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 Sandra Arnold
It’s time to face the truth. Your story is abysmal. It’s trite. Overblown. It’s full of mixed metaphors and sloppy syntax. The characters are one-dimensional. The plot’s missing. There’s no beginning. No middle. No proper ending. Who on earth would publish it? It will never win awards. Bookshops won’t stock it. The critics will crucify you. They will say it reveals a lot about the kind of person you are. Take our advice and burn it. Think of the pain you’ll be spared. No need to thank us. This is the whole point of our Writers’ Support Group. Who’s next?
Sandra Arnold is a Pushcart Prize and Best Small Fictions nominee. Her third novel, Ash, will be published by Mākaro Press (NZ) in 2019.
By Amy Brunson
The thing about happiness is
It doesn’t exist in small secretive
Pockets of the world that you have to
Seek out and luck into
It exists in places that can’t be
Lived in or driven through
It exists in places that scare most people
So much that they never go even though
They have always been there and just haven’t looked.
the summer before we left home
was a stifling one;
a bucket of teeming snakes,
writhing for freedom.
she dropped into our muggy lives like the whisper of fall,
but she wasn’t anything less than a shout.
she was fire and Coca-Cola
and on her back she carried the whole universe,
wrapped neatly in red hair and restlessness.
that summer we screamed to the sky,
cursed its void,
and took oxygen for granted.
before we knew it
she was gone like the whisper of fall
leaving behind strands of red
and the echo of something
that could have been greater.
By Tina Stewart Brakebill
They were waiting. Her followers. The wedding was in an hour. They expected an update. Her finger hovered over the share button. Nearly 10,000 of them. Thanks to that viral video: Office film homage culminates in surprise proposal. She couldn’t say no. Did she want to? Then more and more followed. They wanted. And wanted. Did she want to say yes? She stopped thinking. She let them vote on the dress. Pick the cake. Choose the venue. Niagara Falls of course. Did she want to say no?
The water rushed.
She inhaled. Hit share. Exhaled.
By Matt Paul
‘Seek Immediate Cover,’ flashed the tornado update before the TV died. I screamed for Callie until my voice splintered. She wasn’t in the basement, under mommy’s bed, or hiding in the fairy-lighted crawlspace. I called my wife’s name, forgetting for a moment. Hailstones battered the front porch, and I spotted Callie in the street. Her mother’s red hair wind-socking, pink gel shoes peeling from the asphalt. As I bolted out the door she stretched her arms skywards, to the better place I’d said mommy had flown, her tiny hands clenching-releasing as if reaching for a hug.
By Phil Town
“I can help you.”
“I don’t need help.”
“You look like you do.”
“I’ll get over it.”
“I can help you forget.”
“Maybe I don’t want to forget.”
“You don’t want to forget what’s making you miserable?!”
“Maybe not. Maybe it’s time to just face it down …”
“I can help you do that, too.”
“… on my own.”
“It’ll be easier with me, you know?”
“I know, but … You have been a good friend, it’s true.”
“Sorry, yes. I’m pouring you down the sink.”