April 30, 2015 Comments Off on Snake Charming By Nyoka Eden
I think I know when it changed — my mom’s favorite animal. She used to spend the day at the library printing pictures of tigers. The tigers sat blinking in a photo album. When I was young, she was young too. We had this in common. Her favorite-favorite was the Sumatran tiger, which was framed and hung oddly low so that its feet seemed to rest on the edge of her bed.
The first time she went into the forest, I asked her what she was doing out there. She said she was looking for a pet. That’s when I knew. Her favorite animal was no longer a tiger, it was a snake. When I was blonde, she was blonde too. We had this in common. The forest replaced the tiger album. When this happened, I noticed more things we had in common. Like, we both slept on our stomachs and liked music that made us cry.
She told me that snakes weren’t like other animals. “You can’t just touch them, they have to be respected.” Her room always smelled spicy and the answering machine sat blinking like a trap for men’s voices. She said tigers were killed for being beautiful. Eventually one of the voices escaped and she got married. Mike bought my mom a snake.
For the first time, she uncoiled for a man. I thought about my favorite animal. It was still a tiger. Everything struck so fast back then.
© 2014 Nyoka Eden
Nyoka Eden still likes tigers but now considers herself a moth enthusiast. She and her boyfriend, Quori, are traveling the United States. Keep tabs on them @bbybardot.
April 27, 2015 Comments Off on Twittercide By P.J.Sambeaux
Rodney: She tweeted he was too immature for a relationship, and he tweeted: bitch cheated. So she tweeted: not true, and he tweeted: #lyingskankswhoneedalife. So she tweeted: for the record, he’s the one who cheated, and he tweeted: not what my buddy says #brosbeforehos. So she tweeted: my mother always says you can never go wrong staying classy and rising above, and he tweeted: somebody should shut that bitch-ass-ho up.
Interviewer: So you did?
Rodney: I did.
Interviewer: How did you know that’s what he actually wanted?
Rodney: It’s not up to me to question His word.
Interviewer: You think of him as a sort of god?
Rodney: He is a God, yes.
Interviewer: Are you his only disciple?
Rodney: He has six million followers on Twitter.
Interviewer: And when did you first find god?
Rodney: He reached out to me when I lost my job. He didn’t judge me. He never failed me. He never walked out on me. He never left my side.
Interviewer: You watched his reality show?
Rodney: I recognized the wisdom in his teachings.
Interviewer: Have you ever actually met your god?
Rodney: No. Have you ever met yours?
© 2014 P.J. Sambeaux
P.J. Sambeaux’s spent a feral childhood running in the foothills of the Appalachians. Her work has been published most recently in Space Squid, Flash Fiction Magazine, The Broken City, and Alliterati. Her first novel, The Youniverse, tells the tale of a planned community gone awry (and Orwellian), and is available on Amazon.com. She currently lives in Pittsburgh.
April 23, 2015 Comments Off on First Impressions By Peter McMillan
Cecil was wheeled into the rec room where all the residents were passing the time ‘til the evening meal.
His room was too small. Much smaller than what he was used to. At least it had cable. He just needed a TV. The nurse said one might be coming available.
This was the first time he’d seen any of his new neighbours. It was a lot to take in. Some were dressed to the nines. Others were singing showtunes while a woman wearing a cancer turban played the piano.
“Who’s the old bird facing the corner?” he asked.
“One of our long-termers, Miss Annie. She prefers it that way, sometimes,” answered the nurse.
“Kinda ruins the atmosphere, doesn’t it?”
“Well, Mr. Snow, this isn’t rehab.”
“Don’t I know it. My boy made that pretty clear. ‘Here Dad, your new home,’ he said. ‘Nice,’ his new girlfriend said.”
“She doesn’t have anybody — just us.”
“Moved away soon after she came.”
“What did she –?”
“Real estate. Thirty years. Pretty successful I heard.”
“Lots of irony here, Mr. Snow. Would you like to take a tour of the gardens?”
“No thanks, saw it through the window in my room.”
“Alright then. I’ll leave you to mingle. By the way, those boxes — the boxes your son mentioned — need to be unpacked when they arrive. Boxes left in residents’ rooms will be removed after two days. Policy. Health and safety, you understand.”
© 2014 Peter McMillan
Peter McMillan is a freelance writer and ESL instructor who lives on the northwest shore of Lake Ontario with his wife and two flat-coated retrievers. He has published three anthologies of his reprinted stories: Flash! Fiction, Flash! Fiction 2, and Flash! Fiction 3.
April 20, 2015 Comments Off on In Another Universe By Cathy Ulrich
In another universe, there you are. Perfectly-formed, beautiful you.
I would go to that place if I could, tiptoeing through the membrane between the universes or tearing it jagged if that’s what was necessary.
Your mother would be slumbering peacefully in her bed. She’d have bangs and never wear too much makeup. Such small differences would mean you were born.
If she was awakened by my presence, she would believe it was only a dream and roll onto her side, thinking reflection, twin, doppelganger.
It would be just you and me then. You under a soft blanket in the bassinet that your grandmother had chosen for you. I would lift you out of your bassinet, tenderly, and cradle you in my arms so nicely that you would never know it wasn’t your own mother holding you, but a stranger.
In that universe where you have been born, I would kiss your forehead, leaving, perhaps, a trace of lipstick for your mother to wonder over, before placing you back in your bassinet and returning to my own universe.
Before laying you down, though, I would whisper one thing to you that you could never answer, not in your universe or mine: Will you forgive me?
© 2014 Cathy Ulrich
Cathy Ulrich’s poetry has been published in Wind Magazine and the Crab Creek Review, and her flash fiction has been published in Every Day Fiction.
April 16, 2015 Comments Off on The Manic Pixie Slaughter House By Derek Spencer
I took a snapchat picture of myself with my tits out but then I used the coloring tool to draw a shirt on myself. I sent it to seven men and received seven responses of disappointment. I would soon have seven suitors planning seven marriages with seven hawk-eyed mothers, seventeen jealous, incestuous sisters, and seven jealous, pervert fathers.
I live in a castle. I am seventeen. I wear golden slippers and white dresses and dirty thongs. I think thoughts that have never been thought before about people who only I know. My personal servant is my age, and I treat her like shit. She is a piece of shit. She cleans up my shit. I make her eat shit.
I eat fast food prepared by the seven slaves of capitalism. My castle is a commune of cacophonous convicts, eclectic and silent. I take pictures of them. I take pictures with them. They are mine. They are citizens of the United States of America. They have iPhones. They are my equals. They are mine.
My parents protect me from sex and drugs and violence. My parents fuck and use and fight. I fuck and use and fight. I sneak out my window on a rope made of my servant’s pubic hair to meet my seven suitors. They let me in their cars and hand me brown paper bags with magic inside. When I am liquored up, they get to have their way. This is also my way. Sex is always consensual. They treat me like shit. I am a piece of shit. I clean up shit. I eat shit.
In the morning I will call my friends to tell them that I am only kidding, that I did it for the laughs, that I am an independent woman who will never marry and never grow old and never beg, bow, or blink.
I am a liar.
I made all that up. I am a seventeen-year-old boy in an apartment in Cleveland. I am virginal in the holiest way and will only lose myself to my imagination. I can create the best characters, the best girls, the best sex. Women submit to women and women submit to men and everyone submits to me. One day I will be a rich eunuch, sitting atop a mountain of gold, paying actors to be me and to fuck for me. This will be my life and I cannot be stopped.
© 2014 Derek Spencer
Derek Spencer is a Chicago-based writer, musician, and performer. He holds a B.A. in philosophy from the University of Chicago.
April 13, 2015 Comments Off on The Nose By JD DeHart
They say the nose knows, but that is just a not-too-clever play on words in my case. The last memory I have as a full person is the feeling of the steering wheel slipping out of my hands, that moment when touch ceased and then the spinning sound of metal and magic.
I no longer pay attention to sounds.
I was either a banker or was looking for work, I am no longer sure. I remember stuffing money into envelopes. Perhaps I was a very organized criminal.
All I know is that, upon waking, the smells were too intense to manage. I could smell the kindly nurse and her floral perfume, the bathroom down the hall that needed to be cleaned (badly), and the gelatin being stirred in the cafeteria.
I am slowly learning to manage my senses.
When the raspy voice in the bed next to me asked his doctor how long he had, I sniffed out his very life and told him, with accuracy, “About two more hours.” Everyone smelled stunned when it turned out to be true.
The day I finally get out of here, it is not going to be easy. I am no longer a set of eyes or hands, just a nose. Does any love noses? How does a nose become a productive member of society? I may not even be able to walk around.
Perhaps I can become a consultant in a cosmetics store (if the odors are not too overwhelming), or a fortune-teller, sniffing out the longevity of my clientele. I would make a great chef, as I now have refined tastes by virtue of my olfactory system.
Perhaps I will fold up and go away with the rest of what used to be this body, an appendage without a home and, worse yet, with no one to wipe me when I get runny.
© 2014 JD DeHart
JD DeHart is a writer and a teacher. His work has appeared in The Journal of Microliterature and Bewildering Stories, and is soon to appear in Flash Fiction Magazine.
April 9, 2015 Comments Off on Lines on a Fishing Pier By Kasra Omid-Zohoor
“I had to get out of there, man.”
“She had issues.”
“Yeah, didn’t she like run away?”
“That’s what she told me.”
I said nothing as I stared out at the colored houses lined up along the beach like Christmas gifts.
“I’ll tell you this though, the crazier they are, the more stuff they’ll do, if you know what I mean.”
I let out a loud laugh, and Tower stretched out his hands on the pier rail. His fingers felt something so he looked down to see a rusty hook caught in the wood. “Looks like someone can’t cast.”
“Maybe they’re gonna come back for it later.”
“I doubt it.”
“Hey what do you think that guy’s catching?”
We looked inside the old fisherman’s bucket to see a fist-sized crab jostle up the wall then slide back down. The fisherman reached his wrinkled hand into his Styrofoam cooler, grabbed a piece of raw chicken, and tossed it onto the wood. From his pocket, he pulled out a knife and made slices into the meat without splitting the bones. Then he opened the wire cage, tied down the chicken, and locked it up. For a moment he paused, and then he lifted the trap and threw it down into the water.
Tower whispered to me, “All that work for one little crab?”
I smiled as we kept walking.
“So anyway, she said she didn’t want to have another one.”
“She had one before?”
“Yeah like in high school, but she said that it made her really sad.”
Suddenly we heard a girl scream ahead of us, and we could make out two brown wings flapping frantically. A pelican jerked up from the pier but seemed to hit an invisible ceiling and collapse back down. As we got closer, we could see the hook in the bird’s pouch and the line running to a pole in the little girl’s trembling hands. “What do I do?” she asked. “My Daddy’s in the bathroom!”
I turned to Tower, but he was looking back at me. Below, the planks started shaking, and we realized that it was the old fisherman running towards us. He lunged for the pelican, hugged it to his chest, and guided his hand to the hook. With one quick movement, he tore the hook out and opened his arms. The pelican cried out as it flew to the sea.
The girl’s father came running down the pier then lifted her up in his arms. She wiped her eyes on his sleeve as he looked over her shoulder and shouted thank you to the old fisherman who was already walking back to his catch. It seemed like a long time before Tower pushed his phone into my hand. “Does it look like me?”
I looked down at the picture and said, “No, I don’t think so.” The hair was different, but the eyes were the same.
© 2014 Kasra Omid-Zohoor
Kasra Omid-Zohoor is a writer living in San Francisco, California. In his younger years, he studied modern American literature at Stanford University. His work has been published in Thick Jam.
April 7, 2015 Comments Off on They Bought Raymond Carver’s Kitchen Table at a Garage Sale By Todd Mercer
Two fairly dissatisfied, vaguely middle class people sit at it for most of the evening. They bat words back and forth.
An inauspicious weeknight of pretty much nothing.
Practically identical to other weeknight evenings.
They consider having another couple over to play bridge or canasta. It doesn’t happen. They consider splitting up, but that’s a lot of legal rigmarole.
Out in the wider world, there must be people with as much nothing in their evenings. Maybe if they find those people, they won’t feel so disconnected. That’s if they decide to get up and leave the house.
It has four sturdy legs and a tile top. They eat their generally-okay but no-great-shakes dinners on it. Certain distinguished table aficionados would gush about its quotidian beauty, its streamlined utility.
It was cheap. The couple didn’t want to eat from collapsible tray tables in front of the TV anymore. They wondered if their shows had been causing her digestion problems or his occasional spontaneous crying.
He’d said, “We should buy this table.”
She’d said, “It’s perfect.”
They bat enough words around that they can feel the hours pass. Eventually. Right now. It’s still the same time it was the last time he asked her what time it was.
They’re desperate for something interesting to happen.
Just about fucking anything.
It won’t, but the table was too good a deal to pass up.
© 2014 Todd Mercer
Todd Mercer won the first Woodstock Writers Festival’s Flash Fiction contest. His chapbook, Box of Echoes, won the Michigan Writers Cooperative Press contest, and his digital chapbook, Life-wish Maintenance, is forthcoming from RHP Books. Mercer’s poetry and fiction appear in Apocrypha & Abstractions, Blue Collar Review, The Camel Saloon, Camroc Press Review, Cease, Cows, among many others. Mercer is based in Grand Rapids and Antrim County, Michigan.
April 2, 2015 Comments Off on Rope By Rob Essley
A rope as big around as my wrist lies there on the sand like a dead snake. One end turns down beneath the surface, and no matter how hard I pull, the beach won’t open its mouth and let me have it. I start to dig, first with my fingers then futilely with my blue plastic castle-making shovel. Forever I hack away, flinging sand all over, grunting, cussing. I wonder at the frayed end of the rope, bits of sand in its pale fibers like food in my grandfather’s beard. I must dig faster. Dig!
The sand on top slips and flows and burns my hands, but after a foot down, becomes cool and hard-packed and I have to scrape out the sand from around the rope with my fingers, then scoop it up with the shovel. I remove a pitiful amount at a time, seeming to make almost no progress toward the inevitable, glorious thing that the rope has to be tied to. Perhaps it’s tied to a long-sunken pirate schooner, replete with skeletons in tattered clothing, and doubloons. I’ll be a hero. Perhaps it’s tied to a barnacle-encrusted anchor the size of a man, worth its weight in artifact-quality iron. They’ll probably put my gap-toothed grinning face on all the newspapers.
Dad sits beneath the umbrella, oblivious to my agonizing efforts, ogling the bikinis frolicking a peeps-worthy distance to the south while Mom reads her book from a towel in the sun. They have no idea the stakes of this discovery. They ignore me and I hope they’ll forget and leave me here overnight so I can set sail in my new-found craft around daybreak. Maybe head south.
I dig with urgency, removing teaspoons, tablespoons of sand and depositing them in my spoils pile. Now and then, amid the roaring of the tide, a seagull screams at me. One alights nearby, walks bob-headedly through my work zone, then scurries off to cackle with its friends. The waves continue to crash and splash and reach for me, but I’m too far up the shore.
My cracked shovel assails the sand for hours, but still no anchor. Assured of my fortune, confident in luck, knee-deep in sand, I ignore my mother’s call from up the beach. Just as I know I’m about to break through to the cavernous gallery below, and claim my wondrous new life, she picks me up by my arms and my shovel falls softly to the sand. Exhausted, I slump over her shoulder as she carries me to the car. Before we get too far away, I think I see the beach suck the rope up like a spaghetti noodle, belching seagulls toward the hazy sunset. The pulsing roar of the tide fades as Mom whispers in my ear, “We’ll come back next year, boy. Maybe then you can find your treasure.” I smile, close my eyes, and sleep the whole way home.
© 2014 Rob Essley
Rob Essley is a wannabe and a ne’erdowell from Wyoming. He lives in Georgia and writes stories about things he wishes were real. His work has been published at Fiction365.com and BartlebySnopes.com.
March 30, 2015 Comments Off on The Bipolar Cat By Gloria Garfunkel
It starts when I pull an all-nighter to study for my Music Theory exam. I do OK. But from then on, I completely lose the ability to sleep, night after night, with no need for naps. I have no idea what is wrong, what has been triggered by the all-nighter. I just assume my sleep mechanisms are broken and I will never sleep again. My cat is awake with me all night, but at least she can sleep during the day.
I worry that something very bad is happening. I know that if you go without sleep for more than a week you can start hallucinating. Eventually, you can die. It does not occur to me to go to College Health Services for medication. After all, I don’t have an illness. Ten days go by and I fall into a deep sleep at 5AM. I sleep for several hours and awaken feeling strange. I have a desire to lick my hands, which are now furry paws. I am walking on all fours and can’t reach anything, but I can jump onto the desk where my former self is typing at the computer, still awake, but I am now the cat and can at least get some sleep.
So it goes for days on end. I can’t seem to track the date. My roommates worry that my human self is missing all my classes, just typing and typing. But I no longer have control over the person who was me. I am the cat and no one listens to a cat. I settle down at the foot of the bed, licking my arms and legs, preparing myself endlessly for a lovely nap.
© 2015 Gloria Garfunkel
Gloria Garfunkel has a Ph.D. in Psychology and Social Relations from Harvard University. A former psychotherapist, she has published many stories in literary journals and anthologies.