My grandfather was odd, shell-shocked. I loved sitting on his knee, sniffing and staring as he managed to chew mints and puff a pipe in the same breath. He never spoke of the “Great War” but I wear a Poppy in honour because it is easier than remembering my son.
Dedicated to education and being a father, E. F. S. Byrne has finally found more time to devote to his writing and is currently working on everything from very short flash stories to full-length novels. Samples and links to over thirty published stories can be read at efsbyrne.wordpress.com or follow him on Twitter at @efsbyrne
One afternoon together, after 412 days apart. If only we could stretch these hours to days, weeks even, maybe then we’d relax enough to find the right words to talk about my war at home, his war away.
Instead we part, saying a stilted goodbye, before he boards the train.
Laura Besley writes short fiction in the precious moments that her children are asleep. Her debut flash fiction collection, The Almost Mothers, will be published in 2020 by Dahlia Books. She tweets at @laurabesley.
First winter after Mother leaves, sister Nancy and I shovel snow, hands weighed down. Flakes fly, whirling seductresses. We clear faster. Flakes cover clearness. Nature takes. Gives people wanderlust, reveals darkness beneath starched smiles. We try to make everything perfect. Keep clearing. We trip. Keep trying. Keep tripping. Don’t surrender.
Yash Seyedbagheri is a graduate of Colorado State University’s MFA program in fiction. His work is forthcoming or has been published in journals such as 50 Word Stories, Silent Auctions, City. River. Tree., and Ariel Chart.
The stockings were hung with melancholy.
There had been three stockings in the decorations box. Mr. and Mrs. Jones hung up two. They dropped the third into the trash, almost sickened.
Mrs. Jones turned on the radio. Elvis Presley was crooning, “I’ll have a blue, blue, blue Christmas… without you.”
Tylor James is a twenty-five year old writer living in New Richmond, WI. He writes dark fiction and has had stories, poems, and essays published in such anthology books as ACCURSED: A Horror Anthology, Emerging American Horror Writers: Midwest Region, Emerging Wisconsin Writers: An Anthology of Non-Fiction, and Willow River Writers Anthology. Tylor is prolific, having written forty-five short stories and one novel in the year 2019 alone.
The scream rips from my mouth, taking dark shape, all hairy legs and teeth and talons. It lands on the bed, gutting the mattress. It assaults the walls, clawing chunks of drywall away. Then it shatters the window, escaping.
I stand in the wreckage, horrified.
I long to escape, too.
Kristin Fast likes the shape words make in her mouth, and enjoys corralling them on the page.
Frank hated the idea, but a mother in his support group said it had been helpful.
So he set it up in Jessica’s old room and attempted to steel himself.
When they discovered Frank’s emaciated body, his frozen smile was still fixed on the flickering hologram of his daughter dancing.
Ran Walker is the award-winning author of seventeen books. He teaches at Hampton University in Virginia.
Art’s avuncular fingers plunged deep into my girlish flesh,
planted seeds of rage that grew into Sequoias that stretched upward
to scratch his deeds into the very sky
beckoning Mom’s eyes,
demanding that she countenance his crimes.
Then, having at last seen, she might beg me for absolution.
C. Christine Fair is an associate professor within the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. She has published poetry in the Dime Show Review and The Bark and has pieces forthcoming in Clementine Unbound and Badlands Literary Journal. She also published a short story in New Reader Magazine. Her scholarly website is christinefair.net; her blog is shortbustoparadise.wordpress.com. She tweets at cchristinefair where, for some reason, she has some 42,600 followers.
“I’m sorry. Your tests with the latest medication proved unsuccessful. The prognosis is six months.”
John grasped his wife’s hand and squeezed it gently.
They travelled to the airport in silence, but desperate to talk.
Understanding airline staff upgraded them.
“Your lucky day!” cracked a joker as they left Economy.
John B. Sinclair is a much-travelled Scot who has now returned to Scotland, where he enjoys freelance writing on a variety of subjects.
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.
I smoke cigarettes with my mother as she tells me she is going to leave my father.
The smoke filters through the window and fades away between constellations.
The only way we know how to feel good is through destruction.
So I light another replacement for my father and inhale.
Katherine DeGilio is a part-time writer and full-time redhead from Virginia. When she was a child, her goal in life was to be Kissing Kate Barlow from Holes. Since the wild west has diminished, she has decided instead to be an author. She assumes those professions share equal kill counts. You can find her latest work in Soliloquies Anthology, Litro Literary Magazine, and November Falls by Zimbell House Publishing. She loves connecting with her readers and encourages them to reach out to her on Twitter at @katiedegilio.