It’s celebratory and devoid of any guidance on how hard it’s going to be. Life anew. They beam, hand you a baby. Everyone back slaps you. Hugs. Gifts. They never tell you how it will feel to find her on the bedroom floor with a needle jammed in her arm.
Hayden Kamide lives in New York. Probably not the hip part you’re thinking about, but the other part. He believes in the importance of kindness, yet recognizes his own hypocrisy, especially when he sometimes swears at people who cut him off in traffic. But, when it happens, he does feel bad about it… later. Much, much later.
A baby boy sleeps, tummy side up, arms and legs open in vulnerability and confidence. A mother puts a hand to his chest, feeling the rise and fall, listens to his ragged breathing. On the floor beside the crib, she lays on her side, curled inward, fear coiling around her.
Cheryl Somers Aubin’s work has appeared in newspapers, magazines, and online journals. She has an MA/Writing from Johns Hopkins University and is the author of The Survivor Tree: Inspired by a True Story. Cheryl teaches memoir writing and is featured speaker at book festivals and writing conferences.
Granny, babysitting two-year-old triplets, took a bathroom break. She heard the toy box being pushed down the hall, stopping by the bathroom door. Giggling; then the click of the dead bolt installed to keep the boys from playing in the commode, and three pairs of feet running away.
Angie has been writing short stories since 2010 and has had one piece published.
Dan remembers being the last one awake: tucking legs under blankets, clearing toys off pillows. Then years when he couldn’t compete with PS4 and streaming, asleep before the texting stopped.
He’s here again: last one awake. Closed doors, lights that haven’t been on in years.
He thought it wouldn’t hurt.
Robb Lanum is a failed screenwriter in Los Angeles. His longer, epic works have been appeared on 101words.org.
My father-in-law-to-be mowed our yard with his tractor, transforming the tangle into a park.
My son sobbed, He killed my favorite blackberry bush.
“But there are more,” I argued. “Look, they’re all over.” He wouldn’t face where I pointed.
I wish I’d said, “It’s painful to lose what you love.”
Lois Rosen’s poetry books are Pigeons (Traprock Books 2004) and Nice and Loud (Tebot Bach 2015). She has taught ESL in Oregon, New York, Ecuador, Colombia, Japan, and Costa Rica. Lois founded the Peregrine Poets of Salem, Oregon, and leads the Trillium Writers and the Institute for Continued Learning Writing Group at Willamette University. She won Willamette Writers’ 2016 Kay Snow First Prize in Fiction.
Rough and sharp, her voice is filled with demons. She hides beneath her tongue, a monster dancing before you. Angry and alert, her life is emergency. She rails and hurls insults – of course it’s all your fault.
You hold on tight and pray you’ll make it through her teenage years.
Eliza Mimski, a retired teacher, lives and writes in San Francisco, California. See more at elizamimski.wordpress.com.
Sometimes we treat ourselves to Starbucks coffee, sitting outside to people watch.
“You’re so inspiring, Mom, teaching me to fend for myself. My kids are driving me bananas! Growing up, you made it all look so easy.”
“It will get better,” she insists, smiling knowingly like the perfect Indian princess.
Lisa Miller wrote this story.
At the park, my daughter whines. Too hot, icky sunscreen, more juice. “Four-year-olds,” I say.
“Not mine,” another mom says, her face smug. “We parent like gravity.”
Her daughter screams, dangling by one foot off the monkey bars. “You’re fine!” the mom yells.
Never-whining girl faceplants into the woodchips.
Hadley Leggett is a writer and stay-at-home mom in Seattle, WA. When she’s not chasing after children, she’s working on the second draft of her first novel.
I don’t know what possessed me to do it.
I was tired, feverish, losing my voice. That night, I’d had the audacity to ask for help with the boys at bedtime.
His words stung; I was very angry.
But I was smiling as I swished his toothbrush in the toilet.
Michelle is an award-winning author and poet. She is a contributor in Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Spirit of Canada, and was a quarter finalist in the 2017 ScreenCraft Short Screenplay contest. Her writing has appeared in The Globe and Mail (one of Canada’s National newspapers) and a number of local magazines and newspapers including The Briar Crier, Total Sports, Voice of the Farmer, Arts Talk and Focus 50 Plus. Her short story “Lightning Strikers” (also featured on Commuter Lit) was made into a series in the Focus 50 + Newspaper because fans asked for more! In 2018, Michelle won the Ontario Writers Conference Story Starter Contest in two categories. You can find her online at commuterlit.com, fiftywordstories.com, femininecollective.com, michelledinnick.com, and @MichelleDinnick.
Priestess in my untidy temple, I wait alone upon my adorable Oracle.
She bestows her gifts freely, but not easily. Her words, strewn casually, discarded carelessly, I gather and scrutinize, turning them over in my mind, looking for truths, profound and ineffable.
“Do you know what an elephant says?”
John D. Payne grew up in the American Midwest, watching the lightning flash outside his window and imagining himself as everything from a leaf in the wind to the god of thunder. Today, he lives with his wife and family in the shadow of the Organ Mountains in New Mexico, where he imagines that with enough concentration he might be able to rustle up a little cloud cover for some shade. For updates, new fiction, and exclusive content, visit patreon.com/johndpayne.