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.”
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.
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 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.
By Christine Goodnough
I made camp by a wilderness lake to enjoy some solitude. Almost. I did make friends with a curious skunk who found my frypan drippings appealing.
Next evening a motorboat roared in. Three hunters unloaded their gear, made camp, guzzled beer. Finally crawled into their tent to snore.
Later I heard sneezing; the skunk was nosing among the ashes. When he headed for the newcomers’ tent, I whispered. “Wrong way, Moufette.”
His visit incited shouts, then three splashes as our reeking visitors hit the lake.
I fried extra bacon the next night. It’s nice to have friends drop in.
By Maura Yzmore
When I met Jenny, she worked as a waitress at the diner where I often ate after my shift.
The day I fell in love with her, she gave me the middle finger—the whole middle finger, with the telltale writer’s callus and both knuckles. It floated alongside chunks of chicken in the creamy soup that she served me.
I was more curious than appalled. “How does one get the whole middle finger chopped off?”
“By flipping off a ninja,” said Jenny, deadpan. At that moment, I knew she was the one.
The settlement I received paid for our honeymoon.
Bio: Maura’s short fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in The Fiction Pool, Storyland, Microfiction Monday Magazine, The Dirty Pool, and 50-Word Stories.
By James Blevins
“We’re here for only a short while,” Amy said out loud, sketch pad on lap, pencil poised over blank page. “Then it’s back to the spider.”
Her breath, a frosty, cloudy haze, emitted percussively as she spoke. “But as far as I know,” she continued with added emphasis, pencil dancing across her sketch pad, “spiders don’t write poetry.”
When she was finished, she looked down at what she had drawn, then back to its source, satisfied. Above her, the sun was young, far below its apex in the sky.
“Maybe they don’t need words,” she mused. “Not like we do.”