By M. Irene Hill
Jake wraps his arms around my waist and kisses the top of my head. Nuzzles my neck and inhales my scent.
“The best part of my day is coming home to you.”
Guilt wraps its hands around my shriveled heart when he says that. Gives a tight squeeze.
I indulge guilt’s painful grip a moment. Then acknowledge the thought that pesters like a neglected child: The absolute best part of my day is when he leaves for work in the morning.
Not ready to say those words yet, I kiss him.
By Sophie Flynn
I liked it when you said I had an ‘artistic temperament’ because it covered it all: tears in the carpark, not eating for days, refusal to choose paint for the walls because I just couldn’t look at the colors anymore; and instead made those days when I couldn’t cope, when I pictured cutting out my tongue and ripping off my skin, seem part of something greater to create something worthwhile, rather than days indulging myself. My artistic temperament was such a lovely phrase for what was really: unpleasant, unnerving, unbearable or, as you finally put it as you left, unlovable.
By Alva Holland
Dad’s listening ear is the only thing that soothes my soul. Closing my eyes, I can feel his hand on my shoulder, see the creases of his smile etched into his weather-beaten face, hear the strength of his wisdom.
My woes come spilling out like a freshly-released spring whose entrance was blocked by life’s boulders. The words come in a whooshing freedom breath – splashing intermittently, then bubbling to a surge of released angst.
A sliver of silver moonlight catches the first three letters of his name carved into the black granite. Taking a deep breath, I let him in.
Alva Holland’s stories been featured in The People’s Friend, Ellipsis Zine, Train Lit Mag, Firefly Magazine, Stories for Homes and Brilliant Flash Fiction.
By Hannah England
Her train had been cancelled an hour ago. As the next one pulled in, the swollen group of travelers jostled on the platform to be first to board. She found a seat and watched through the window as the rest of the crowd pushed forward. Their panic made her anxious and she realized her mistake; she could not stay on this train. Something terrible was going to happen, a fatal crash or suicide bomber perhaps. She retreated to the platform, relieved to escape.
That evening she scoured news websites looking for the disaster she had avoided. Nothing was reported.
Hannah England is a freelance writer living in Bristol, UK. She has written for The Guardian, the Same journal, SpillWords Press and Our Queer Stories.
By Harris Coverley
I was five when I accidentally phoned some elderly woman. I wanted to ring my own grandmother, but I dialed wrong and got her instead. “Hello?” she croaked. “Hello” I replied. I knew it was the wrong person, but I also knew to be respectful to all adults, so I hung on. She asked me how I was, and what I was doing, and I answered her politely. Before long we came into an awkward silence. She finally told me I might have the wrong number, we exchanged goodbyes, and I hung up. I never got her name.
Harris Coverley’s short fiction has appeared in Disclaimer Magazine. He lives in Manchester, England, where he works as a teaching assistant.
By Julie Hockridge
Being with you is like riding a bike
I’ll never forget how to make you laugh
I’ll never lose the instinct to lean into you
I’ll never shake the reflex to say I love you when I mean goodbye
But I don’t want to ride a bike anymore
I want to learn to drive
And never look back
By Kelvin M. Knight
There was a time when he understood his thoughts, no matter how abstract, logical or emotional they were. He would savor these insights on how to be happy before filing them away in his mind for the rainiest day.
When the filing cabinet of his mind became a closet, he couldn’t recall. A closet overflowing with disassociations: this candle with no wick, that orange bone, these sharp feathers. Time danced as he sifted through them.
So much paraphernalia, until the grass grew indoors, taller than him. Swaying, he clamored for a lawnmower that no one could find.