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 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.
It was our second date. She looked ravishing. I couldn’t believe she was with me. I wanted to do everything right. We walked. We talked. We laughed. We continued walking long after the sun went down.
The car came from out of nowhere—through the stop sign and on the sidewalk. I tried to grab her.
I think of that day often. Would we have had more dates? Would we have married? It’s strange how life turns out. I married the policewoman that investigated the accident.
By Phil Town
Here she comes. My God, look at her! With the sun behind her, giving her an almost-halo. How confidently she walks. Wearing her high-heels today, I see. They make her legs go on till next Tuesday. Or maybe that’s just perspective. Whatever, they’re beautiful. And so is she. Am I objectifying? Of course. But what else have I got until I talk to her? That’s going to happen today, though. I promised myself. The red skirt, then. I like that one. Here she comes. Here she comes. Now or never.
Tomorrow. I’ll speak to her tomorrow.
By RLM Cooper
There he is again. Looking. High-rise living isn’t exactly as private as everyone says. I might not know my neighbors, but he certainly knows every curve of me. What would he do if I gave him a real show? I’ll just casually unbutton my blouse and lay it aside here on the bed.
Is he embarrassed? Really? Then why does he stare across the way at me? He doesn’t look young. Nor old. Maybe he’s lonely. Maybe crippled. Maybe he has no one at all.
So many stories. So much pain.
I will be kind—and close the curtains.
Is it any good pleading? Thompson says.
For your life? Not really.
But you can’t just toss me aside like a dog carcass, not after all I’ve done for you.
You were more than serviceable, W admits. But you’ve served your purpose. You can’t argue with me.
Will it be painless?
Well, get it over with then.
One minute, W says.
He reaches into his satchel and pulls out his laptop.
Finish your drink, W says. Out with the old and in with the new, he smiles, keyboarding fiercely.
And with that, Thompson is gone.