Ceremony
Len Kuntz

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Ceremony
Len Kuntz

     There is a door, an opening and an exit, yet there is no turning back, no chance for cowardice or recovery. If this were only about love, layers would need to be peeled, stripping away the pink and gray—gowns and tuxedos—flushing out the doubt and claiming more than just a mild margin of fear.
     Whose hands are shaking? Whose breath wears the sharp tang of whiskey and oak? Whose friends are gathered like happy goons, gawking at all this pageantry?
     Similar mistakes have been made by others. This is forever or doesn’t have to be. Love is a rodeo rollercoaster carnival clown show catastrophe. Well, isn’t it?
     The sun has seen it all before. Look up and see her glare, her staring through the shifting limbs of a cherry blossom tree.
     If I could convince myself that there’s a God, he might provide a step stool or maybe cyanide, perhaps the perfect path to follow.
     But I have this burning cold sore to attend to. I have this ceremony to get through. I have this woman to marry, this life to construct, this love to seal, this future to begin, and the organ is telling me I must do it all now.

Len Kuntz is a writer from Washington State. His work appears widely in print and online at such places as Blue Fifth Review, The Stream Press, Negative Suck and also at lenkuntz.blogspot.com.




What There Will Be
Matthew Zanoni Muller

     They used to jump into their cars at every chance to see each other, her driving the 120 miles east to him, where he would descend, at the end of his workday, through the doors of the lobby with a smile. Him west to her, where she would leave piles of books and homework to run out through the metal back door. Their year in school together she remembers really as only one image: the two of them, half dancing, half pulling one another across the iced over grass quadrangle surrounded by the dormitories, whose quiet yellow-lit windows hit their yelps and screams up to the stars. Three years further on she has left school to be closer to him, to prepare for the baby. She doesn’t see him leave the office anymore, working the same low position, one he left school to take, when it was offered to him after a summer internship, when things were still temporary, would lead to greater things, countless things. She would have been embarrassed, as a girl, her family classified by that job. An aching question now grows inside her tumor-like. Looking out the window, waiting, (it seems she is always waiting) the low rooftops of the old mill town feel at once weighed upon by the low grey clouds, and made thin by the clear sky above. Her life may be like this always, she thinks, holding the window sill, an incredible contraction of possibilities.

Matthew Zanoni Muller was born in Bochum, Germany and grew up in Eugene, Oregon and Upstate New York. He received his MFA from Warren Wilson’s MFA Program for Writers and teaches at his local Community College. His work has appeared in various magazines and journals. To learn more about his writing, please visit: www.matthewzanonimuller.com.




Documentation
Jessica A. Kent

     The blood flowed.
     He didn't like that word, “flowed,” though the young paramedic was required to use terms that fit the EMS standard operating procedures; no option for creativity.
     He squeezed an oxygen bag and his partner pumped on a patient's chest. 1-2-3. Unresponsive. Then, a fluttering of lashes around dilated pupils. Should I write that down?, he thought. He looked to his partner. He wouldn’t disrupt her diligence to restore crumbling order and resurrect life. He’d ask later.
     At the hospital, he scrubbed away the traces of their failure from the ambulance. His partner sat on the bumper and smoked, unaffected by the death, or so her nonchalant exhalations told him. He believed her experience could explain his questions. “The patient’s lashes moved.”
     “More of a twitch or a flutter?” she asked, scattering ashes.
     “Flutter, maybe?” He didn’t know how to include that detail on the form.
     She responded, “Write, ‘Indications of a soul shaking loose, some kind of humanity dislodging.’”
     He heard she had been reprimanded for using terms like “vivacious breath,” “worn pulse,” “purging wound.” It was a problem. He didn’t know why. As she taught him her vocabulary narrowed, and now their run reports were identical. Patients became all the same words, medics with access only to limited phrases.
     Yet, on the way back to the station, she spoke of each body’s beauty, as if the dead would rise up and dance.

Jessica A. Kent is a writer, musician, traveler, and coffee drinker from Albany, NY. Her work has been featured in Emerson Review, Corkboard Literary Magazine, and Relevant Magazine Online, among others; currently, she's still working on The Novel. You can read more of her thoughts on literature, life, and theology at www.jessicaakent.com.





     She was calmed by the sound. Its buffeting drone was like white noise against the chatter of her thoughts. Post after post of rail fence and the wind rushing through the truck’s open windows. There was a tinge of summer in the air. It made her nostalgic for a time in her youth she was not sure had ever taken place. She sent a squirt of dip adrift, black beads in the aphotic night, and rubbed the well-worn brim of her hat. George Edward Pickett’s great-great-great-great-grandson. Of course the sumbitch would die and leave her to raise the boy herself.

Sam Katz was born in Korea, grew up outside of Philadelphia, and currently lives in Brooklyn. His short fiction has appeared in The Good Men Project.




The Food of Love
Liz Haigh

     If she were a piece of music, she'd be pan pipes, playing outdoors in the summer breeze. He'd be a jazz band playing in a smoky bar till the early hours . If she were a plate of food she'd be a sesame seed loaf with a leafy green salad. He'd be a mixed grill with a large medium rare steak and fries on the side.
     Yet somehow, fate brought them together and they fell in love. They were married for forty-two years. During all that time, Jack happily ate Laura's berlotti beans and homemade red lentil soup, until the day Laura died.
     From that day on, all that Jack ate was a rack of ribs with BBQ sauce on the side, or prime rib steak. He ate nothing but red meat, until twelve months later, when he died of clogged arteries and a broken heart.

Liz Haigh works in a library, which is her dream job because she loves books. Her work has appeared in Liquid Imagination, Linnet’s Wings, Apollo’s Lyre, The Legendary and other places. She is currently working on a novel for young adults.




Hoxie House
Bob Zappacosta

     Now that we have Central Heating and Digital TV there are fewer lovers born. No longer is a bed made with hands that tie the knot. Wheels that spin are not the same as spinning wheels. No yarn is made and much is lost. So called reality obscures the moonlight, waning the brain and waxing the ear until the poet's voice and troubadour's song is no longer heard. Yes, and in all of this fewer lovers are born.

Bob Zappacosta's poems have been published by The Aurorean, Bowersock Gallery, Pasco Arts Council, PEARL, St. Petersburg Times, Tampa Tribune, and Verdad. His poetic short film "Jack Buchanan—rough cut, a work in progress" was shown at Progress Energy Art Gallery.





     It is the newest and the grandest mall in all of Gurgaon.
     Rahim, who sneaked past the security guards yesterday, says everything is made of silver and glass, and, like stairs, even its floors move on their own.
     He says only the most beautiful and the best smelling people of the city come to shop here.
     I like those people. When I beg for food, just outside the boundary wall, they bring me burgers and cola.

Mohit Parikh works in a staffing and recruiting firm, based in Toronto. He is 25. While he mostly writes short-fiction he is currently working on a novel about growing up in India, before the information age. All children, except one, grow up.




Hardware & More
Jon Bishop

     Mr. Jacobson opened his shop early: six in the morning, every day. No exceptions. He sold books—novels, non-fiction, classics—and tools. A bemusing combination, yet the townspeople flocked and flew like fowl to a perch. He had what they needed. And they could talk to him—Mr. Jacobson used to teach. He left, finding this to be far more important. He could use the store to affect the entire town. They could absorb necessities for good living.
     Now, however, the customers ceased. His door barely opened. And he was old. Some days, when none came, he swept the dust that collected on the floor. It kept him occupied.
     He expected more of the same this morning as he shuffled into his shop. Six in the morning, no exceptions: even if none should show.
     But a man did arrive, and in dapper dress. His greased hair could crack under a chisel. He powered to the register and, in antsy agitation, smacked the counter. It sent a poof of dust swirling upward.
     “Mr. Jacobson? Hello? You there?”
     Silence.
     “Look, I don’t have much time. Hello?” The shout did it—he scuttled in from the back.
     “Yes? What can I do for you?”
     “I’m here to buy you out.”
     Pause.
     “What? You can’t be serious.”
     “I am. Your store is a great location for my restaurant. We have a new, hot chef.”
     The check was large.
     He continued: “I’ll call you tomorrow morning.”
     Though the sun painted morning shades, an epoch had ended. None noticed.


Jon Bishop, 22, is a recent graduate of Assumption College. He lives in Wilmington, MA and works as a freelance writer.




Leaving
Myra King

     Today I decided I am leaving myself.
      I will sit right down, like the lines in that old song, “and write myself a letter."
      Of course I will leave it in a place where I am sure to find it. Probably on the bathroom vanity; I always go there first thing in the morning for daily ablutions.
      I wonder—if I leave myself, will I want to ablute? Or even need to ablute. Or will I sit like one homogeneous lump of bio mass and water and not want to do anything even remotely resembling ablution.
      What should I write? Should it be a “Dear John” letter? Or something less formal; perhaps a diatribe of accusations:

Dear me,
      I have decided to leave you because you have let me down once too often.
      How crazy it is to see all this hair in my brush every morning; I am sure it’s not normal.
      I can’t read in bed anymore, you ache and complain and let me know all about it the next day. I can’t eat pickled onions now without coughing, and I love pickled onions. They're about the only things that don't make you/me fat.
      Really, do I really need to tell you any of this? You already know all of it and more, but what you don’t know is that I want out!
      This I have kept from you, which as you can imagine, was no mean feat.
      But if you are reading this, or not reading this, as I have an inkling of suspicion may be the case, I have already gone.
      No hard feelings,
      Me.


Myra King is an Australian writer living on the coast of South Australia. She has written a number of prize winning short stories, including first prize in the UK-based Global Short story Competition, and has a short story collection published by Ginninderra Press. In 2010 her short story, "The Black Horse", was shortlisted for the US Glass Woman Prize. Among other publications her work has appeared in The Pages, BuzzWords, Little Episodes and Orbis - UK. In Eclecticism, Meuse Press, Dark Prints Press AUS. And in the US - Battered Suitcase, Admit 2 and Heron’s Nest. She has upcoming (or recent) work in, Eclectic Flash, The Valley Review – Meat For Tea, eFiction, Red River Review, Fast Forward Press and The Foundling Review.




Dawn Patrol
Kurt Klein

     -Waiting for someone special? the desk clerk asks.
     -Yeah, special, the man replies; officer, air force, wings and all.
     -Female, I suppose.
     -Yeah, female.
     -Wear out the carpet you keep going like that. Want coffee? Breakfast? Coffee Shop opens at six every morning, 'bout ten minutes.
     -No thanks, the officer says, and continued his slow going, now toward the street doors, now back to the elevators. Guy can walk a long way in a small place if he's nervous enough, he thought.
     He'd registered, Kenneth—, but he didn't know why, rooms weren't even emptied out yet. She'd said fifteen minutes and it's been thirty. Who is she? he demanded of himself. All those letters and he didn't know her at all. Loved her he told her on the phone, she said so too, but so what, I don't even know what she looks like! It's just that I gotta see her, touch her, kiss her maybe. He'd even rehearsed their meeting. He turned again. The clerk looked away.
     The lieutenant took a deep breath, looked down. Could be she won't come at all, he abruptly considered. Why should she, she doesn't know me any better'n I know her. Maybe this won't work just 'cause it can't. This whole damn idea needs more thought. The entrance doors suddenly opened and a freshening of morning air brushed across his face.
     -Kenny?
     He gasped at the sound, whirled around to stare. It was a go mission now, no more planning; just fear.

Kurt Klein lives in Chadron, Nebraska. He's old, 87, upright but leaning.





     Pain from panic attacks. Heart attack. Angioplasty. A stent put in. A second angioplasty. Calcified. Crystallized. Shattered. Another heart attack. She was rushed by ambulance to the city, where they took it out, cleaned it out, stripped an artery from her leg and sewed it in.
     Her father died. My father left her. Her mother died. And we all grew up and moved away.
     For the irregular heartbeats they electrocuted her. When that didn’t work they implanted a pacemaker. She feels it at night. Shocking her back to life.

Mary Jones holds an MFA from Bennington College. Her fiction has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and has appeared in Meridian, Pif Magazine, Elimae, Carve, and elsewhere. She lives in Los Angeles.







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