In the fabric store you stand there staring at the pink damask. The pattern is woven through with threads in a darker, angrier pink, like the face of your high school sweetheart. There are boys like him going through their ugly phase everywhere, living like spools of fabric, tightly wound until they can be sprung. You turn from the pink folds toward the bolt of black, and a sour-faced woman in an orange smock slices off the amount you need to make blackout curtains. How else can you darken the sun? you ask her. Somehow you think she might know.
–––––––––– Cheryl Snell writes as revenge against reality.
The green-grey eyes of her newborn look at her intently. She wraps him tightly in everything she has. Below, at street level, there is shouting and waving. She kisses the child on his bronze forehead, whispers his name, and lets go. Eyes pressed shut, two, three seconds in which there is no sound, no feeling, only her heart, clenched. At last, she opens her eyes to see her angel, held up for her to see, safe. She crumbles down against the hard balustrade.
A single, piercing wail joins in the chaos around her. Flames are licking the cracked balcony doors.
–––––––––– “I write to hear the little songs that my mind wants to sing.” – the writer
I’m not sure why, it’s not like I knew him well. When I started dreaming, he was there – sitting across from me at some mall food-court. “What are you doing here,” I asked.
“I came to see you.”
“We’ll figure that out together.”
Then he pushed his chair back from the table and left. “Wait,” I called. It’s not like I was still drunk. Like I am the only person who’s ever run a light. Like the city shouldn’t have put in a cross-walk years ago. I woke unsettled. My lawyer says she won’t put me on the stand.
–––––––––– “i write so that i do not forget…” – the writer
I cross my arms. Well do you like me? What? Do you like me? Of course I like you. Well I don’t know. He smiles. What do you mean? I mean. I don’t know. You do know. Well. You never say anything. I’m always saying things. About how you feel. I say how I feel. No answer. Maybe I could say more. But we’re still getting to know each other. I know. Don’t I show that I like you? You show you’re interested. I’m interested because I like you! His laugh makes me smile. He’s interested because he likes me.
–––––––– “(I write) because I can’t not write.” – the writer
A thing sits inside me. It is large and takes up space and when it is there, there is absolutely no room for anything else. Even though I feel the edges of it pressing against my insides and pieces of it get wedged in my throat, the thing itself is hollow. It is simply empty and barren and in that respect we are painfully the same. The thing inside me and I often cry ourselves to sleep, and in the morning my pillow is stained black, my body heavy with all the things that are no longer inside it.
––––––––––– Ren ElisaBeth (she/her) is an emerging writer who enjoys exploring short fiction as a way to reflect on things that have happened throughout her life.
He imagines the flashes of light a signal: a woman with a lantern, her hand in front of it, saying, “Come here, I need assistance,” or “Stay away, this place has dangers.” Quibble has yet to work out if the flashes are Morse code, and, if they are, which are dots, which are dashes. Natalie over his shoulder sights the light, scanning the landscape around it. “It is McClellan’s porch light, and wind in the trees,” she tells him. Quibble is beginning to decipher dots and dashes, writes the sequences in his newspaper’s margins. He does not know Morse code.
––––––––––– “I fear the explosion that would result if I did not write.” – the writer
You are thrilled and eagerly spread the news to family and friends.
I’ll plan a book party, you think, then quickly send off press releases to the local media. The evening of the event you decorate a table at the bookstore, set out wine, cheese, crackers, and fresh sushi.
You wait nervously until a few people trickle in, exactly five. A few folks drink some wine, no one eats. You sign one book.
After an hour of this fiasco, you pack up and leave. You vow to never do this again.
–––––––––– “I write to capture indelible moments in time.” – the writer