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 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 James Formosa
The last set of hill sprints left me doubled over. Fighting like mad to catch another breath. Hands on knees. Spitting phlegm into the dirt.
The sergeant calls out to me. He tells me to stop feeding the grasshoppers.
I stand up straight again. Willing my heart to settle down. My pulse pounds through my skull. My legs are shaking. I breathe in deep.
I start running again.
Sergeant says the hill is just another enemy. That it stands there, mocking me. Daring me to stop trying.
I reach the top once more.
I won’t lose. Not today.
James Formosa is an Officer in the Canadian Armed Forces currently working on his first novel.
By Carolyn Black
If today I die
A fig tree may grow
From a pit in my stomach
To mark my grave
In years to come
The compost of my body
Feed the seed
The warm sun tempt the sprout
To rise upwards
Roots securely wrapped
Around my ribs
Providing the seedling
Making it grow tall and strong
The fruits from my body
Will live on
By James Formosa
I pinched the cigarette filter between my fingers and held the burning embers inward. They taught me to do that for two reasons. First: the tiny flame heats up your palm a little. Second: the enemy can’t see the light from the trenches.
We’d been digging now for three days. Three days of shovels and pickaxes denting and cracking into frozen clay. The trenches filled up with ground water as fast as we dug them.
The glowing cherry in my hand dies, and the last bit of warmth leaves me with it.
In this new darkness, rain began to fall.