The Line

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By Maura Yzmore

I am that woman behind whom you hate being stuck in the checkout line at the grocery store. My cart overflows, filled with produce and meat, bread and milk, snacks and drinks. You ask if we’re having a party. I smile. No, there is no party, but three boys will eat all this in a week.

You ask, and I feel joy. I am so lucky to have someone to feed, to love.

You ask, and I feel sadness. Soon—far too soon—they’ll all be off, and you’ll no longer hate being stuck behind me in the checkout line.

    
Maura Yzmore’s short fiction has appeared in The Fiction Pool, Microfiction Monday Magazine, 50-Word Stories, and elsewhere.

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The Shooting Star

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By Hadrian Hazlitt

She was sitting by the window, looking out into the starry sky. Behind her was her Mother; she was ill on her bed.

The night was cold, but she didn’t mind. She was waiting for a shooting stars — her only chance. Doctors were unable to cure her mother.

Perhaps a wish upon a star makes a difference. She waited for an hour. Then she rubbed her eyes. At last a streak of light passed through. She closed her eyes and she said her wish silently. She slept.

In the morning her mother was dead.

Her Tree

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By Kelvin M. Knight

There’s a tree here only she can see. A tree she has always seen, but never felt. This stone wall circling it is important. She put the stones here, carried them all herself. She built this wall, seeing and feeling everything: her boys regarding her curiously; her husband smiling nonsensically. Dear Matty and Ronnie, mud covers their faces like warpaint. They play with those shields he made. She took their swords away. Away to this tree. This tree she wishes she could not see. This tree that hurts yet knows nothing, of her life, of the monster inside her husband.

Say It with Flowers

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By Hombrehompson

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.

Slush Pile

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By F. C. Malby

There was little more satisfying than finding a gem in the slush pile. The agent raised an eyebrow when I began looking. It said, you’ll be lucky if you can get past the first sentence.

I found it, one morning after a rush to the office, a barking dog a spilt coffee on a pressed shirt: a piece of writing that made me sit up and ignore everything for ten, maybe fifteen minutes: the words transported me into someone else’s skin in an unfamiliar part of the globe. It smacked at my face, waking me up with ice cold water.

     
F.C. Malby is a contributor to Unthology 8 and Hearing Voices: The Litro Anthology of New Fiction. Her debut novel, Take Me to the Castle, won The People’s Book Awards. Her stories have also appeared in Litro MagazineEther Books, Spontaneity Magazine, 1000 Words, Flash Fiction Magazine, Flash Flood JournalThe Puffin Review, Vending Machine Press, and Friday Flash Fiction.

Twilight Star

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By Sandywilson1950

A blackbird embroiders the dusk
with song, to the background thrum
of sluggardly traffic homeward bound.
A bee on its last shift of the day
flits among the flowers as petals fold.
A star takes shape in the horizons haze.
A pulse of light that has traveled
through space for three millennia.

In the twilight I watch and wonder.
When the starlight began its voyage
did Pharaohs walk in the shadows
of the columns of Luxor, while slaves
labored to build their tombs.

Three thousand years from now
will there be a twilight watcher?

“They Knew What They Signed up For”

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By Robert Krenzel

They knew what they signed up for.

The young man signed up to protect and defend. He knew there would be a price to pay. He knew, perhaps this would be the day.

The young woman signed up to love and support her man. She knew he would go away and perhaps not return. She knew the knock on the door might come that day.

They knew what they signed up for.

You wanted loyalty. You wanted adoration. Who knew you were supposed to care?

They knew what they signed up for.
Did you?

     
Bob Krenzel is a veteran of the Balkans, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He has been the soldier who knocks on the door to bring the news.