Confused by reflections, I take a wrong turn and come out to silence. No boyfriend; last seen checking his phone (again). No bearded man selling tickets. No child whining for candy floss. No-one. I’m not sure if I want to go back – perhaps this mirror world has more to offer.
Amanda Quinn is a writer based in Newcastle upon Tyne. She writes short fiction and poetry. Her work has appeared in the National Flash Fiction Day anthologies Scraps and Landmarks and in print and online magazines including Butcher’s Dog, Alliterati, After the Pause, and Paper Swans. Her poem Cast Away came second in the 2014 Black Country Living Museum Poetry Competition. You can follow her on Twitter.
After dreaming of living as a millionaire playboy, I wake up on a lumpy futon in a crummy apartment, alone.
Half-asleep, I nod off only to reawaken cold and weary in an alley on skid row. I’m still tired, but refuse to sleep, afraid of where I’d wake up next.
Pontius Paiva is a dreamer. It’s because he spends most of the day sleeping. Wake him up at pontiuspaiva.com.
Silver moonlight and swaying branches make dancing shadows. I see in them faces which I have not seen for years.
I wonder if any of them see my face.
The doorbell chimes. I open the door to a skull in a black cloak. “Rest assured that nobody thinks of you.”
Joey is good at remembering faces even if he doesn’t want to be. You can find him at joeytoey.com.
“Till death do us part.” I smile at the thought.
We are made of stronger stuff. We won’t be parted. Your body is still cradled by the armchair opposite me. Your blood has melded with the fabric and with the floor.
Nothing will separate us. I will not allow it.
Patrick is a researcher, father, keen and constant reader of fiction, and occasional author of short stories.
“Taste?” I offered.
One man surveyed the platter I held sheepishly in my hands: my heart in its entirety, chopped to fun-sized pieces. Toothpicks punctuated each morsel.
He popped a red bite into his mouth, then, spitting it into his napkin, daintily placed it on the edge of my tray.
This is Alexandra’s seventh 50-word story.
The funeral was an hour away but his grandmother was still in her robe in the kitchen , stirring away at a large pot. Transfixed.
Nobody said anything. The rest of the family sat in the lounge, talking about nothing. They ignored the phone calls.
Clouds gathered and parted. Grandma stirred.
PJ is a dramatist obsessed with writing the perfect short story.
“I’m sick!” the stranger whispers, in the hospital lift.
Fear takes my breath.
“A sniff a day… prevents… you know?”
“Okay.” I breathe.
He hunkers down.
Wrestles off my left shoe.
The doors ping.
“You’re sick!” I yell, furiously hoping my diagnosis will be infectious.
I can’t forget the first year I got to go tree-chopping. Displacing snow drifts heaped like cairn-stones, Dad and I trudged over hills and through hollows until he whispered: “Stay here. If you see red snow, run.”
It’s a shame there’s bloodthirsty trees in this world. And one less Dad.
Leigh Ward-Smith is a writer who subsists almost entirely on sweet tea, literature, and the weirdities of life*. She also loves dogs and other critters. When there’s time, she blogs at Leigh’s Wordsmithery
For the finale of the show, the emcee swings a live chicken around by its head till the neck breaks. It calms the audience, which considers this the essence of free-range. The chicken gets dizzy but feels grateful for the applause. Its last tiny thought: “I’ve never felt so alive.”
Cara Lopez Lee is the author of the memoir They Only Eat Their Husbands (Conundrum Press, 2014). Her stories have appeared in The Los Angeles Times, Denver Post, Rivet Journal, Connotation Press, and Pangyrus. She’s an editor, ghostwriter, and writing coach who has collaborated on more than twenty books. She has been a faculty member at Denver’s Lighthouse Writers Workshop, a writer for HGTV and Food Network, and a TV journalist. She lives in the beachside town of Ventura, California.