By Nate Ealy
There used to be something here. I don’t know what it was, exactly, but it was a thing. Now, there’s just nothing. And that’s the way I like it. The plague killed most people off, then the survivors killed each other, and now I’m all alone. Sure, there’s some animals around to keep me company, but I’m all by myself.
Some days I miss the old thing, though. The way people moved about and carried on their lives. It wasn’t so quiet then. See, I think this old something was once called civilization, but I can’t quite remember.
By Jamie Thunder
“When someone says ‘it’s cold,’ you might respond by closing the window,” I tell my students. “But nothing in those words means ‘close the window’ – there’s another layer of meaning introduced by the context.”
I’ve been trying this out on my girlfriend.
“It’s cold,” I say one evening. But although there is a draught, that’s not what I mean. What I mean is that there is something small and dense in the pit of my stomach that makes me wonder whether somewhere along the line we made a terrible mistake.
She looks at me, stands up, and closes the window.
KEWR airport: Newark, NJ., Feb 8th.
My judgement hat auto-assembles.
She appears short, perhaps fifty. Older? Her peppered hair is a warning system with minimal work, staying regulation and face-free. That’s her method. Force regulation and stay out of my face. Having the skills nobody notices; having importance superiors ignore; having self-worth ignored by family. Saving the world with only ticket counters and pejoratives is all she can look forward to. Nobody will diminish what’s hers. By dealing out skin-crawling escalation like crack, she reminds everyone she’s in control and they aren’t. Her reduced world saddens me.
My judgement hat disassembles.
By Rebecca Lee
I opened a book and its words flew out amid a cold and windy gust. I caught the surprise on my face in a storefront reflection. Inky fine print flew from the page. Jumbled. Tossed. Mixed like salad.
I tried to gather them up fast. But their shapes, their letters, their voices proved too slippery. Rubbery ink wet the streets with sayings; sentences bounced against pedestrian ears.
“Love I’m sorry lost stopwatch.”
I followed a stray sentence down the block, but the words were tangled: Their letters loose, their punctuation damned. I squinted, but their meaning was lost.
It was such a warm day. Tom didn’t usually mind the heath but something felt different today, he thought when he noticed the dead black raven in front of him. Suddenly, a distant memory popped up in his head.
It happened on a day as warm as this one. She was old and looked terrible.
Unexpectedly, she clutched Tom’s hand, looked him straight in the eye and said:
“The world as we know it will soon come to an end.”
And now he could swear he saw a dead black raven in her hands.
By Sandy Wilson
Our fourteen-year voyage has ended in this hospice. You are at peace.
I imagine that I am standing on the deck of a sailing ship that has passed through a great storm. The masts have fallen; the sails and rigging float in the now-still sea. You, our navigator, have gone, the charts mapping our future blown away, our dreams scattered in the winds.
There are no stars above; nor land in sight. I am lost in this vast, endless, sea. But I must move on to my first port of call: To tell our daughter her mother has died.