The Beggar by the Taco Cart

By Jim Latham

The beggar huddled near the taco cart. His skin was dirty, his clothes ragged.
When the old lady offered him tacos, he refused.
She insisted; he accepted.
She passed him a plate with a shaking hand.
He rose, his skin glowing, his rags radiant.
The beggar took the old lady’s hand. Her back straightened, her aches disappeared, her face became smooth.
She attempted to kneel, but he refused the worship.
“Eat with me,” he said.
They ate sitting on a bench.
“Look,” he said, indicating the setting sun.
She looked. When she turned back to the bench, he had vanished.

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“I write because my life goes to hell if I don’t.” – the writer

The Maple Leaf

By Jim Bates

I was one of thousands of scarlet-orange maple leaves hanging in the tree that fall. I fell to the ground ready to decay and turn to dust. But that little girl saved me when she picked me up and showed her mother. “It’s so pretty!” They brought me home, pressed me in waxed paper and hung me in a lovely frame on her bedroom wall. Now, years later, her daughter has left home. Her mother sits heartbroken and alone on her daughter’s bed. She looks at me and cries. I wish there was something more I could do to help.

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“I write to try and bring a bit of happiness to people.” – the writer

Small Talk

By Holley Cornetto

You ask how my day was, but before my vocal cords can make the vibrations necessary to respond, you’ve launched into a story about how you’re pretty sure it’s Bill in accounting who has been microwaving fish in the break room. At dinner, I turn to tell you a funny story I heard at work, but the words don’t quite leave my lips before you are summarizing today’s headlines and lamenting the state of world affairs. In bed, I roll over to tell you goodnight, but the only thing that escapes my open mouth is the sound of your voice.

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“I write because the only thing better than reading stories is to create them myself.” – the writer

O75

By Emma Foster

Mabel eyed her grandmother’s neon orange sheet. She needed what the Palm Shore Country Club ladies referred to as “the grandfather.” Mabel noted the aquamarine splotches, illuminating her numbers: B3, I22, N36, G57.
“How’s it going?”
Mabel shook her head, silently vowing to herself to never visit her grandmother on Sundays again. It was her mother who egged her on for tonight, who insisted she socialize with Grandma and her “friends.”
A ball rattled up the tube, into the caller’s hands.
“O75.”
“BINGO!”
Mabel watched the corner of the billboard ignite. Next week, she’d schedule for Tuesday.

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“I write because little things need to be noticed.” – the writer

Junior’s Quick Stop

By Ran Walker

My wife doesn’t trust gas station fried chicken, but, dammit, I do. In fact, I rank it among the best food in town, including those fancy chains, where they keep laying off the spices and seasonings every year.

I tell her that they lovingly marinate those breasts, before gently battering them and patiently submerging them into the hot oil.

She stops and contemplates this, then remembers we are talking about fried chicken.

“I just can’t get my chicken from the same place I buy gas for my car,” she finally says, never once considering the convenience of such a thing.

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Ran Walker is the author of twenty-four books. He writes “because there are millions of stories that need to be told.”

Adding Worms Can Be Beneficial

By Annie Soilleux

He flings his wedding ring out of the window as he drives off. It rattles down the roof of the shed and lands in the leaf litter on top of her compost bin.

The worms do their work, casting orange pith and lettuce slime into rich, crumbling humus. She turns the heap, changes the locks, cuts her hair. Buys a new bed.

Come spring, she’s pressing well-rotted compost into terracotta pots when her fingers stumble on something unforgiving. She digs it out and turns it over, examines it a moment before tucking it away. She’ll put it on Ebay later.

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“I live in Berkshire and write to try and entertain.” – the writer

Instagram Famous

By James Burt

It was the ultimate hipster joint, a pop-up restaurant in a burning building. Fans kept the worst of the smoke from our table, but it was hot, and we heard occasional crashes as parts of the roof collapsed. We giggled nervously while doing our best to enjoy overcooked, overpriced steaks. For dessert we had ice-cream. It was cooling and we gulped it down, desperate for relief from the heat. My friend wanted to take a photo for Instagram, but the plastic on her phone had melted. “No one will believe us back home,” I said, as my hair caught fire.

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“I write because it’s a socially acceptable way of telling lies.” – the writer

The Way You Get Worked Up

By John L. Malone

The way you get worked up towards the end.
I can hear you, the noise of your coming, three rooms away.
Are such outbursts necessary?
Why, even the walls vibrate,
Now you’re really going.
Hope you don’t bust anything.
You’re not that young anymore, remember.
There’s no doubt you give it your all.
Do you enjoy it?
Sounds as if you do.
Now you’ve gone quiet, can I come in?
Yes ! The clothes are done.
One hour, twenty. Wish I had your stamina.
You must be exhausted.

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“I get my material from the every day: an inexhaustible supply.” – the writer

The Tuxedo Man

By Andy Lind

Yeah, I was there the day The Tuxedo Man died. We were at the same bar together. He was there to impress some girl. I was there to drink. She asked me for help. He got mad when he found out she was talking to me. He threw down some dough, stormed out of the bar, and made his way to the bridge. I followed him to see where he was going. As he was leaning over and throwing up into the water, he fell. Maybe I pushed him, maybe I didn’t. Even if I did, nobody will ever know.

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Andy Lind enjoys sharing his love of noir and hard-boiled mysteries. He writes to keep the genre alive.

Wish You Were Here

By Sandy Wilson

It is a place of memories: salt on lips, screech of gulls, the aroma of sun lotion. Here Sylvia sits hunched watching her son play.

It is a place of memories. Noah’s military father told himself the sacrifice – their son being brought home draped in the flag – had been an honour. But her grief, her keening, still echoes in her skull. She joins her son at the edge of the sea where the cool waves rise to numb her memory of his birth, rise to wash away the grief, and silence the song of lament in her head.

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“I write short stories, memoirs and poetry, in a vain attempt to understand life.” – the writer