The Void

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By John L. Malone

You’ve got to do something, mum. Volunteer. Take up a hobby [This was after dad died]. Quilting, for instance, or drawing. You used to draw as a kid.
Everyone draws as a kid.
Just trying to be helpful, mum. Mongolian throat singing, foraging. Anything. Otherwise you’ll face the void.
What void?
You don’t want to know.
A few years later she discovers it.
How’s it going, mum? I ask on a morbid Monday.
Awful. Nothing to do and all day to do it in.
That’s it, I say, the ,,,,
Don’t say it, she says.
So I ,,,,

             
John has been wanting to write about this for years and finally has found a way.

Lucy

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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

Dead Father Stories

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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.”

The Dead Hide the Truth Just as Well as the Living

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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.

When You See Me Walk

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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.
Promise me
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.”

The First Week

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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

Always Remember I Love You

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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.

Spent

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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.

The Longest Distance

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By Traci Mullins

“You’ve got to let him hit bottom,” they told me. When he fell through, they said, “It wasn’t your fault.”

This must be what they meant by, “The longest distance is between the head and the heart.”

A mother isn’t supposed to outlive her child.

Festering

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By Tremaine L. Loadholt

he came home to an
empty space.
his condo, a quiet, chaotic hole
that gripped him tightly.

the memories of Claudia
pained him throughout each day.
he could see her swollen eyes,
clogged with tears, then
her mouth drawing in from pain.

the chemo had dulled her
insides—crushed her soul.
her voice, now an echoing
ghostly ghast
followed him
everywhere he went.

festering…
festering…