by Mary B. Sellers
The frost isn’t as pretty as I expected it to be. Out here with the dogs. 6:29 am.
Parents have gone because mom’s getting another electroconvulsive treatment and for the first time in a long time I’m glad she’s going. It usually bothers me to think about all her neurons being lit up like little glow in the dark worms and her mouth clamped shut so she won’t swallow her tongue. I asked her once how the doctor knows she’s seizing; she told me that he watches for when her foot “jumps”. She couldn’t remember whether it was her right or her left. But her dad is dying; an event that would unravel even the most raveled of us. I haven’t had that happen yet, but I got a taste of what it would potentially feel like back in 2014. My own dad. Cancers. One so bad the medical people in charge of naming medical things felt compelled to place a modifier before it: malignant.
by Wendy J. Fox
It wasn’t until my second wedding that my first divorce really sank in. I was under the gazebo, waiting for my bride, Raquel. Raquel with the long auburn hair, tips dipped green, pink feathers woven in, and a braid with a purple ribbon wound around the crown of her head. Raquel, white dress, stitched with rhinestones and fake pearls. Raquel, whose borrowed diamonds from some rich friend made my ring to her look like a speck of mica. Raquel, barefoot on the grass that led up to the gazebo.
by Dale Stromberg
“Give me liberty, or give us death!” So says Jephthah.
“Wait—really?” says his daughter.
(Or so she might have said—but nobody wrote it down.)
Tried swallowing poison. Tried swallowing mousetraps. Tried quicklime, helium, eye of newt, flea collars, fragments of vinyl, a mysterious fish doll, a cabinet key, and sand. Began to despair of ever being cured.
So then, nearly at the end of my rope, I swallowed an eraser. It was a white, gummy one, and it tasted like an eraser. Soft as a berry but too, too dry. It wasted no time, but got to erasing straight off.
by Derek Andersen
I still remember the pounding of the rain, the howling of the wind, the white-hot flash of lightning that seared through the night as I breathed life into my creation. While my wife slumbered in the other room, I alone bore witness to the birth. A tear ran down my cheek as I crooned its name, those two honey-soaked syllables: Ella. It wasn’t until later that I realized my spawn was a bastard, an abomination. A plague upon humanity.
by Martha Anne Toll
1963. Katya detoured to St. Patrick’s Cathedral before ballet company class. Not to attend Mass—she didn’t need to mouth words and hymns that punctuated her childhood—but for sanctuary and anonymity.
Genuflecting before she started down the great center aisle, Katya took a pew on the left toward the altar, where she could avoid Fifth Avenue’s street noise and bathe in the rainbow of colors refracted through rows of stained-glass windows. She felt alone in the cavernous space, less a child of her parents than an autonomous woman. St. Patrick’s bore no resemblance to the small parish church of her childhood. It wasn’t Mama that Katya recalled from church, it was Mama’s absence, her early death, as much a part Sundays as the colorless windows over the pews.
by Maggie Queeney
She told him, “You can’t trust them.”
He had been staring out the passenger window, head turning to track an approaching tree. His voice sounded far away against the glass, as if he, and not the roadside, were receding. “My teeth?”
No Logical Explanation
by Lana Schwartz
“There is no logical explanation for why I’m like this,” you tell Mark in between bites of baby quiche. That you hate broccoli but you love it in your egg-based meals: Quiches, omelets, the more broccoli, the better.
He smiles at you and laughs, a small laugh that punctuates the end of his smile like an exclamation point.
How to Write About Stillness
by John Miguel Shakespear
First: wake up, check your socials, and hit snooze. Wake up again ten minutes later; hit snooze again. Now haul yourself out of bed. You better stretch, bucko. Today’s the day you’re going to write an essay about stillness.
Look, it’s right there in your Google calendar: “Consider benefits of stillness and introspection, September 4, 8 a.m.-5p.m.”
It’s 8:37 a.m. Already behind.