By Anike Kirsten
He kept his sights on the tarmac beneath him, avoiding the colour of the world—a plague that would infect his mind and trap him in cold reality.
With soft steps he slogged down the road, following the remnants of a zebra that had left its stripes as it fled, with some haste, the cruelty hidden behind the colour. He trailed the white lines until they were straight no more.
And when they curved away, he took his own path. The zebra might have changed its mind and steered clear of the cliff, but he hadn’t.
At least, not yet.
Anike Kirsten’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in 600 Second Saga and Illumen.
The sun is low, obscuring figures on the pedestrian crossing.
You look up from your phone as they come into focus, slam the brakes hard.
You open your eyes at the wheel. A sensation of waking up.
Is this a dream?
Your phone bleeps, answering your question. You approach the same crossing. Everything replays. You slam the brakes hard.
Towards the crossing once more, into the low sun.
To wake is to escape this loop, but in the safety of the dream car no one gets hurt, and everyone gets to keep their limbs.
By Belinda Brady
All I’d hear was laughter. Laughter as I crossed the playground, laughter when I tried to join in and make friends, laughter as I walked away rejected. I wasn’t invited to the sleepover, but I heard them talking about it in class, the laughter as I looked their way ever present.
Arriving uninvited, they laugh as they tell me to leave, the laughter quickly turning to screams as I change in front of them, muscles tearing through my skin, sharp fangs dripping.
In a matter of seconds, the only laughter I can hear is my own.
By Serena Jayne
Sebastian rubbed the shiny lamp.
Genie appeared. “Last wish.”
“Immortality,” Sebastian said. “’Sunshine Serenade’ went platinum in ’65, but the dawn of disco doomed my song to obscurity. Success doesn’t last forever, but I can.”
“Granted,” Genie dissipated into blue mist.
Sebastian’s mouth ached. “How very underwhelming.” Newly pointed teeth sliced his tongue.
His late night snack of garlic-heavy pasta burned his belly. He craved blood.
The sunrise lit up his panoramic million-dollar view. On cue, ‘Sunshine Serenade’ played in surround sound.
He yelped, skin smoking. Darted away from the sunlight.
Lack of specificity would be the death of him.
By SM Grady
Winds whisper in and out of rain drops,
As lightning dances through the sky.
Thunder roars and my soul claps,
The clouds release a sigh.
And every time the beat drops,
I’m reminded that we weren’t meant to be.
The tempo races and my heart stops,
We were never meant to be.
The melody continues on,
Dragging me through verse after verse …
Reminding me, that we turned out to be …
Just another sad love song.
By Prisha Mehta
Perfectionism is like an angry knot, a tangle of twisting threads that weaves in and out of the fabric of her soul. It’s tighter sometimes, looser sometimes—but it’s always there, whispering from the shadows. A blessing and a curse, it promises happiness but never delivers, clutching each success in its iron grip and squeezing until streams of pride and sweat and tears run down into the dirt, discarded as if they had never been there at all. She hates it; she loves it. She doesn’t know who she is without it.
By Tricia Knoll
I can’t smell the ash and maple gray
smoke that rises from your woodstove.
I can’t see it drift over the woodlot
through flurries of snow on pines.
A faint flame flickers in my mind’s eye,
insufficient window into what warms you.
Remember where your home fires burn,
that’s someone’s saying, a wise one.
Your smoke has never seemed so far away