First night back, I ditch duffel and boots and fall asleep on the floor by his bed.
A click in the dark wakes me. Beside me he sits, Nerf gun in hand.
“What’s up?” I ask.
“Keeping you safe,” he says. Tilts his head at the darkness under the bed.
Graham Robert Scott’s stories have appeared in Pulp Literature, Nature, Barrelhouse, and others.
My son has a plot—his own little piece of real estate. The grass is sparse, so I tend it: raking topsoil, spreading seed, pouring water. New sprouts emerge, filling the aching gaps.
I remove the weeds, pretending he’s on vacation.
But my heart screams his name and I cry.
Tawnia is an elementary teacher in Ontario who recently started writing. She is revising her first novel, a YA sci-fi, and hopes to start querying agents soon. She recently told a Red Chair story via Zoom for the Graham Norton Show. You can find her on Twitter @TawniaCourage.
Someday, I will kiss your cheek and make you smile. I will wrap my arms around you in a warm embrace.
I will sing your favorite song at the top of my voice. I will stay by your side and vow never to leave. Mother, I will promise you this.
Marjan Sierhuis enjoys reading flash fiction.
At night, her mother put her to bed by telling her stories of cotton candy clouds and a winged unicorn named Percival. She dreamed she was flying on Percival, occasionally trotting along various rainbows. Heaven couldn’t be that far away, she figured. She could sense her father waving to her.
Ran Walker is the author of 21 books, the most recent of which is CAN I KICK IT?: Sneaker Microfiction and Poetry. He lives in Virginia with his wife and daughter.
Today, I kissed some poppy seeds.
Scattered them across my garden. Watered them in.
Gently sprinkled grey ash over them.
One summer, a drunk, who should never have been driving, killed my five-year-old daughter. My only child.
In July, the soil where she lies will be awash with blood-red flowers.
Hugh Cartwright is a scientist living and writing on the Canadian west coast.
Jeffrey searched the florist shop for a unique plant for Mom. Once he spotted the leafy hosta, he asked the clerk to wrap it up with a floral birthday card. He opted to deliver it himself.
Jeffrey died in 2017, but his birthday greeting to his mother continues each spring.
Roberta Beach Jacobson lives in Iowa and can be found on Twitter at @beach_haiku.
Another day of wonder with my toddler.
I can only do so many unique voices and only one at a time. That’s why Mr. Elephant and Mr. Rabbit sound alike. She’s not pleased. I take her notes and will be better prepared for tomorrow’s encore.
I should’ve minored in theater.
Christina Marie Diamond is a storyteller residing in Hong Kong with her spouse and daughter. When she’s not being creative, the Brooklyn, NY native and her family are busy traveling around Asia.
I love blankets. I love their softness, their variety—their moods ranging from pastels to prints. I love my camo comforter most, big enough to cocoon me completely, my body hidden, protected from the cold, the open air, my parents’ voices swelling in the den… Nothing can reach me here.
Natalie Schriefer received her MFA from Southern Connecticut State University. She works as a freelance writer and editor. See more at natalieschriefer.com.
I have Dad’s nose, long and hawkish.
I also lose my temper over small noises, criticize people’s musical choices.
I feel shame and power.
I also try not to use the word “I,” Dad’s favorite.
Surely a nose isn’t a harbinger. I also have Mother’s eyes.
I block all mirrors.
Yash Seyedbagheri is a graduate of Colorado State University’s MFA program in fiction. Yash’s work is forthcoming or has been published in WestWard Quarterly, Café Lit, 50 Word Stories, (mac)ro (mic), and Ariel Chart.
Darkness engulfs me.
Bitterness and loneliness play freeze tag
Throughout a sleepless night.
At dawn, the pitter-patter of little feet.
Her tiny arms envelop me.
Warmth flows from her pressed cheek to mine.
“Good morning, Mommy.”
Her words linger like a melody,
As sunrise ignites hope for the new day.
Carrie Backer enjoys writing in her very little spare time. She has self-published a couple of kids books and hopes to write more soon.