Personal Growth, No Shortcomings

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By Steven Holding

Forbidden things were hidden away on a shelf in her father’s office. Musty hardback books that only grown-ups should look at. An antique letter opener shaped like a samurai sword. Catapult and cap gun; confiscated contraband, never to be fiddled with again. Even on a stool, standing on tiptoe, she still couldn’t reach. “It’s unlikely you’ll ever be as big as me” her old man would tease.

Putting the urn in its place, she wonders how something so small could possibly contain someone who was always much larger than life. And when exactly was it that she got so tall.

              
“Twenty-six letters rearranged then placed upon a page never ceases to amaze.” – the writer

Golden Years Gone Wrong

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By Dianne Moritz

How I yearned for the golden years as I hit retirement age. Days with plenty of free time, relaxing by the beach, traveling to far-flung, exotic places: Tahiti, Peru, Paris. No work. No worries.

In reality many friends died, suffered dementia, or moved away. Then, suddenly came a global pandemic no one could have fathomed in their worst nightmares. Life changed in an instant.

Now, we huddle in our homes, wipe everything down, wash our hands raw, wear masks, and pray. Yet, still, people die.

The future of this brave, new world looks bleak.

            
“I sometimes write to help lessen my anxiety.” – the writer

Leaving Eden, Unmasked

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By Ron. Lavalette

After a couple hours bobbing in brilliant lakewater, there are grapefruit margaritas on the sundeck, or maybe a couple of cold beers out under the shadetree. Everybody’s full-throated, half-naked, sunburnt, and totally shot by three o’clock, even though happy hour is still several hours away. Everyone’s already as happy as anyone can be, thanks to their lengthy lounge, chips and dip in a darkened bar, and their spirited but friendly debate about the current sad state of affairs no one’s paying any real attention to anyway.

Eve snaps up a Tupperware filled with applesauce, steers Adam toward the back door.

              
Ron. Lavalette writes “to overcome his stir-craziness up on the Canadian border in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom.”

The Watcher

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By Shane Kroetsch

I see them all. Walking as a means of social interaction, or an escape from a forced family life. They stroll down the middle of the road, at a distance. Or the sidewalk, close enough to touch.

If only my biggest complaint in life was boredom. If only I could ignore facts, because they stand in the way of my own privilege.

I squeeze above my knee, massaging the pain away. Except it doesn’t ever really go. From what I’m told, the worst is yet to come. Which is why I’m up here watching, instead of down there living.

              
“I write to make sense of life, and to give the monsters in my head a place of their own.” – the writer

Trapped

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By Tim Dadswell

I pass the familiar ‘For Sale’ sign outside our house.

I find Celia reading in bed. Her manicured nails, cream-cleansed complexion and slender body are now meant for another.

Her head turns. She scans me top to toe, spotting a hole in my sock. One corner of her mouth curls upward.

My well-rehearsed sentences shrivel into sun-dried stalks. There will be no showdown tonight.

In the spare room, it’s like I’m in a basket under a hot air balloon. My atomized words swirl overhead, out of reach.

Where are the ropes to return me to the ground?

           
Tim Dadswell writes “to connect with like-minded readers.”

Circumstance

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By Rachel Grosvenor

I have that familiar feeling of being watched. I knew I felt a connection. I am deliberately not looking over in his direction. One hour left. The strange musty scent of the chemicals in my mask mix with my breath, circulating in my nostrils. I saw the type of mask that he was wearing when he got on the train; black, smart. I decide do it, to glance over, smile with my eyes. Take my chance. I flash a grin despite its concealment, toward him. There he is, head rolling on his shoulders, propped in my direction. Fast asleep.

           
“I write because I am compelled to, and always have been. Getting lost inside stories has always been my favorite thing in the world.” – the writer

One Last Kiss

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By Raymond Sloan

He wandered along the sand, looking toward the peak of the rock rooted in the sea, imagining her still perched upon it. Smiling. Waving back at him. A single tear fell and swam through the cracks of his skin as he stood there, before it crawled and rested on his broken heart.

He walked the short distance home and fell into bed and slept. He was awakened the next morning by the crash of the early tide, deciding today was the day. He raked the water the whole way there. Then climbed up and kissed the last place she touched.

             
“I write because I love writing.” – the writer

Tacks Between Us

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By Tyrean A. Martinson

The pushpin box tumbles from my grasp
Clatters open on the hard boards
Sharp tacks skittering into corners.

The main heap of pointy ends
Between the door and my desk.
I leave them, not sure why until —

You barge in, demanding –
“What are you doing now? Why? I need you to – Ow!”
A tack stops your stride.

And … I am not sorry. I am Not sorry. I Am not.

I used to be sorry for everything undone,
Even my thoughts, tumbling like tacks,
sharp edges under the surface of us.

I am not sorry now.

             
“I love words. I love the shape and taste of them. I find refuge in words and stories. I don’t always get it ‘right,’ but I write anyway. It’s in my bones.” – the writer

Her Misery

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By Andaritian

When he says he feels the happiest these days, she can only smile. She doesn’t congratulate him, nor say she’s happy too. Because she envies him. She’s always wondering how it feels when someone’s genuinely happy. She can only dream about it. But when someone so close to her says they’re happy, she suddenly thinks she’s left behind. Everyone she knows has found happiness, why can’t she? Why does she always think she’s trapped in misery? Why can’t she move on? And in the end, she can only cry. Silently. Without, no one knows.

             
Andaritian writes because “it keeps her sane in the crazy world that seems to always want to drag her down.”

My New Laptop

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By K.D. McDougall

So shiny and clean. I open it for the first time. It starts a setup routine and assures me that it will guide me through the process. We battle over how much of my information I will share. Electrons going this way and that. When I win, the laptop tells me how unfortunate it is that I won’t be able to do the things it thinks I should do. When the laptop wins, I feel that a piece of me is gone. Not literally, of course. Wait. How many fingers did I have when I started?

               
“I love what I do and one of those things is writing.” – the writer