As usual, my back is to the restaurant’s kitchen door, a lone diner always parked in some out-of-the-way location as though I might, if seated amongst them, infect the other patrons with the “friendless” virus. Yet, as I glance across the thick-carpeted room I’m sad for the couple, long married, who no longer speak, for the parents attempting to rein in a disruptive child or get a sullen teen to eat. I celebrate young lovers and blindly happy newlyweds. No, I do not dine alone. Life’s comedy and drama unfolds before me, and I am content.
By Benjamin Davis
Once upon a time a man named Ingvar sold his soul.
When his debt came due he asked the devil if he could buy back his soul.
The Devil said, “for 1,000,000 years of labor.”
Ingvar asked if he could transfer the debt.
The Devil said, “only to willing souls.”
And so IKEA was born.
By David Cook
“Where the hell have you been?” she yelled. “You walked out of that door months ago and I haven’t seen you since. No one has! You could have been dead in a ditch for all I knew. And now you waltz back in here and expect me to take you back like nothing’s happened? Is that what you think? I’ve been going out of my mind with worry!”
“Meow,” he replied, and rubbed himself against her ankles.
David Cook’s stories have appeared in the National Flash Fiction Anthology, Spelk, Ghost Parachute and more.
By Minyoung Lee
In fifth grade, I wrote you a letter. I wrote my friend had a crush on you, which was true. I didn’t write I had a crush on you, too.
Your friends bullied my friend for a year. She cried all the time. She knew someone told you about her crush. I don’t think she knew it was me.
But that’s what you get for sharing your feelings.
I don’t remember what you looked like. I hope you were cute. I saw on Facebook my friend got married. Her husband looked hot.
If only I could remember your name.
By Alice Cimino
He started to fade.
He was bleeding a dark substance, darker than water, darker than blood. Ink, he said.
His face was whitening, his eyes were losing their glint, he was becoming something not human, nor animal. Paper, he said.
His thin line of a mouth opened. I’m not real, he said.
But he was. To me.
He climbed back into his book.
And I opened my eyes.
By Pat Brunson
IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY NIGHT, or perhaps it wasn’t, but I needed to start someplace. Tired of the blank screen mocking me to no end. “Look who thinks he’s a writer.” Staring at me. “Is that your third cup?” I cracked my knuckles to limber my fingers. “Checking email?” THEY RODE OFF INTO THE SUNSET. THE END. I pushed spell check again. Now to fill in the middle with 85,000 words; presto, a novel. This is so damn easy.
By Katharine Griffiths
Healing hands, harming fists
Comforting embrace, crossed arms
Soulful gaze, empty look
Validating ear, deafening silence
Understanding heart, selfish attitude
Heartfelt words, stinging criticism
In death sorely missed, free to find bliss