By Elisabeth Alain
The latch clicks shut; I leave the deadlock. Burdened arms spill trinkets on the cracked black driveway as my defiant feet tread the short, fraught route.
Slow, deliberate breaths cushion screeching nerves as I rest trembling hands on timeworn ten and two. The seat-belt restrains an urge to return to the known.
Twisting key starts the getaway car, hesitant shoes hover on pedals.
Squashing indecision with a backward glance, I find the bite point. The rear-view mirror shrinks a life played out behind a wood-effect door. The next scene is framed in tinted glass, directions hatched on scrap paper.
By Jayne Martin
At the mailboxes, I share sidelong glances with the neighbors from 3C and 4A as he arrives home. “Evening, ladies,” he says, the stench of drink in his wake as he staggers up the stairs.
In bed, I pull the quilt over my head to shut out his rage. Turn up the television when your body slams against the thin wall we share. Avert my eyes from your bruised flesh when we meet on the landing.
The newspapers say we were complicit. I can still hear your cries.
Jayne Martin is a 2017 Pushcart nominee, 2016 winner of Vestal Review’s VERA award, and a 2018 Best Small Fictions nominee. Her work has appeared in Literary Orphans, Spelk, Crack the Spine, Midwestern Gothic, MoonPark Review, Blink-Ink, Cleaver, Connotation Press and Hippocampus among others.
By Brad Rose
I sleep with the secret policeman’s wife. Thursdays. Her soft skin, her violet eyes, an exquisite crime. I don’t think she much likes me, but she hates him more. ‘Momento mori’ means remember that you have to die. I am a peaceful man, but I have a weakness for beauty, for hazard. In a tousled bed, she whispers her preferred Bible passage (Matthew 7:12), “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also unto them, for this is the Law and the Prophets,” I feel guilty as I kiss her, think, Thank God my wife is dead.
By Alex Colvin
In an age of reconsidering appropriate behavior at the workplace, how does one flirt at work? Well, I’ve got it down to a science.
2. Profusely apologize.
3. Run away as fast as you possibly can.
It’ll go something like this:
“Well, hello Nancy …”
Then panic. “Oh no! I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean it!”
Turn and run away as if hell were unleashed upon you.
Nancy will gaze after you as you vanish into the horizon with renewed intrigue. “Wow,” she’ll think, “He’s charming, sensitive, and completely not-threatening. I’ll ask him for his number.”
By D.F. Parizeau
between hurricanes, expired passports
and paper planes, I’ve spent too
many days contemplating
to those with wings.
The pain of leaving
crimson in my chest.
Must I fall before first flight?
Skin raw from each defeat:
First, you must shed the detritus of your life. The car will be the last worldly belonging to go: donate it. Toss your phone in the river. Photo albums, love letters, diaries: burn them. Cash out your bank account, stuff the cash into your couch cushions. Drag the couch to the curb, put a FREE sign on it. Flush the pills. Tie your wedding ring to a helium balloon, wait for a gust, and let go. Don’t watch. Swallow the hurt.
Now, walk away and don’t stop until you’re gone.
By Jordan O’Boyle
My home, here now and there then.
Images of there now, ash and bomb ruin haunting like Babel nightmares. The repetitive image, five seconds for the hours I ate there, before now. I’ve forgotten the owner’s name, the main courses were glorious, yet his bricks are now crumble, just desserts for the inequity of their order.
The million that never contemplated leaving now in hovels of disgrace through the course of disaster; it was your own fault, why didn’t you fight back. I would.
I believed we were a part of this world.