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 D. Bankson
Martha visits me every Sunday, as she has for seven years. Today is that anniversary.
Rain is engraving rivulets in her makeup, scarring her face, a break in a mask so well constructed. She carries flowers, but they droop with her bearing.
She huddles her shoulders into her jacket. I see her green eyes buried there. Too much fabric, too much mask.
She knows where I stay. The walkway is slick, and she can’t see through the tears. But her footing is solid, experienced.
“Hello, Dad,” she whispers as she places primrose on my grave.
David Bankson’s work can be found in concis, (b)oink, Anti-Heroin Chic, Artifact Nouveau, Riggwelter Press, Antinarrative Journal, among others.
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.
By Tremaine L. Loadholt
he came home to an
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
everywhere he went.