The first betrayal crawled into my chest, compressed my heart and lungs. It quickly grew its branchlike arms up to my throat, aiming for strangulation. A bottle of whiskey, an old record, and twenty-one days diluted its power. The second betrayal is unable to pierce the shell of misery.
Erhard Firn appreciates loyalty.
You upload your post-protest selfie from a much nicer bathroom than your own, and while your other friends are commenting on your bloody, angry welts, I’m noticing the two toothbrushes in the cup, and wondering whose expensive towels you’re bleeding on and what heartbreak you’re setting yourself up for now.
Stephanie King is a past winner the Quarterly West Novella Prize and the Lilith Short Fiction Prize, with stories also appearing in Loch Raven Review, Lumen, Entropy, and Every Day Fiction. You can find her online at stephanieking.net or @stephstephking on Twitter.
It’s like the riddle. Three doors; two lead to certain death.
Door One: A mother, breath rasping, crying for her children.
Door Two: A feverish teenager, too exhausted to beg for help.
Door Three: A pensioner, grey-haired but agile, coughing continuously.
Hands shaking, you tighten your mask, open a door.
Jo Withers writes short fiction from her home in South Australia. Recent work appears in NFFD Anthology (U.K.), Best Microfictions 2020, Reflex Fiction and Spelk.
Awaken despairing eyes
A new day dawns
Tragedy betrays beauty
In unbelievable dimensions
Lines are drawn
And heroes fall
Life goes on
But never as before.
The nights are long
Emotions run high
Love is born
And love dies
But we go on
Waiting for the day
Connell still writes a bit.
“Grandad,” I said one evening, sat across from him in front of the fire. “Could you tell us a war story?”
“No,” he replied without a moment’s thought. He then turned away from me and stared into the flames, looking for something like an answer, or maybe for a face.
Harris Coverley has fiction published or forthcoming in Curiosities, Planet Scumm, and The J.J. Outre Review. He is also a Rhysling-nominated poet, with verse in Star*Line, New Reader Magazine, Better Than Starbucks, and many others.
My grandmother’s china—
the set I used to save
for holidays: fine
rims of gold, delicate
patterns of green—I use it
don’t worry about chips, don’t
delay its offerings.
These days I need
porcelain teacups, warm
against my palms. My brother
the fine china.
Jennifer L Freed mostly writes poems, which have appeared in various journals and anthologies. See more on her website, jfreed.weebly.com.
Bobbing – I think of apples. Ups and downs.
Behaviour – Mine, yours – neither commendable.
Bitter – Adjective. I am ___. You made me ___.
Brazen – Wasn’t she?
Bayonet – Wounding instrument. Cold steel engulfing flesh.
Baby – Would you have left if it had happened? (See Barren)
Boomerang – I won’t go back.
Bruised – Imperfect, fragile, healing.
Jo Withers writes short fiction from her home in South Australia. Recent work appears in Ellipsis Zine, Milk Candy Review and Reflex Fiction. Jo’s work was also recently chosen for inclusion in Best Microfiction 2020.
The young father presses his hands flat against the window. Although the mask covers half his face, the baby knows him. New game. Laughing, she reaches for the father’s hands, cool glass between them.
She lifts her arms, “Up.” Old game.
The father’s learned the new rules: he turns away.
Miriam N. Kotzin teaches creative writing and literature at Drexel University. Her collection of short fiction, Country Music (Spuyten Duyvil Press 2017), joins a novel, The Real Deal (Brick House Press 2012), and a collection of flash fiction, Just Desserts (Star Cloud Press 2010). She is the author of five collections of poetry, most recently Debris Field (David Robert Books 2017).
I was six when my father left. I remember his hands, large and coarse, letting go of mine to hurl a battered suitcase into his rusting, coughing car.
Now his hands seem small and frail, shaking with fear for his next long journey.
I cannot bring myself to clasp them.
Charlie Swailes writes short and very short stories when not teaching English or looking after her two small boys.
I know this may be a shock, coming from me. But I regret it.
No, not loving you. LORD knows, that’s the best thing I’ll ever do.
The mistake was letting you fall for me—when I knew you’d be the only one to live with the consequences.
V. C. Slade is a writer and amateur adult in California. She can be found at vcslade.com.