But Not a Good Fit

By Roberta Beary

Judy spent her days doing two things: arguing with the butcher over the best scraps of meat for Jim and writing her novel. At night she’d read Jim her latest chapter, sentence by sentence. He was her best critic. One bark = delete. Two barks = needs work. Three barks = great writing. With Jim’s critical insights, Judy had 300 pages. Till she hit her one bark slump. Judy couldn’t stand that. Jim, now listen good. I’m reading you the whole damn thing. 36 hours later, Judy had three pages of great writing. Finally, The New Yorker emailed Judy. Her story was exceptional.

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Roberta Beary identifies as gender-fluid. A survivor of trauma, they write for the silenced.

Stepmother’s Prayer

By Michael Stroh

Let’s call them Children, to make us sympathize. Let’s call their stepmother Wicked, to revise the narrative. But the truth is less pleasant. They were monsters, threatening to eat her while Father was out, licking their lips while he wasn’t looking. She sent them on faraway errands, but they always found their way back through the woods. So she packed them a loaf of bread, hoping they would mark their path with crumbs, and praying the crows would be hungry. Let’s say her prayer was answered, that her monsters were lost in those woods. But we know better, don’t we?

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“I write to experience the sheer joy of creation.” – the writer

Seoul Station

By Yejun Chun

I see through the glass doors, a girl staring at me on the opposite side of the track. She stares as if I remind her of someone she noticed before. She too reminds me of someone of another time. My heart begins beating a nostalgic beat that reminds of me the time I asked but never got answered. I also see the man standing next to her, with his arm wrapped around her waist. He looks at me before getting on the train with her. It carries them away to Busan. I think I saw him before. Today.

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Yejun Chun lives and studies comparative literature and culture in South Korea and writes “to live another life while living the life he’s living.”

Divine Intervention

By Rebecca Ahn

When she went to the bus station, there was a god splayed out on the bench. She gave him her travel mug of coffee and waited for him to share his wisdom, waited for him to straighten out her life. The god took the next bus out of the city. She was left waiting, one travel mug poorer.

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“I write because I have too much to say but don’t have anybody to say it to.” – the writer

Heartbroken

By Phyllis Souza

Heartbroken, I’m stitching XXs to stop the bleeding. I love him. He says he’ll be back. No phone calls. No letters. Time passes. I meet another—this guy is nice. “Will you marry me?” I ask. He says, “Yes.” We get married. I never say, “I love you.” Only, “I do.” A month later. My cell phone rings. A voice from the past. “Will you marry me?” “I’m already married,” I say. Heartbroken. I bleed.

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“I write not to forget.” – the writer

If Only

By Andrew Atkinson

He’d been in hospital for a relatively routine operation. By all accounts it was successful but when he came home something was not quite right. I tried to cheer him up by driving him to the pub for a beer. It was an upstairs bar in a converted canal quayside building. He didn’t have the strength to manage the stairs, so I brought the drinks down to the garden. He hardly touched his half pint. It was our last pub outing together. I wish I’d spent more quality time with my dad, wish we had time for one more pint.

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“I write because it helps.” – the writer

Mad Swirl

By Lynn White

She always preferred to blend in to the background to lose herself in the mad swirl of colours from other peoples lives. It’s how she became invisible, how she became herself.

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“I write to let the words escape.” – the poet

Separation

By Olivia Rerick

She fishes out the NFL bed sheets that have been stored in the back of a closet since the time her son decided he preferred basketball. Twin-sized, folded in a bundle that she hands to me, and it is a gesture of love, an expression of collaborative grief.

Most nights, when I can’t sleep, I think about how this little bed, these sheets, the flowers in the vase on the desk – they are to tell me that it will be okay. I will be okay. I am alone in the guest room, but I am not alone in the house.

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“I love the process of putting myself in another person’s shoes by writing, and allowing other people to join me there.” – the writer

Voyage into the Past

By Sandy Wilson

A faded image. A fragile memory.
A cobbled raft of rope bound
Planks and metal drums.
With sun-warmed backs
And brine-glazed skin
My brother and I, pretend
Pirates or conquistadors
Sail across imagined oceans.
Standing at the shore
Our father, camera to eye.
Captures our boyhood moment.
Preserves this memory for us.

Travel-weary ancient mariners
We have washed up here.
This beach of memories. We stand
Listening to faint echoes of the past
Voices, laughter, the shutters click.
Then silence as our familial shades
Watch us walk away, our shadows
Long and dark, consuming us.

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“I write to empty my head of stuff.” – the poet

Time Passes

By Barry Vitcov

Sitting on the front porch whiling away
memories of a timepiece by the light
in my bedroom ticking moments by day
and dreams that pass quietly at midnight.
When for some inexplicable reason,
hour and second hands stopped their progression
as though life was skipping a short season
with little more than a brief suggestion
of what causes our hearts to flutter when
minutes fill an emptiness often caused
by a reluctance to engage and then
we found the right answer before we paused.
The key to our sorrow would not unlock
until we just repaired a broken clock.

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“Why do I write? Because I must.” – the poet