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“Swain’s Lane” and “Joyride”

In Issue 50 by Cassandra Moss

Some time ago I was like an open palm held out for a reading,
all its lines criss-crossing
and indicating one determined future or another.

I only remember my waking dreams from then,
as if sleep was too close to death
to access the underlayers of my mind

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“Absurdity,” “Straight Man” and “Still You”

In Issue 50 by Emily Rose Miller

The amount of love I hold for him is absurd.
The human body contains approximately 1.5 gallons of blood,
and at least 1.6 gallons of mine is laced with tiny crystal hearts,
each lit up with pictures of his lopsided grin, his uneven teeth,
and that little freckle dotted on his upper lip

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Hedge Apple Wine

In Issue 50 by Margaret Spilman

I haven’t had breakfast yet. Ramona said I got up too late. I would have settled for lunch, but it is already past lunch too. There is nothing in the fridge but spoiled onions and a Country Crock tub full of aging pineapple. It hasn’t been cut right so I hurt my teeth on the hard parts. Soft teeth, sensitive. That has always been my main problem, so I’m told. Too sensitive.

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To Forgive

In Issue 50 by Stephen Newton

A driving rain laced with hail pelted the limo’s roof- making conversation difficult, and so provided a sanctuary of silence as the uniformed driver chauffeured the grieving family out of the city to the hillside cemetery.
Sophia’s husband Joe sat next to the driver, although there was more than enough room in the back, where her son Anthony and his wife Mina sat on either side of her, as if she needed to be propped up like some helpless old lady.

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Lost and Found

In Issue 50 by Jacqueline Owens

Tony saw it out of the corner of his eye, the official white envelope on the mat. He tried the breathing: slow in, pause, slow out, but it was no good. His chest was as tight as a rubber band.
Either he would want to meet Tony or not. And that was out of Tony’s hands. It should have been easy to pick up the letter, read it.

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Do Not Answer

In Issue 50 by Naveed Ashraf

I’ve had this feeling that someone has been following me, not always the same person, but it’s as if someone or the other has been tracking me like a shadow, throwing furtive glances at me while trying to remain unnoticed, but all the same I have spotted them. Once, just as I looked back and saw a suspicious looking man, he scurried on to a side street. Today, I am sure, it’s that same man sitting to my right, a few benches away.

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Into Silence

In Issue 50 by Michelle Egan

It was temperate in the sunshine, light fanned from the boughs of tall conifers onto a cream-coloured house, which was once home to a pair of wild cobras, skittling in and out of their hole under its porch. These days, the abbot was the only resident, visited by attendants instead of poisonous snakes. The building itself was unmoving while life grew around it.

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Grown-Ups

In Issue 50 by Chiedozie Dike

Most nights, Izie sheds her clothes as soon as she comes home. She’d shut the door behind her, toss her handbag to a corner of the selfcon apartment and unbutton her suit while kicking off her shoes. Tonight she glances at me instead and marches towards the bathroom, swinging her handbag.

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The Fog

In Issue 50 by Wayne Bizer

I couldn’t see. The night fog was thick, and I was driving too fast. My guts screamed at me to stop, but I was more frightened of slowing down, knowing that somewhere behind me they were racing to catch us.
I searched for the edge of the road, the line in the middle, anything that would keep me from going off into the dark forest.

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What Inspired My Social Justice Journey

In Issue 50 by Michael McQuillan

“I want them to see this,” Mom cries, her body booming through as she hits Dad with a lamp. He, no angel, drags her by the hair from the car where I coil arms around my sister at another violent time. These episodes ignite lifelong trauma. I am now sixty-eight.

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What Sarah Said

In Issue 50 by Rachel Andrews

As a child, I was strange. I put myself to bed early, drank from coffee mugs instead of bottles, and avoided eye contact at all costs. I hardly played with toys—or other kids for that matter—and spent hours in my room, staring at the wall. I counted my steps in increments of eight. I created sentences out of license plate letters.

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Means to an End

In Issue 50 by Rachel Browning

I was hiding my lima beans under a flap of chicken skin when Dad told us the news.
I sensed that something was up when he arrived home from work later than usual, his face red and blotchy, an aroma of whiskey, cigarettes, and fryer oil drifting from the blazer he flung over the edge of the couch where I sat watching MTV.

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The Garden of Eden

In Issue 50 by Walter Weinschenk

A search for the Garden of Eden had been considered from time to time but the collective will to find it had never reached a sufficient level to justify the effort. There were some, however, who wished to proceed and there was no shortage of scientists, historians and theologians who entertained the possibility that the Garden, or what remained of it, existed somewhere in the world.

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The Cabin

In Issue 50 by Barbi Calusdian

Laura bustled around the kitchen, lighting the candles, rearranging the silverware and checking on the roast in the oven. She and Tim were celebrating their third wedding anniversary and she wanted everything to be just right. He was running a little late; he should have been home a while ago. She placed his carefully wrapped present next to his plate and poured the wine.

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Glass Houses

In Issue 50 by Carol Ann Wilson

I first saw Hong Kong from the air, late into the night. It was February 6, 1997. As our plane descended into the vast constellation of varicolored lights, it seemed as if we were landing in a box of sparkling jewels, layers and layers of them. The contrast of dark night and myriad lights further heightened my sense of adventure, adding to the city’s already bold allure.

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Long Way From Home

In Issue 50 by Seth Foster

The first time I feared my life would end at the hands of a white person was in late summer of the year of our lord nineteen hundred and fourteen.
I was fourteen, terrified, skinny, long-legged with brown skin, and curled up on the wooden floor of the hallway in building Number Four at an industrial boarding school for wayward girls.

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Freeze Frame

In Issue 50 by Dawn-Michelle Baude

Laurent left me in a friend’s garret for the afternoon. We’d moved out of the hotel and into the garret for a few days while the friend vacationed in Normandy and Laurent searched for more stable digs. The friend, a thin man with a thin moustache, seemed nice but a bit odd—many years later there’d be rumors about things that I’d rather not share.

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Blood for Sail

In Issue 50 by Diane Rosier Miles

While I stood in a wide-brim hat pondering the habits of Gladiolus “Kirov,” the call to a new life came. I was lost in gardener’s thoughts in the sunshine. As is often the case, I was busy feeling confronted by math as I guessed the number of inches between the “Stella de Oro” daylilies naturalized in my flowerbed. The “Kirovs” would nestle between them.

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