By James Formosa
I pinched the cigarette filter between my fingers and held the burning embers inward. They taught me to do that for two reasons. First: the tiny flame heats up your palm a little. Second: the enemy can’t see the light from the trenches.
We’d been digging now for three days. Three days of shovels and pickaxes denting and cracking into frozen clay. The trenches filled up with ground water as fast as we dug them.
The glowing cherry in my hand dies, and the last bit of warmth leaves me with it.
In this new darkness, rain began to fall.
By Sandra Arnold
It’s time to face the truth. Your story is abysmal. It’s trite. Overblown. It’s full of mixed metaphors and sloppy syntax. The characters are one-dimensional. The plot’s missing. There’s no beginning. No middle. No proper ending. Who on earth would publish it? It will never win awards. Bookshops won’t stock it. The critics will crucify you. They will say it reveals a lot about the kind of person you are. Take our advice and burn it. Think of the pain you’ll be spared. No need to thank us. This is the whole point of our Writers’ Support Group. Who’s next?
Sandra Arnold is a Pushcart Prize and Best Small Fictions nominee. Her third novel, Ash, will be published by Mākaro Press (NZ) in 2019.
By Alfredo Macapanas Jr.
One day, an old scientist announced his break through to his wife.
“My loving wife, I’ve found the secret of immortality.” He showed her the vial filled with liquid.
“The potion of anti-aging,” he said. “It’s like the fountain of youth. We’ll be young forever.”
“I prefer my current state,” said his wife.
“Don’t you want to live forever?”
“We’re not meant to live forever, you know that.”
“Then I’ll drink this alone.”
“Let’s take first our supper.”
The scientist agreed. His wife dropped something on their food. The scientist never got to drink the potion.
By Chip Houser
A year after the explosion, the shell fragments pushing through Hobson’s skin are slow torture. At least they distract him from thinking about his future. He’ll take the itching, the future terrifies him. He can’t see, he can’t hear, and he can’t feel his body. But sometimes his mind fills with a warmth like sunlight and the itching stops. When that happens, Hobson screams at his fear. Screaming distracts him, just like itching. He screams because a year after the explosion is just his best guess. He has no idea how long it’s been, or how long it will be.
Chip Houser’s fiction has appeared in Every Day Fiction, Rosebud Magazine, Daily Science Fiction, New Myths, and elsewhere.
By Amy Brunson
The thing about happiness is
It doesn’t exist in small secretive
Pockets of the world that you have to
Seek out and luck into
It exists in places that can’t be
Lived in or driven through
It exists in places that scare most people
So much that they never go even though
They have always been there and just haven’t looked.
By Cap’n FiveSevenFive
The first three weeks of soulmatehood
— all monkey brains
and dopamine —
warm wet knots of want and need.
the crook of the heartplace,
where tomorrows hold such sudden promise;
do our pasts.
By Dianne Moritz
My love has a smile
That could melt the sun.
His lips curl up,
Like Alice’s Cheshire,
Exposing teeth, perfect
In their imperfection.
Deep laugh lines score
His cheeks, dark eyes,
That spark with teasing.
He’s a happy guy
Dazzled by his
My love has a smile
That could melt the sun,
Eclipse the stars,
Sear the hearts
Of a thousand women.
Yet, when he smiles
For me, I wonder …
What lies beneath?
Dianne Moritz’s poems have appeared in Earth’s Daughters, Long Island Quarterly and other journals, as well as online in Adelaide Literary, The Haiku Foundation and Haiku Universe.