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Showing posts from June, 2019

Thanks for joining us for NFFD 2019!

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The rain has stopped, the water has subsided, and this year's Flash Flood has come to an end.  We hope you had a wonderful National Flash Fiction Day weekend!

Thank you again to everyone who submitted work, to all our authors, to our panel of editors, and to all of you who stopped by to read.

Special thanks also to Lindsay Murphy, the Programmes Manager at Safe Ground, who shared the inspiring work of Safe Ground's Flash Fiction Project with us.

Submissions for next year's Flash Flood will open in the Spring of 2020.

Finally, if you like what we're doing, please consider becoming a patron of NFFD at Patreon (for as little as £1 a month), making a one-off donation via PayPal or supporting us in one of these other ways (many of which don't involve money).

Thank you again and happy writing from all of us at Flash Flood.







SAFE GROUND: Flash by Jon P

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Flash Flood is continuing its 2019 National Flash Fiction Day celebration with a day of flash written on the theme of 'epiphany' by men at HMP Wandsworth who were participants of Safe Ground's Flash Fiction Project workshops.  You can read more about Safe Ground and the story behind this work in our introduction to this series.


Flash by Jon P
And then it happened. 

‘I now pronounce you man and wife.’ The vicar smiled, showing his stained teeth.

I lifted up the satin veil before he finished speaking. Her eyes were closed. She smelled of Spring. I kissed her. It was a perfect kiss. 

The sun was high in the pastel blue sky. There was a scent of freshly cut grass as we laughed and posed our way onto film and camera.

The reception: Family, close friends, friends’ plus ones mingling, glasses tinkling, taffeta rustling, children playing, applause and laughter then dancing.



In the early hours I lay on the extremely comfortable bed, replaying the events of earlier, some in blac…

SAFE GROUND: 'Truth and Hope' by Stephen H

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Flash Flood is continuing its 2019 National Flash Fiction Day celebration with a day of flash written on the theme of 'epiphany' by men at HMP Wandsworth who were participants of Safe Ground's Flash Fiction Project workshops.  You can read more about Safe Ground and the story behind this work in our introduction to this series.



'Truth and Hope'
by Stephen H

It is now that fateful day of reckoning, the day I never thought would materialize, well not like this. The 27th of January 2017. Amazingly I had slept well the night before, thinking just before I drifted off, of the inscription on King Edward III’s shield in a jousting tournament, ‘It is what it is.’

My sister, Jill, drove me from her house, where I had been staying, to Bedford rail station. It was typical cold, dark, misty morning, visibility was poor, I recall. Was this to be my last journey of what had become a regular commute? Would I be coming back? A dilemma – purchase a single ticket or a return? I chose…

SAFE GROUND: 'Her Smile Never Fades' by Stephen M

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Flash Flood is continuing its 2019 National Flash Fiction Day celebration with a day of flash written on the theme of 'epiphany' by men at HMP Wandsworth who were participants of Safe Ground's Flash Fiction Project workshops.  You can read more about Safe Ground and the story behind this work in our introduction to this series.


'Her Smile Never Fades'
by Stephen M
Her name, her face, the colours of her hair, none of them I remember any longer. It’s been such a long time, too long to even consider counting. Time has turned its pages over many seasons and years. But her smile has never faded away, or been forgotten. Whenever I think of my childhood, she’s always there, in my mind.

The farm was big. There were plenty of olive trees, some of which played a part in my favourite climbing game with my cousin. The best part was getting to the top of the olive tree and then simply jumping down. The more bruises, the more the chances of being the winner. How funny that was; b…

SAFE GROUND: 'The Manuscript' by Chris

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Flash Flood is continuing its 2019 National Flash Fiction Day celebration with a day of flash written on the theme of 'epiphany' by men at HMP Wandsworth who were participants of Safe Ground's Flash Fiction Project workshops.  You can read more about Safe Ground and the story behind this work in our introduction to this series.


'The Manuscript'
by Chris

‘It’s all gone through.’ The words I had been waiting for confirmed the purchase after weeks of near misses. I felt relief where I expected joy, though that returned as I drove through the gates. The large, old stone property, a secluded town north of Inverness, the view over the sea, the peace away from neighbours and enough parking for the whole team and many more were the magnets that brought me here to buy this dream.

I had a week to clean the place before the new furniture arrived. Easily, each room in turn, done and dusted clean. Ahead of schedule, I reached the last at the top. I had never noticed the entrance…

SAFE GROUND: Flash by Nolan

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Flash Flood is continuing its 2019 National Flash Fiction Day celebration with a day of flash written on the theme of 'epiphany' by men at HMP Wandsworth who were participants of Safe Ground's Flash Fiction Project workshops.  You can read more about Safe Ground and the story behind this work in our introduction to this series.


Flash by Nolan

She had to go, she had to go. She had to get down to the coast, the White Cliffs of Dover. It was imperative for her to get there.

On the sandy path, there was something about the way she moved and twirled. There was something about the way she swayed. There was something about the way she veered off the path, onto the lush green grass, and slowly kicked off her shoes. There was something about the movement of her legs, and toes, towards the White Cliff of Dover. There was something about the wind blowing through her hair. There was something about the steadfastness of her feet in the grass.

As she approached the edge of the cliff, the…

SAFE GROUND: 'The Funky Farm' by Blake

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Flash Flood is continuing its 2019 National Flash Fiction Day celebration with a day of flash written on the theme of 'epiphany' by men at HMP Wandsworth who were participants of Safe Ground's Flash Fiction Project workshops.  You can read more about Safe Ground and the story behind this work in our introduction to this series.



'The Funky Farm'
by Blake

Today, I find myself strolling around a farm, not a clue what I’m doing here. I really can’t remember a thing from last night. It must’ve been some night!

After ten minutes, I decide it’s time to get the hell outta here. I stumble across a large wooden fence. It must be five times bigger than myself. It’s massive. I don’t even bother trying to climb it. Seems bloody pointless that. ‘There must be another way outta here,’ I think to myself. So I continue my hunt for an exit outta this strange farm.

After a wee while my belly starts rumbling. Christ, I’m bloody starving, but there ain’t no food around. I spot a trail …

SAFE GROUND: Flash by Sheheen

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Flash Flood is continuing its 2019 National Flash Fiction Day celebration with a day of flash written on the theme of 'epiphany' by men at HMP Wandsworth who were participants of Safe Ground's Flash Fiction Project workshops.  You can read more about Safe Ground and the story behind this work in our introduction to this series.



Flash by Sheheen

Another day, up early, black coffee in bed, Bloomberg in the background. The markets will open soon. Emails will come flooding in. I may need to make a call – Hong Kong or Singapore.

It’s cold outside, two block walk and I am at the gym – shoulders and biceps today.

Home again, more emails flood in. Shower, get ready for work – it will take me forty minutes to get ready. No time for complicated decisions. It’s a grey suit or black, white shirt and tie, laptop in bag, blackberry in hand and I’m off...

Will it be a black cab or the Jubilee line? I will decide when I get to the underground station. It’s the tube. Much quicker.

I get of…

SAFE GROUND: 'The Assignment' by Vladimir

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Flash Flood is continuing its 2019 National Flash Fiction Day celebration with a day of flash written on the theme of 'epiphany' by men at HMP Wandsworth who were participants of Safe Ground's Flash Fiction Project workshops.  You can read more about Safe Ground and the story behind this work in our introduction to this series.


'The Assignment'
by Vladimir
They told him it was a matter of national importance, the key to the survival of his countrymen; for the triumph of their principles and values. It was the existential issue of their whole being. There needed to be found a solution to the problem of being able to write in space.For this was a time when victory in space meant victory at home. And this was being prevented by the fact that no pen could work without gravity.

All the sciences, all the resources, all the efforts towards this project of national priority were being prevented from their fruition by this most simple of tasks.

So, armed with purpose and fu…

SAFE GROUND: Flash by Yakub

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Flash Flood is continuing its 2019 National Flash Fiction Day celebration with a day of flash written on the theme of 'epiphany' by men at HMP Wandsworth who were participants of Safe Ground's Flash Fiction Project workshops.  You can read more about Safe Ground and the story behind this work in our introduction to this series.


 Flash by Yakub
 The town crier whiskerly howled not to the best of his cry.

‘People, please. Preserve. Do not waste. Ration. RATION.’ He carries on daily with the same words in different tone, ‘Ration. RATION. PRESERVE.’ His cries get weaker as the days go by.

There is a queue and people look at the thin and whiskerly crier.

Someone calls out, ‘We can hear you,’ but no one listens. No one cares.

It is the afternoon and the day is hot. The air is dry, people are thirsty, carrying on with their business. The sky is clear, people look up, but no clouds. Dismay. Suddenly, from far away a loud thunder roars. Vibrates. People in the street run, frighten…

SAFE GROUND: Flash by Andre

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Flash Flood is continuing its 2019 National Flash Fiction Day celebration with a day of flash written on the theme of 'epiphany' by men at HMP Wandsworth who were participants of Safe Ground's Flash Fiction Project workshops.  You can read more about Safe Ground and the story behind this work in our introduction to this series.


Flash by Andre
‘It’s a girl,’ he said. ‘Mr. Stevens, would you like to cut the umbilical cord?’

BEEP. BEEP. The notification read “Mike. I know you’re on paternity leave but it’s pretty urgent. Call me. Sorry.”

‘It’s a good thing she has her mother’s ears ay.’ Laughter.

BEEP. BEEP. Three new messages. “Mike it’s urgent. Call me. Big deal on the table. Cheers.” “Hey mate. Dinner and drinks Friday night. You up for it?” “Mike a ticket to Arsenal Spurs this Sunday with your name on it. Let me know asap buddy.” BEEP. VIBRATE. BEEP. New emails – five of them. “House of Fraser sale. 50% off. Ends today.” “Your uncle in Tanzania has passed away and has le…

SAFE GROUND: 'The Truth About Your Grandparents' by Antony

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Flash Flood is continuing its 2019 National Flash Fiction Day celebration with a day of flash written on the theme of 'epiphany' by men at HMP Wandsworth who were participants of Safe Ground's Flash Fiction Project workshops.  You can read more about Safe Ground and the story behind this work in our introduction to this series.



The Truth About Your Grandparents
by Antony
Photographs were just commas in the narrative about my mother and father, for my daughter, who had never met them.

You can see his shoulders were as wide as the River Tyne, where he served his early sentence as a Geordie. And your grandmother had gentle blue eyes and the soft accent of west Cork, but steel in her sinews borne of Michael Collins. They would have loved your willingness to vacuum up their words; words lost to forty woodbines a day and maybe a little too much cheap whisky. 

My father was the only fundamental atheist I have met and he married a woman with more plaster popes on her dressing tab…

SAFE GROUND: Flash Fiction by Nick

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Flash Flood is continuing its 2019 National Flash Fiction Day celebration with a day of flash written on the theme of 'epiphany' by men at HMP Wandsworth who were participants of Safe Ground's Flash Fiction Project workshops.  You can read more about Safe Ground and the story behind this work in our introduction to this series.




Flash by Nick 
She had always adored him. For years they had known one another. She had watched him grow from the days when they were both at school, to now, a man with the world at his feet.

Somehow their lives had taken different directions from those heady years when they were both in their early twenties. She had married well, into a respected local family, and he had raced on, following his ambitions but had never settled down. 

Over the years their lives had continued to cross in one way or another and they had never really lost touch. While working in Zurich, her best friend had taken a job at his firm. A couple of years later they met, at …

SAFE GROUND: Flash by Nolan

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Flash Flood is continuing its 2019 National Flash Fiction Day celebration with a day of flash written on the theme of 'epiphany' by men at HMP Wandsworth who were participants of Safe Ground's Flash Fiction Project workshops.  You can read more about Safe Ground and the story behind this work in our introduction to this series.


Flash by Nolan

I have been all around the world, had many, many amazing experiences. Getting on long flights to far off places, to the other side of the world. I’ve met some fantastic people and avoided some of the world’s craziest animals.

There have been many, many times that my life should have ended in an instant. And when you open your eyes, your toes are still moving, your legs are shaking, your hands are twitching, your eyes are slowly opening and squirming to see what had happened. 

‘Oh well!’ you say. ‘Shit! I’m still here, so what the fuck!’ Get up and start again, OK. Lucky this time, but at least I survived. Some of my closest friends ha…

SAFE GROUND: 'Truth' by Dewayne

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Flash Flood is continuing its 2019 National Flash Fiction Day celebration with a day of flash written on the theme of 'epiphany' by men at HMP Wandsworth who were participants of Safe Ground's Flash Fiction Project workshops.  You can read more about Safe Ground and the story behind this work in our introduction to this series.



'Truth' By Dewayne

How do I know if she is telling the truth? Body language? Facial expressions? Who knows?

I really want to believe her when she says that she will pay back that money I lent her, but look at her. She looks like never before, shoulders hung, she’s fidgety, and not once has she made eye contact.

It makes my spider senses tingle. I know something is wrong. Two weeks back, when I asked her if she loved her boyfriend, wow, she started to burst with the passion of truth. She stood upright, shoulders back. She used hand gestures to describe things he had done for her. I could see in her eyes, and tell by the high pitch of her voic…

SAFE GROUND: An Introduction to Today's Flash Series

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Flash Flood is continuing its 2019 National Flash Fiction Day celebration with a day of flash written on the theme of 'epiphany' by men at HMP Wandsworth who were participants of Safe Ground's Flash Fiction Project workshops.  To start the day, we welcome Safe Ground Programmes Manager Lindsay Murphy who tells us a bit about the background and philosophy of Safe Ground's Flash Fiction Project...


An Introduction to Today's Flash Series
Safe Ground is a national arts organisation delivering high quality services and interventions in both prison and community settings. Our programmes focus on relationships and identity and use group work and creative techniques for participants to experience alternative perspectives, develop empathy and self-awareness alongside skills and competencies. We challenge people and communities to do relationships differently.

As an arts organisation, Safe Ground relies on the use of artistic practices and techniques to inform and support ou…

The Flood has abated...for today!

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That wraps it up for today's Flash Flood, but it's not over yet; our celebration of National Flash Fiction Day 2019 continues tomorrow as well!

On Sunday the 16th of June we'll be publishing some of the work that has come out of Safe Ground's Flash Fiction Project in which workshop participants from HMP Wandsworth wrote flash stories around the theme of 'epiphany' in workshops run by Jonathan Crane and Safe Ground staff.  Come back tomorrow to learn more about this inspiring project and read some of the incredible work that came out of this project.

Tomorrow you can also head over to The Write-In where we'll be posting responses to our 2019 writing prompts.  (And there's still time to submit your own; submissions at The Write-In close at 23:59 on Sunday, 16 June!)


If you like what we're doing, please consider becoming a patron of NFFD at Patreon (for as little as £1 a month), making a one-off donation via PayPal or supporting us in one of these…

'The After' by Heather McQuillan

Inside our house, sounds are diluted as if there’s water above the level of my ears. My fingers trace the flowered wall seeking out where I’d stood every first day of a month – straight-spined, feet flat and heels to the skirting board – while Mom pressed my hair down with a ruler to mark my growth. It’s been months and months since I last got measured. Maybe I’ve stopped. It feels like that. The after. Mom yells at me not to touch.

Dad says the hurricane got itself trapped up in Mom’s mind and it’s not my fault but sometimes it’s hard to tell. He told her to stay away but Mom ain’t got no damned patience for that. Time wasted heaves through her veins and erupts in hard slaps across her own legs and sometimes mine. So we’ve come to see for ourselves, shuddering in a borrowed car through streets we recognise but don’t. Air hisses from Mom’s lips as we pull up at the curb where all our stuff’s got pitched like a drunken yardsale. A mirror, its glass patched with mold, leans back on the s…

'AP Stylebook Blue' by Jan Haag

It sat on my desk every day at the newspaper, reminded copy editors like me when to spell out numbers (one through nine) and use numerals (10 and above). Every year the spiral-bound book arrived from the news service that covered the world, its cover a different color. The blue-gray one with embossed silver letters caught me in 1983 — newly married, new homeowner.

“This color,” I said to my husband, a newspaper photographer who had worked for the Associated Press. “For the trim. Whaddya think?”

Book in hand, he held it at arm’s length in the front yard, picturing it against our dull brown house. He would grant me anything in those days. “I like it,” he said.

He suggested a light gray for the rest of our half-plex and talked our next-door neighbor into the colors, too, then took to the ladder for hours on weekends, painting away, brush in hand, sometimes with a roller, and for one stretch his brother’s paint sprayer.

I took over one day to paint the front door AP Stylebook blue to match th…

'Love' by Anne Weisgerber

Soft clumps of radish, pulling them. First one-by-one, for the surprise of their joyful red brightness, dipped in the rain bucket to swirl off the dirt, rub off the dirt with a thumb, break off the root with the thumbnail, and bite into that crisp, tart, impossibly white flesh. The crispness of the red and the white! The mud, ever-ready to soothe a bee sting. Soon, grab handfuls of radishes by their leaves, tug out all the bulbs, wash and arrange them in a bowl later, make some pioneer still life near a basket of butter lettuces.

Next to the radish line bloom the bush-rows of lima beans, their pendent pods soft crescents swelling, their soft centers plumping. Lima beans from the garden, steamed with salt and rough- ground peppercorns. These are not the lima beans I once knew, lima beans of my people, frozen into rectangular crumbles, with fuzz-frosted ice edges, in wax paper and a white waxed-cardboard box with interlocking flaps, boiled to contraction inside wrinkle-skin, the seed-c…

'Monochrome' by Gail Aldwin

Jessie flips the lid off the packing case labelled ‘precious things’. Bubble wrap swathes the objects stored within and Jessie wonders which items her mother has kept during the move from the family home to a retirement flat (as yet without furniture). The empty lounge has the strange capacity to swamp Jessie.

‘Not exactly the crown jewels,’ her mother wafts over and looks inside. ‘But these are the things I wanted to keep safe.’

‘Would you like me to unpack the box? I can make a display on the shelf in the corner.’

‘Let’s do it together,’ says her mother.

Kneeling on the carpet, Jessie delves into the box to collect a flat package while her mother rips layers from a bulging blue and white pot.

‘Shame the lid got lost years ago,’ says her mother. ‘It had a crack down the side when I inherited it from Aunt Elizabeth. What have you got?’

Jessie peels back parcel tape to find an old school photo. It’s a black and white image from primary school. She barely recognises the girl she onc…

'Quake' by Caroline Greene

The girl

The dust – it’s not dust, it is stone, milled to powder between much larger stones, like rough flour – this powder is between her teeth, in her ears, caking her eyes. She has breathed it in for two days and now it silts up her lungs and her stomach. It has run out of her down her legs and back into the stones underneath. It covers her skin. 

The girl can move – just her fingers and the merest shifting of her feet. She can breathe and sigh and at first she can spit dirt from her mouth, but soon her tongue, and cheeks and lips are too dry for that.  She groans a little at first, but later she is silent in the dark. She knows that on her back she carries her house, her street, even the whole town.

Sometimes there are trickles of stone through gaps in the dark. They sound like water, or the roll of dice. She would like to drink, to reach out for the stones. When bigger pebbles fall, the sound reminds her of the footsteps passing under her window, before. 

She is unsure if she sle…

'Triple-J’s Bedtime Routine' by Alan S. Falkingham

My brother, John Jay Jameson, opens every door in the house before he goes to sleep. He even cracks the screen door on the back porch so, on windy nights, draughts of air roam around, causing other doors to slam shut, forcing Triple-J to get up and start his crazy routine all over again. 

Triple-J was the one who found Dad in the bathroom, hanging by his belt. And ever since then, he’s been this way. My mom says it’s because he’s special. That’s also what she said after he’d memorized every line in Birdbox. And when he posted a YouTube video of himself saying the words “This is a Haunted House” in twelve different languages. 

Triple-J says, only bad things happen behind closed doors. He says that’s why Mr. O’Callaghan always shuts the door to his office before he canes you.  And why Mom and Dad used to always keep their bedroom door closed on Sunday mornings, so that they could have sex without us interrupting them. Triple-J says every time you close a door, it takes you a little ne…

'Is there magic here' by Angelita Bradney

I take Sindy and Barbie to the woods. They ride plastic horses and wear cloaks like the princesses in my book. I glimpse fairies in the root-caves and around the toadstools, feel their touch in the leaves that stroke us as we pass. Bluebells, says Mummy, I love bluebells.


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Saucers clash, the staff yell orders and the coffee machine flashes chrome. Is there a discount for bringing your own cup, she asks, placing her loyalty card on the counter. The server wears a striped waistcoat and has an eastern European accent. She takes her coffee and eats breakfast on the train, holding the paper bag under her mouth to catch the crumbs. It’s doing her figure no good, all this pastry.


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Daddy has a telescope. He sets it up so I can see the moon from my bedroom window. It fills my vision, glowing like a goddess. I can see every shadow on its surface, its craters full of secrets. My heart bursts with wonder. I write with my finger in the condensation on the glass: The moon is beautiful.


#
She poin…

'Island' by Elizabeth Geoghegan

Bhīma navigates the narrow roads and unseen turns—past the one for Devi’s place—and on down by Kopi Desa. Stone deities lining the dark road. Animal eyes glimmering. We turn off where the road ends and the path begins, parking in a corrugated metal shed. I lug my pack out of the back of the Jeep and wait beside a moss-covered altar. Smell of damp all around me. He swaps car for scooter, wedging my pack in front of him. I climb on behind, longing to wrap my arms around him, clutching the cold metal seat handles instead. Careful not to lean too close. The path is narrow and full of ruts, long vines dangle in streams, skimming over us as the hill rushes to meet the ravine, my body falling against his when the tires skid in the mud and we nearly topple over. He guns it and I am lurched backward as we continue up and out. It isn’t far now. Soon the dense trees give way to irrigation ditches and flooded fields, and I can see low clouds rushing over a sideways moon. I’d forgotten how it hang…

'Platform 4' by Harriet Rose Stott

She’ll be there, waiting by the exit on Platform 4, like she always is. Through the train-door window I’ll see her red coat leaning against the concrete pillar. We’ll smile and embrace and kiss and walk into the outside brightness and morning freshness, like we do every Saturday. From my worn window-seat, I watch my surroundings stream away. Pebble-dashed, semi-detached houses turn into faded factories with broken windows and dismounted chimneys. I call her. The ringing echoes in my ear endlessly, but it’s Saturday so she’ll be there by the exit. Daylight and fluorescent lighting reflecting in her green-grey eyes.

Our dawn was a coffee shop. She sat with a pristine paperback. Brown hair stroked with gold. I changed my order from paper cup to china mug and took the high-stool next to hers. We chatted flat whites and traybakes and I asked her ‘same time next week?’ We emptied cafés of coffees, drank amber wine, watched plays with purple-caped actors. We watched the dazzle of midday sun…

'Under a Blood Moon' by VRL Thonger

Cole was fine-lookin with his sledgehammer swingin by his side. He gived me a locket just three month back when we bin goin a while and he said I was his gal and he was prouda me and we didnt got to sneak behind the dumpster for fuckin no more.

One ragin hot day he was gone for breakin work and I went and stood in the shade of the dumpster to remember me them sweet days. Seems like the dumpster on his mind too coz he was right there rootin that hobo girl Ella-May. They was burned on my eyeballs.


*

That night I says to Cole, let’s you and me go watch the moonrise. He says sure. Folks tell ya its hard to say goodbye but it sure were easy to tip him inta Deepdown Gully. He done gone too close to the edge.

When he stopped falling he was layin flat-out on a pricklebush like Jesus on the cross, and I chucked that dumb dimestore locket right after him, and a good glob of spittle, and I yelled down, you smashed my goddam heart like you done it with your own sledgehammer. I seen his eyes shin…

DEBUT FLASH: 'Old John Robertson wore a stetson hat to church yesterday' by Eden Kaiser

Old John Robertson wore a stetson hat to church yesterday. His wife died last Monday, slipping on her robe in the bathroom, hitting her head and bleeding to death. John wasn’t around, obviously. When he came home there was blood all over the black and white linoleum floor and Mabel had gone cold already. Nobody knew where he was when Mabel died---not that he was supposed to be home when she took showers. The only thing he was supposed to help her with was knives. Most of the time he just kept the knives locked up and bought pre-cut food.

Mabel’s funeral was on Tuesday afternoon, the very next day. There was no family around, so no one else’s schedule needed to be consulted, and the funeral home was in a lull and was able to do a rush job. The majority opinion around town was that it turned out as good as could be expected, given the circumstances. Pastor Jim was out of town so the new Associate Pastor, Rebecca, did the service. Her eulogy was better than any Pastor Jim had ever done, …

'Atropa Belladonna' by Fiona J. Mackintosh

From three cars back, I see Sadie on the sidewalk outside school, her head bent over her purple phone like always. The Lord only knows how she’s my child. Connor looks like his dad and me, solid on his feet, well proportioned. He knows how to fit right in. Never had to teach him – he just knew. 

When my turn at the curb comes, Sadie knuckles her glasses up her nose and climbs in back, slotting her seatbelt in one-handed. She doesn’t meet my eyes in the rear view. 

“Good day?” I ask, putting on my signal to pull out. 

No answer, so I say her name like the therapist suggested, and Sadie looks up. 

“Nick Botarelli thinks Martin Luther King said give me liberty or give me death. Ha ha. He’s as dumb as a brick.” 

It was one of the Founding Fathers, I know that much.  

I’ve warned her no one likes a smartie-pants. All she does is look up every little fact. I’ve never seen her take a selfie or even make a call. Once I took the phone away from her for a week, tucked it way back in my pantie d…

'The Voice in the Well' by Thiva Narayanan

There are no gods and goddesses down here despite what anyone else might have told you. This is a very dry and ancient well. It is the very bottom of everything there is, everything that you know of. They do not send those with hope this way. It’s only those without a future that find themselves here. Round the stairs, round and down, did you look over to see the drop, as you made your way here? It’s quite a distance from the surface. Look up. That pinprick above your head, at the very center of the dark circle – that’s the sun. The outside. Everything you had known. Where all things are possible. Things like happiness. And hope. But not down here.

Look at me. Hey! Here. Look at me! There is no hope or such things here. It’s not that they are not permitted but it’s such a long journey down that – as fragile things require generous amounts of sunlight to survive– they dry up and wither long before reaching the bottom. This is the very bottom, right here, boy. Congratulations, you’ve ma…

'Not Gone Yet' by Rachael Dunlop

It was what my mother would have called a fit of the vapours. In all my seventy-something years I’d never fainted before, but I knew what it was. I could feel my brain sinking down through my body, like a counterweight sliding down a cord. The bath must have been too hot, that’s what it was. Not the other thing. As I folded towards the bathroom floor, I hoped I’d forgotten to lock the door.

I heard you coming, the door opening, the curse under your breath. I dragged my eyes open to the sight of the steel toes of your boots. Their worn leather belonged to the man you once were, the working man. And then your hands were under my armpits, hoisting me up, my limbs soft yet uncompliant, like an under-stuffed doll that won’t hold a pose.

The towel I had wrapped around me fell as you lifted me, and there I was, naked and pressed against the wool of your coat as you scooped an arm around my waist to steady the pair of us. Desire flitted through me, or maybe just the memory of it. Our younger se…

'Afternoon Men' by John King

The house remained the same the day we bought it to that day I, being the last to leave, closed the door and never went back.

My Dad chose the house as he could come home for lunch.

I don’t think then many engineers at manufacturing plants came home during the day, even for forty minutes.

We had our meals in the kitchen. The centre of this room was the boiler. This came alive according to the thermostat, seasonally adjusted.  It filled Winter silences, punctuated Spring conversations, whooshed along with Autumn reflections. I wasn’t there in summers.

Adjacent was my Dad’s chair, a deckchair. I liked the way he sat there after lunch, a post prandial cigarette before returning to the factory to make things. Sometimes he looked out in front of him as if staring out to sea or competed with the boiler with stories of machines being made to be exported across the globe.

It was all perfectly calibrated, home, lunch, cig, back. 10 minutes each way in the Morris.

Then came the lunch when h…

'Lilith' by Laure Van Rensburg

She was the warm breath in your ear that told you to speak to the quiet girl at the end of the bar — the dare you followed until my number was stored in your phone.

She was the flame that lit your cigarette, the high that hit you when you took that first drag of the day, the black tar that stayed in your lungs long after you stopped smoking.

She was your love of Neil Young, Radiohead and Kurt Vonnegut. She was the references I didn’t get, the invisible pen that underlined all of my inadequacies.

She was everywhere, although you called her ancient history, but one whose words were etched on the tablets of your bones. There were tales that defined you that I didn’t know like that weekend in Berlin or the stained jumper you wouldn’t throw away.

She was the shadows shrouding the recess where you first kissed me — the puppeteer still moving the strings long after they had left the stage.

She was the pause in your questions, the delay of hesitation, the words you didn’t speak. She was the name…

'Bones' by Susmita Bhattacharya

She marinates the fish in salt and turmeric. The cat rubs against her leg, purring loudly. Shoo, she mutters. Filthy creature. She kicks it away, her eyes darting to the door to check no one sees this. She drains the rice in the sink, the steam enveloping her in its warm, aromatic plumes. She prepares the table and then announces that lunch is ready.

The family rush in, talking all at once – discussing the cricket match they’ve been pulled away from, commenting on the smell of the fried fish. Wiping her turmeric stained fingers on her white sari, she expertly whisks the golden-brown pieces onto their plates and watches them eat. The master – he chews quickly, the oil sliding from the corner of his mouth to his chin. He wipes the oil off with the back of his hand and spits the pulp of fish bones into the plate. The children eat less and talk more. The mistress sucks the bones till they resemble hair combs made of ivory.

She turns her face away and tries to think of something else. But …

DEBUT FLASH: 'A Blank Page' by Tom Beck

A blank page is like a new apartment. It’s exciting to see and to think about. Where will all of the furniture go? How will everything be arranged? But then, it’s a lot of work. All of the things have to be brought up. They have to be transported from the old place to here. And it’s hot outside, or maybe it’s very cold. And everything is so heavy. Why do we have so much stuff? This is mirror is broken too—throw it in the trash. Just get everything inside, put it somewhere, we’ll figure it out later. And the space fills up and nothing is in its place. It’s all scattered everywhere and there is no way to get through it all, so you push things aside, make paths. And you’re done. It’s woefully incomplete and not at all how you imagined, but you’re tired and now it’s dark outside.