In a Lightning Storm, Sheep Run through Barbed Wire By Cheryl Anne Gardner

April 28, 2016 Comments Off on In a Lightning Storm, Sheep Run through Barbed Wire By Cheryl Anne Gardner

I used to fear things. The lonesome wind come through the clapboards. Dry hillsides rustling. My own skin in the summer heat.

Rattlers.

Lurking.

Abandoned coal pits.

Pa said I was afraid of desolation. I didn’t know what he meant by that. How can you be afraid of something all around you been there since the day you were born? I used to. Fear. Hard. But hard is what we had … and the stink of sheep, goats, some cattle and horses. I’ve seen my sister kicked, bucked, and bloodied more often than I care to remember. Mud in her hair. Booze on her breath. Blue-blackened skin. Used. Useless. Pa used to do the castrations himself. He learned the old-time way and used to use these fucking rubber bands, but he eventually said that the old-time way wasn’t the right way anymore, that it took too long, would oftentimes get infected. He feared infections, like the one he said my sister had, so he set about teaching me the right way. I didn’t understand why we had to do it at all. It was bloody, and sometimes, the gonads were small, slippery like marbles, and you had to dig around in the sack with your fingers until you found the sinewy cord. Pa would say, “Keep digging,” and I’d cry and cry and cry because there was so much blood and I was afraid I’d never get it out from under my fingernails, but Pa would shush me and tell me that it’s good for them, and I’d ask why through a dirty fistful of tears while waiting for him to spit into the chicory and rub his chin for a spell before explaining, the way he does, that boys need it, makes them more polite. Something about hormones, he said. Maybe I was afraid of them, so I asked Ma about it while she was fixing the fried gonads for my supper plate, but she just shushed me too, wiped the grease on her apron, and said I was too young for talk about such things. I’m not too young. My breasts are coming in and I feel all funny. My sister said it’s normal.

I’d.

Get.

Used to it.

I go to high school next year. My sister talks about it all the time. Says high school boys have the hormones too. I asked my sister if boys were like the horses and the cattle. She said no. That they were like the mules. I wondered if they stunk like them. She smiled at me and scratched at her crotch, so I told her I was afraid of getting kicked, like she always did, but she shushed me too and said not to worry …

Pa was teaching me the right way.

© 2014 Cheryl Anne Gardner – Previously Published @ Revolution John, December 2014.

Cheryl Anne Gardner is a hopeless dark romantic, lives in a haunted house, and often channels the spirits of Poe, Kafka, and de Sade. When she isn’t writing, she likes to chase marbles on a glass floor, eat lint, play with sharp objects, and make taxidermy dioramas with dead flies. Her writing has been described as “beautifully grotesque,” her characters “deliciously disturbed.” Her short fiction has been published in dozens of journals including Dustbin, Hobo Pancakes, Metazen, Pure Slush, Synaesthesia, Danse Macabre, and at The Molotov Cocktail among others, and she is currently Head Fiction Editor here at A&A.  http://twistedknickerspublications.wordpress,com

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Bike Trails and Ash Clouds By Contributing Editor Cheryl Anne Gardner

October 31, 2015 Comments Off on Bike Trails and Ash Clouds By Contributing Editor Cheryl Anne Gardner

You just have to let the hunger take what it needs and love what it loves.

I love you.

Simply.

I don’t even know what love means or how to do it. You robbed me of that.

I hear the sound of running water, or it might be the sound of blood running down the length of me.

How pretentious, you, offering me a light … a drink … and then a ride home.

Is it because I can’t dance?

How did you know I couldn’t dance? I’ve been sitting here all night, and yes, I’m an introvert; it’s obvious to me, but when you say it, it sounds so thin.

Pointless.

We’re both awkward, but even so, your advances are suspect. Lewd. Just the way I like them, but I don’t tell you that. You said, “Hey. Remember that fat girl from high school? The one they called miss kitty because she liked to finger herself in the shower after gym class?” and I said, “That was me.”

You’d taken her panties. Left her crying on the football field when you promised to kiss her and then didn’t. It was just a random moment in time. You told everyone you’d fucked her though, and that she liked it.

Everyone laughed.

At her.

Not you.

I used an alias on my name tag tonight. You couldn’t have known it was me. I’m thin, beautiful now, and you’re … not. I saw you slip that powder into my drink. A few minutes ago, when I went to freshen up. Some things never change, but I’m immune to your charms now. You couldn’t know that, either. I wasn’t then, so in the end, assumption would be your undoing. Not mine.

“Oh, how silly of me; now I’m being pretentious.”

That’s what I’ll say to you. Just before I shut the trunk so I won’t have to hear you begging. It’s the silence I’m after. I’ll seek comfort tonight, in the moon … and in the dream I once had of you screaming. I’ll smile. I’ll revel in the small comforts, offered, until now never taken. Just like I did all those years ago on that cold lonely football field where you and your scumbag friends scarred me for life.

You were the first, so how could I not still love you?

Look—

I’m a snow angel now. Thanks for lending me your skin to make my wings. I hope the thought of me doesn’t haunt you anymore.

© Cheryl Anne Gardner (2011, November/December Issue II). Stone Highway Review

When she isn’t writing, Cheryl Anne Gardner likes to chase marbles on a glass floor, eat lint, play with sharp objects, and make taxidermy dioramas with dead flies. Her writing has been described as “beautifully grotesque,” her characters “deliciously disturbed.” Her short fiction has been published in dozens of journals, and she is currently the head fiction editor at Apocrypha and Abstractions Literary Journal.

Doll Heads by Cheryl Anne Gardner

October 17, 2013 Comments Off on Doll Heads by Cheryl Anne Gardner

“That was a really fucked up thing to say,” she said while flicking her cigarette ash on my shirtsleeve. “I know it looks like syphilitic testicles in dick cheese sauce, but no one said you had to eat it.”

I was talking to Mollie, of course. Morbid Mollie I liked to call her when there wasn’t anything sharp nearby. It was Tuesday, black and still and pouring rain. We were at some depression era bar on the north side. Chinatown. She’d picked the place because she knew I hated the way it smelled when it rained — burnt pistachios, wasabi, and raw sewage. She was sitting at the bar, stabbing something nasty with a pair of chopsticks. Sleazy was her middle name. I hated the way she dressed in those Halloween Nun outfits; Nuns who’d obviously had enough fucking the cross in their spare time and were chewing the pews for a good old-fashioned cock in their mouths. You know the type: toxic with a capital infectious fucking “T.” I hated her. Hated her warm meat. “How many you got?” I asked about the suspicious burlap sack lying there, seeping a russet yellow liquid at her feet. I hated looking at her fucking feet too. Her toes looked like a deadly mutant outbreak of knuckles and flesh and hair, all jacked up and crammed into a pair of steel stilettos. I was starting to sweat. Good thing the bartender came by and asked me if I needed something stronger. I did, but even then, I could still taste the vomit and match light residue in the back of my throat. I was hungry. I needed to eat. Fresh or Frozen, I didn’t care. Mollie had what I needed . . . in the bag at her feet. My plan was to be direct. Cool. Calm. Direct.

“Whatcha got in the bag, Mollie?” I asked again, but she still didn’t answer, not yet. Her cigarette smoke danced around my words, and I just stared at the veins in her sagging breasts. I wouldn’t have enough money. I knew that, she knew that, but I was hungry. Snap off the head and suck out the juice. That warm delicious juice. They only taste that good when their young, fresh, but I’d settle. These were probably old and stale — rotted biohazard — from the free clinic down the block. I didn’t even have enough to pay for that even, but we always came to an arrangement. I’d pay for her dinner, and then I’d have to eat her out. She never said a word. She just smiled at me, stood up, grabbed the bloody bag, and headed for the alley.

© 2011 by Cheryl Anne Gardner. Previously appeared at The Carnage Conservatory June 2011.

When she isn’t writing, Cheryl Anne Gardner likes to chase marbles on a glass floor, eat lint, play with sharp objects, and make taxidermy dioramas with dead flies. She writes art-house novellas and abstract flash fiction, some published, some not.

And Then You Weren’t by Cheryl Anne Gardner

July 25, 2013 Comments Off on And Then You Weren’t by Cheryl Anne Gardner

Once, I painted a green field, you standing in it, the wind in your hair and in the lace hems of your dress. You cut the skin from your breast and gave it to me. I set my hair on fire and gave you the ash. We made love in the moonlight, that field now grey, and as I pressed my thumbs into your throat, you said, “Shhh, I can hear it, breathing, thick, in the distance…”  You asked me a question, but I can’t remember what it was. Then you said you wished you had a glass eye, one that would never grow hazy when you looked at me, like the marbles we played with on the street when we were kids. I had one in my pocket just for such an occasion. You laughed and you laughed and you laughed … and then you didn’t.

© 2012 Cheryl Anne Gardner, First Appeared at Fictionaut

Cheryl Anne Gardner is a hopeless dark romantic, lives in a haunted house, and often channels the spirits of Poe, Kafka, and de Sade. She prefers novellas and flash fiction to writing bios because she always seems to forget what point of view she is in. When she isn’t writing, she likes to chase marbles on a glass floor, eat lint, play with sharp objects, and make taxidermy dioramas with dead flies. Her writing has been described as “beautifully grotesque,” her characters “deliciously disturbed.” Her short fiction has been published in dozens of journals including Dustbin, Hobo Pancakes, Carnage Conservatory, Pure Slush, Negative Suck, Danse Macabre, and at The Molotov Cocktail among others. She lives with her husband on the East Coast USA, and she is currently the head fiction editor at Apocrypha and Abstractions Literary Journal.

Little Brown Corrugated Box by Cheryl Anne Gardner

April 12, 2012 Comments Off on Little Brown Corrugated Box by Cheryl Anne Gardner

It had arrived as anticipated, the little brown corrugated box.

It was early when the deliveryman came. He smiled as I scratched my name onto the electronic shipping gadget he carried at his side. When he left, I was alone, staring at the little box at the edge of my desk.

Eight hours I would have to sit here, staring at my box, restless with desire. I would type a little, send or reply to an email or two. Papers would swish and shuffle across my desk: scattered thoughts, random projects, figures and statistics dancing across the pages, dressed in business suits, doing the economic waltz whilst the calculator clicked, buzzed, authenticated, and confirmed answers to questions I really couldn’t care less about.

In the rare moments of silence, I would contemplate the box. I could hear it – movement — a little scratching here and there. It was as restless as I was, and every few moments I would look at it. My excitement bordered on obscene.

I imagined the smile that would overspread my face when I finally opened it. I thought about all the emotions that a smile could posses: hope and joy, at the very least. To think that a box could hold within it something as tenuous as human happiness was absurd, but it did. My box held the warmth of the sun and mortality’s bitter end.

As time slogged on, I knew this day was never going to end. Time was taunting me for no other reason than because it could. I chewed my pencil, paced around the office, struck up idiotic conversations with co-workers with the hopes that if I ignored it, if my lack of interest in it seemed sincere, that time would release me. However, I couldn’t pretend to ignore it. I could not pretend that time’s wayward habit didn’t annoy and irritate me. It did, and I wanted to scream out in frustration, slam things about my desk, and utter vulgarities under my breath, but I didn’t. I just sat there and stared at my box. I stared and stared with a longing that stretched beyond the borders of time and space, and maybe that’s what it takes. I imagined the little box resting on my legs. I imagined taking out a razor and cutting the tape on one side. It would be dark inside and have a musky odor to it, not offensive, just strange. There would be a white mesh bag inside the box. I would pull it out, toss the box aside; then I would open the bag. Hold it up. I imagined specks of crimson whirling in a vortex around me, pouring over my fingers, clinging to my hair. I imagined that smile again, as the dust from a thousand suns settled itself around me, and then I imagined I would feel bad for the unsuspecting aphids pillaging my rose garden, for even though I will have released light into my world, I will have unleashed terror into theirs.

© 2012 Cheryl Anne Gardner

Cheryl Anne Gardner prefers writing stories to writing bios because she always seems to forget what point of view she is in. When she isn’t writing, she likes to chase marbles on a glass floor, eat lint, play with sharp objects, and make taxidermy dioramas with dead flies. Her flash fiction has been published at Dustbin, Dark Chaos, Carnage Conservatory, Pure Slush, Negative Suck, Danse Macabre, and at The Molotov Cocktail among others. You can find more of her work at Twisted Knickers Publications. She is also the administrative muscle behind this site. If you want to leave her a message, you will have to leave it with the nurse at the front desk. Visiting hours are over.

Cauldron by Cheryl Anne Gardner

March 12, 2012 Comments Off on Cauldron by Cheryl Anne Gardner

It was such a clear night, the moonlight dancing through the crests of the trees, the wind nothing more than a crinkling shiver through the dry leaves.

A sailor returned to the shoreline of his death, bare feet sunk in the sand, collecting the rotten bits of fish and seaweed that pushed and pulled at his ankles with the urgency of the tide.

He couldn’t stop them.

Not in his own lifetime.

Not that he hadn’t tried to douse the fire with selfish lament and prayer, but even then, he couldn’t stop them clinging to their hatred, and, their despair.

“Too young,” he said to the small fish lying lifeless in his wet hand. “You’re too young, and I’m too old, dead, and alone to strip any meat from a well-worn bone.”

© 2011 Cheryl Anne Gardner

Cheryl Anne Gardner prefers writing stories to writing bios because she always seems to forget what point of view she is in. When she isn’t writing, she likes to chase marbles on a glass floor, eat lint, play with sharp objects, and make taxidermy dioramas with dead flies. Her flash fiction has been published at Dustbin, Dark Chaos, Carnage Conservatory, Pure Slush, Negative Suck, Danse Macabre, and at The Molotov Cocktail among others. You can find more of her work at Twisted Knickers Publications. She is also the administrative muscle behind this site. If you want to leave her a message, you will have to leave it with the nurse at the front desk. Visiting hours are over.

Clocks by Cheryl Anne Gardner

October 27, 2011 Comments Off on Clocks by Cheryl Anne Gardner

You used to have to wait, wanting like a hunter, alive with wilderness and morning dew in your veins. You hated it — the waiting — but now, the card cast at your feet betrays the anticipation you once felt. The hanged man reflects back into you, a smile of idle contentment upon his face. The iridescent rainbow of your childish dreams is nowhere to be seen.

A church burns in a damp meadow.

And you have no tobacco left to smoke after the great feast.

“What is the answer?” you ask the shadows now collecting at your feet, but they too are tired of waiting — for you — and their answers are nothing but questions.

There is nothing at the end of it all, they reply, their boney fingers pointing away into the darkness just beyond your breath. Nothing, again they whisper, as their writhing vestments pull and tug at your tattered old flesh. Nothing but an alley awaiting you in the cold loneliness of the night, where time aims to mock you, drip, drip, dripping at an infernal pace from the cement walls of this life, your imaginary prison.

© 2011 Cheryl Anne Gardner

Cheryl Anne Gardner prefers writing stories to writing bios because she always seems to forget what point of view she is in. When she isn’t writing, she likes to chase marbles on a glass floor, eat lint, play with sharp objects, and make taxidermy dioramas with dead flies. Her flash fiction has been published at Dustbin, Dark Chaos, Carnage Conservatory, Pure Slush, Negative Suck, Danse Macabre, and at The Molotov Cocktail among others. You can find more of her work at Twisted Knickers Publications. She is also the administrative muscle behind this site. If you want to leave her a message, you will have to leave it with the nurse at the front desk. Visiting hours are over.

Crocodile By Cheryl Anne Gardner

June 27, 2011 Comments Off on Crocodile By Cheryl Anne Gardner

It was you, escaped from the hospital, wounded, leash still around your neck … You were but a girl, muslin lightly rubbing against your knees, and you dreamt of Dostoyevsky while walking barefoot in the wilderness that sultry summer night. I knew you then, unlike I know you now.

© 2011 Cheryl Anne Gardner

Cheryl Anne Gardner prefers writing stories to writing bios because she always seems to forget what point of view she is in. When she isn’t writing, she likes to chase marbles on a glass floor, eat lint, play with sharp objects, and make taxidermy dioramas with dead flies. Her flash fiction has been published at Dustbin, Dark Chaos, Carnage Conservatory, Pure Slush, Negative Suck, Danse Macabre, and at The Molotov Cocktail among others. You can find more of her work at Twisted Knickers Publications. She is also the administrative muscle behind this site. If you want to leave her a message, you will have to leave it with the nurse at the front desk. Visiting hours are over.

Gypsy Carnival By Cheryl Anne Gardner

June 13, 2011 Comments Off on Gypsy Carnival By Cheryl Anne Gardner

Once upon a time, she begged for bits of stale bread and cheese on the street corner, but now she begs me not to make her wear those worn wooden shoes. She loses her balance, she says; her toes cannot grip the smooth painted surface with the splintered wood standing between her feet and the ball. I told her she had too much advantage in bare feet, that the scavengers hunting for scraps of meat didn’t like feeling cheated or manipulated. She understood this. Their cheering and jeering were enough insult to take. I felt for her then, but we all have a living to make. “Maybe you could paint some daisies on them,” I suggested to her, just before I spun the roulette wheel.

Even now, my age having overtaken me, I can still hear those little wooden shoes clonking away in time to the strumming of the balalaikas.

© 2011 Cheryl Anne Gardner

Cheryl Anne Gardner prefers writing stories to writing bios because she always seems to forget what point of view she is in. When she isn’t writing, she likes to chase marbles on a glass floor, eat lint, play with sharp objects, and make taxidermy dioramas with dead flies. Her flash fiction has been published at Dustbin, Dark Chaos, Carnage Conservatory, Pure Slush, Negative Suck, Danse Macabre, and at The Molotov Cocktail among others. You can find more of her work at Twisted Knickers Publications. She is also the administrative muscle behind this site. If you want to leave her a message, you will have to leave it with the nurse at the front desk. Visiting hours are over.

Garlic and Salt by Cheryl Anne Gardner

May 16, 2011 Comments Off on Garlic and Salt by Cheryl Anne Gardner

Once, I sat, in a dirty self-conscious silence, wrapping the threads of my mind round a rusty blade while brooding over the crickets, humming in the dark empty field surrounding my tent. I like them roasted over an open fire, with a little garlic and salt.

© 2011 Cheryl Anne Gardner

Cheryl Anne Gardner prefers writing stories to writing bios because she always seems to forget what point of view she is in. When she isn’t writing, she likes to chase marbles on a glass floor, eat lint, play with sharp objects, and make taxidermy dioramas with dead flies. Her flash fiction has been published at Dustbin, Dark Chaos, Carnage Conservatory, Pure Slush, Negative Suck, Danse Macabre, and at The Molotov Cocktail among others. You can find more of her work at Twisted Knickers Publications. She is also the administrative muscle behind this site. If you want to leave her a message, you will have to leave it with the nurse at the front desk. Visiting hours are over.

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