Sathington v. Willoughby By Saul Lemerond

March 24, 2014 Comments Off on Sathington v. Willoughby By Saul Lemerond

Part of me wishes Willoughby wasn’t so handsome and filled with azure, because I like this shade of blue. It’s fetching, almost cerulean, really. It’s hard to assault a man so striking, as color flies from him in beautiful and iridescent gouts that sparkle and glow under hot lights and vibrate in reaction to the screams of the crowd. There’s a sense of wrongness in walloping such a handsome blue out of such a handsome man. Something about the feeling of it is off, but then again, there is the money I’ve been promised.

The crowd loves me because they love seeing the beauty in my violence. They think Willoughby deserves this viciousness because of his insults, and not because of the hefty payment I’ve been promised.

It’s the other way around, really. Certainly, I’d say he shouldn’t have said the things he said because they were spiteful and unwarranted, but that’s got nothing to do with his current pummeling. It’s about my purse. My money. Words are words and azure is azure but money is money, and this purse is mine.

What Willoughby said was daft, and there’s a part of me that would like him to admit that, but I suppose his loss of blue is admission enough.

He said I was a ‘lazy brute,’ and it wasn’t just that he said it, it was that he said it like it was true, and not like it was just something he thought would make me cross. No, he said “Sathington is a lazy brute” in front of a large crowd like he was sure of its veracity.

I don’t understand how anyone could say that while believing it. If he’d denounced me for my avarice, there would have been some distinction there, but his current accusation is baseless and petty. It’s fine, though, Willoughby can inspect my eyes for brutishness as I’m beating the blue from him in glowing spouts, like the emancipated water from some broken and alien dam.

My elbow meets Willoughby’s temple and there’s a sharp crack and there’s a great deal more blue that’s a shade lighter than cerulean and more glow and more cheers from the crowd, and it doesn’t matter because what matters, of course, is my purse.

And it turns out that Willoughby, for me, is hardly as challenging as a morning’s exercise. It’s fascinating; I’ll beat this man until the entire arena’s drowning in the beauty of it, and folks will all leave satisfied thinking they know the score. But doesn’t money always tell the truer tale? Isn’t it honest in ways beauty can’t be.

I keep punching and wonder if anybody watching can tell us apart anymore because Willoughby’s blue has saturated us both. I blink it out of my eyes and wonder how much he’s got left. I move my head in close to his, so he can be sure what color this lazy brute’s eyes are.

© 2013 Saul Lemerond

Saul Lemerond currently teaches creative writing at the Saginaw Chippewa Tribal College. His work has appeared in Dunesteef, Temenos, Waterhouse Review, and elsewhere. His book Kayfabe and Other Stories is available through the One Wet Shoe Press. He lives in Michigan where he writes ham-fisted satires while giggling to himself. His hands get cold in the winter.

Frozen By C.J. Harrington

March 20, 2014 Comments Off on Frozen By C.J. Harrington

The nurses have upswept hairdos and big, sparkly rings, probably from doctor husbands. Your father was a doctor, but he’s dead. Your brother is a doctor, but far too busy and in Nevada anyway.

Tell them about how the gauze that surgeon left inside after the knee replacement spawned infection.

Tell them that’s the reason you can’t lose weight. That’s the reason parts of you keep breaking.

You don’t know. You just woke up this way, lower half-frozen.  Can you wiggle your toes? No. Feel this? They prick your foot with a sharp-tipped instrument. Yes. That you feel.

Canned laughter spills through the curtain. They drugged your roommate but haven’t shut off the TV. It’s better than her moaning.

Your dad would pay for a private room, but your dead husband left you with horrid insurance. Too many days co-pay and you could go under.


Maybe they drugged you too because you’re envisioning ice, treacherous to crutches as you’re climbing slick steps to that orthopedist. A bulky glove catches you under the elbow.

Got you now, honey.


During the emergency blur of forms, maybe you signed one saying they could talk to your daughter. She and that social worker whisper when you wake. A mom to two curly-haired babies, your daughter lives two states over.

Her anxious fingers twist as she talks with you about options.

Rehabilitation is a fancy word for assisted living. Yes it is. They forget your now-dead husband went there after the fall that broke his collarbone. No you won’t.


More tests. No answers. The best they can say is mild stroke, maybe.


The nighttime anxiety drugs knock you unconscious, so the glove holds you as you wobble on slim blades. Your adept-at-everything brother whizzes backwards past both of you.

Steady, honey, steady.


She can’t sign papers. They can’t force you to sign papers. You have a twice-a-week visiting nurse already and can up it to four. The church has a program. You’ll get through.


Discharges want to be definitive, but there is nothing to say when they have no idea. Tweaked prescriptions, neuro-specialist, occupational therapy.

Your daughter stays a few days. She makes calls and lists. The minister stops by for a cheerful evening and speaks with her quietly in the portico.  Their hushed voices articulate concerns.


Ready, honey, ready?

The glove flings a svelte never-before-like you into a spin to dizzy oblivion. Exit with a graceful plié. Watching from the stands, curly-haired, lap-cradled babies and their mother, your daughter, applaud your elegance.


She brushes your hair back when she tells you she’s leaving. She says she’ll come back soon. She will and won’t. You know better.


Pull his old afghan up around your chin and watch the sunset behind the hills one last time. You know how it goes: breath-seizing head-to-toe sizzle, quick flush of paralyzing ice, dizzying spinning.

Take the anxiety medication.

A gloved hand touches your shoulder.

Ready, daddy, ready.

© 2013 C.J. Harrington

C.J. Harrington lives and writes in the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia. She earned an English degree, with honors, from the College of William and Mary and completed advanced writing workshops at Georgetown University and The Writer’s Center. She has work published or forthcoming in Gone Lawn and The Voices Project.

Birthday Boy By Russell Kinch

March 17, 2014 Comments Off on Birthday Boy By Russell Kinch

I could tell they weren’t coming. I didn’t say anything though.

He was holding a toy truck and spinning the wheels back and forth while he stared out the window.

I thought maybe I should distract him, but I knew he’d cry if I took him away from the window.

I asked Melissa, his carer, what I should do. She said “You never know. Just be patient.” She had this hopeful look on her face.

I went and sat on the stairs and watched him staring out the window. I wanted to go read, find something to do, but I knew I couldn’t concentrate.

I asked him if he’d like to hear a story, but he just kept staring at the window, ignoring my hand on his arm.

The wheels on his truck spun back and forth, rolling on his hand while he stared out the window.

I knew they weren’t coming when it got dark. I think Melissa knew too. She didn’t say anything, but when I looked over, her smile was gone.

He kept the wheels on his truck spinning now, hitting them with his hand, keeping them spinning while he looked out the window, at his own reflection.

© 2013 Russel Kinch

Russell Kinch is an amateur writer, working to improve his craft. He was born in New Zealand, but lives in Melbourne, Australia. He has a Bachelors degree in Anthropology and History, but feels writing is what he’s really passionate about. He’s intrigued by the practice of telling a story with so few words.

His Purkinje System By Gerry Doyle

March 13, 2014 Comments Off on His Purkinje System By Gerry Doyle

When I was about seven years old I tried to re-animate a pig’s heart my dad had bought for lunch using the transformer from my train set, electrical wire and two crocodile clips. I cut two pieces of wire, which I connected to the transformer’s positive and negative terminals, attached crocodile clips to the ends of the wires, and switched the transformer on. I placed the heart on my dad’s workbench, attached the clips to its arteries and turned the power dial on the transformer to ten: nothing.

Dad came home later smelling of Bruichladdich. When he saw the heart on the workbench he looked at me strangely. He removed the wires, picked it up and took it downstairs to the kitchen.

© 2013 Gerry Doyle

Gerry Doyle writes short stories and flash fiction. He lives in Melbourne Australia, but is originally from Scotland. He graduated from Edinburgh University and works in Criminal Justice as a Social Worker.

A Love Story By John Wheaton

March 10, 2014 Comments Off on A Love Story By John Wheaton

Liz and Jon visited an art museum uptown.

“I’m in love,” Liz said.

“I know, I know,” Jon said.  He fingered the lapels of his dinner jacket.

In the foyer, the paintings trickled from their canvasses.  Picasso’s women wept cerulean tears.  Dali’s clock slipped away into oblivion.

“Is this supposed to happen?”  Jon asked.

“I’m doing it,” Liz whispered.  “It’s me, it’s me, it’s me.”

© 2013 John Wheaton

John Wheaton is an attorney and writer in Seattle, Washington. His work has appeared in Bricolage, Glossolalia, the SN Review, and the Bookends Review. John loves surrealist fiction (think Donald Barthelme!) and can often be found perched on a seat in the library or hunched over a chess board at a Seattle coffee shop. You can find him at

Attie and the Owl By Susannah Jordan

March 6, 2014 Comments Off on Attie and the Owl By Susannah Jordan


Attie guided the car past horses and tobacco fields. An old house, its former contents piled on the porch, watched traffic through blank windows. A statue faced the door. There was no driveway. A ditch out front discouraged parking.


Attie turned to see her father at the table, locking eyes with identical gray ones. “Your mother liked owls,” he said, sliding a faded picture across the Formica. An inked owl hovered between pale shoulders.


An old house watched an intruder cross the road. The woman paused to rest, setting a winged statue down as headlights flickered closer. The driver missed the owl, but collided with the woman. The impact launched her into silent flight.

© 2013 Susannah Jordan

Susannah Jordan lives in N.C., where she is an MFA candidate in Creative Nonfiction at Queens University of Charlotte. In her free time, she takes the occasional stab at writing fiction. She serves as an editorial assistant for the graduate program’s Qu literary journal, which will release its first issue in April 2014.

We Danced By Taylor Eaton

March 3, 2014 § 1 Comment

We danced around you. Maybe that was wrong, but we danced anyway because the stars were out. And though we’d walked beneath those stars hundreds of times before, we were in their presence for the first. That was your doing.

Did you ever look up to those celestial pinpricks and think: “How have I never noticed how small I am?”

It happened to the rest of us, I know that much. We threw our heads back, forcing our necks into straining so that we could take in the fear that emanated from above.

It was something magnetic.

God. Or an unraveling of gravity. A pull of the heavens — frustrated that we tiny beings were growing too large in our own heads.

In looking up, we found that we had shrunk ourselves down. And out came the new cognition, coaxed from the murky subtexts of our unthinking minds. It came bleeding out of our souls — or whatever it is that makes us human — until we understood.

And you looked too. You looked, and the stars shimmered in your eyes, forever finding their home there as your stiff eyelids went unblinking, unwilling to wipe the light from your irises. You looked and we began to celebrate our miniscule existence and — more importantly — this evidence of your mortality.

There are no explanations for how it happened. Any of it. No logic for us. No comprehension of what caused you to give over to the end. But if the stars meant to teach us anything, it was to rejoice instead of mourn.

That is why we spread you out under the night sky and danced. We danced the last pieces of you into our memories and then we danced you out of this place.

It is day now and the crows have come, the buzzards and the scavengers, all to force your dues from whatever it is of you that remains. And by now, they’ve taken the stars from your pupils, pecked the eternal light from your body.

But I will not remember you that way. You will forever, in my mind, be present beneath the darkened dome of night, white fire lighting up your gaze. Always peering, with mute satisfaction, at the canopy of ancient light above.

So please believe me when I say that you have never looked more beautiful.

© 2013 Taylor Eaton

Taylor Eaton is a writer and linguist who is constantly fascinated by language. Playing with words and syntax makes her far happier than it should. Her flash fiction can be found on her site at and in the forthcoming issue of Em Dash Literary Magazine. When she should be working, Taylor can instead be found tweeting about writing, wine and Southern California at

The Fishwife’s Last Voyage By Carly Berg

February 27, 2014 Comments Off on The Fishwife’s Last Voyage By Carly Berg

Maria slipped through soft sand and easy waves toward the row of tiki torches. Or she was dying, and blessed with this nighttime mirage to ease her passage. A circle surrounded the moon. From many years as a fisherman’s wife, she knew that halo went with tonight’s smooth sea.

Wading toward the light brought her ashore. The flames lined the front of a restaurant with tourist-pink walls and a thatched roof.

The late night rush was in full swing. Waitresses bustled by with seafood platters and fruity rum drinks. A band played old Beach Boys songs. Maria’s terror calmed. She snatched a white beach cover-up and sandals from the souvenir stand on her way to the restroom.

Dry in the new terry cloth dress, her focus turned to the delicious food aroma. A tall skeletal man with a pirate eye-patch waited at the reception stand. He said, “Dining alone, my little thief?”

Maria spluttered a half-answer before realizing the dreadful man was laughing at her. He said, “Don’t worry, dear. Come with me.”

He led her through the dining room to a small room behind the kitchen. A candlelit table for two awaited. “Sit here,” he said. “Don’t be afraid. My name is Thano, and I’m your host.”

She was ravenous, trying to think exhausted her.

Thano brought two plates of food and a dozen black roses.

She waved away the roses but tore into the fish without stopping for lemon or tartar sauce. “My, this is good. What is it, salmon?”


“Funny. How about some more of that wine?”

Thano re-filled her glass with red wine. “Drink this, for it is your blood.”

Maria ignored her weird suitor. She wolfed down the rest of her fish, baked potato, ginger slaw, and hush puppies. The band from the dining room played a song about the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.

“You ate like it was your last supper. Did you have enough?”

“Yes, thank you.” Now she felt terribly tired, too tired to argue when Thano arose and held out his hand.

“Come,” he said.

He led her through another door to a lit deli case surrounded by candles and flowers. A young woman lay inside, long hair flowing down her naked torso. From the waist down, she was a giant fish with a few slices missing. Thano mumbled, “Eat this, for it is your flesh.”

Maria swayed. Thano caught her. “Don’t worry,” he said. “All is as it should be.”

He opened a door. Moonlight spilled in. “Don’t be afraid.” He put his bony arm around her. “Go now. To the true light this time.”

She was so very, very tired. The moon had a halo, the trip would be smooth. The light came closer, brighter, and then it went out.

© 2013 Carly Berg

Carly Berg is a dark cloud hovering above sunny Houston. Her stories appear in several dozen journals and anthologies, including PANK, Word Riot, Bartleby Snopes, and JMWW. She can be found here:

The Captain of the Circular Firing Squad By Todd Mercer

February 24, 2014 Comments Off on The Captain of the Circular Firing Squad By Todd Mercer

Chambers was appointed Captain of the Circular Firing Squad. It seemed a terrific honor. There was much feasting in the capitol, a ticker-tape parade down the main street of Potempkin. The Captain was selected from a different branch of the service — the powers that be don’t promote from within. No one, so far, has the time to advance after joining the cadre.

The Shovel-work Squad stays busy around the base, digging holes and (when needed) filling holes in. Anything about trenches, see those guys. The Captain watches them scurrying in and out of the barracks. Weeks pass without a duty notice for his own squad.

“Hang in there, Chambers,” the Colonel tells him. “Sooner or later we’ll work up a situation for your team. This is an organization, you know, so count on it.”

“Yes sir, sir,” Chambers says, slicing the air with his machete of a salute. “…sir.”

Chambers wants his commitment to shine through. At the base’s library he hunts for information on the great leaders of circular firing squads in history. No luck. Nothing to emulate in the official record.

Everyone acts as if he is going away, even though his assignment is not expected to take him overseas.  Unnerving.  When he steps off base in the evenings, the Captain of the Circular Firing Squad can’t pay for a drink. Each time the cost is absorbed by the house, glad to have him in the place, or by random grateful civilians, saluting his service to the nation.

Last night he closed down the watering hole. The bartender said, “We put up a pretty good front here in Potempkin, but buddy, these folks are going to miss you, from the Mayor to the drunk tank regulars.”

Every afternoon a private chef appears from nowhere and asks Chambers to name exotic foods he’d like. At 5 p.m. the chef delivers what was requested, perfectly prepared and in large portions. After a couple of days on the base, he realized the other officers eat only the traditional chow hall slop.

Someone’s been leaving books on his cot, and he takes the titles for a message.

The rank and file enlisted personnel that comprise the Circular Firing Squad do little during duty hours but lounge about the squad room and get short, move into each other’s personal space, and tire increasingly of each other’s boring stories, neurotic eccentricities. “This bunch needs a project soon, Chambers tells the Colonel in the wake of another pushing and shoving dust-up.

“Something’s in the pipeline, hold tight, Captain. Have your people clean their weapons.”

After twilight florists pull up in a caravan of Dodge Caravans. They stack the barracks’ front steps and the yard beyond with tasteful bouquets. Someone’s lined the walkway with candles.

The Captain sees the Colonel in the doorway, nodding with full gravitas.

“Here we go!” he calls out, snapping the squad to attention. “Time to shine at what we do!”

The people of Potempkin have a parade slated for next week.

© 2013 Todd Mercer

Todd Mercer won the Woodstock Writers Festival’s Flash Fiction contest and took 2nd and 3rd place of the Kent County Dyer-Ives Prizes in 2013. He judged the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards and Independent Publisher’s Poetry Book of the Year contest multiple years. His chapbook Box of Echoes won the Michigan Writers Cooperative Press contest. Mercer’s poetry appears in Thema, Blue Collar Review and Black Spring Review.

My Mother is a Wolf By Meg Sefton

February 20, 2014 Comments Off on My Mother is a Wolf By Meg Sefton

My mother is a wolf. She is with me at the campsite. There is a sign that specifically says do not keep food accessible to wild animals. She sits at the table and has tea with me. She is sitting on her haunches.

My mother is crying. She says there are things she never taught me: how to sew from a pattern, how to manage my accounts, how to plan for a week’s worth of shopping. Her paw is on my hand. It is warm from scrambling over the sun-kissed rock, from a blood that has become different from the way my blood runs, which is almost reptilian by comparison.

I have no feeling any more, mother, I say, no regrets. I am serving the cinnamon tea. I am serving it in delicate white china.

In the sun, my mother is beautiful. In the sun, the blue of her eyes like the sky penetrate my defenses.

I did not raise you this way, to take the hardships of your life this way, she says. I never told you it would always be the same. There are things you must do now to become who you must become.

The smoke of the fire curls up into the air. I wonder if my mother will return that evening with the other wolves, to threaten me for my meager fare — a bird shot in midflight, a rabbit caught in a snare. I wonder if she will return for me.

She had come to see me during the day at other times, and not for tea, and not for any reason. I have felt the presence of the others hovering about the trees. So far, it has not resulted in anything, only a mild abrasion on the cheek when we kissed, an unintentional scraping, drawing a faint line of blood.

I am disappointing her, I feel, and yet I cannot move on. My old life is behind me, in ruins. I mourn it as for an ancient city, burning. My beginning has no map. My mother is not the woman in the yellow dress cooking dinner for my father and my brother and sister. All histories have melted away and these old regrets live on top of the mountain. And yet, except for a few tears, my mother runs in packs at night. I know she protects me, for in the morning, there is a drop of blood in the corner of her mouth or in the web of her paws that she does not explain but wipes away on a napkin.

And yet I continue to straighten the napkins and check the egg timer for steeping.

© 2013 Meg Sefton

Meg Sefton’s work has appeared in Best New Writing, The Dos Passos Review, Danse Macabre, Dark Sky Magazine, Emprise Review, Atticus Review, and other fine journals. She received her MFA from Seattle Pacific University and lives in Central Florida with her son and their Coton de Toulear “Annie.” Her blog “Within a Forest Dark” can be found here: She has also written and blogged under the Scandinavian pseudonyms Quenby Larsen and Gry Corvin.

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