Prelude to a Silent Treatment

Salvatore Difalco

On Victoria Day mama warned me about playing with fireworks in the park. “Just go there and watch,” she said. “But keep your hands in your pockets and don’t touch anything.” At dusk, in the park, people started lighting firecrackers and setting off rockets. When an older kid offered me his mortar, I took it and blithely dropped a rocket in the tube. But the tube exploded in my hand. Afraid mama would beat me for disobeying her, I hid the blistered hand from her for days until it grew so infected the stench betrayed both my cowardice and guile.

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“I love telling stories.” – the writer

The Wake of Vultures

By Rutvik A. K.

Vultures — the symbol of death.
And so I went to the desert, hoping to see one.
Up-close.
Forty-eight hours later, I got a closer look.
The wake of Vultures.
Their bald heads.
The bare skin.
I wanted to touch them.
But they looked busy.
Their bent necks and clacking beaks,
They told a different story.
Probably munching.
I remained silent,
Lest I scare them.
As they gorged down another piece of meat,
An excruciating pain ran over my body,
While I slowly drifted off to sleep.
Maybe it was the blazing sun,
And not those scavenging beasts.

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“Writing makes me feel alive.” – the writer

High Maintenance

By Abhishek Pandit

Norbert moved in beside the sorority. To attract the ladies, he gave his home and himself a makeover. Manicured the gardens, moisturized his skin.

Maple trees disrobed at leisure. He raked their ochre leaves off his labor of love, whistling ‘No Woman, No Cry’, then shaved.

Next morning, they’d smothered the grass again. Also, stubble resurfaced.

Rake, rinse, and repeat.

Months passed. He snapped. Didn’t rake, didn’t shave. Why bother? It always came back.

Naked maples shriveled. Shivering, he wept. The ochre lawn turned white.

Eventually, green.

Tipsy on springtime, spinsters visited, stroking Norbert’s untamed beard, giggling. Such rakish charm.

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“I’m a computational linguist, musician and social researcher who loves to harness the power of language and words to help us discover our connections to other worlds. And to ‘other’ people.” – the writer

A Religious Experience

By Steven Lempriere

Mother met Jesus today.

Dressed in company coveralls, he was busy stacking the bakery shelves at Walmart. She recognised him because the trolley he extracted loaves from also contained fish.

Introducing herself as a fan, she wondered, could he autograph her shopping list? He’d smiled gracefully, assented, and told her she had the face of an angel. They made small talk, and apparently, he never wore his robes to work.

“Today was an auspicious day,” he said, as she could also meet his mother. “She’s over at the cosmetics counter, you can’t miss her, she’s the one that looks divine.”

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“Late to re-arranging words into unique patterns, I began my writing journey after attending a creative writing course while a long-term patient at a well-known Dublin psychiatric hospital. Originally a means to escape, writing allows the demons that once haunted my thoughts to play out over a blank page where I have control.” – the writer

Throwbacks

By Tremaine L. Loadholt (Tre)

I perused the gently used and previously owned items of every aisle. Old toys re-gifted to a store ready to house their contents — books decades-old, thumbed by the ancestors of the world. One could get lost in a sea of G.I. Joe figurines and Luke Skywalker life-sized dolls … not dolls. My heart jumped ten feet ahead of me when I spotted vinyl stacked so high, it resembled a tower. Could I scale it? Would I scale it?

Imagining the songbirds of the past and their accompanying suitors in sound sent shivers up my spine. I would have them — all of them. But first, I must purchase a record player.

I search for one in this — the land of throwbacks. I find it.

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“I am more than breath & bones. I am nectar in waiting.” – the writer

The Wreath

By Jim Bates

All the bitter old man wanted was to get through the holidays. His wife had recently died and he lived alone in their house full of memories. That night he didn’t need Christmas carolers singing songs of peace and joy, but they came anyway, singing their hearts out. Joy to the World? Who needed it? He shut the lights off on them. When he awoke in the morning there was a wreath on his door and small footprints in the snow. Children. He couldn’t help it. He cried. That night, he left the lights on. And he sang with them.

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“I write to try and bring a bit of happiness to people.” – Jim Bates

Her Friends Have Begun to Worry

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By Anonymous

She speaks of Tinder dates. Blackouts. Vague feelings of shame and regret, shards of memories, bruises of unknown origin. What she doesn’t mention is the ache – at once heavy and empty – burning, burning. Surely no one could ever love her again.

Tonight another stranger across a table raises his glass, “In vino veritas.”

Clink.

           
Anonymous writes to be heard.

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If Boredom Sets its Feet Inside the Door

By David L Williams

When once the trees have lost all their appeal,
The clouds are beyond passing interests,
The stars are barely even visible
And wind is not up to passing events;

When after all the fall is emptiness,
The evening leads to nothing but the sky,
The bonfire fades with sullen heaviness
And heavens open up as though to sigh;

When added onto lists of discontent,
The possibilities amount to none,
Once endless hope runs into a dread end
And driven rain blows into everyone,

Then time has come to let all aspects pass,
Except the few which don’t try to impress.

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“I find nothing to be boring.” – the writer

Or it Could Have Gone Like This

By Kelly Renick

She refused further treatment. Went out in style. Spent nine days in a floating hotel, dining on baguettes painted with the eggs of endangered fish. Her best dresses billowed artfully off what remained of her.

She bathed in sunshine and tropical drinks. Her cigarette smoke danced under flashing casino lights. This time, and maybe all times before, it didn’t matter if she struck gold or lost it all.

She sprung for an ocean view with a balcony. And on the last day, we toasted her with borrowed champagne glasses, chained granite to her feet, and threw her out to sea.

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Kelly Renick uses writing to process the grief of losing her mother. She’s currently completing her MFA at Miami University.

It Didn’t Matter When She Lied

By Ritiksha Sharma

The mayonnaise was on sale; so, we ate it stuffed in-between the bread. The shoes I wore to my best friend’s birthday party were on sale too. The smile she gave me when I asked where she got her new silver coat was ethereal; because, of course, the coat was on sale.

The act was never hers alone. I believed it. I completed it. She sold the words to me and I bought them.

This transaction sustained and nourished us.

We never starved because of it.

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“I write because it makes me feel warm. It gives me butterflies.” – the writer