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.
By John Davis Frain
She started in Vaudeville. “Disappearing nightly,” she’d say. Cinema arrived, and absent the beauty of a Mae West, she departed.
A Red Cross nurse, she was ribboned for saving thirty-two Yanks one night in Nazi-occupied France. “They were soldiers, and young.”
She returned home after the 91st Evacuation Hospital. Raised four successful daughters. “My most delightful job.”
Making ends meet proved slippery until she invented bottle caps that preserved beverages. “Pepsi purchased the patent.”
Today, her 100th birthday, her youngest, Elizabeth, said, “Mama, you should write your memoir.”
“Oh, dear,” she blushed. “I’d have nothing to say.”
By Pat Brunson
The worst part is the forgetting,
If I remember correctly.
At the Dollar Tree, for eight dollars I buy eight pairs of reading glasses.
I see old faces, my mind races through the Rolodex, “Hi, Cindy.”
My keys are always in the last place I look.
The button on my car key shows me where I parked.
Waiting for my prescription at CVS and being told Walgreens is across the street.
Called my daughter about losing my cell phone, she said, “Daddy, look in your hand.”
But my socks always match. I bought 22 pairs, all black.
By Gerard McKeown
I scratched your name in the sand with casual strokes of my big toe. Like I’ve done on every beach I’ve visited since we met. As I wiped cold sand off my feet and put on my socks, I saw people in the distance, walking my direction. I looked down at your name and wondered if, by some chance, they knew you.
I pished the letters away before they arrived. The tide was coming in, but not fast enough to erase you. I couldn’t be bothered waiting. Besides, you were already gone, regardless of ways I try to evoke you.
Gerard McKeown’s work has been featured in The Moth, 3:AM, and Litro, among others. In 2017 he was shortlisted for The Bridport Prize.
By Salvatore Difalco
Uncanny pewter light, late winter afternoon: snow falls. Snow falls and the ambience follows suit, tiny tinkling bells, crystalline swells, a ruby glow from someone’s hearth.
“You’d best be leaving, lady, blizzard blowing in.”
“I can wait. I like the white.”
“You won’t make it through the night in those feathers.”
No sign she understands. Later, she blasphemes the gusts.
Such are the imprecations of conviction. We spin the globe but often return to the middle space, where we exist, side by side, with ideas about flying south next winter or building a warmer nest.
They argue over everything, especially when it comes to packing the car.
Her approach is to plan ahead and pack methodically, whereas he grabs items on sight and packs with brute force.
One morning she challenges him to prove that his method is more efficient. He spends the rest of the morning squeezing everything they own into the back of the car, determined to prove her wrong.
Once finished, he brings her outside to inspect his work.
Thank you she says, before getting into the car and driving away forever, happy to have conceded their final argument together.
A weathered vine
through an accident of ice
in the wintry wind.