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 G. Allen Wilbanks
“Why are you afraid of the dark? Darkness is the natural state of everything. It’s the light that’s unnatural. When God said, ‘Let there be light,’ he was imposing an artificial reality on a universe that had previously only know known total darkness and emptiness, and every force in nature is currently trying to drive us back to that original point of neutrality. Everything around us is temporary, and at some point in the future we will all return to that initial state of nothingness. It’s inevitable.”
“Maybe,” his wife admitted. “But, I still want you to replace the lightbulb.”
G. Allen Wilbanks is a member of the Horror Writers Association (HWA) and has published over 60 short stories in Deep Magic, Daily Science Fiction, The Talisman, and other venues. He has published two story collections, and the novel, When Darkness Comes.
By Juanita Rey
I have a dog.
He whines for walks,
for me to toss a ball
so he can fetch.
He doesn’t beg for sex
like the guy he replaced.
Being needed has taken
a turn for the better.
“I write because it helps me to understand my life in this new country.” – the poet
By Sandra Arnold
It’s time to face the truth. Your story is abysmal. It’s trite. Overblown. It’s full of mixed metaphors and sloppy syntax. The characters are one-dimensional. The plot’s missing. There’s no beginning. No middle. No proper ending. Who on earth would publish it? It will never win awards. Bookshops won’t stock it. The critics will crucify you. They will say it reveals a lot about the kind of person you are. Take our advice and burn it. Think of the pain you’ll be spared. No need to thank us. This is the whole point of our Writers’ Support Group. Who’s next?
Sandra Arnold is a Pushcart Prize and Best Small Fictions nominee. Her third novel, Ash, will be published by Mākaro Press (NZ) in 2019.
I am outside late at night
About the poems
I have not written
The ones I’ve shied away from
Because of embarrassment
Or fear of shedding my jovial persona
That the poems I have not written
Far outnumber those I have
John Malone is a South Australian writer of short stories, flash fiction and poetry.
By D.A. Donaldson
“It’s called The Drabble,” she said. “One hundred-word limit.”
He sneered, “And you call that being published?”
“It’s something. It’s a start. It’s better than your Letters to the Editor.”
“At least people read those!”
“Do they? When’s the last time you heard from a reader?”
“Gimme a break,” he swigged his beer, “I don’t see any book deals coming out of your online dribbles.”
“Drabbles,” she corrected. “And my last post got 147 likes. At least I know that someone is reading and enjoying what I write. And you know what else? You just inspired my next submission!”
By Katharine Griffiths
Healing hands, harming fists
Comforting embrace, crossed arms
Soulful gaze, empty look
Validating ear, deafening silence
Understanding heart, selfish attitude
Heartfelt words, stinging criticism
In death sorely missed, free to find bliss
Hell-bent on repentance
I dug up my past
– a stack of confessions
in black ink and metaphors –
true and false,
unstructured and incomplete.
Forgotten in the pages was
a decade-old whispered poem
to a future lover,
the writer of words and dreamer of dreams
who could make me believe
his theories of history and heaven
I wanted to write him poetry while the world burned
through its tribulation.
But you only like poems that rhyme.
By J. E. Kennedy
Old Mrs Bergman’s roses were the envy of the village. The bushes bloomed in a congregation of scarlet and coral, sun-flare yellow and delicious tangerine. They spilled over the walls and lit up the pavement with their scattered petals, like delicate wishes skipping along the breeze, destination unknown.
Mrs Bergman plucked and preened, watered and fed. She whispered sweet nothings. She told the roses all that she would have told him if he were here. And they bloomed.
At night she would take the fading telegram from the drawer: Missing in action.
And she waited to meet him again.
By J. Hardy Carroll
After the funeral, I made arrangements for the bills to come to my office.
Every month, I paid her rent, her electric, even her phone.
At least once a day I would call her number and pretend she might answer it, hear her voice on the answering machine.
At first I left messages, but then I couldn’t.
I’d turned her apartment into a time capsule.
In September I got a letter that her lease was up.
Time to face it.
I needed to move on.
I stood at her door a long time, key poised in my hand.