By Pene Morley
We had a bit of a celebration the day Lucy came out of a coma. Granny baked Lucy’s favorite cake, a chocolate and coconut gateaux, and we invited all the family and her friends over. Dad opened a bottle of pink champagne that he’d put a side for New Year’s Eve, and mum giggled the whole time because the bubbles went straight up her nose.
It was afterwards, when Granny was freezing some of the cake for Lucy, that the hospital phoned. I’ll never forget the way mum crumpled onto the floor and granny shoved the cake in the bin.
“I write to set the ideas in my head free …” – the writer
By Kelly Kotewa
On my return, they give me sympathy and African violets for my desk. Some tell their own dead father stories. The curious ask questions with forced solicitude.
“How old was he?”
“So young! Had he been ill?”
“Was it expected?”
He was a 66-year-old drunk. When his kidneys failed, I refused to give him one of mine. They chopped his legs off after the diabetes took hold. By the end, he did not remember his own name. Or mine. Or hers.
The questions stop. They drift back to their cubicles. I can float now without the heavy stones of pretending.
Kelly Kotewa writes “to maintain her sanity and good humor.”
By Kathy Hoyle
Her hand was still achingly smooth, gripping tightly to the bedsheet.
‘Gone too young,’ they said, eyes heavenward …
As if I believe in that asshole.
I found an old birthday card, written in black scrawl, with looped flowers and slanted kisses, and a ceramic owl, with a chipped beak and a sneering side-eye, painted in primary colours. I held them up, inhaled them while I wept on her bed, basking in a stream of sunlight.
She lay against pale silk, her lips pulled into a smile, peaceful and insincere.
The dead hide the truth just as well as the living.
Kathy Hoyle is an MA student at The University of Leicester. On her fortieth birthday she gave herself the gift of writing and hasn’t stopped since. Her work has appeared in Spelk, Reflex Fiction and Ellipsiszine. She was shortlisted for The Exeter Short Story Competition and the Fish Publishing Short Memoir Prize.
By Nayana Nair
When you see me walk toward my grief,
toward my past,
with my head sinking down,
with my hands full of my own pieces,
stop me dear.
Come to me.
Run to me.
Call out to me
even when you think I cannot hear.
Hold me back
even when you think I cannot be stopped.
that you will try.
Nayana is an engineer and technical writer who also moonlights as an amateur poet. She says, “Writing for me is a process of self realization and an effort to understand what is ever-elusive.”
By Mary Shay McGuire (for Lane)
dulled, muted, I sit in the room
at the open window, the lace
breathes in and out
it has been a whole week
a Sunday to Sunday since his death
I remember his garden on the edge
of the stone path filled with
basils, chives and one begonia
tulips he planted in a blurt
of color under the tree
the wildflowers beyond, the rose wandering
and on the kitchen table
the glass bowl filled with peonies
so pale, so perfect they ached
“I write because it seems the way to express to something that I cannot say any other way,” – the author
By Robina Rader
I may forget.
In a cruel game of hide and seek,
hard-earned knowledge and a lifetime of memories
prove ever more elusive.
I get confused in parking lots,
can’t find things in my kitchen,
get lost in the middle of a thought.
Doors are closing in my mind,
locking me out – out of my past, out of my self.
And worst of all, the day will come
when I look at you with blank eyes
and push you away, unaware
that I love you.
So promise that you will remember
when I forget.
By Navidad Thelamour
She’d had four of them.
All at various stages in gestational aging, one as far as thirty weeks. Four losses, four casualties, four periods of grieving that felt like death itself. Knives to her stomach, ripping at her hair, her heart rung dry. But then she’d snap out of it and realize she was just sitting, alone, no knife in hand, no hair in hand, just sitting, spent. Four before she stopped, before she let the idea fall away, before she tucked it away like an old, beloved sweater that no longer fit but she couldn’t bear to toss out.