By Allison Maruska
I crumble six crackers into the bowl. Six crackers per ladle, just like Mom used to make.
Steam rises off the red liquid as I pour it. A stray drip hits my glove. I wipe it on my blanket.
I carry my bowl to the sofa and peek outside, trading heat for daylight. Snow covers the ruins. Brisk air blows through the broken pane.
I drop the window covering and hold my bowl near my face. The warmth and smell take me back. Laughter echoes in my memory.
Shaking, I take a spoonful.
Just like Mom used to make.
“Talk to me I’m here to listen,” said the mind but the heart had decided.
Razor in hand she saw a little girl running around talking to the trees.
Thud! A gust of wind closed the window; the girl had vanished.
Looking around the house what a vision it was, not a thing out of place
fancy drapes, matching silverware, candlesticks above the fireplace.
Resting on the rocking chair she placed the razor on the table, made herself a fresh pot of tea snuggled in her favorite quilt and dozed off to sleep.
Another day perhaps, another lifetime.
When people asked her what she couldn’t live without, she’d smile and say, “My journal.” People would nod politely. The truth was, though, without her journal, she couldn’t remember who she was. In a mixture of different handwriting and emotion, memories poured out of her mind in a desperate attempt to be recalled. Inevitably, something would scatter it all for her. She saw herself as a little girl building beautiful sandcastles of memories in her mind, as waves of trauma wiped them away. She had learned to cope, but nothing could prepare her for the day her journal was stolen.
Days of silence stretched between us. I told myself I was holding up, but I was unshaven and ignoring voicemail from work. And she was happy somewhere else.
My stupor ruptured open, spraying a mist of anxiety into the air. I darted from the couch to the bedroom, knocking empty bottles off the coffee table. A blinking light, her light, beckoned from the nightstand. One new message. I tapped the screen.
The ceiling crashed down. The walls kissed in the center of the room.
“Free Wireless Carrier MSG: You’re approaching your data limit.”
By Sarah Russell
Someone from the Class of ’61 died today. No one close by, just someone I sent Christmas cards to and read posts by on Facebook about cats and grandchildren. And suddenly I longed to kiss someone.
I wanted to make love that leaves bruises, jump in a lake at the top of the world so cold I gasp, ride the Roue de Paris, get drunk on Bastille Day and watch fireworks over the Seine and sing La Marseilles with strangers.
Instead I sent a sympathy card to her kids that said sorry for your loss.
By Celia Coyne
The things my mother taught me are not practical. A love of poetry and an appreciation of the sky will not take you far.
I remember her weeping over unpaid bills. The numbers were a foreign language.
Then I remember her showing me how to pick up a bumble bee without hurting it so that it would not sting. The prickle of its legs on my open palm; the furry perfection of it.
There were things that only she could do. Like pill a cat – it would take the tablet from her hand.
Celia Coyne’s stories have appeared in various journals, including Takahe, Penduline Press, Flash Frontier, Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine, as well as several anthologies.
By Sharon M Hart
Carl was tired of being ignored and treated like he was invisible. No matter where he went, no one looked at him, spoke to him, or even acknowledged his existence.
They don’t even know my name, he thought.
Carl was leaving. There was no room in other peoples’ lives for someone like him. Once he left, people would just have to ignore someone else. He was going to make a new life for himself. He would no longer be the elephant in the room. He was going to be Carl, The Elephant by the Sea.