What Goes Around

By Jennifer Lai

She resisted for months because he was her best friend’s boyfriend.

But one drunken night, she indulged. They started sneaking around—early morning encounters, midday meetings, late-night rendezvous. Naked. Sweaty.

When she suspected her friend caught on, she sat her down. “I need to tell you something,” she said. Expletives were voiced, accusations ensued.

Soon, she found a new best friend and confided her past sins, guilt, and anguish.

A few weeks later, wanting to surprise her new boyfriend, she popped in at work midday. At his desk waited her new best friend, who said, “I need to tell you something.”

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“I write to escape reality, to relieve stress, and to satisfy my curiosity.” – the writer

Cultivation of Memory

By Andrew Anderson

I fought my way through the nettles and tall grass, stepping tentatively since the flagstones were long buried now. The old greenhouse emerged, its glass shattered, with only rust holding the door upon its hinges.

A mouldy violet rosette hung from a bent nail above the forgotten plant beds:

*3rd Place Marrow, Newlands County Show, 1973*

I smiled, remembering happy hours spent outside with Grandma beside the cold frame, willing that vegetable to grow whilst Grandad battled with his own cultivars inside.

I resisted touching the decaying prize, afraid it might crumble to dust, taking my memories with it.

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“I write to clear my mind.” – the writer

Moving On

By Mary Ellen Cowles

“Stale English Muffin,” she read with disgust, unfairly labeled in her old boyfriend’s new book. She wished he knew about her metamorphosis over the years. What would she be now – a crispy apple, an exciting enchilada?

After stewing about it for way too long, she became aware that time was no longer a commodity she could afford to waste, so she decided not to let him suck up another minute. Nostalgia, yearnings, what-ifs, were in the past, happiness was now. She put the book in with the trash and smiled as she erased him from her heart.

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“I write for the joy of it.” – the writer

RomanceLvR

By Jennifer Lai

The dating app alerted Rachel of her new match: RomanceLvR. His ‘About’ section read: “Bookworm. Flip my pages?”

Cute. It reminded her of Jake, her beloved ex who, after 5 years, still couldn’t commit. She’d got tired of waiting and called it quits last year.

RomanceLvR was a perfect match. Could he be her soul mate? She thought about connecting despite a lack of pictures. She shrugged. Why not?

#

The dating app alerted Jake of his new connection. Rachel looked as beautiful as ever. He wondered if she would take him back. He was finally ready to commit.

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Jennifer Lai writes to “escape reality, to relieve stress, and to satisfy my curiosity.”

Heart(break)

By M.J.Iuppa

Expected. One night, Across the Tracks, dancing with
arms raised over a sea of bobbing heads, the blarney
flowed — glasses of cold beer and laughter and seeing
old friends turned inside out — the angles of arms &
legs, and faces tipped back in the spin of colored lights.
A weird worship. Crowd dancing, but feeling down-
right alone; the accidental touch of shoulders, or hips,
or lips — it never happened; even though I swear it
happened — face to face, we were made restless in
heady times. We were tired of being so vulnerable.
Our hearts broken, beyond words, we danced.

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“Writing has been my constant companion, my inner voice, trying to make sense of the world around me.” – the writer

Ambition

By Michael Bloor

Like many toddlers, John was asked what he wanted to be, when he grew up. Surprisingly, John answered that he wanted to be an Old Age Pensioner. He’d been spending time with his Grandad, who had his own shed.

In his mid-teens, John secretly decided that an ideal profession would be that of a professional sperm donor. At a student party, he told a woman that he wanted to be the person who chose the paintings for reproduction on the covers of the Penguin Modern Classics series (she was impressed).

Now he’s 66 and his world has come full circle.

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Michael Bloor only discovered the exhilarations of short fiction after he retired.

Balancing on the Sharp Edges of Crescent Moons

By Keith Hoerner

I have a bipolar friend who—now in our late 50s—texts me: “Who am I?”
How do I respond; do I respond?

I tell her she is a dear old friend, a beautiful, talented, and intelligent woman. When in fact, I feel like she is *past tense.* I AM her friend. WAS her friend. She is all but lost to me now. Even herself.

This is the nature of disease. The disease straddles our world and the next, leaving her to blindly balance on the sharp edges of crescent moons—offering no rounded or soft places to fall.

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Keith Hoerner lives, teaches, and pushes words around in Southern Illinois. His memoir, The Day The Sky Broke Open, (Adelaide Books, New York/Lisbon) is out now.

The End of Us

By Keith Hoerner

In a vacuumed slice of silence, under the stillness of night’s gossamer veil, I rouse her. She takes my hand, as I guide her to the base of our garden’s Weeping Willow. To cry, perhaps …

Early morning darkness gives way to the ether of a reddening sky. I embrace her; there are—no more words. We cannot communicate the desire to root our union any further. We struggle to breathe; the air is caustic, thin. The moon careens across a cracking sky. We kneel to the universe, faces in each other’s palms, eyes on each other’s desperate gazes … unspoken goodbyes.

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Keith Hoerner lives, teaches, and pushes words around in Southern Illinois. His memoir, The Day The Sky Broke Open, (Adelaide Books, New York/Lisbon) is out now.

Portrait of Two Women on the Same Canvas

By salgal80

Last year, I wandered into a gallery upstate while visiting Grandmother. A blonde woman smiled, handed me chardonnay. Colorful abstracts covered the walls. It was her opening.

I recognized the name. To her, I was anyone.

Stepping outside for air, a black mutt greeted me. I scratched him behind the ears.

“I see you’ve met Scotty.”

“Charming dog.”

She asked what I thought of the show. I lied.

“Friend me on Facebook,” she quipped.

Ironically, her husband had unfriended me.

Recently I posted a poem about a doomed affair. She hearted it and commented, “Bastard!”

I replied, thumbs up.

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Sally Simon writes to avoid shoveling snow, while simultaneously slaying old demons with words. It’s a win-win.

Bad Brunch

By Jon Fain

When I said, can I see you again, I have tight windows, she said. I’m just saying I’d love to see you again, I said. I don’t believe in love, she said, and I said, that’s OK I was thinking more like coffee. But you can put anything in it you like, I said, and she said, I’m not that crazy about coffee either let alone anything that goes with it. I guess that’s it then, I said, I guess you’ve said it. She said some last something I didn’t catch, because by then I was immune to her charms.

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Jon Fain writes mostly out of habit at this point, not as much to impress girls.