February 9th, her birthday: deep in Winter’s bitter swell. Sledging with friends, then home to Mum’s hot chocolate and hugs.
Now grandchildren tiptoe to her door with homemade cake, footsteps wary over unforgiving frost. She pulls them indoors, warms small hands in hers.
Over seventy birthdays, she’s never felt cold.
Jo Withers writes short fiction from her home in South Australia where February is anything but cold.
Cruelly, the mirror mocks me, shows me what I’ve wanted for so long.
A sideways glance reveals my swollen stomach,
Neatly rounded, bloated from the drugs,
Curving out as though I’m six months pregnant.
Empty, stitched and sore when all I dreamt of was a child.
Realistically, that’s impossible now.
Jo Withers writes micros, flash, and shorts from her home in South Australia. Recent fiction can be found in Milk Candy Review, Ellipsis Zine and Lunate.
It happened occasionally, stray balls, wayward kites, but today was relentless.
Baubles in her birdbath, puddings thrown into petunias, tinsel in her tulips.
Angrily, she marched next door, demanded an explanation.
Guiltily, her neighbour’s boy confessed to everyone: “I hoped she’d come. She’s alone on Christmas Day. Can she stay?”
Jo Withers writes short stories and poetry from her home in South Australia. She wishes everybody a safe and happy holiday season.
A child star, she’d been acting all her life. She’d played the beautiful princess, the glamorous wife, the sexy secretary.
At 35, roles disappeared.
She booked in quick: nipped, tucked, tightened.
Next audition they loved her: “Perfect cheekbones; sensual pout.” Booked her for a Hollywood blockbuster.
Playing George Clooney’s mother.
Jo Withers writes micros, shorts, and poetry from her home in South Australia. Recent work is featured or forthcoming in Ellipsis Zine, Molotov Cocktail, FlashBack Fiction, Milk Candy Review and Lunate. You can follow Jo on Twitter at @JoWithers2018.
Sailor’s arms beneath tobacco-scented cardigans. Milky eyes like moonlit skies, staring as though I was the finest thing on Earth.
But when he wore the hat, for memorials or military functions, he became a ghost.
I wondered what that hat had seen, to make him quiver like a frightened child.
Jo Withers writes micros, flash, and poetry from her home in South Australia. Recent work has featured or is forthcoming in Molotov Cocktail, Ellipsis Zine, Spelk, Bath Flash Anthology, and Milk Candy Review.
In the event of:
1. Flood – Assemble food and first aid kit. Be ready to evacuate.
2. Fire – Leave immediately. Once out, call emergency services.
3. Earthquake – Stay indoors. Prepare for cracks to appear in foundations. Do not involve passers-by. Subsidence is inevitable.
4. Marriage – Follow procedure in step 3.
Jo Withers writes micros, flash, and poetry from her home in South Australia. Recent work has appeared in Molotov Cocktail, Ellipsis Zine, Flashback Fiction, Spelk, 24 Unread Messages, and Mythic Picnic.
Walk to school,
Home from school,
Help with homework,
Make the dinner,
Run their baths,
Mop the floor,
Wake up Mother,
Bring her bottle,
Avoid eye contact,
Make no sound.
Jo Withers is author of the middle-grade science-fiction adventure 5 Simple Steps to Saving Planet Earth. Her recent shorter fiction can be found in Spelk, Molotov Cocktail, Ellipsis Zine and Flashback Fiction.
I chat to callers about holiday homes, kitchen renovations, solar panels.
Later, I call twenty-four-hour hotlines, but can’t find options I need:
1 for housebound,
2 for lonely,
3 for desperate.
Tomorrow, I’ll break the fridge. Mechanic will be here in an hour, answer in grunts. Highlight of my week.
Jo Withers writes micros, shorts and poetry from her home in South Australia. Recent work can be found in Molotov Cocktail, Spelk and 24 Unread Messages.
Grief is sneaky,
It is bedside arguments,
Squabbles over small things,
Tussles over funeral hymns,
Who visited most? stayed longest?
Constantly ignited until the pan boils dry.
Fills the room like oxygen,
Compressing every surface.
It does not let go.
Jo Withers writes poetry, flash and shorts from her home in South Australia. Recent work has appeared in Molotov Cocktail, Reflex Fiction, Spelk and Ellipsis Zine.
Fibonacci was fascinated by spirals. Mathematical patterns in flower petals, repetitive details in seashells – Nature’s inescapable, infinite cycles.
As I hear you arguing with your father, drink-fuelled tempers curdling love to spite, I wonder: are we all like this? Caught in eternal circles, passing around the point where we began.
Jo Withers writes micros, flash and poetry from her home in South Australia. She is also author of the children’s science-fiction adventure 5 Simple Steps to Saving Planet Earth.