in horticulture. How kindly he spoke to his garden, and — after his diagnosis — how earnestly he insisted we bury him in it.
Thomas Tilton’s fiction and poetry have appeared in 365 Tomorrows, Speculative 66, Disturbed Digest, and elsewhere.
By Kelvin M. Knight
Those families braving this freezing beach together filled him with something. Usually he would fall into thinking their togetherness was contrived, that it would not last, that tomorrow they were doomed to the normality of separate lives. Like him. Separate, alone, lost.
But not today.
Today he found himself focusing on these families’ moments and felt warmth and love reaching out. Love for moments like this. Love building moments like this. Love merging these moments into hope. For them. For tomorrow.
Hugging these moments to him, he saw a glimmer of hope beyond this chemotherapy. Breath into a new life.
By Spencer Chou
You arrive at work. It’s almost nine. You blow your coffee and take a sip. You open your browser to half the size of the screen, then bring up a spreadsheet in the top half in case anyone happens to glance over. You type the first letter of his name and his profile comes up. Most of it is set to private. You can’t remember exactly when he unfriended you. They look happy together in his profile picture. It looks like they’re at a bar or something. You click through to the next photo. Another day begins.
Spencer Chou runs the literary magazine and publisher The Nottingham Review. In 2016 he was shortlisted for the Bath Flash Fiction Award.
By Paula Jay
I thought the storm inside had passed
But, no. It has a way of surprising me
In the middle of a pleasant day, a cloudless week, a sunny month.
I hear a distant rumble somewhere far away
But, no. It’s inside of me,
Gaining strength, building momentum, ready to pour.
It’s fine I think. I’ve got this
But, no. I really don’t this time.
The first drops catch me unaware
And before I know it the thunder is deafening
But, no. That’s my heart breaking.
That’s my heart breaking all over again.
By John Malone
He’s here again, I say.
Your friend, I scoff, at the back door.
I suppose I should be grateful he doesn’t come to the front.
He doesn’t exactly knock.
He stares at you through the glass.
He’s brought a mate, I yell.
Don’t get your feathers all ruffled, she says. They mean no harm.
Today a mate, tomorrow a tribe, I say.
Nonsense, she says.
The next day it’s just him.
Go on, I say. Feed him. He won’t go away till you do.
That haughty head.
That magpie with his sense of entitlement!
By Joely Dutton
The train window frames sudden surprises from telegraph poles, and distant pylons skulking past like they’re afraid of me. I wanted a forward-facing seat. I can’t appreciate where I am facing backwards. Nobody wants to watch places that’ve gone.
I give up on the window and check the time – Two more hours ‘til I see your new house.
Your butterfly-papered bedroom at my house hasn’t changed. I look inside there more since you and your mother moved out. I open it like a package from the past, sending reminders of same-day monotony and family strain. Postcards from the brightest place.
Joely Dutton’s short fiction has appeared most recently in Reflex, Riggwelter and Paragraph Planet, and is upcoming in Jellyfish Review.