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Doug Mathewson

      Spence wasn't going to do it, no way.
      Such a selfish thing, her eating all those pills in that road side motel, and nobody sure why since the police kept her note.
      His sister-in-law only and never a dammed thing more to him.
      Older brother Larry has six more years in Mowhawk Correctional Facility way upstate New York and no week-end funeral pass even for his wife.
      Spence knew he had to head the family and be a man about it.
      First step was to forge a note to get himself out of school.

Doug Mathewson lives on the Connecticut shoreline. He writes very short fiction that occasionally changes of its own volition into poetry or essay forms. He has been published here and there online, most recently at The Boston Literary Magazine, Doorknobs & Body Paint, and Six Sentences. His current project, True Stories from Imaginary Lives, can be found at www.little2say.org.

Brad Rose

     A freak accident, yes. The propane tank, the one for the backyard BBQ, which was newly filled, was in the trunk of his car, his Toyota. Yes, THAT little friggin'car of his. What was he thinking? Jeeez! Exploded while he was parked outside his girlfriend's house. Yes, THAT girl friend. No, his wife never suspected a thing, at least not until the cops called to tell her they had recovered his body—or the remaining recognizable parts, anyway—from the neighbor's front lawn—two blocks away. But not to worry, they said, because he was grinning, or so it seemed.

Brad Rose is a Boston-area writer. "The Scream," appeared in Tattoo Highway #18, Spring, 2009. "Leaving Camarillo State Hospital" was published in FutureCycle Poetry April, 2009. The poem "Clown Car," appeared in the Spring/Summer 2007, Up and Under/QND Review. "Pink Crab Spider Eats Bee," appeared in Getting Something Read, in April, 2008. Recent flash fictions pieces include, "The Tourist" "Seven Husbands Later," and "Albert Failed," all published by Six Sentences. "She Loves Richard," "E-mail Lovers," "Battle of Statistics," and other flash fiction pieces have been published by Espresso Stories.

Stephen Book
     She checked out last night, waited until I left for work and then packed up her stuff. Not all of it though. The sky high bills and crying kids she left behind.
     I feel as if I gave up on myself too soon, she wrote, the handwriting as perfect as her sixty-dollar nails. I never followed my dreams.
     Funny, here I thought we were in the middle of making our dreams—a couple kids, one of each just like we talked about, and me pounding away at two jobs to pay for the house we just had to have. Bitch.

Stephen Book's short fiction has been published by Six Sentences, Flash Fiction Online, Crime and Suspense, and most recently by Powder Burn Flash. He also just signed an agreement to option his short story "Beyond The Pale" for production into a short film.

Linda Simoni-Wastila

     The radiologist's fingers glow against the back-lit film, red rivers tracing blackened craters of the paranasal sinus. Pulse jack-hammering at his jaw-line, my father leans toward the x-ray. I reach for his hand, bird bones in mine; although radiation and chemo rendered him a wraith, his fingertips quaver from adrenalin.
     "The tumor has shrunk," the doctor says.
     In an etherized daze, we stumble up, thank our caretaker and falter through halls stinking of sanitized despair. In the morning's cold blaze, my father tents his hand around the trembling flame, inhales. I pull my coat closer, prepare for the next battle.

Linda Simoni-Wastila crunches numbers by day and words at night. Her fiction and creative non-fiction have appeared in The Sun literary magazine and Six Sentences; her novel Brighter than Bright captured first prize in The Writing Show's 2008 Best First chapter contest. She muses on the mind and writing at < ahref="http://leftbrainwrite.blogspot.com">LeftBrainWrite.blogspot.

Greta Igl

     They were never there, the soft, cool hands on my fevered brow, the gentle rubbing on my back as my stomach heaved. There were no hands cupping my face, humming with pride. No reassuring squeeze of fingers over accomplishments, fears or heartaches. No hands wrung, one over the other, over my worries.
     Instead, those hands doled out backhanded, pinching compliments. They pointed fingers, smothered dreams, and picked at tender scabs. I wanted to hold one, but they were always too busy. Now, all these years later, my own hands are too well-trained and skittish to pat hers with gentle comfort.

Greta's short fiction has been published by an assortment of literary magazines and anthologies, including Every Day Fiction, Boston Literary Magazine, and Word Riot. Her short story, "In Limbo" was nominated for the 2009 storySouth Million Writers award. She is currently at work on her novel, Jamieson's Folly.

Clarise Samuels

      It was hard to believe I once loved him. There were harsh words back then, unintelligible, as if we spoke to each other in a dead language. But now, by chance, we rode the elevator together—in silence.
      He had a royal head like Julius Caesar. In antiquity, loyal subjects would have put a laurel on that head.
     Whatever we once had, it was over. I stepped out of the elevator and turned back to gaze at him once more. As the quietly gliding portals blocked him from my view, I almost loved him again.
      Just for a moment.

Clarise Samuels is a Montreal author who has published poetry, fiction, book reviews, and translations. Her first novel, Loving Brynhild, is a retelling of Norse mythology and is now in press with Heliand Publishing in Utah. Clarise has a Rutgers PhD in German literature, and her scholarly tome on the Holocaust poet Paul Celan can be found in major university libraries.

Jane Banning

      "We transferred her to hospice yesterday," said my friend.
      Hospice was on my way home.
      It was cloudy, had started to rain, and I was wearing my suede shoes. They were my 'important' shoes. Maybe I should stop at home to change. I could have some wine, and then face the cool oak corridors where half-closed doors and guilty quilts hid nothing, really.
      There would be plenty of time.
      I looked down. The shoes seemed odd, small; and home, too far.
      My friend's wife lay newly still, shriveled with a yellow grimace, and he sobbed, "I'm so glad you came."

Jane Banning

     My seven year-old sat silently on the end of the dock, his outline black against the diamond-chip water, inky pines a backdrop on the opposite shore. Green and briny, a breeze pushed easy, swashing waves against the shoreline. A loon chick, downy and brown, bobbed nearby. It peeped, wobbly. The parent, profile sharp and regal, surfaced from the copper water and slid a slim, dripping fish into the baby's beak. My boy turned, his ear soft seashell pink, hair ruffled up in waves. His fathomable eyes shone clear and wide and he splashed a summer smile all over me.

Jane Banning lives in Oregon, Wisconsin. Her work has appeared in Brava Magazine, University of Iowa Daily Palette, Six Sentences, Tuesday Shorts, Long Story Short, and Birds By My Window. She received an Honorable Mention in the 2008 Micro Award contest.

Stephen D. Rogers

      "There it is."
      "Shush. Somebody might hear you."
      "At this hour? Humans aren't nocturnal."
      "They might have a dog."
      "Ain't she a beauty? Imagine the hours we can spend running back and forth along the top, scaling those chains, sliding down the legs."
      "You were right. I see a couple of problems though."
      "Name one."
      "You don't have to get defensive. That thing looks heavy."
      "The legs aren't cemented down. I've see it rock. Besides, what are you suggesting, that's it's squirrel-proof?"
      "Ha! Here's the big question. How the heck do you expect to get that swingset into our nest?"

Stephen D. Rogers has published over five hundred stories and poems in more than two hundred publications. His website, stephenrogers.com, includes a list of new and upcoming titles as well as other timely information.

Mark Rosenblum

     There was a time he could squeeze into straight leg jeans, squeeze into the band bus, and every night, squeeze the breasts of a different groupie. He could squeeze solid handshakes with smarmy booking agents or squeeze through a window before a husband came home. In the back corners of darkened clubs he would squeeze a syringe into his arm then squeeze between mobs of fans to stumble his way onstage. Today, he cannot squeeze out a living. He cannot squeeze a nickel more from the county dole or squeeze off the child proof caps from his multitude of medications.

Mark Rosenblum is a New York native who now lives in Southern California where he misses the taste of real pizza and good deli food. Mark has been published in Mindprints, Tiferet, Thirteen Magazine, Insolent Rudder, AlienSkin Magazine, Boston Literary Magazine, Everyday Fiction and Six Sentences. He was also awarded Honorable Mention in the 2006 Mindprints Flash Fiction Contest and his writing appears in the anthology, Six Sentences, Volume 2.

Stephanie Curtis

     I remember, father, how you said stay away from the barn. No place for children. Sunny days provided distraction, but shadows of the barn began to grow. Day by day, enticing me. I tried to stay away, but they swallowed me whole.
     The smell hit me first, dirty and unfamiliar. Then, I saw you slit the pig's throat. So much blood and silenced squealing. No hint of remorse.
     I can no longer look at you. You are forever shaded red. And when I see the red, I wonder, did you tell me to stay away for my sake, or yours?

Stephanie Curtis attends the University of Maine and plans to graduate in December 2009 with a BA in English. She is currently working to create her own literary website. This is her first publication

Alex Odom

     Return your Fung Shi fountain—that unsettling slurp will destroy your prosperity. Buy another crystal—the metaphysical nature of the universe made the one on the porch vanish—and get a fire agate to hide in your grown son's room to stimulate advancement. The cashier takes the fountain, gives you store credit, points to the back corner, near the Reiki books. Your Reiki book was torn in the trash last week—he'll destroy your prosperity. You ask the cashier for white sage, and she asks if there's a spirit haunting your home. You nod your head—he needs to go.

Alex Odom is currently pursuing an MA in Creative Writing at Longwood University. He is one of the Prose Editors for Picture Postcard Press. His plays have been produced in the U.S. and Canada and have been published by One Act Play Depot. This is his first fiction publication.

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