By Tremaine L. Loadholt

he came home to an
empty space.
his condo, a quiet, chaotic hole
that gripped him tightly.

the memories of Claudia
pained him throughout each day.
he could see her swollen eyes,
clogged with tears, then
her mouth drawing in from pain.

the chemo had dulled her
insides—crushed her soul.
her voice, now an echoing
ghostly ghast
followed him
everywhere he went.



The Envy of the Village


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.

Even in Darkness


By Lee

I have, on a moonless night,
turned from the dark fail
of mankind’s madness,
to look on the dappled ageless sky—
before man made God and time—
and seen no emptiness, nor God, nor time—
just the spark that gains my lively living eye.

Here is a greater thing than faith:
from dust of stars we came
and to them we return.
Whether wrapped in clouds of God and glory
or a simple shroud of linen and earthy clay—
Does it matter? Have we not had
(despite all the Madness we make)
this dark and Holy sky?



By Louisa Reynolds

My hand reaches out
taking comfort in cherry skies
kissed by yellow
light runs through my veins
daylight nourishes my soul
fingertips stretch to clouds
drifting until they are aligned
only for them to wander again
rebels of order in nature
meeting again only a few times
brief hellos and polite farewells
I trace the patterns around me
like a child tracing their name
a cherished picture hung up
in a mother’s small kitchen
a simple moment in time
but not simple in beauty.



By Deb Whittam

Forgive me Father for I have sinned

I thought I was so clever with my petty deceit, that I was so adept at identifying black, white and all the shades of grey that they would never suspect. I was correct, no one ever realized.

When I took the job I didn’t tell them, for it all seemed so simple – in an emergency press the green button, not the red button. I didn’t ask which button was green.

He looked into the priest’s eyes – his confession was pointless. Apologizing for being color blind would change nothing.

They were still dead.

Her Today


By Kelvin M. Knight

She could do this.

Today she wouldn’t recoil from the cannula’s bite. Today she wouldn’t fear that dripping sound drowning her. Today her watchword was welcome. Welcome the medication. Welcome this boredom. Welcome that afterwards pain and energy drain.

“All streams flow to the ocean because it is lower than they are. Humility gives the ocean its power.”

Lao Tzu’s words rippled over her as she closed her eyes. She saw her brain as a waterfall, her veins as rivers of light flowing into the ocean of herself. As her fears washed away, she positioned her arm, whispering, “Thank you.”

Forty Smokes a Day


By Eva Rivers

Mama was always having an existential crisis.
‘What is the purpose of my life?’ she’d say.
Papa said maybe it was to cook and keep house. A clean shirt now and again. But mama never saw it like that. She tried to adjust but mostly she just spent her days tearful or asleep. The last time we spoke she was lying in a hospital bed.
‘Baby, why did God put me on this earth?’
Not for forty smokes a day and all the Jack Daniels you can swallow, I wanted to chide. But I didn’t. I just held her hand as she cried.

Eva Rivers’ fiction has appeared in Fictive Dream, Sick Lit Magazine, Penny Shorts, The Drabble, 101 Words, Firefly Magazine, Storgy and Scribble Magazine.