On The Beach

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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.

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Little Old Bird Lady

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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.

Pack Your Bags

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By hombrehompson

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.

The Bereaved

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By J. Hardy Carroll

Her expression is wrong. And her hair. For the first time, he is glad she is dead. This would have upset her.

He goes to the bathroom to wash his hands. They smell like the funeral director’s oily aftershave – flowers and death. He washes them twice, sniffs his fingers. The smell won’t go away.

He never should’ve shaken the man’s hand, but there really wasn’t a choice.

He wants to change the arrangements, go closed casket. His shoes sink into the red carpet, making no noise.

Through the closed walnut door he hears the funeral director call him “the bereaved.”

Of Artistic Temperament

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editors pick

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.

The House Plant

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By Ian Fletcher

House plants are odd
for though some thrive
relatively neglected
others will not survive
despite the attention
administered to them.

Who’d have thought
for that matter
the one we bought
to adorn our balcony
whose flowers faded
according to the season
but whose leaves then
withered without reason
to languish out there
with stems so bare
winter through spring
despite our tender care
would prove to be the latter?

So it is with our love, my dear,
which like the plant outside
howsoever it is now tended
can never be revived.

     
Ian Fletcher’s work has appeared in Tuck Magazine, The Ekphrastic Review, 1947 A Literary Journal, Spillwords Press, Dead Snakes, Literary Yard, Your One Phone Call, Schlock! Webzine, Short-story.me, Anotherealm, Under the Bed, A Story In 100 Words, Poems and Poetry, Friday Flash Fiction, and various anthologies.

Say It with Flowers

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By Hombrehompson

The flowers arrive without a message or recipient.

The husband accuses his wife of having an affair. In turn she accuses him of having the same. This soon escalates into a vicious argument, with years of unsaid truths hurled at each other in unison.

He wants a divorce. She wants a divorce.

As if prompted by this, their daughter enters the room, woken by the argument. She wanders past them both and finds a card on the floor.

These flowers are for next door, she says, before getting a glass of milk and returning back to her bed.