What Have I Done?

By Cameron Calonzo

On the plane to America there was a child
stuffed in the overhead compartment.
I heard it—the soft cries echoing hollowly
through the plastic above my head.
I stared out the window for a while. I stared at my hands.
The flight attendant came by with water and peanuts
but I let them fall off my lap. Felt the ice burn through my sock.
Wished on a star through the glass
but it turned out to be a bird and fell out of frame.
I think I’ve had enough of this life; I want to move on.

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Cameron Calonzo is a high school student from Southern California. She writes “because she is a poor conversationalist.”

The Morning I Became a Widow

By Kamille Little

The morning I became a widow, I woke up early to make him breakfast. I made the usual: waffles, bacon, and coffee. While cooking, I remembered his ill condition from the night before. Accordingly, I grabbed a clear bottle from the medicine cabinet and mixed it into the coffee. I wrote him a daily love letter.

Promptly, he came downstairs. I cleaned the dishes while he ate.

After finishing, he smacked and fingered the food out of his coffee-stained teeth. He unfolded the note marked in dark red; There revealed the letter “A”.

I live peacefully now.

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“I write because it makes my thoughts feel concrete.” – the writer

Where is Madeleine?

By Skylar Carlson

Thirty-eight years ago, Madeleine vanished. Her old beat-up truck was left running on the corner of 15th and Walsh. Her truck was filled with perishables and her brother’s tux for his wedding that weekend. Madeleine was just gone. No witnesses, no leads, no surveillance to run again, nothing.

Her brother claimed she’s gone because of the fight they had. Her father thinks she’s dead and her mother couldn’t care less.

Listen hard enough though and you’ll hear Madeleine. The broken whispers carried in the wind. Her croaked out sobs in the mist. Just one dead girl warning the next.

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“I write because it is a form of escapism.” – the writer

Amicable

By Phil Temples

The two Siamese twins lived amicably together until they learned the doctors could separate them. They quarreled about it; the sister stabbed him to death with a kitchen knife. She later died.

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“I write because I need more satisfaction in my life beyond what I get with the care and feeding of machines. (I’m a computer systems administrator.)” – the writer

Of Artistic Temperament

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By Sophie Flynn

(Originally published December, 29, 2017)

I liked it when you said I had an ‘artistic temperament’ because it covered it all: tears in the carpark, not eating for days, refusal to choose paint for the walls because I just couldn’t look at the colors anymore; and instead made those days when I couldn’t cope, when I pictured cutting out my tongue and ripping off my skin, seem part of something greater to create something worthwhile, rather than days indulging myself. My artistic temperament was such a lovely phrase for what was really: unpleasant, unnerving, unbearable or, as you finally put it as you left, unlovable.

Promise

By Stevieslaw

When I was 10
my dad gave me
a number 2 pencil—
brand new,

with a finely
chiseled point.
“Promise,”
he said

is like this
pencil.
“The eraser
is always

the first
to go—
worn out
or broken off.

After that,
you can only
chew
on your mistakes.

And that dime store
sharpener is,
like father time,
a false friend.”

But I was 10.
what would
you have me know
of nubs

and time’s unappeasable
appetite?
I took the pencil—
another gift.

At ten,
the whole
world
is a gift.

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“I write because I love to tell stories and sometimes I’m astonished at what I’ve written.” – the writer

An International Incident

By Michael Bloor

In 1934, Derby County FC toured Germany, invited by the German Football Association. A year previously, Hitler swept to power, banning all other political parties. The manager told the players that the British Ambassador had insisted that, prior to kick-off, the Derby team must line-up with their opponents and give the Hitler salute.

Inside the packed stadium, the team lined up and duly raised their right arms in salute. All except the goalkeeper, Jack Kirby: Hands on hips, he turned and faced in the opposite direction.

To defy everyone, alone, in full view, far from home – that’s true courage.

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Michael Bloor only discovered the exhilarations of creative writing after he retired.

Sirocco Peak

By Jim Bates

To hell with her. His hands grip the jagged rock as he pulls himself to the top of Sirocco Peak. Gusts tear at his shirt as he stands on the edge of the flat stone mesa, six hundred feet above the desert floor. He loves it here. All alone. Wide open spaces. The infinite horizon. He spreads his arms and leans way out, his body buoyed by the relentless wind, wanting nothing more than to step into space and fly away. That’ll show her, he thinks. Just before he steps back, falls to the ground and breaks down in tears.

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

Writing Advice

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By Jamie Thunder

Write about what you know, they said. But when she wrote about the hollow pull of loneliness and the fear she felt when walking alone they said no, no that is self-indulgent, and unfair on the many men who do nothing to warrant fear, even late at night when the bulbs in the streetlights are broken and the shadows run across the pavement like foxes. So she wrote about dragons and magic instead, and they praised her humor, her lyricism, and her vivid imagination.

Quest(ioning) Cat

By Tyrean Martinson

My cat is a question mark.

She peers at the world through the window, wondering.
When she wanders into her wonders, she poses queries at the birds she hunts.
Returning, she asks for praise, food, a lap. When these are met, she sleeps and seems as if she is all questions answered, curled into contentment, until she awakes, stretches, finds a seat on my desk in her question mark pose. What if? She asks, as if knowing I wonder, too.
We seek the answers together. I, with words. She, with sharp claws.
At day’s end, we dream of more questions.

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“I write because I have questions. I write because the words are there, bone deep. I write for those who take refuge in books, as I have many times in my life. I write because I am a writer.” – the writer