The Walk – by David S. Golding

When I’m tired enough that I think I can lay down to sleep without having any thoughts, a woman enters my mind. She’s been waiting for me, I imagine, waiting her whole life behind her dark hair, although it might just be dark because she’s looking at me from the shadows. But I know it’s not really me who she’s waiting for, it’s the man who just climbed off the last train. He wears clothes with no design under the yellow streetlight. From the windows they watch the way he stands on the platform long after the train is gone. Where did that train come from? Why does he travel without any bags? Is this the person who is going to rescue me? They think he might save the women, probably from their husbands, just like the movies where the woman is always in peril. But he’s not going to save any of them, he’s come to save the town itself. He’s come to set things right. He walks slow through these streets he’s never been to, his stride with the ease of a soldier who is doomed to wander because he can’t remember where he came from. He walks straight to the back door of my house, which I didn’t lock, and down the hallway. I hear him pause before he steps into my bedroom, and there he is, the shape of his shoulders as solid as my heartbeat. He knows. He knows and he’s making it clear by the way he stands there. He wants me to know too, but he doesn’t just let his posture do all the talking. He raises a pistol that catches no light, the only thing he brought with him, and aims at my chest so I can hear the first shot.

***

David S. Golding grew up in the lowlands that stretch between Seattle and Portland. He now teaches peace studies and development geography in Sri Lanka. He is a doctoral candidate at Lancaster University. His fiction has appeared in The Molotov Cocktail, Mithila Review, Jersey Devil Press, and elsewhere. Read his work at www.dsgolding.com.

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Love Struck – by Carolyn Ward

I met him in the Nineteenth Hole, a rather sticky bar at the end of the course.  He was a flash of colour in a black and white photograph, and his smile across the fake wood and drippy metal had twisted my heart like a dishrag.

Love and golf became who we were, playing every spare moment, encouraging each other on.

My birthday that year had been unseasonably warm.  Muggy, even.  He drove to pick me up early in the morning, acting like an excited puppy.  Something was in the air, crackling between us.

‘One quick round?’ he’d asked, all eyes and teeth.  I nodded.  It was the perfect day, even though the clouds in the east looked heavy and dark.

We got lost in the game.  The place was deserted, and at the tenth hole, he got down on one knee.

‘Oh, my gosh!’ I stammered.  The diamond sparkled in the gloom.

Suddenly, a huge rumble from above made us stare up in shock.  A thunderstorm?

‘Shit!’  he said.  I glanced at him, anxiously.

‘We’re right in the open,’ he said.  ‘If lightning strikes…’

Rain began to pepper us.  I looked at my ring again, twinkling like a star on my hand.

‘I love you!’  I said, and he smiled at me.  Then the sky above us trembled and our hair stood up with static.

We grabbed each other, as the lightning cracked down.

With an immense flash and a roar that seemed to split my skull in half, white light burned us.  I clutched him as my blood boiled, and the diamond melted.

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Carolyn Ward is a mum of three and writes short stories, flash fiction and is working on her first teen novel.  She lives in Wolverhampton, UK, and reads anything and everything.  Follow her @Viking_Ma for writing updates and random nonsense.

Flash fiction collection by Don Tassone

Old Habits

For years, the paperboy tossed their newspaper onto their driveway before six.

He was always the first one up.  Every morning, he went outside to get the paper for her before he left for work.

He no longer takes the paper.  But he still reaches for the door and starts making two cups of coffee, not one.

The Last Sunset

Within minutes, nearly everyone on earth had heard the dire news.  The sun was going out — and fast.  By tomorrow, it would go dark.

Knowing this would be the last time they would see the sun, people gathered to watch it set.  They held hands and whispered I love you.  Anxiously, they watched as the source of their life faded into darkness.

Then they caught their breath.  They were still alive.  And they realized the sun was not the source of their life after all.

But what was the source?  If they could find it, maybe they could live forever.

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Don Tassone’s stories and essays have appeared in a range of literary magazines.  Many are posted at dontassone.com.  His debut short story collection, Get Back, has just been published by Golden Antelope Press.  Don lives in Loveland, Ohio.

Still in Your Fingertip – by ROB PARRISH

Still in Your Fingertip

We are in bed and you start a message on my back. You move your right index finger at a controlled pace. First a T, then H. Next an I. A slow-curling S follows. Your finger drags off my back. I say the word into the bedding. You tap my back once for confirmation and swipe my skin as if it is a chalkboard, nails slightly digging.

The next word starts with an I and then another serpentine S. I say is, but you double tap. You place your finger firmly below my left shoulder blade and pong out an N, then carve in a crucifix. I correct myself. You follow with one firm tap.

I want to turn around and ask about the use of contractions and if apostrophes should be acknowledged, but you place both of your hands on my back as if you know, that you feel me tense up with the lack of punctuation.

There is hesitation between us. The next word is still in your fingertip. We both know what it is and it does not need to be worked into my skin. A fragment looms.

You once told me thoughts were not meant to be expressed all the time, that three words lose their fervor when used like goodbyes.

You tap twice and collapse next to me.

***

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Rob Parrish’s work can be found in Gravel, The Harpoon Review, The Airgonaut, and Birds Piled Loosely, among others. Rob is an editor at (b)OINK. He lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with his dog, Coltrane.

 

Wild Dreams – by DON TASSONE

Wild Dreams

 

His alarm went off precisely at six.  So did his coffee maker and TV.

CNN was playing on the flatscreen in his kitchen.  He scanned email and FaceBook as he sipped his coffee and chewed on a breakfast bar.  He had two more friend requests overnight.  He accepted them both.

He grabbed his laptop and stepped down the hallway to his office, where he traded online all day.  He took a break just before noon to run on his treadmill and down a protein shake for lunch.

At five, he decided to chat on FaceBook with a handful of his 462, now 464, friends.  Then he ordered dinner from his favorite Chinese restaurant.  A young man delivered it to his door.  He took the bag from him and nodded.  He had already paid and left a tip online.

He enjoyed chicken lo mien, egg rolls and hot oolong tea as he watched a movie on Netflix, relaxing in his recliner.

He was in bed by ten.  He drifted off to sleep and dreamed, as usual, about living in the wild.

***

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Don Tassone lives in Loveland, Ohio and teaches public relations at Xavier University in Cincinnati.  His stories have appeared in a range of literary magazines.  They’re posted at http://dontassone.com

Other People – by ANTHONY BLOOR

Other People

One person’s meadow is another person’s building site. I look at nature; he looks at property values. He sees a hole in the guttering; I see a sparrow’s nest.

There came a day when my neighbour popped by to bring me bad news. The local authority wanted to demolish my home and relocate a public toilet on the spot; meanwhile, the existing public toilet would also be demolished, and a house built in its place. He’d seen the plans; he’d been to a council meeting the night before.

“Didn’t you know?” he said.

“No,” I said. “Nobody’s said a word.”

“Sorry,” he said.

“No – thanks for telling me,” I said.

“I’m very sorry,” he said, and left me, speechless, to ponder the gravity of the situation.

A week before, I was sweeping up after six months of disruption: my windows had all been removed and replaced with double glazing. And now this, from a neighbour.

Somebody was taking the piss.

But this was public; this was serious – so where was the logic?

My home had been refurbished, kitted out to modern standards. There was nothing wrong with the place – so why demolish it? To relocate the public toilet, that’s why. But what about the existing toilet: what’s wrong with that? It needs refurbishing, that’s what. So why not go ahead and refurbish it? Because they want to build a house there, instead.

I pondered the gravity of the situation.

Could I seek – from a judge, for example – an order that the local authority be sectioned under the Mental Health Act? No – the Act applied to the mental health of an individual, not to that of an institution.

Then I had a brainwave – I knew just the thing that might help me.

I rushed upstairs and dug out the government’s guide on what to do in an emergency.

I flipped the pages – much was irrelevant to my predicament.

But I was lucky; I was very lucky. In the section titled “coping with specific emergencies” (last two words highlighted), there is a useful piece of advice concerning bombs. If you are trapped in debris, you are advised to stay close to a wall and tap on pipes so that rescuers can hear you.

I pondered the gravity of the situation.

Demolition.

It could happen, with no warning. I may not hear the warning. Or I may hear the warning and choose to ignore it, thinking that Jehovah’s Witnesses are at the door.

I could be trapped in debris.

But if I was trapped, how could I move?

I would have to crawl.

And if I was trapped in debris, how would I recognise a wall? Would there be a wall?

There may not be a wall, but there would be pipes. I would have to crawl to a pipe.

Most of the pipes are on the north side of the house, next to the garden, where the birds feed, sing and play. My friends. But they would be no help in an emergency. They would have flown away. In fear.

My best bet, I thought, is the pipe in the kitchen, on the south side of the house – next to the road, the pavement, and passers-by.

I would need a compass to help me find south.

And what about tapping on the pipe? Fingers would be useless: too soft.

I could use a brick, from the debris.

But what would it sound like? A dull sound, the sound of someone hammering somewhere, builders or gardeners or DIY enthusiasts. An everyday sound. Who would take note? Nobody. There would have been no bomb, and no rescuers. I would have to draw people’s attention to the fact that I was trapped.

A metal object would be better, such as a spoon. Metal on metal: more treble, less bass, more resonant, more striking. I could play tunes. People would notice. I could play Bach. People would stop and listen. Music from below. Air on a G-String. Somebody must be trapped. Down there in the debris.

So – I had decided.

The two most useful items, given the nature of my predicament, were these: a compass and a tea-spoon.

I wear the compass around my neck; it’s attached to a cord. I wear it at all times. The tea-spoon I carry in my breast pocket. The bowl bit sticks out of the top, as if the spoon was pretending to be a gent’s handkerchief: with the convex side facing outwards, it looks quite decorative. This, too, I wear at all times. Day and night I have these items to hand, in case of an emergency.

I rarely leave the house now. I worry that I may return to find a pile of rubble. And a weekend away is out of the question. They work so fast; a friend told me. I may return to find the house gone and a public toilet in its place, with all my worldly possessions squeezed into a cubicle, a note on the door, saying: “To be collected.”

And I worry whether I am doing the right thing. Even with the aid of a compass, I may not be able to find a pipe. I could carry a spare piece of pipe, just in case.

But I can’t find any spare pipe.

And then, I could dispense with both compass and spoon if I carried a harmonica in my pocket – one item – or a whistle.

But a whistle presents problems. There are half a dozen dunnocks out there, in the garden. They come and go as they please; some live in the hedge. And they whistle. That’s what they do, as a warning. When a cat’s about, for instance. As do the coal tits. A squeaky kind of whistle.

So a whistle would be useless.

A harmonica would be better.

I may invest in a harmonica.

If I carried a harmonica in my pocket, tucked away, people would be less inclined to think that I’m mad.

That’s what they believe, I’m sure. People think I’m mad.

I know better.

I am… prepared.

***

Anthony Bloor currently works as a freelance editor, copywriter, and a jack of all trades in the Internet world. He is the author of three novels and a scholarly study of fiction writing, published in 2003.

The Lifecycle of a Catholic Woman – by PATTI JURINSKI

The Lifecycle of a Catholic Woman

 

At age nine, Helene chose confession face-to-face with the priest. The musty box frightened her, choked with years and years of other people’s sins.

 

As a teenager, she appreciated the box’s endless capacity to swallow her ever-increasing transgressions.

 

As a young woman, she scowled at it, hands on her hips, with self-righteous indignation.

 

By middle age, the box tiptoed into her thoughts again, and she crossed the street.

 

At age eighty, she chose confession face-to-face with the priest, unable to bend her knees anymore. As they wheeled her by, the box whispered welcome home.

***

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Patti Jurinski lives in Florida with her husband and two sons, but will always be a New Englander at heart. Since leaving the corporate world four years ago, she has augmented car line boredom with reading and writing, the latter taking on a life of its own. Although writing a historical fiction novel is her main entrée, flash fiction stories are the yummy nibbles she can’t quite say no to.  She is thrilled (and slightly terrified) at the prospect someone may read her work.

Lunch with Maurice – by MICHAEL ZONE

Lunch with Maurice

By Michael Zone

 

 

I was doing time at the Aqua-Cola warehouse.

 

My eleventh W2 in my factotum year facing eviction and total starvation.

 

Maurice, a pudding formed figure with a handlebar mustache, sat across from me during lunch.

 

A half hour ordeal of me trying to eat my peanut butter sandwich as he explained to me how he wasn’t a sex offender and got laid every weekend working as a karaoke DJ.

 

“Put on the Manilow, smile and announce ‘this is for the ladies.’ Wink, point… panties drop.”  

 

No one really liked him and only spoke to him when work required it, as he replenished our stocks.

 

I was new, but didn’t have the unspoken collective permission to dislike anyone.

 

Rendering me just as disgusting as the socially misunderstood pervert who swallowed rolled tortillas and liverwurst like a duck. When you’re new and people can sense you enjoy your solitude and are not the type to construct an existence around work, they despise the false sense of freedom they have and the discomfort you bring through indifference co-mingled with a decent work ethic.

 

His “incident” had something to do with girls’ volleyball and a repressive government “out to besmirch believers…we are not of this world…America hates God and anything to do with him.”

 

He was big on home security. “I keep a weapon in every room. I don’t even lock my door. I’ve got a shotgun hanging on the wall, and handguns in both my nightstand and medicine cabinet…unregistered (take that, Dictator Obama), I got a barbed-wire wrapped baseball bat  next to the toilet and a samurai sword under my bed with a hunting knife  between my pillows.”

 

“Expecting trouble?” I asked against my better judgment.

 

“My dad was in the Navy. Antiwar activists target the family members of veterans,” Maurice replied seemingly shocked at such an inquiry.

 

Maurice was later found dead in his apartment.

 

Stabbed in the eye and ran through with his own sword.

 

I ate my sandwich.

***

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Michael Zone is the author of Fellow Passengers: Pubic Transit Poetry, Meditations & Musings and Better than the Movies: 4 Screenplays. His work has been featured in Because Eileen, Dead Snakes, Horror Trash Sleaze, In Between Hangovers, Three Line Poetry, Triadae and The Voices Project. He scrapes by in Grand Rapids, MI

 

His Story / My Story – by BRIDGET LANGDON

His Story/My Story

“Then how Spalding was in a car accident and his brain was injured and how maybe—probably, definitely, definitively—that’s why he jumped off the Staten Island Bridge, drowning on purpose.” –Eva Hagberg Fisher, “Vital Signs”

Under this passage I wrote “can confirm.” But I don’t know this because of my personal brain injury.  Rather, because of the brain injury of an ex-boyfriend and his subsequent attempts at suicide.

But I commented like I knew personally because that’s what I did with his story.  I made it about me.  While he was lying in a coma, I was wondering how I was ever going to get out of bed again.  I wrote his story like it was my tragedy.  I mourned him to every available shoulder.

Then he woke up and came back to me.  I decided his problems were too much for me to handle, so I left.  And now his tragedy is part of my story.

He’d often call me after a suicide attempt, and I would offer empty sympathy and advice.  We parted on amicable terms because his childlike mind didn’t know any better.

And when he got better, he tried to write his story, and I was mad because he didn’t include me in it.

***

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Bridget Langdon is a second year Master’s student at Illinois State University.  She is in the creative writing program with an emphasis on creative non-fiction.  He stories provide entertainment through self-deprivation and/or humor. Bridget’s list of achievements is short, and her only other full length article can be found in the spring 2017 edition of Grassroots Writing Journal.  Incidentally, her writing career was more successful when she was nine.  She can be found on Twitter under the name @FormerAltruist.

A Six Word Story’s Adolescence by Jeffrey H Toney, PhD

A Six Word Story’s Adolescence

It was a strange, beautiful birth. From more than a million possibilities, six awkward words somehow found each other to tell the tiniest tale ever told. It could have been providence, it could have sprung from passion’s spark, or it could have been just dumb lazy luck born from a drunken haze. Admittedly, my lilliputian tale crouched in the imposing shadow of Hemingway’s baby shoes, never worn, whose six words piqued, prodded and delighted dreamers.

My sextet Epiphany took her first unsteady steps, sliding on a slippery slope just outside her crib, gleaming ceramic tiles adorned with Eeyore, Piglet and Pooh. Behold her little self:

Shards of doubt coalesce. Beautiful opalescence.*

Doubt seeps into dreary days, hastily scribbled notes in bottles cast on ice-cold oceans, seeking a warm home on distant shores.  Honeyed crepuscular rays burst through cumulus spider webs when long lost partners unite, a gleaming kaleidoscope casts upon her cheek now with an irrepressible impish grin, her tumescent goose bumps slay doubt, spreading joy.

*Previously published in Crack The Spine, Issue 141  https://issuu.com/crackthespine/docs/issue_141

***

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Dr. Toney has published scientific peer-reviewedarticles, news media opinion pieces as well as short fiction stories in O-Dark-Thirty, the literary journal of The Veterans Writing Project, The East Coast Literary Review and in Crack The Spine.  Recently, he was nominated for a PushcartPrize for his 100 word story, “The Quiet Raspberry Wormhole” published by Crack The Spine.  He serves as Provost and Vice Presidentfor Academic Affairs at Kean University. He volunteers and fundraises for charities such as Music For Relief,founded by Linkin Park, and the RFK Center for Human Rights.  He serves on the Steering Committee of theScience and Human Rights Coalition of the American Association for theAdvancement of Science (AAAS).  You canfollow him on Twitter @jefftoney, read his blog on The Huffington Post(http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-jeffrey-h-toney/) and listen to his podcast about how anyone can contribute to human rights issues onTalk Nerdy with Cara Santa Maria (http://carasantamaria.com/podcast/jeffrey-toney).

[Jeffrey Toney (r) with Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda (l) at Relief Live, celebrating the 10th anniversary of Music For Relief at LA River Studios (November 14, 2015).  Music for Relief has raised over $7 million for survivors of multiple disasters across four continents including Hurricane Katrina, China’s Wenchuan earthquake, a cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe, earthquakes in Haiti and Japan in 2010, and Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines; see: http://musicforrelief.org/disaster-relief-programs/]