Alone on a sidewalk, a young girl dances slowly through the silent snowfall. She raises her arms, arcing them together, fingertips touching like beaks kissing. Warm grey flakes settle on her hands. She finishes with a pirouette, waiting for applause, but the world is silent.
Soon, she will start coughing.
Chip Houser’s short fiction has appeared in Daily Science Fiction, New Myths, Every Day Fiction, and elsewhere in print and online. He is a graduate of the Odyssey Writing Workshop and is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.
Telephone poles and streetlights streak past as I stare up from my bed on the car seat. Dad is driving fast. Mom has her hand on me, patting.
We stop; they fling the door open, haul me onto a gurney. The hospital doors whoosh open as they wheel me in.
Laurie is a retirement wannabe who enjoys petting dogs and admonishing children.
The handsome patient grinned. “What’s wrong with me, doc?”
Ignoring her aching feet—and his devastating smile—Maria checked his vitals. Normal. How odd. “Must be a virus. Rest. Drink liquids. You’ll get better.”
“But it’s so strange.” Gently, he touched her arm. “Everything glows.”
Then… she saw it too.
Joanne R. Fritz lives in West Chester, PA and writes poetry and fiction for children and adults. When she wrote this story, she’d been suffering from a mysterious virus that lasted six weeks. Her vitals were normal but she experienced constant vertigo. She wished the virus had been the glowing kind instead.
It was terminal, sure. That didn’t mean she’d give up.
Even now, when visitors were few and far between, she never left his side. Devoted to a fault. She’d lost her job and apartment, but not her heart.
“I love you, dear.”
Those six feet felt like infinity.
James P. Spitznogle is an aspiring writer from the amiable hills of West Virginia.
You tuck in the quilt again. She frowns, her eyes remaining shut.
You kiss her forehead. She’s still warmer than she should be. You know it’s just a cold, but…
Her eyes open. “Daddy, don’t have to stay. Don’t want you to get sick…”
Forcing a smile, you stay anyway.
Joey tries to write a little. You can find him and abuse him at joeytoey.com.
Her breath comes in gasps, followed by the irregular cadence of her exhalations. I hold her close, sensing the sharpness of her bones beneath her fur.
As I switch off the lamp, she nestles into the crook of my arm. I bring the covers over us both and whisper, “Goodnight.”
Kalyanii is a counselor and meditation instructor who enjoys wiling away her freetime manifesting her culinary inspirations and reveling amid the magnificence of nature.
Hailey looked concernedly into Kimmy’s watery eyes and said, “You look as sad as a koala bear with strep throat.”
Kimmy coughed and winced.
Hailey reached up into the eucalyptus tree and took Kimmy in her arms. The ailing marsupial snuggled up.
This was why Hailey had become a veterinarian.
He just can’t leave, thank God. He loves me too much, knows how much I need him. The vet said he’d be long gone by now. Months ago, in fact. There was no hope. What better way to prove them wrong than to simply thrive, living on love and devotion?
M. Elaine Moore is a North Carolina-based fiction writer and poet. Her work can be found in print in The Island Breeze, and Outer Banks publication, and online at Foliate Oak Literary Journal, Four and Twenty, and The Camel Saloon.
Everyone was avoiding Martina like the plague. (Well, to be fair, they only avoided her “like the plague” because she had the Plague and was quarantined, but they did it very rudely!)
Martina stewed in resentment until she became an evil villain. Then she died. Of the Plague, of course.