Butt Dialed

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editors pick

By Barry Basden

An odd thing happened last Saturday. You somehow called my cell. Good that Tess was out shopping. I’ve been lucky that way. I don’t know why you still have me in your phone, though I’m glad you do. I kept saying hello? hello? but all I got back was vague noise.

There seemed to be several people in the room, so I listened awhile. Then I heard you ask Paul what he wanted for lunch. I kept listening because it was really nice to hear your voice again.

When I finally hung up, I didn’t say goodbye this time either.

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Delete

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editors pick

By Bill Diamond

During a fitful night, I woke to Stygian darkness. Checking my phone, there was another late-night voicemail. The grief returned. A headache began. I braced myself with strong coffee.

“I’ve been calling for days,” the familiar voice was desiccated and desperate. “I need your help. Why won’t you answer?”

My eyes welled.

“I feel like I’m dying. Just send me a little money, then I’ll go into treatment. This time will be different. Please!”

My finger trembled, and I almost gave in. I sobbed for my lost daughter, and deleted her message.

Spark

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editors pick

By Gene Murray

A cigarette tossed from a moving car bounces off the road like a solitary fireworks rocket. This brief event, the length of a spark, pulls me back fifty years. I am a small boy leaning on his leg. He is smoking, I am young, darkness can still be conquered. Only for that spark. Only for that spark. History is looking at a museum through a keyhole, and
memory is a discarded cigarette in the driveway of an essence.

Split Custody

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editors pick

By Rachel Doherty

Again, I’m left waiting. It’s the third time someone forgot to pick me up at school this month. Mom will blame Dad and Dad will blame Mom. I blame them both. Living half my life with one and half with another. In other words, all of my life without someone.

They say it will get better. They say they just have to work out a better schedule. Ever since the separation I am told just give it time and the kinks will get worked out. I know better. This is the new norm. I’m done waiting. I’ll just walk home.

These Lines

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By Alanna Pass

THESE LINES
from my pencil
anchor me to this earth
like a kite on a string.
These lines
form words on these pages
giving shape to my thoughts
running wild in my head.
These lines that form words
are lassoed into sentences, then paragraphs
a calm order brought from the spiraling chaos.
My soul is tamed
At least for a while
From the simple act of writing.

White Petals

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By Jade M. Wong

A chilly breeze plucked a white petal off the tulip sitting at the open window.

He loves me.

A second plucked petal floated with the breeze before coming to a rest on the damp soil.

He loves me not.

The flowerpot trembled as a stronger wind blew in, sending petals fluttering in the air.

He broke my heart.

A giant gust rushed in, flinging the flowerpot across the room, shattering the clay and showering the floor with soil.

So I’ll break everything he’s got.

Empty Vessels

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By José Cañusí

They say at the core of every man lay an empty vessel.

Pedro fills his with money. José fills his with religion. Ernesto pours alcohol into his.

Claudio stuffs his core with self-admiration.

Turns out Pedro’s vessel is too small to hold all his money, so he gives his leftover cash to José, who always exudes the type of inner peace Pedro so covets. (Plus, he can get a tax write-off.)

José secretly craves Ernesto’s decadence.

Meanwhile, Claudio assumes they all envy him. (He’s right, of course.)