By K.L. Griffiths
The new coach’s arrival has been a tectonic shift, pressing our football players into ore. Like him. The new coach makes the boys rabid for a win, draws out strength and more strength. Blood from stones. Coach is magic, my son tells me, a fiery celestial body.
Based on second-hand testimony, I am first awed, then undone. It’s the stories. I thirst for them the way cracked sand begs for water. In the stands we sit with the rest of the parents. No one knows: I’m in a pew worshiping his words, his form, his way with the boys.
By Cynthia Khoury
Wherever she went, she kept him in her heart like a secret. And it gave her great pleasure to know, no one knew the man behind the mask like she did. In that way he became hers forever and she was never alone.
While it felt a little selfish to know after she had conquered him, no other woman would know the kind of love and warmth he could provide, she did not care. He had become her treasure and she the pirate, who stole it and hid it from the world.
By Carol Pang
The rattan basket swung freely by Moi’s hip. She has walked this route five mornings a week for the last 20 years. A whiff of rotting vegetables and decaying fish greeted her. The exuberance of trade echoed around the wet market.
“No stock,” the vegetables seller said to Moi and pointed to a newspaper. It was Moi’s daughter, the politician. The fishmonger spat at Moi’s feet. Having served the community for 15 years, Moi’s daughter had inexplicably switched sides after her election victory, handing the state government over to the other side.
Moi walked home with a still-empty rattan basket.
By Ryan Dowling
I used to get my kicks scaring kids on Halloween.
Leaping from the bushes, I’d roar behind a mask and swing an ax left and right. I’d send the little monsters screaming down the street.
Well, most of the time.
Then came a boy who didn’t even flinch between his Frankenstein bolts. Instead, he extended the twisted branch of his arm—his real arm—at the end of which was a crooked hand with three crooked fingers. He took a Reese’s from the bowl.
“Thank you,” he said.
How do I say this?
I just wasn’t myself anymore.
The music almost kills me today.
It is a childhood memory. The song that would play as my father hunted and brought local wildlife back to the garage. It would play as I cried for my mother, begging her not to go to work, terrified of spending time with this hulk of a man.
Today, when that song comes on the radio again, I can smell that garage. Hear those birds.
My tears almost cause an accident on the motorway. When I pull over onto the hard shoulder I sit for twenty minutes, thinking about my mother.
By Jonny Booker
She looked like she’d been a prized greyhound in another life. She used the word “need” when ordering food at a restaurant. She’d married someone who was afraid no one would marry him; who was brilliant and shy and not even homely, and who blossomed with age. Together, they wrinkled, and the cashier was perplexed whenever she saw them come in—whenever she endured the woman ordering for herself and for her husband, and whenever she received a kind smile from the man, who never finished his drink.
By Captain 575
First love. High school sweethearts. The whole bit. Sometimes joked they shared a brain: Even bought each other the same Christmas gift—three times! One year it was tennis rackets. Ha! That was a laugh. They were still having sex then. Then it was iPads, which were cool. But! She left hers at the beach, he lost his charging cord thingy. Didn’t bother looking for it. Last year it was a book. Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.