Plucked from the Shelf - George Ovitt
Slow - Cara Long
Long Day's Drive - Dave Davis
Too Soon - Emily M. Troia
Family Album - Doug Mathewson
Dinner Conversation - Christian Aguiar
Wings - Andrew Stancek
Apollo 1 - Margaret Sessa-Hawkins
Game as Old as Their Marriage - Emily Dawson
Two-Stepping - John Gifford
Letter to Next of Kin - John Gifford
Neighbors called it in. The kid from the neglected frame shack at the end of the lane didn't attend school. Debris and beer cans littered the weed clogged yard. Cops responded, then called Child Protective Services.
Gary Clifton, forty years a cop, has fiction pieces published or pending with over sixty venues. He's been shot at, shot, stabbed, sued, lied to and about, often misunderstood and is currently out to pasture on a dusty north Texas ranch. Clifton has an M.S. from Abilene Christian University.
Plucked from the Shelf
“So today I was reading this book by Miguel de Unamuno, you know, the famous Spanish writer, called The Tragic Sense of Life, it’s this somewhat weird version of the existential dilemma, you know, how can life have meaning in the face of death, not that it can’t, but how does one cope with, you know, the fundamental nothingness, the Great fucking Void.”
George Ovitt is the author of Splitting the Difference, forthcoming from Big Table. He lives in Albuquerque and he just got a dandy new pair of hiking shoes from L.L. Bean.
Hal stares at the sink, blankly. He’s not bothered, like his wife is, by the slow drip. She has taken it upon herself to repair the faucet this morning.
Cara Long hopes the next Mayor of New York City will make the creation of affordable housing a top policy priority in her/his administration. Her work has appeared/will appear in Whiskeypaper, Halfway Down the Stairs, SmokeLong Quarterly and the Circa Review.
Long Day's Drive
I stood perspiring and aggravated in the evening swelter of the Gulf
Coast and knocked. It had been a tense, long day’s drive on rainy
interstates tortured with construction, the claustrophobic lanes thick
with orange cones and jersey barriers. I was running a couple hours
Now retired, Mr. Davis dabbles in writing, fishing, and cooking. His work has been (or will be) published in Boston Literary Magazine, Eclectic Flash, Journal of Microliterature, and Pot Luck Magazine.
Emily M. Troia
I cannot take back the corduroy jacket I bought the other day, the other day before our story changed direction. The jacket pockets are already littered with little balls of silver and pink foil, leftovers from those chocolate hearts I snuck from the receptionist at the doctor’s office. The pockets are already haunted by disintegrating shreds of tissue, soggy consequences of an incessantly dripping nose. The doctor couldn’t explain it, even doubted it was related, but I knew it was just another way my body was telling me something other than my will was in control. Sometimes your hand would slip out of mine and come to rest on my belly. Instead of going out, we would sit around the house and daydream about how his little voice would sound bouncing off the freshly-painted, periwinkle walls. “Does it feel weird?” you asked, “Like an alien invasion?” I pointed out he would, soon enough, be invading both of our lives. That was just a few days ago: my answer is different now. Now, I feel like my life has been abducted, not invaded. There are too many people talking around me. Now, the blue walls have a gray cast. The jacket cannot be returned, because the tags were off it a few days too soon. I reach for wine and let my imagination haunt me.
Emily M. Troia studied Physics and Philosophy at Wesleyan University and received her B.A. in Studio Art from Ursuline College. She is currently pursuing an MFA in Poetry from the NEOMFA Program in Northeast Ohio and works at the Cleveland State University Poetry Center. Her work has appeared in or is forthcoming in cahoodaloodling, Digital Americana, and other journals.
We never had a family album, it wasn’t our style. No photos of picnics or birthdays, no graduations, Easter Bonnets or Christmas Mornings. We had a family envelope. That’s how we were I guess. Our envelope was tattered and old filled mostly with out dated papers and useless receipts. Hardly any pictures or clippings.
Doug Mathewson is best known for his mixed-media sculptures, certainly not his written work. The art-world remains unimpressed with the exception of his “Head-of-Goliath-a-Day” series. He portrays the famous image of young David with the severed head of the giant Goliath in dioramas contained within walnut shell halves. David could be a media figure, robot, space squid, film star, or just someone on the bus The artist is always the head. He works with Pandemonium Press, as well as Full of Crow Press and Distribution. More of his work can be found at little2say.
He’s pressuring her a lot, he knows, but why complicate a simple life? He will cook and she will study English and soon they will move to Albany to live with his sister and everything will be perfect. This dinner at the Blue Train is proof of his love, isn’t it? Lobster and clams, a starlit night, the gentle caress of the Atlantic? Simple pleasures.
Christian Aguiar was born in Worcester, Massachusetts but currently lives in the mountains of northern South Korea, where he teaches and writes.
Like lightning the mirror crack flashes down. A bolt of sunshine blinds me. A broken slat fires rat-at-tat in the wind. I pretend I’m defending the castle from Visigoths, machine gun ready. I am six. This attic is mine. Nobody but me creeps up the rickety ladder. It smells like mothballs and Grandma, before she went to heaven, and dry mushrooms. I found a tray of mushrooms that Grandma must have sliced and forgot. They were chewy and made my tummy scrunch up but I liked them anyway. I like chewy things.
Up here I play with a giraffe, a zebra and a rhino. The zebra is best at hide-and-seek but the rhino likes dominoes. I had a puppy once but he got squished by the neighbor’s wagon, and the bunnies Grandma kept in cages disappeared the Sunday of the May Day feast. Nobody can take my giraffe.
Andrew Stancek was born in Bratislava and saw Russian tanks occupying his homeland. His dreams of circuses and ice cream, flying and lion-taming, miracle and romance have appeared recently in print in LA Review, Windsor Review and New Sun Rising: Stories for Japan. Among the many online publications are Every Day Fiction , Gemini Magazine Flash Fiction Contest Grand Prize Winner , fwriction, r.kv.r.y. quarterly literary journal , Tin House , Flash Fiction Chronicles , The Linnet’s Wings , Connotation Press, THIS Literary Magazine, and Pure Slush.
A few weeks before, Gus had hung a lemon in the capsule. “Big boss
Shea was livid,” he told her, laughing. “Then he said I was immature.
Immature! Honest to God Betty, I don’t know how that thing will ever
go into space.”
Margaret Sessa-Hawkins is currently pursuing her MFA in Creative Writing at Glasgow University in Scotland. She spends her time trying to balance the demands of free-lance writing with the temptations offered by Ceilidh's, castles, and celtic music.
Game as Old as Their Marriage
The hunter tosses his beer can into the meadow, leaves his wife in the passenger seat of the pickup, (a rental), and his twelve gauge on the hood—the stakes of the dare. The bank repossessed their farm, their tractor, their chickens, but not their spirits, never their sense of adventure. The Bull Moose drinks from the marsh as the hunter staggers nineteen feet away, fifteen, seven. The hunter stops. Breathes in the hay-smell of dead vegetation. His own heartbeat fills his head. He doesn’t even know she is behind him until a bullet strikes his shoulder, his chest, his throat.
Emily Dawson lives in New Hampshire with her husband, their two sons and two very loyal puggles. She enjoys doodling and seashell collecting.
“You just got here,” says the man, adjusting his cowboy hat. “Have another beer and enjoy the scenery.”
Letter to Next of Kin
Three times he’d begun the letter and each time he got as far as the second sentence before terminating his correspondence. What could he say? He simply didn’t treat enough stroke cases to have mastered the intravenous procedure.