Hey, What if we Just Started Over? – Editor-in-Chief, Kelly Fitzharris Coody

Hear me out.  I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently.

I know I’ve (we’ve) had lots of “almost shutting down” forks in the road, submissions email changes, editorial staffing and contributor changes, and a lot of confusion about themes, no themes, what status your work is in at the moment, etc, etc, etc ….. And you can basically just continue that ellipsis until infinity. Some of that comes with the whole “online-indie-lit-mag” territory. I’m simplifying some really important points, then I will promptly move it to our submissions guidelines page and we will move forward from there.

Here are some guidelines-slash-pointers moving forward with the new SLM: 

  1. FORGET past submissions that you never heard back from me or any other editor about. Just put it on a metaphorical (or maybe an actual) shelf for now. Otherwise, we’re all going to be chasing our tails forever. No thanks.
  2. If you submit and you don’t hear back from me, dude, you’ve got to relax. Do not chase me down on Facebook, Twitter, insert other social media here, or send e-mails to my personal e-mail. It’s just NOT okay. I have children, i.e., a family, too, just like you. I am busy trying my damnedest to make their childhood great and I also work a full-time job so I can put food on the table.
  3. Most definitely don’t establish a great working relationship with me and then post disparaging comments about the web site and how SLM is suddenly “the worst.” Dude, guess what? It’s still literally just me. It is me who is approving that comment you wrote. And it sucks. Don’t do it. Write me an e-mail. And don’t be a jerk.
  4. Don’t take advantage of my openness and generosity. If you send me plagiarized work and I publish it, I WILL find out about it.
  5. Basically, let’s wipe the damn slate clean and start writing again.

One more really important thing that I must touch on before we get to the fun part: 

TIMELINE and GUIDELINES: 

  • I don’t know when I will get back to you after you submit your work. It could be that same day. It might be a month later. If a really, really long time has passed, it’s safe to assume that it didn’t quite work.
  • WE DO NOT publish books, book-length material, nor do we review books at this time.
  • We DO accept simultaneous submissions and reprinted material.

Now that that’s out of the way, here’s what I want from you and here’s where I want you to send it: 

  • I know, I know, yet another new email. Just think of it as an official way to wipe the slate clean: kmfitzharris@gmail.com
  • What do I want? I still want originality, I still want writing that is genuine, sincere, and writing that is specific to the genre of YOU (meaning write what you write, not what you think I want you to write).
  • What do I look for in your submissions email? Be yourself. Don’t try to pitch me your writing or sell it to me – you are good enough just as you are. Be candid and tell me what’s up and why you’re submitting your work to me. You can either put your submission in the body of your email or attach it as a word doc. Please, no PDFs.
  • Word count: Unless it’s a Gone-Girl caliber page-turning suspenseful roller-coaster ride, for the love of God and all things holy, don’t send me 30 pages. Honestly, don’t send 20! Unless I get lost reading your work and can’t even tell what page I’m on, which is awesome, those are way too long for an online literary magazine. And it takes time away from other submissions I could be reading.
  • Genre / type of work: Really, anything and everything. Poetry, fiction, prose-poetry, erasure poetry, abstract art, photography, fan art for this magazine, a series of cool old letters that you found in a drawer in your attic, an op-ed, a personal essay, non-fiction, LGBTQ, flash fiction, fan fiction.

Have fun writing and be sure to submit your work to me at kmfitzharris@gmail.com

Happy writing!

I will talk to you soon,

 

IMG_5716

Kelly Fitzharris Coody,

Editor-in-Chief

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This is Not for You – by Haley Z. Boston

This place might remind you of a newly deceased doe, pregnant, on the side of the road, bleeding out, neck snapped. Steaming. Dead eyes. Baby still alive inside, waiting to be muscle-contracted out into the hellscape, oozing, oozing with terror and inherited trauma. Trauma of headlights and wandering uncovered, dark, lonely, tufted, spawned, thrust. Baby’s still alive, little giblets racing. Fawn? A fawn? Doe, a deer, a female deer. Hum it. Now you’re humming it. That’s what this party is like.

What would you do if you witnessed a murder?

That’s a good opening line.

A guy comes up to Duke at the bar and asks her that.

It’s two forty-seven. In the morning. This warehouse is empty but full. Horny and pulsating. Spindly-armed and tone-deaf. A cavernous space, all beams and cement and windows painted white, painted shut, things that used to be doors now gluey in all their crevasses, history removed by sludgy toxins.

Duke’s ordering water. It’s four dollars. The guy who said the opening line looks like a cherry tree. But sweaty. Tall. Knotty. Not naughty. Knotty. He’s wearing a mesh shirt. He’s very thirsty. He stares at Duke’s water, sweating. Who’s sweating? Him, or the water? They’re both sweating. He wants to lick the plastic, oh, he wants to bite it, clear through, imbibe the water through puncture wounds.

He’s not really thinking this.

Duke is.

Duke is imagining Cherry Tree pricking her bottle with his teeth and scaling his tongue along the paper and desperately licking the condensation until it bursts into his mouth. Duke’s thirsty, too. She’s looking for someone to suck dry. She can tell by his eclipse eyes that he’s on something dangerous.

She stares at him. He blinks one time too many.

“So, uh, what would you do if you overheard a murder?”

“Join in.”

Duke walks away, out of the crowd, toward more crowd.

She notices a girl. The girl’s name is Grxce. It’s pronounced “Grace.” I’m sorry. That’s just how it is. Duke knows Grxce, but thinks her name is Lauren. She remembers her as Lauren. A fair-haired Lauren. A Lauren who was Good and Wholesome, who grew up in an adjacent suburb, whose family had more money, more worth, more kids, more sanctity, less inclination toward raves, less smudgy eye-shadow, fewer thoughts of stolen street signs, fewer C’s in Calculus, fewer flasks snuck into school dances. She didn’t look Good or Wholesome now. She looked stringy and lopsided. She looked like a black hole, but Duke was the black hole, prepared to entangle someone in her vortex, prepared to lick teeth, prepared to be all-consuming. Lauren is wearing a plastic crop-top and a clairvoyant expression. She looks like a painting.

Duke gets a text.

Oh. But. Not. Just. Any. Text!!!!

She has a burner phone because she’s lazy. And a drug dealer.

She gets a text. And because she has a burner phone because she’s lazy and a drug dealer, it’s like a stick of dynamite vibrating in between her pants and her hipbone. She gets a text and it shakes the whole goddamn building.

Oh, but not just any text.

A text from The One.

You know The One. The One whose cologne sometimes sneaks into your brain cavities, stabbing you in the insides, some French name, some lower-case cursive, a lick on your wrist from that Friday when you finally stole a spritz on your way out, that you’ll somehow never be able to wash off, so intrusive it only takes a stranger to walk past, and you’re in a grocery store aisle staring at the ground beef, the raw chicken, and suddenly it’s over, French-name, long hair, knife twist in the ribs. The One who left a holey tube sock in your bed one December and never came back for it. The One who once nose-bled on your white bathmat, and you didn’t even try to get the blood out, in fact, you rubbed it in deeper, and now you have this iron splotch on your bathmat and it reminds you of the time you saw your first dead body on a train track from your youth, it reminds you of the time your lover made you nectar margaritas and you sipped them on a pool deck in the dead of winter, and you think about getting a new bathmat, maybe this time not a white one, but you’ll keep finding reasons not to do that. You know The One. The One who reappears in dreams to undress, or say hello, but always ends up curb-stomping you outside your childhood home, splitting your jaw, cracking your teeth open.

You know The Ones that earth-shatter. The earth-shatter-ers.

The name buzzes four times on Duke’s phone.

DO NOT TEXT (4).

Duke has a burner phone, so it looks like this, unfortunately.

([Redacted] has an iPhone, so it’s also unfortunate for [Redacted] because her convo with Duke is vomit-inducing, status-rejecting, holy isolation green)

 

heard u were in la. 

i need T. 

800 Mercy. 

pay u bigtime

 

Duke doesn’t make house calls.

Well, she does.

Well.

She used to.

But not normally like this. Normally, in Bel Aire, normally in the Hollywoodland Hills, normally to those uppity bitchy witches with loose septums, model boys with bulimia, Beverley Hills houses with murdery histories, with things-we-don’t-ask, with boyfriends and girlfriends and sleazy happy rich dicks with sleazy happy trigger fingers.

Duke’s fucked up, also. That’s why she can’t think straight.

Her phone buzzes.

 

DO NOT TEXT (2).

do u still have a burner? hey.

FaceTime me dukey!!!!

 

Duke wants to puke.

Her heart also wants to tie a noose around itself. Her organs twitch. Her fingers jitter. Love says, isn’t this exciting! Isn’t this dope! Aren’t you addicted! Yes. Say it with me. YES. YES YES. You could quit anytime, though. So, for now, just this once, let love cum all over you. Sorry, come I meant come. Let the tar cum into your lungs. Tar is fun. Fun fun tar tar. It sucks you in and it traps you in the funhouse. The laugh palace. The madness.

Buzz. Buzz. Buzz. bUzZ. BuZz.

BUZZ.

 

you do still have a burner

loser

sorry i didn’t mean that

ur not a loser

just a drug dealer

am I allowed to say that

duke

i’m dying

ur in la tho right?

 

Oh, god, Duke thinks. This is the end of the world, actually.

Well, if she were other people maybe it wouldn’t be.

If she were people who listened to other people maybe it wouldn’t be.

But she’s not those people. She doesn’t listen and her thoughts are never end-stopped, and she’s blurry-eyed and just dying to slice a jugular open right out on the dance floor. Neck-snapped, oh, to be neck-snapped, twitching. Doe, a deer, a female deer.

She calls her ride-or-die, a girl named Trixie. Trixie is awake and says, hey, there’s a high-speed chase on channel seven. Duke says, do you remember Lauren? Lauren LeRoy. Lauren Loftus. Lauren Whats-Her-Face. I don’t remember. It doesn’t matter. I saw her earlier, wearing a clear crop-top and blowing a yellow lollipop.

Trixie says, no. She doesn’t remember a girl named Lauren LeRoy or Loftus or LeCroix or Whatever. She doesn’t remember a girl with self-cut bangs and boney wrists standing zombified in a corner with other translucent-skinned artsaints.

“Well, Lauren’s from Wisconsin and now she’s here, chewing Trident or Orbit or, hopefully, a piece of someone’s tendon.”

“Oh, I remember her.” Trixie remembers her now. Slutty and grotesque. She used to chase cherubic boys around the soccerfield at dawn.

Duke leaves one crowd of messy, sloppy, slackening people. People glistening. People shouldn’t glisten, Duke thinks. It makes them seem like they’re slathered in butter. Like they should be rolled in a dinner roll. They shouldn’t be hyped up on amphetamines. They should be licked until their skin is raw. Salty. She goes to another crowd of messy, sloppy, slackening people. It looks like the same crowd. Feels like the same crowd. You could keep doing that, Duke thinks. You could spend your whole life walking into new rooms that feel like old rooms.

Duke zeroes in on Lauren, all bones and legs, rattling around, looking like a human bodybag, dancing in a circle. Duke cocks her head to the side, sizes up Lauren’s muscles, counts her ribs, notes the rosy spots, the places where her skin thins, the beat of her pulse, superfast. She says, “but, I don’t think she’s slutty or grotesque.”

Trixie says, I said bloody. B-L-O-O-D-Y Bloody. Remember she used to get nosebleeds – Duke is thrown off, by the way, at the mere mention of nosebleeds, as if nosebleeds were not universal, as if only [Redacted] got them, sitting up in bed smoking something, bleeding and being apathetic, letting it come so close to falling on the white bedspread, and Duke would think, how how how could you not care, how could you sit like that and beg to be touched but then shift away, how could you wait until the last second, wait until the blood has pooled above your upper lip, wait until I lean in to lick it off, and then you reach your wrist up and wipe it, and you get up and you say, what? Why are you looking at me like that? – Coke habit? Diet coke? Coca Cola? Sniff sniff. Don’t tell me it’s dehydration. And, by the way, you do think she’s grotesque. You started that.

Duke’s like, oh, yeah. Hey, where are you?

Trixie’s sick of holding her phone and wants to hang up. “I told you. A Toyota Camry’s fucking some cruisers in the ass. Channel seven.”

Then she adds, “By the way. Lauren’s right-side-of-the-tracks, Dukie. She took her pills and crossed her eyes and dotted her ttttttttttt’s. She sucks dick and eats pizza like all those other frauds.”

Okay, Duke says. She’s hyperventilating now. She says, “Look. [Redacted] just texted me.”

Trixie says, J E S U S C H R I S T DUKE. Fuck me with a meatball sub, Duke!

Then, she says, send me a screenshot.

But Duke can’t. She has a flip phone.

Fine, Trixie says. Then verbalize me a screenshot.

Duke tells Trixie what [Redacted] texted.

“Don’t text back,” Trixie says. “Then you’ll fall down the spiral staircase again.”

But Duke needs T, and she needs to find a way to get T, and she needs much more than that, a hug, for instance, the lingering touch of manicured nails against her wrist, a ninety-nine cent Slurpee, a kiss from just-the-right-person, at just-the-right-time, in just-the-right-driveway, but mostly T, mostly that, and she’s going to have to get it the hard way.

Before you do that, Trixie says, turn around.

Trixie’s standing there.

Great.

Duke goes up to her and points at Lauren.

“I left my high speed chase for this?”

Duke responds to [Redacted]. She texts back, “hi.” Then, she throws her phone across the room. Down the spiral staircase, Trixie says. Off you go.

“You’re bad at this,” Trixie says as she snaps black surgical gloves over her ring-laden hands, “What drug dealer runs out of T? You know, everyone could avoid everything if they didn’t fuck that one person they shouldn’t have fucked. Look, you’re head-first in a garbage disposal with shards of glass at the bottom. The world would be butterflies. You know. Less of a trash-fire. Oh, look at your fingernails. They’re gross and long. Duke. Use protection.”

Well, yeah, trash-fires, Duke says, preferring not to wear surgical gloves. The rubber takes away from the feeling.

Of.

Manual strangulation.

But, Trixie points out, increases the chance of disease. So, what. Take me, disease me, I’m dying at an unimaginable rate anyway, okay, we all are. Jesus, don’t be so morbid.

#

It’s three-thirty-ish in the morning when Duke and Trixie drag Lauren’s body back to Trixie’s friend’s apartment. Trixie’s friend is named 425. That’s an area-code. Trixie doesn’t remember his name and he never says it outloud but that’s his phone number. 425 something something something. Duke prefers to call him Just Outside of Seattle. Jos. People who are from just outside of cities say they’re from the city. They’re not.

Lauren’s alive but not conscious.

Jos lets them in. He’s pale and skinny and, of all the people Duke knows, he tried the hardest to take his Gov-regulated pills during puberty. He’d spent a lot of time vomiting little blue tablets in boys’ bathrooms and forcing rare hamburger patties down his throat, and he tried to crave female lips and hips and pelvic bones. He still has the pills. He still sometimes takes them, when he’s too drunk to see straight. They make him nauseous, make him shutter, make him hot, then cold, then hot again. And, he used to rule the suburban Illinois underground scene. He was kingpin. Used to farm farm boys for parts. Used to manufacture the best T, sell the freshest heroin-laced blood, the best weed, extracted straight from stoner piss, and even milked a few sick LSD strains from teenaged spinal fluid.

He’s dating a junkie named Needle. Needle will assure you his name is because of Space, not hypodermic. He doesn’t go by Space because that’s dumb.

Jos and Needle drink homemade cocktails. He apologizes, he can’t offer any to the ladies. You know, three drunk guys died tonight in a high-speed chase. Lot of spilled blood. Wish we’d been there. Oh! Trixie says, hey. I watched that. Damn. She tuned out just before the concrete-smashing, skull-breaking part. But, that unconscious girl, uh, let’s crack her open. Duke has a special talent.

They lay Lauren down on the couch. Duke uses a safety-pin to puncture a hole in Lauren’s neck. Just a little. A tiny stream of blood spits out of the hole. Duke licks it, and then sucks out more. She feels Lauren’s slow pulse against her tongue. 0.25 BAC, she says. Give or take. Then, it hits her. Bitter, sour. Something else.

She checks Lauren’s arms. Track marks. Fresh. On both arms. Trixie dies laughing. Oh, Duke, you said you quit. Oh, Duke. Relapse in five, four, three, two.

One.

The earth shakes. Five tremors in rapid succession.

 

DO NOT TEXT (5).

Hey

How u?

T???????

i’ll do ANYTHING

😉

 

Duke backs off, stumbles a little. Her whole head hot, trapped, swampy. Trixie makes larger incisions in Lauren’s track marks and takes a greedy mouthful. Watch it, Duke says. You’ll kill her. Trixie flashes a smile, teeth stained red. Baby, she says, it’s like really nice. Top shelf. A hug for your poor poor heart. More, take more.

I just want the T, Duke says.

Trixie pouts. What a waste of a whole, beating-heart human. We thought she was Wholesome. Turns out, she’s a druggie. But isn’t that how it always goes, huh, Duke?

I wanted Wholesome, Duke says.

OH WHY DUKE?? Because [Redacted] prefers un-tainted T? Cavity-free? Calcium rich? Good-girl T. Baby T. Milky Milky. Duke. Promise me you.

Won’t.

Fall. Into.

The. Trap.

T O O

L A T E.

 

DO NOT TEXT (4).

I didn’t mean it like that

i meant I’ll TAKE anything

not DO

??? duke answer me srsly

 

Jos says he might have female T. Somewhere. But it’s old. He disappears to look for it. Needle eyes Lauren.

“You can’t even get good T that fresh. Needs to be dehydrated.”

“We know,” Duke fires back.

This is good, Trixie says. Give [Redacted] old T. Sell it for, uh, a lot. We can keep this girl to ourselves.

I think fresh T is still good, Duke says, and tenderly pushes Lauren’s lower lip down, running her finger along Lauren’s bottom teeth, silky, well-brushed, might not even bleed if you tried to floss them.

Needle shakes his head. Nah, that’s like a green banana.

Yeah, Duke, Trixie adds. Green banana. Hard and plant-like. Slimy. Gag. Not even good in a smoothie.

When’s the last time you had a banana.

Who cares, Duke. It was before.

Duke feels ill. Ill and shaky and jittery. Must be from the blood. Must be from the texts. Must be from the impending doom and ecstasy of seeing [Redacted] again after months of bone-souring nothingness. Sometimes she imagines how slippery, shiny, magical the taste of [Redacted]’s intraocular fluid would be – you could just stick a needle at the surface of the eye, don’t touch the baby blues, don’t blind her, just taste it, cross my heart and hope to die.

Jos has pliers. Trixie prefers to use a hammer. Duke doesn’t let her.

Duke moves Lauren so her head is hanging off the bed. She has a bump forming on the side of her skull, from where Trixie slammed her against the bathroom sink. Jesus. Duke had stood back, hands shaking, but not from the violence, no, from the hangnail-tearing feeling of being sucked back into [Redacted]’s all-consuming orbit. Trixie had let Lauren fall to the ground with a thump. Lauren blinked once before slipping away. Duke felt a rush, something almost orgasmic, from watching Lauren lose consciousness. There’s something tingly about it. You could get high off that alone. And Duke has been starving lately. She cramps herself between the foot of the couch and the coffee table, opens Lauren’s mouth and gets a good grip on her jaw.

Wait, Jos says. He disappears.

Duke doesn’t wait.

She grips a back molar, the richer kind, pulpier, better for swallowing, better for injecting. She slams her fist against the steady plier and the tooth tears from its socket. Careful, Needle says. You won’t get the root that way.

Fuck off, Trixie says. She knows what she’s doing. Trixie beats the head of her hammer against her palm. Duke, she says, I want to take a swing.

Duke keeps ripping teeth out, dropping them into a clean ashtray. “No,” she says. “You’ll smash them.”

Oh, precious. Precious T. Trixie drops the hammer, and she sidles up next to Lauren, swallowing more heroin-infused blood, listening to Lauren’s pulse and tapping the rhythm gently against her exposed ribcage. You know, Duke says, you can get sick from that.

Tell me about it, baby. Trixie keeps drinking.

Jos returns with safety goggles. Duke’s hand slips and the force knocks Lauren’s jaw sideways, a satisfying crunch, a snap of the tendons. Oh. Duke and Trixie both salivate. Fuck, Trixie says. Can’t we just kill her. I’m starving.

Duke drops the pliers, sets her hands firmly on either side of the hanging, floppy jaw. She snaps it back into place. There. She keeps going. Needle winces, massages his own jaw out of sympathy or something similar.

Okay, Jos says.

Okay, Needle says and slips down the hall, into the depths of the apartment, presumably toward a bedroom. Jos follows.

Bleach is under the sink. Don’t scuff my floors, Trix. Goodnight, morning, whatever.

Duke finishes extracting the teeth, sweating, nauseous, suddenly head-pulsing high. Aren’t you forgetting something? Trixie drops Lauren’s arm and re-positions her. She straddles the girl. Uh, scalpel.

What?

Scalpel. Trixie motions behind Duke. Duke hands her a Swiss Army knife. Trixie slices into Lauren’s gums.

Duke’s phone seizes on the coffee table, quaking the whole apartment, shaking Duke’s insides, all of them.

DO NOT TEXT 

is calling.

Duke gets up and stumble-sprints to what she thinks is a bathroom but really is a nursery. She vomits watery blood, but not her blood, Lauren’s blood, into the child’s room and Trixie laughs and Duke clutches the doorframe and tries not to make eye-contact with the toddler staring back at her.

“What the fuck. Your dealers have a baby?”

“What’s wrong with that, Duke?”

“Nothing, it’s just–”

She pukes again and Trixie rolls her eyes, appearing behind Duke, somehow always appearing behind Duke. She pokes Duke’s ribs. Duke, look. Duke. Duke heaves and Trixie shoves three sparkling, slick-with-spit, speckled with gum-bits wisdom teeth in Duke’s face. Take one, Dukie Duke. Take one.

Duke swallows a wisdom tooth and so does Trixie and she presses the third one into Duke’s palm and whispers, for [Redacted], even though I don’t support it, and Duke wipes her mouth with her shirt, and the baby just maintains a cold-faced stare, unfazed by the two strange women in its doorway.

“Cute,” Trixie says, motioning to the baby. “Duke, look at the baby. Hi, sweetie. Hi cutie.” Trixie waves at the thing.

Duke can’t look and she also can’t move. “You’re not supposed to look them in the eye.”

“That’s big dogs. Not babies.”

“I’m afraid of both.”

“Apologize to the baby, Duke.”

“I’m sorry.”

She closes the door and stumbles into the living room. Lauren’s heavily bleeding from the mouth, bloody spit pooling on the white leather couch. Duke’s phone continues to vibrate on the coffee table. DO NOT TEXT. DO NOT TEXT. DO NOT TEXT. If you don’t answer it, I will.

Duke answers it and hangs up. It stops buzzing. A second of silence. Then, she texts, “I’m coming.”

DO NOT TEXT (1).

cool.

Lauren starts choking on her own blood. Gurgles. Toothless mouth agape. Duke pulls Lauren onto her side, and a river of blood and saliva snakes down Lauren’s cheek, her perfectly-aligned jaw, her neck, some of it falling down her chest, her cleavage.

Duke washes and dries the teeth, then organizes them by kind – incisor, canine, premolar, molar. She separates them into their own baggies. They’ll have to be taken like pills. They’re not dry enough to crush and snort. You know, children’s teeth are the purest, most potent, least affected by caffeine and night-grinding and lockjaw.

Trixie scoots Lauren’s feet over and slides onto the couch, rocking the baby on her lap, looking for car chases on local news, petting the baby’s golden hair. Duke avoids eye-contact.

“I’m not gonna kill a baby, Duke. Besides. This baby hardly has teeth. It’s a joke, Duke. It’s a joke.”

“Ok, ok, I’m leaving.”

#

Duke somehow survives a winding drive through the Hollywoodland Hills and ends up stationed a few turns up the canyon from [Redacted]’s house. She’s been there for twenty-three minutes. She’s had fifteen and a half imaginary conversations with [Redacted] and most of them go like this:

 

DUKE: I think. There are worlds of people who wouldn’t notice you or care that you exist.

[REDACTED]: Okay.

DUKE: Anyway here are your drugs.

 

But this next one Duke thinks is the most poetic option:

 

DUKE: I’m running. And I’m running. And running. And you turn off the treadmill. And I slam into the little flashing numbers. And I don’t think it’s fair.

[REDACTED]: The numbers wouldn’t be flashing if it was turned off. Also when’s the last time you went running.

In this version [Redacted] takes a drag from her cigarette, which is hand-rolled, and it’s made from the cremated ashes of a girl who jumped off a cliff near Mullholland.

 

The next one Duke thinks is the most favorable option, the most romantic:

 

[REDACTED]: It’s not my fault that my mere existence hurdles you into an endless time-space continuum of pain and suffering, feelings of being lost in an unknown forest, feelings of organs ballroom dancing inside of you. You know. I’ve felt that way, too. But not about you.

DUKE: It would be so like you to say something like that.

In this version [Redacted] shrugs after Duke says that, and looks ugly.

DUKE: It would be so like you to do something like that.

 

The next one Duke doesn’t even imagine because it would be too bone-breaking, stomach-churning, hydrochloric-acid-in-the-eyes burning to even think about, but it’s necessary to include:

 

[REDACTED]: You yanked teeth out for me.

DUKE: Yes.

[REDACTED]: I love you.

 

Duke walks out of the car feeling like a newly born deer on jello legs. She rounds the bend feeling like a juggling stilt-walker with vertigo, and she goes up to [Redacted]’s front door feeling like a sixteen-year-old girl who just pierced her own bellybutton and now can’t really see or hear, some kind of darkness enclosing like marshmallow fluff, some kind of existential heatstroke. She forgot to check what she looked like in the rearview. Her mascara might be smudged, her eyes might be spidery, she might have dried blood on her chin, and she doesn’t know if that would turn [Redacted] on or disgust her.

The lights are on.

Duke texts [Redacted] and says, “I’m here,” and she waits four and a half minutes, but there’s no response. She presses on the door handle, feeling its grooves, like a language forgotten, a door handle that is foreign now, that could be any door handle on any door, in any home furnishing store, and not one that has a certain nick on the base, not one unseasonably warm, not one that makes Duke feel like hot lava is dripping down her back, her thighs, not one that brings with it a mad tingling behind the eyes. She turns the knob and goes inside.

Oh, god, this foyer. Duke takes a light step, her heart pounding, expecting [Redacted]’s blind dog to come lumbering, barking, narrowing its cataract eyes at Duke, the loved-one, Duke, the intruder. Duke, where have you been? You used to come here. But, the dog doesn’t lumber.

She starts up the spiral staircase, touches the icy metal, each step feeling further from the last, and yet, after one complete rotation, she can’t remember how she got there. When she looks back, it’s like a blackout. When she looks back, all she sees are more steps up, snaking around blind turns, curved like an isolated hipbone, a ribcage bulging, two fingers pressed together, motioning, come here, come here.

Duke reaches the top of the stairs. And then, there’s a laugh. A laugh that melts Duke’s skin off, cinches her veins, pulverizes her esophagus, jams an icepick through her neck, rips her nails right off her fingers. Heart seizes. Brain freezes. Everything goes dark and airy and she passes out violently, falling backward, head slamming against the metal stairs, body spiraling like a corpse down a water slide, crumpling to the ground with a depressing lack of grace.

A girl with well-conditioned hair appears at the base of the stairs. She stares at Duke. Duke’s nose bleeds. The girl is tall and skinny and would describe herself as “very L.A.” if anyone ever asked her. She calls out to [Redacted]. She says, “it’s for you.” Then she drifts off, weightless.

[Redacted] comes. She’s not what you’d expect.

Although unconscious, Duke can sense her presence, and her insides are vibrating, and she’s trying to get herself to wake up, wake up, wake up, smell the haunting perfume, let it ruin her enough to snap her out of this.

Duke’s mouth bleeds. [Redacted] crouches down. She slips her hands into Duke’s pockets. Duke’s unconscious self is giddy. She’s touching me. At least she’s touching me. Oh, but, it’s not like it was. She feels suddenly very isolated, very lonely, very molecular, as if experiencing the opposite of life-flashing-before-ones-eyes. She didn’t think she’d feel this way. [Redacted] keeps running her hands through Duke’s clothes, like a tourist on a roadmap, and of course its foreign, of course it’s hard to take, and not revitalizing, not hydrating, the opposite of what she’d thought, the opposite of how it should be, just the opposite, the opposite. [Redacted] doesn’t find anything, except old movie ticket stubs, a dollar bill, lint, a receipt, a ring, a cheap and busted ring, one that Duke used to wear on her thumb, that she once accidentally left on [Redacted]’s nightstand, and it lived there for a whole day, and Duke felt empty and [Redacted] felt powerful, and [Redacted] remembers it now but can’t access any sort of emotion to accompany it. But, you know, whatever.

Duke accidentally left the T in the car.

[Redacted] opens Duke’s mouth. One of her front teeth is gone. The other, cracked down the middle. Nothing but a jagged nub left. [Redacted] feels for more loose teeth. Duke’s right canine wiggles between [Redacted]’s fingers. She plucks it out. It comes, easily, like a ripe blackberry, careful, no thorns, just round and bursting. [Redacted] stands up, finds the missing front tooth on the third stair, shining like a full moon. She picks it up, rolls it around in her hand, rubs it clean on her shirt, and swallows it. Oh. It tastes like something familiar. I just don’t know what.

[Redacted] looks down at Duke.

[Redacted] thinks nothing more of it, and disappears back into the dark folds of the house, waiting for the high to hit, maybe fucking that girl with the soft hair, maybe eating her, digging into her skin, or doing whatever else she does that’s so magical, so world-stopping, so, godlike, so.

But, certainly – and you can be certain – what she’s not doing is

Thinking about you.

#

Lauren, the girl with the most unfortunate evening – depending on your definition of tragedy – she’s not dead. She woke up on a white leather couch, throat slick with blood, next to a sleeping girl with jet black hair, holding a soulless baby, knowing not to look it in the eyes, and now she’s stumbling the streets of LA, just wondering how someone could misplace all their teeth. You lose your keys, sure, you drop your ID, the coke falls in the toilet, okay, but, these bones were once stuck in my head. She’s not dead. She’s wondering what happened. She’s numb and toothless, wondering how things got to be this way, wondering if she’d moved to New York, would she have woken up with no teeth? If she’d stayed in Wisconsin, would she be less of a casualty? If she just hadn’t slept with that one boy she shouldn’t have slept with, if she’d just gone home that weekend? And she’s wondering if you’re aware of how painful it could be.

She decides that you have no idea how painful it could be.

#

Duke snaps back into consciousness while speeding through the valley. These turns, they feel warm, like they’d been pressed between someone’s thighs, a human-radiator. Some people are like that, they radiate things. Some people are cold always. Duke is cold always. She’d found herself a human-radiator. Then it broke.

Duke is running her tongue over the spongey holes where her teeth used to be. She can’t believe [Redacted] swallowed them. There. Now there’s something of mine dissolving inside of you. That means I either got what I wanted, or was forgotten. Duke can’t think about this too much. No one can. So she focuses on the warm curves, the tires gliding lightly, the feeling of soft touch, the feeling of I-am-never-coming-back-here, not in real life, not in my mind, and the sharpness of these turns will smooth, until this road no longer haunts, until eventually things don’t need to be crossed out. Instead they would be butterflies.

Duke’s car nearly slams into something. A deer. A belly-swollen, pregnant deer. She swerves to avoid it. She swerves off a cliff. Losing control. Spiraling, spiraling, spiraling down. Rock destroying metal. Metal crushing bone. Shards protruding through skin. Blood pouring from the nose. Isn’t that how it always goes.

Smooth, then, the opposite of smooth.

Now’s the time, Duke. Now’s the time for life-flashing.

I’m sorry it had to end this way, but aren’t you kind of glad? And, of course, the deer thinks nothing of it, and walks off, leaving you, leaving you to wonder.

# # #

hzboston

Haley Z. Boston is a writer from Portland, Oregon who begrudgingly resides in Los Angeles. In 2016, her short story Number 36 was published in Helicon Literary Magazine. This is her second publication. She is a big fan of fake gore, but is afraid of real needles. She can be found on twitter at @swampmonstr.

Update: Submissions Closed! – by Nikki rae Spano

Here’s the deal: Kelly started a new job which has taken up most of her time, and I’ve fallen behind on, well, everything.

While I’m thrilled at the volume of submissions SLM is getting, I’m simply drowning.

As you can see, it’s nearly April and I’m still working on publishing stories from the January and February prompts. My brain is chaotic. The schedule is fucked. (Pardon my vulgarity, but it is what it is.)

Basically, I have to temporarily close submissions until I can get through whatever is already in my inbox, publish what needs to be published, and catch my damn breath.

Anything sent in will be deleted immediately until submissions reopen.

Thanks for understanding.

Keep writing.

Nikki rae Spano

Listen up, Bitches: It’s 2018! New Writing Prompts, Submissions Questions Answered, and More…- Editor-in-Chief Kelly Fitzharris Faulk

Transport me. Make me believe.

Prompt # 1 (Running for the month of February): Write a story in which five characters (it doesn’t have to be exactly five) are trapped in a house or a building because of an emergency, such as a severe winter storm.

*Any submissions sent for this prompt must have TRAPPED in the subject line.*

Prompt # 2 (Running for the month of March):  Write a story that begins with your protagonist knocking on their ex’s front door.

*Any submissions sent for this prompt must have DOOR in the subject line.*

Prompt # 3 (Running for the month of April): Write a story that takes place at a rest stop and captures its limbo-like vibe.

*Any submissions sent for this prompt must have REST STOP in the subject line.*

**NOTE: The ‘FUTURE’ prompt is, at the moment, running sort of open-ended, so for those of you who are still emailing back and forth with me about your future piece, please note that this new prompt schedule will not affect your work. **

 

The first addition to the editorial team here at SLM is…drum roll…Nikki rae Spano. She’s coming onto the team as my Assistant Editor. She’s a brilliant writer, collaborator, and is dedicated to keeping SLM’s mission alive and reaching even more writers that might be stifled or have yet to find us. Look out for her editorial note, which is in the works.

We have a new submissions email! – the other one must be destroyed. Its backlog is slowly overwhelming and eroding the OCD portion in my brain. Email ALL submissions, submissions questions, and everything else to slmsubmissions@gmail.com.

You may address your submissions to me or to Nikki. As far as all of the submissions currently stuck in my personal inbox, if you’ve yet to hear back from me, re-send it to he new address. If we’ve been in touch, hang tight. My children bring regularly bring home severe colds and/or flus, and I am suffering from one of those two things at the moment. (Great, right? Just what I need.)

Unfortunately, I wasn’t joking. The old submissions email has been accidentally, maliciously destroyed by yours truly.  This is not necessarily a bad thing; it’s meant that I’ve had more time to spend with submissions, writers, photographers, and artists on how the post will look on the web site, and it has given me more time to tailor it and whatnot.

What I’m about to say in this next paragraph is REALLY IMPORTANT: IF you have submitted to the future theme SPECIFICALLY and have not heard one peep back from me yet, email me again, PLEASE, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD! The other day I accidentally archived things that weren’t meant to be archived. And, sometimes gmail likes to bury submissions in the spam / junk folder. I’m serious about this. I’m not asking you to pester me to the point of harassment, because I can and will probably lose my shit. But an email or 2 checking in on your future submission IF you’ve not heard anything would actually be extremely appreciated by me.

The only thing holding you back is YOU. I don’t care how cliche that is. I genuinely mean it. If your work needs guidance or help to make it shine, let’s work on it together. But don’t give up. If you write: if you derive joy, happiness, contentment, catharsis, or anything that’s slightly above a neutral emotion, then you’re a writer and you matter. You are apart of a community and you do belong.

NOW is the time to polish your work — every piece I publish from January the 1st up until right before the deadline is ELIGIBLE TO BE NOMINATED by me, by SLM, for the Pushcart Prize. My entries, which are limited to 6 per year, have to be postmarked by, at the very latest, December the 1st. The window for me to get them SLM’s entries for 2018 is from October the 1st until December the 1st and I take these nominations seriously.

I have a renewed sense of hope, excitement and passion for this magazine. And I hope you do too.

A few things: Heads up! There might (this means there will inevitably be) be more than a few template / layout changes to the site before I find one I like. Switching it up helps me to find the best way to reach you guys and to find out what sort of template you find the most aesthetically pleasing while being easily navigable.

We hope that the prompts inspire and/or excite you, that the content and the vibe here at SLM becomes infectious, and that you guys are looking forward to getting to work. Because we’re sure as hell excited. Here’s to moving forward.

Peace out, 

Keep doing what you do, 

zzzyy

Over and out, 

Kelly Fitzharris Faulk, Editor-in-Chief

Is SLM Back? What’s the Deal Here? Submissions UPDATES. – Editor-in-Chief, Kelly Fitzharris Faulk

I recently (today, actually) got a submission to our FUTURE writing prompt from SLM regular, Don Tassone; and it brightened up my entire weekend the minute it landed in my inbox.

So, that being said, let me address a few of your comments, questions, and concerns on a broader scale for you.

  1. Is SLM back? 

Yes. And no. I have discarded the format I used while Melissa and Nicole worked for me. I am going back to small scale submissions sent to me at kelly.fitzharris@gmail.com and I no longer can stomach checking sicklitsubmissions@gmail.com because, as I’ve previously told you guys, I’m back running SLM solo once again, and it’s a beast. I had to delist the magazine from Duotrope just to try and cut some of the submissions to a workable load for one person.

I’ve also scratched the previous theme schedule in favor of the new writing prompt. It’s so specific that I don’t think I’m going to get any simultaneous submissions or withdrawals or anything.

Any emails that address previous submissions, will be, unfortunately, discarded for my health and sanity. Sorry not sorry, this is the new SLM.  In order to truly, truly move forward I have to keep my head up and stop looking behind me.

 2. What’s with the themes? 

Okay. I addressed this in Question number 1, but I will address it again. The old theme schedule that I’d proposed before I completely lost it while working alone and threatened to close up shop altogether is GONE. Forget it, scrap it, I’m sorry.

I can’t run the magazine solo like I did while I had interns, senior editors, assistant editors and junior editors.

It’s a different animal.

Bear with me.

3. Okay. I’ve submitted my work to the FUTURE writing prompt but still haven’t heard back. What gives? 

I’m in the woes of my first trimester, so, again, bear with me as I traverse this shaky terrain. I’m hopelessly listless most days, too nauseous to function, taking two naps a day as the baby growing inside me triples in size in three weeks’ time.

At 33, my body is going through a whole lot of change and leaving me tired and groggy.

This doesn’t mean that I’m not receiving your submissions. If you’re sending crap to sicklitsubmissions@gmail.com, then, no, I’m not getting it and I don’t really care. I cannot, for the life of me, manage two emails for one magazine.

Part of the reason you guys don’t hear back from me immediately is because I don’t have an automated response system; I don’t believe in that. I believe in a tailored, individualized response for each submission, as each submission is inherently unique.

4. What’s this new direction about for SLM? What can I expect?

Well, I’ve been through a lot in the last year or so. A lot. I’ve changed a lot, as has my day to day existence. I’m remarried, pregnant, and also split custody of my beautiful children from my previous marriage. Only seeing my kids 50% of the time is excruciating. Watching them walk out my front door every Sunday makes me die inside a little as I see my five year-old son’s blonde head bob down the sidewalk and as I see my nine year-old (who’s nearly as tall as me) listlessly wave goodbye to me and smile at me with her hormonal, sideways grin that says, Don’t worry. Stop being sad. We’re fine. 

But are they fine? What has the last year done to them?

I’ll never know. My parents are still together. This isn’t to say that divorce is a bad thing. Absolutely not. I would have never met my current husband, whom I love and cherish more than I ever knew myself capable of loving and cherishing another human being. But that’s not to say that just because I’ve found someone with whom I’m sublimely happy that it erases all the bad that was done to me and that it makes my children whole again. My kids are still bright lights on this earth who make me so, so happy; but they have also built up walls that sometimes I can’t even scale.

So, what does that mean for the magazine?

It means patience. It means trust in me that I have every writer’s best interest at heart. SLM is not, nor will it ever be, easy access. I expect every one of you to work for what you want in terms of your writing capabilities. I can not peddle writing that I deem to be sub-par or lacking in creativity just because you’ve written me a flashy submission.

When I say ‘Bringing the Real,’ I mean exactly that. Stop putting on a stupid show in your submission email and copying a literary agent’s template as you write to me. I can spot that stuff a million miles away and, well, being that I’m in the early stages of pregnancy, it sort of makes my gag reflex go a little crazy.

If you think that copying from a template will get you far in this magazine, you are wrong.

I’d rather read a spirited piece of work that needs some semicolons and paragraph breaks than a watered down, over-edited, overworked piece of prose that makes me fall asleep multiple times before I even reach its middle.

If you like anything you’ve read in my editorial note thus far, then this might be the home for your writing. Drop me a line at kelly.fitzharris@gmail.com – come shake up the literary horizon with me.

Over and out, 

my beautiful readers and writers 😉 

zzzyy

Kelly Fitzharris Faulk, Editor-in-Chief 

Gather Around, Guys. You Might Want to Read This One Sitting Down. SLM is Closing. – Editor-in-Chief, Kelly Fitzharris Faulk

Loss, Life, and the Aftermath

I’m hopelessly transparent in all of my editor’s letters. I owe it to you guys; the ones who are putting your hearts and souls into your submissions. You’re baring everything to me on the blank page and in the bodies of your emails.

My husband is more of a private person than I am. He doesn’t quite understand the fact that I need to share my pain, my loss, and my grief in order to truly heal.

Back in June I suffered a miscarriage.

I am currently suffering from another miscarriage.

Two losses this close together are two too many. I can’t even begin to explain to you the myriad of emotions and hormonal fluctuations I’m going through – there are times when I flat-out feel like I’m losing my mind. That, coupled with the workload of SLM, the fact that it’s grown into something that’s beyond me is something that I can no longer control.

Honestly, as I combed through submissions and saw that about 90% of them were addressed to Nicole, I slammed my laptop shut and I think I even went so far as to scream into a pillow. Here I was working my tail off, yet again, trying to revive the magazine, working all alone, and I couldn’t even get any submissions that were addressed to me. I make no money doing this, guys. Nicole didn’t make any money. Melissa didn’t make any money. This was absolutely a passion project; and if I don’t even recognize the magazine I worked so hard to create, then it’s no longer fun. It hasn’t been fun for a long time. The accessibility aspect that I strove so hard to uphold; the fact that I wanted that open line of communication between the writer and the editor somehow made me into everyone’s favorite doormat. That’s not who I am. That’s not why I created SLM. I could go on and on and on and on, but the point of this letter is to convey to all of you that I’m officially closing up shop. 

To those of you who have been with me from the beginning: Kate Jones, C. C. O’Hanlon, Gene Farmer, Chris Iacono, Tom Gumbert, Nicole Ford Thomas, Scott Thomas Outlar, Melissa Libbey, Jayne Martin, Steve Carr, Dee Lean, Mickie Bolling-Burke, Katie Lewington, Steve Cooper, Sebnem Sanders, Don Tassone, David Cook, Jamie Andrews, and so many, many more of you that I know I forgot to name because I’m literally thinking off the top of my head at the moment: Thank you. You were my biggest cheerleaders. You all believed in what I did and wanted to be that change on the literary horizon with SLM.

And to those of you whom I wrote an acceptance letter to: I’m truly sorry. This is a ship that is simply not navigable by one person. I thought I could start things back up and it would be just like riding a bike, that everything would click and I’d get back into a groove. But that wasn’t the case. Those acceptances I sent meant that I saw brilliance in your work and I still see brilliance in it and potential in you. I’m just so sorry that I can’t be the one to display your work. 

After a long talk with Nicole, we named all the things that were going on in my life that were out of my control, that were stressing me and pushing me to my boiling point. Having two (almost) back-to-back miscarriages has done a number on my body and my mind and it has been the most god-awful, harrowing experience I’ve ever gone through.

I’m remarried to a wonderful, wonderful man who loves me and my children and would do anything for me.

But it doesn’t erase the horrible year I’ve had. It doesn’t mean that I don’t get a pang deep inside my chest of sadness every time I have to hand my kids over to my ex-husband. NO mother wants to see their own children only 50% of the time. That part will never get easier, I’m afraid.

There are still many aspects from the divorce that I’m bitter about and I’m angry about. I might always be bitter when it comes up. Who knows? A lot of wrong was done to me. I was stepped on a lot. And then there were those of you who either stayed with me during that time or who left as the world as I’d known it crumbled around me. That speaks louder than any words you might muster up as an excuse.

I’m not just a caveat for your limelight and a bullet point for your resume or a passionate letter-writer when you need a recommendation. I’m a real person who has real, devastating, life-altering issues going on at the moment. I’m a writer, too. I had a book published about a year ago.

To those of you who are regular readers and contributors, who know me well, and who care: I’m sorry. I truly am. You are the ones I was doing this for. Even the new contributors who have taken the time to comb through this site and find out what I’m really about and wrote about it in their emails: I was doing this for you, too. And I’m sorry.

I’ve poured my heart, my passion, my creativity into this web site and devoted countless hours to this project. It includes so much work that it’s laughable how simple some people think it is. I created this web site. I bought its domain name. I go through every submission and read it and contact that writer myself. After that, I have to go into the web site, format that writer’s work, ensure (maybe this is the fifth or sixth time) that there are no typos or grammatical or punctuation errors, insert their author photo and bio, put a category with it, choose a cover photo, and then I can schedule it for publishing. I also have to send the writer an email letting them know the date and the time that their work will show up on the web site. It’s work. It’s a lot of damn work. And it’s too much to be doing alone. At the moment there are over a hundred unanswered emails in the submissions inbox and it makes me CRAZY. I can’t do it anymore. And I certainly can’t do it alone.

I need to close this down and do something for myself for a while.

Nicole and I are very good friends. She no longer works for the magazine in an editorial capacity and hasn’t in a long time. So I meant  no disrespect toward her as I told you that when I saw all the submissions were addressed to her, that I sort of lost my shit. We talk frequently – and we also can’t ever seem to get off the phone with one another – because we’re essentially the same person. Our friendship and working relationship mean a great deal to me and whenever I start up something in the future, you might see her there with me.

But as of right now I need to do right by myself and take this albatross off of my shoulders and remove it from the string it’s attached to around my neck.

I need to do some work on myself and stop trying to distract myself away from my feelings.

More than likely, I will keep the same web site, but the URL will change. I’m a writer. I need to get back to my roots and I need to do so in order to stay sane.

Feel free to leave any and all comments, concerns, and questions below. I invite your input. Please. This is the one time you should speak freely.

Again, I’m sorry. I’m sorry that we couldn’t make it work. I’ve failed a lot in 2017 – but that doesn’t mean that I’m a failure. It means that I dared to take a leap of faith. I dared to do what no one else was willing to do and I failed. But if success isn’t a destination, then neither is failure. It doesn’t mean that you won’t see me again in another capacity. It means that this isn’t the creative outlet that I set out for it to be any more.

Thank all of you for your support.

Signing off,

Over and out,

Kelly Fitzharris Faulk

zzzyy

Chin Up! You Should Just be Happy You’ve Made it THIS Far! – Editor in Chief – Kelly Fitzharris Coody

“Complain to me when you’re talentless and homely.”

“I’m jealous of how thin you are!”

“My, my, with that red hair, you could break everyone’s heart in this room.”

“Woooo!!I just got my royalty check and oh my god! Kelly, can you edit half of my next book for free?”

“I do love a good story… however I’ll just keep the memory of how insanely beautiful you are with me to sleep:)”

GUESS WHAT?!!!!! I am writing my own books, juggling staying at home with my children, being a good wife, running this web site, collaborating with another author on a book, and making sure there’s food on the goddamn table.

This is fun?

This is productive?

I’ve worked so goddamn hard on this book – on making it a really, really good book that I’m proud of.

The other “authors” don’t consider me a peer because of my fucking appearance. (As you can already tell, I’m going to swear a lot. Be advised.) What do you want me to do, put a bag over my head? This is my face. I won’t apologize for being a woman.

I’ve never felt more underestimated, undervalued, or disappointed in my life. Do you want to know how many times I have been asked to “sex chat?” Or if I’m “happily married?” Rather than asking me about my writing or anything else.

Oh, and while I’m here, I need to address this.

What gives?! I asked  you guys nicely if you would share a link from Underground Book Reviews’s Facebook page for me, as I was up for being reviewed by them, as I had made Pitch Perfect Finalist.

BUT ONLY ONE PERSON DID.

So, guess what happened?

A book about quiche won and, yeah, I am sort of crushed. A BOOK ABOUT QUICHE RECIPES WON AND GOT A THOROUGH, WELL-PROMOTED REVIEW. And me? Well, I’m still here. Plugging along. Going back to the drawing board.

Melissa and I have both come down with a cold / flu / plague thing, so we’ve been MIA recently. We will be MIA for a little longer as we figure out the new schedule – the themes are still going to happen, they just may happen after the holidays in order for them to work.

As of right now, we are pushing back publishing to a later date. I will put up another editor’s letter once I figure out what that date is.

Another funny note that I might mention here – half of you are friends with me on Facebook and don’t even realize that I’m the one you email with your submissions – that I’m the one working tirelessly to be a platform for YOUR writing. I created this magazine to give a voice to those who were talented and deserved to be heard.

Most other literary magazines / journals have a minimum response time of three to four months – please begin to expect the same from us. ESPECIALLY if I’ve told you we’ve accepted your work.

I’m the friend who listens to everyone else vent, is there as a shoulder to cry on for them, would do anything for them, but never receives it in return.

My throat is swollen and it’s painful to swallow. I’m going to bed.

I truly cherish the community that I’ve been able to foster here – but, sometimes, it’s hard to be everything to everyone while my own work is collecting dust in the corner. And, I’m still sick.

PS: I’ve mailed off everyone’s Pushcart Noms.

You know who I am.

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