short story: Ruined Things Are Only Gorgeous When They Are Not Yours
Driving along the motorway, the radio crackled. She wanted to trace something on the window, but couldn’t think what. She fiddled with buttons, found an old song they both liked and turned it up. She imagined she was going to Berlin, to meet girls wearing orange lipstick and boots, tall and forward in the chaos of other people. Continue reading “Short Story by Anna Walsh”→
I remember telling my parents that I was destined to get along with Bud Lykke, with that prosocial name of his, but I didn’t expect such a character. Each morning, he pours a bit of coffee into the hanging plants. After dinner he spends hours inside chunky headphones with “Binaural Beats” blaring, engineered to trigger dissociative states. He grew up in Appalachia, some obscure county in Ohio, and blames his ills on the heavy fracking around there, radioactivity in the drinking water. Continue reading “Short story by James Cato”→
The moon is full and bathing. Light laps each house in this quiet village, casting silver squares through windows with undrawn curtains. In one such bedroom, a cat bathes too, pale fur illuminated against the floorboards. A clock chimes deep within the house and his eyes flash open. He stretches, unfurling his length, and leaps on the mistress’s bed, pawing at her cheek once, twice, waiting. The mistress is between dreams. Within them, a dark ocean crashes into itself. She is expecting an arrival in the foam but is uncertain what form it will take. A vast scattering of shells and flint line the shore but she can’t move quickly enough to search through the piles. When she moves her hands, they leave ghostly echoes of themselves. The sound of waves melts into chiming. It is almost the hour, she knows, and she hasn’t found a thing. Continue reading “Short Story by Jennifer Brough”→
He’s been on two journeys in his lifetime. Firstly, Antarctica. With his son, Mark. Arriving by air, setting out (despite all the warnings), saying to the seventeen year old boy, We must take our first reading from the coastline. Mark saying, How can we do that? It’s covered in a billion tonnes of ice.
. . . something about a man and his dog (in the grand, non-linear scheme of reincarnation) as being one in the same. Soul, that is. Ethereal transient dweller, is another. Here now, there they are: Situated between two distinct, bloody meat husks, between two separate states of existent being — at once, under one roof, simultaneously — with one foot in man, the other, a dachshund-terrier mix.
. . . is comprised of both end and endless, singular and infinite, of omniscient oblivion, bright-dark heavy-light, of both shape and void, each with their own distinct name. As a man: Brandon. In dog form, she is Mocha, among countless others (i.e., Mochi, Mookie, Monkey, Chunky, Chubbers, Chunkmonster. . . ). As mutual entity, root identity, as timeless core incarnate, a loose translation: Daielaareux.
. . . will spend seven months at the shelter, gone unadopted longer than any other dog, before rejoining herself again. Meanwhile, she cries her jaw off. Starves herself down to a coffee-boned silhouette. Even draws blood from the hand of a guileless child, to make clear the message: I will never be yours. She waits patiently for what she already knows will eventually be.
. . . remembers what, on pure impulse, will drive him to the shelter in this manic grasping for purpose, going on six days without medication. He will come upon himself, caged separate. His ovaries scooped clean. Groggy with shots to keep him quiet, stagnant, alive. Not even finding himself to be particularly cute, or unique, or enthralling, yet feeling instantly connected, just the same. Might he’ve recognized then, in those muted eyes, himself? She knows the next years ahead of them together will be nothing so glorious — that they are in no way ready or responsible enough to take adequate care of themselves. They will ingest things that will make them violently ill. They will be too poor, too careless, to seek medical help. Will endure vast chunks of boredom, chewing holes through themselves, incapable to leave the house. Will watch themselves from the foot of the bed sulk and rot away for days on end, treading the grey wash of their skull, directionless, besides down. Will be the only life force to keep them afloat, strong enough to pull themselves upwards, and eventually, out.
. . . yanks on their leash in unruly directions, and, out of sheer spite, he tugs them back the opposite way. Each will struggle to tell themselves what to do. He instructs her to obey: Sit. Heel. Eat. Fetch. Up on the couch. Now, off. But she refuses to listen. Years later, their heart crushed by a lasting love, lost — the one who used to (she now learns) smack them in private, but still loves her, despite the abuse — two months out, having still not washed the pillows or sheets, incubated with the tortuous scent of their ex’s shampoo, she has no other choice than to piss on the bed. She instructs him to: Be calm. Go for a walk. Know your self-worth. Move on. But he refuses to listen. He tells himself: No. He calls herself: Bad girl. They scream as themselves: Shut up shut up shut up.
. . . Daielaareux, in countless other forms: A bridge in New Zealand. A strip mall in Detroit. An unbuttered croissant. A great big pile of leaves. A spanned lineage of prehistoric, neon-colored crabs. A comfortable silence. An impossible dream. The 37th Annual Miss America pageant. A one-hit wonder. An impotent king. A fortuitous accident, recognized only in hindsight. The Divine Mouth taking the earth like a vitamin. A newborn horse’s first step. Another one biting the dust.
. . . forever amounts to, returns back to, self-love.
. . . just seconds before the New Year, 2018. Time hibernates. Thoughts shuffle like a deck of cards. Head loud. Skull turned inside out on psychedelics. A blubbery, sunken, self-contained mess of fleshy slop packed inside a transient shell. A dark stain on the carpet, on a mother’s pelvic floor. He rushes to the bathroom, convinced an empty bladder will cure him. It does, then doesn’t. Grime sits in every wrinkle. Gravity’s tandem held hand lets go. The universe’s veil pulled down like a shower curtain, their many forms spilling out over the linoleum floor. On their knees, hands, back, she perches on his chest and he catches it — a quick glimpse, the uncanny resemblance, atoms stacked like dodged shoved in a cage. He holds herself behind the ears, kisses himself on their wet, hot stinking teeth. Noticing it fully, this tethering between them — an ethereal cord, conjoined. He she they them are all was once will have had we become continuous as one day slips seamlessly into the next without a clock, as the crackling bursts of fireworks resound from outside, at last. They have made it, for now.
. . . in the same windowed timeline, will cease just as abruptly as its start: The man, at the tender age of fifty-six, from an untreated pulmonary obstruction; as a dog, age nine, a pack of stale Oreos left accessible at the top of the trash. And yet, both still remain incapable of saving each other, themselves, from what must be in order to happen again.
Stephen Wack is an Atlanta-based writer. He earned an undergraduate degree in Neuroscience from the University of Georgia, where he briefly interned at the college’s literary magazine, The Georgia Review. His work has previously appeared in Five:2:One, Rougarou, and Cleaver Magazine, and is forthcoming in The Hunger and New Flash Fiction Review.
Peter Maier waits in his back yard. He paces the patchy lawn, from where the birch takes the sun; from where he sits in summer to read. Or in the crook of the linden, further back, behind the vegetables. He follows the brick path, and remembers every time he’s helped his father turn the soil, plant the carrots, the potatoes. Just like this, wandering, unsure where to stand, where to go, what to think about what his mother calls the ending. He can hear the artillery a few kilometres away. They’ve been warned – later today, or tomorrow.
The clock chimed seven …ding…ding…ding… and so on, until it let out one final loud ding that woke Forbes with a start. He shuffled slightly and managed to stretch his front and back legs just enough to prevent the cramp from setting in. He meowed happily as he heard the familiar whirring sound. His morning feed came shooting through the food hatch and plopped into his dish in a brown lumpy mush.
It was her first period for three months. Sitting on the lav with her knickers around her ankles and her knees falling apart, Mihaela saw the new slimness in her bare legs and grimaced. She thought of all the meals she’d missed since the promotion—the rushed breakfasts, the uneaten sandwiches, the insubstantial dinners—and how quickly it had become a matter of finding not the time but the inclination. Now she ate as irregularly and as little as she slept. No wonder her periods had stopped.
My brother’s childhood room and mine connect through paired doors, at three different points. Walk out my room and and ten paces would take you to my brother’s door, next to the AC control, across from the panic button. We also shared a bathroom, each room opening onto the sinks where we would brush our hair, or teeth, or forget to, side by side. With both doors open, you could have seen from pillow to pillow if you tried hard. Continue reading “Dov Nelkin: 6 doors and One Slammed”→