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Summer Rain
Dan Allawat

     The forecast calls for rain. That was the first thing Big Tony heard when he came to. He was laying face down on the slate-blue shag carpet that covered his living room floor; he thought that it smelled surprisingly good despite having a dog and two cats crawling all over it all the time. Then he realized that what he smelled was the lasagna wafting in from the kitchen, not the shag carpet beneath him. With his left eye, the one that didn’t take the brunt of the hit from the 32” maple pasta rolling pin she brandished at him from time to time, he could just make out his wife, Maria, larger than life, sitting up there on the couch watching the evening news. Big Tony would have said threatened rather than brandished but the point would be the same—Maria had never really struck Big Tony before this, only threatened him while brandishing the big maple rolling pin. As he lay there motionless, the pain beginning to mount, he heard the first large raindrops as they began to plop, plop, plop against the big picture window that looked out onto his front yard and the darkening street beyond. He was thinking how his grass could use the rain when he vaguely remembered asking Maria if she really thought pasta was a good idea considering the money he spent on her gym membership every month.

Dan Allawat has had short stories published in Dead Mule, Skyline Literary Magazine, and The November 3rd Club. He also has had poetry published in Camroc Press Review, Calliope Nerve, FlashQuake, Skyline, Haibun Today, Word Riot, Leaf Garden Press, Heavy Hands Ink, and upcoming in The Yale Journal for Humanities in Medicine. He is holds an MFA in Creative Writing from National University. He lives and works in South Florida.

Moving On
Melodie Corrigall

     Wincing from her worsening arthritis, Vicky knew that the sentimental trek up the steep hill to her home of 34 years would be her last. Where once she had herded dawdling toddlers or carted groceries and gifts, now she only had the strength to drag memories.
     Her husband Terry watched her from the bottom of the hill. He was too weak to wheel up with her to judge the new owner’s treatment of their aging beauty and too shy to park closer to their former home. When she reached the neighbor’s yard, Vicky hesitated. Anxious not to be caught snooping, she crouched down and pretended to lace her shoe.
     In the dreary mist, their old place loomed over the street, casting a shadow on the mossy front lawn, still brave with dandelions. Her favourite lilac had been pruned aggressively, the front stoop no longer lurched, and the red maple bush, which for years had threatened to take over the yard, had been put in its place.
     Their new apartment, ¼ the size, clean as an ocean washed shell, easy to navigate but raw of memories, made her feel light. Here, though buoyed by the echo of laughing children rolling down the front hill, Vicky felt faded with age. She turned to see her husband upright in his chair his face concerned but hopeful. He pointed at the darkening clouds, smiled and waved at her to hurry back.

Melodie Corrigall is a Canadian writer whose stories have appeared in the Dalhousie Review, Toasted Cheese, The November 3rd Club, Blue Lake Review, FreeFall, Subtle Fiction and Switchback. melodiecorrigall.wordpress.com.

     I had been staying with the old man for a few days now, after being lost in the Appalachians and running out of food. His had been the only shelter I had luckily stumbled on. He was self-sufficient, having inherited the family house. He was the last one left, he said although he didn't speak much; never left the area, no electric, never even drove a car. I had decided I was going to leave, but he wanted to show me something. We entered the woods behind his house. As we walked I couldn't help but notice the trees. Each one I saw was carefully carved like a totem pole except the trees continued to grow. "This is fantastic!" I exclaimed. Life-size animals and imaginary gods boldly looked down on me. "I'm a whittler, that's what I do for a hobby after farming is over," he simply explained. The woods took on an aura of a free standing sculpture garden or a huge Northwest potlatch gathering. But still we pressed on. Suddenly I heard a rushing, a gushing like water. "Look, isn't that amazing!" he whispered. I parted the brush. In a long concrete line an interstate ran far below us.

Ray Greenblatt has published poems, stories, and reviews across the U.S. He has been in Off the Coast, Ibbetson Street, Newport this Week, Connecticut River Review. His newest book is Leavings of the Evening (Foothills Press).

Haunted House
Kathleen Brewin Lewis

     We rented my family’s old beach house last month, the one my father sold fifteen years ago when we learned his cancer had spread. The white clapboard house was nicer than it used to be, with a new bathroom and a better kitchen, but the dark paneled walls were still warm and rich, the front windows framed the same Back River sunset. I could swear I saw my little girl climb out of the bathtub and toddle into the bedroom, her head ringed in wet curls, her baby bottom bare and round, her fat little feet slapping the wood floor. But when I followed her into the room, there was just a young woman standing there in jeans and a soft sweater, brushing her long blonde hair in front of the mirror.

Old Wife's Tale
Kathleen Brewin Lewis

     She could usually tell which women still had them by the trimness of their waists, the glow of their skin. It was commonly called The Curse, the monthly flow of warm thick fluids, the crimson smear that proved you were vital and potent, bloody but unbowed. They should call it The Blessing, she thought. When it’s your time of the month, it means you’re having the time of your life. Smooth throat, full breasts, a way of walking in the world as if your womb were full of possibility. Sometimes she just wanted to slap those young wives in the face.

Home Fires Burning
—If Hestia had taken a Husband

     He liked her to be home when he got there. He wanted his dinner served at 6:30, his undershirts folded a certain way and placed in his top drawer in three even stacks, his mail arranged on the left side of his desk. He expected her to keep the kitchen stocked, at all times, with Granny Smith apples, Rocky Road ice cream, peanut butter, spoon-sized shredded wheat, 2% milk. He liked to have sex twice on the week-ends and on Wednesday nights after his poker game. He traveled often for his job and figured she could do what she wanted when he was gone, so she should do what he wanted when he was home. She seemed happy enough to him.

Kathleen Brewin Lewis is an Atlanta writer who likes to explore the blurring boundaries among the short-short story, the prose poem, and the lyric essay. Her work has appeared in Weave, The Prose-Poem Project, Loose Change literary magazine, Long Story Short, and Like the Dew, among other publications. She is also an editor of an online literary magazine, Flycatcher: A Journal of Native Imagination.

Little Pink Flags
Jeffrey Ballard

     Time was a man could make an honest living going door-to-door. Internet’s changed all that now. Convenience has gone and replaced people’s jobs with machines or worse, nothing at all. Then the people start looking at you funny when you can’t get a job, suddenly you become ‘them’: one of the unemployed—a part of the problem in this here great country. I got lucky though, found a job eventually, going door-to-door dropping off coupons. It was an easy job most of the time. I’ve had the police called out on several occasions, and a lady loosed her dogs on me once. I don’t mind though. I just do my job and drop off the little pink flags so the crew knows which houses to rob later.

Jeffrey Ballard is a nomadic Yankee that currently lives in the Texas Hill Country. He is an Acoustician that doesn’t play any musical instruments, but has been published in scientific journals. His fiction has appeared in Nanoism and Pill Hill Press.

The Underside of Leaves
Mike DiChristina

     Canastota, NY. August 1969. Eighteen.
     Working the onion fields down by the lake, the muck—dark chocolate earth forever. Come fall we’ll be at Parris Island.
     Denny leans on his hoe, bandana-hatted, shirtless, smooth brown chest. Adams apple bobbing beneath his Fu Manchu as he chugs the canteen, tossing it to me saying, “Screw this I’m out of here. You know who they got lined up this weekend? The Who. The Band. The Dead.”
     “Then go with Meat,” I say, sucking down the warm gritty water, suddenly cool wind on my back, all around us the muck scored with mile-long rows of spiked onion plants unspooling into the haze, melting into white sky.
     “I’ll go,” says Meat.
     “Hendrix, too,” says Denny.
     “We leave now, Vecchio fires our asses,” I say. After work, I’ll water ski with Charlene, carving the lake with that swish of her hips.
     “I’ll go,” says Meat.
     Denny nods to the west. Half the sky a bruise, we sprint to the old wagon in the middle of the field. When the storm breaks, we crouch under the wagon, arms wrapped around our knees, streams of rainwater gushing through the cracks in the wagon bed.
     Thunder. Lightning. Wind.
     Onion plants flash silver undersides like the chopper-whipped rice paddies we will soon leap into half a world away. Beneath the wagon, I stare down at my red Chuck Taylors sinking into the muck.
     Rain cool, then cold on my neck and I look up to see Denny gone.

Escape from New York
Mike DiChristina

     Standing in the dark morning cool of the front hall. Summer. Ma and my bros still crashed. Garbage truck grinds down on the street five floors below.
     Tap tap.
     I open the door. Ricky from 12G, a knapsack on his back.
     ‘Yo,’ Ricky says. He blows a purple bubble.
     I ram a handful of Cheerios into my mouth. I put my Yankee cap on crooked. My old man’s army bag slung over one shoulder, stenciled with his name, my name, all my eleven years. Pat my pocket—make sure I got my camp papers. I follow Ricky downstairs, outside onto 157th Street. We get an egg sandwich. Ricky rips the sandwich in half and we eat it on the A train down to the Port Authority.
     ‘Gate C5,’ says Ricky. He wipes my face with a balled-up napkin.
     We take the escalator up on the same step. At the gate, a table with a sign for the camp, boxes of donuts. Lady with a clipboard. A couple kids in plastic chairs.
     ‘You boys Fresh Air?’ the lady says.
     I take two chocolate glazed.
     ‘Have a donut,’ she says.
     Me and Ricky with fifty boys on the bus—AC, sunglass windows. The bus spirals down the ramp into the tunnel.
     “No talking,” says the man up front.
     Tunnel’s tiled walls stained red-brown. Fluorescent light turns everybody green.
     At the end of the tunnel, we all whoop, and Ricky puts me in a headlock as we rumble into the sun.

Mike DiChristina’s stories have recently been published in Literary Juice and Postcard Shorts. Mike lives in Connecticut with his wife and three daughters.

     Yes, I know I am late. But you see, I am a sleek pantheress, languid and sexy and made to lounge. I must rest, gorgeously, between my rare but majestic pounces.
     Now you are meant to be on time, because you are a little brown chicken; flapping here and pecking there, all the livelong day. Clearly, simple thoughts flit through your chickenhead, driving you to continual unimportant chores and errands. Feathers slicked straight back, zooming about with great purpose on your little chicken feet. Hahaha!
     Wait, don’t go.
     Here, I’ll buy.
     Well! I never.
     Did I roar something wrong?

Carly Berg edits an e-zine and writes, often so minimalistically that nothing is there. Her stories have been published in PANK, Dogzplot, First Stop Fiction, and elsewhere. She doesn't have any friends.

The Doll
Brian Duke

     One afternoon the man came home and found his doll was missing. According to the townspeople, the man had been loving the doll for more than a decade, which was, by their own accounting, much longer than the majority of marriages.
     He searched his house and called his neighbors but no one had seen anything, no one knew what had happened. The man got in his car and drove around town and along the outskirts in a slow roll searching left and right.
     The townspeople who tolerated the man’s eccentricities joined in the effort.
     A search party was formed and a scrap of the doll’s dress was given to Mr. Watt and his bloodhounds. But after an entire day of searching, no one found anything. The man remained broken and spent, for the first time in more than a decade, the night alone.
     The next day the doll was found. The townspeople speculated that it was some teenagers looking for a thrill, or some wild animal, for when they found the doll the doll was deflated and torn to pieces. The man showed up on the scene a few minutes later. He identified the shredded plastic as his own and left just as fast.
     The townspeople were shocked by the man’s callousness at the scene of the accident but sent letters and cards of bereavement anyway.
     The man was not seen until two weeks later, parading around town with another doll, much shapelier and larger than the first.

The Ex
Brian Duke

     At the party my ex said I was the third of her last three ex-boyfriends to marry women prettier than she was. She got bleary-eyed and said when she heard I got married, all she could think about was how many times we promised we couldn’t live our lives without one another. She said she just can’t understand how people in love, people who are really in love, like we were in love, can ever, really, stop.
     “You’ll see,” she said. “You’ll see when you start missing me.”
     And looking at her, all I could do was cross my legs remembering this girl, missing this girl all at once, missing this girl doing things I’d never ask my wife to do.
     “What are you thinking about?” she asked.
     “I’m trying not to.”
     That night my wife called and we talked overseas at two dollars a minute I was glad to pay.
     I told her everything.
     I told her how my ex threw herself at me, and bragged, jokingly, about all the things that could’ve happened between us but didn’t. The things that didn’t happen because of me.
     After a long while, my wife finally asked, “Have you imagined your life with her?”
     “I’ve tried,” I said. “But I stop when I realize you’re not there.”
     My wife giggled and said she loved me and I said the same back. My wife believed everything, the way my wife always does, because she has no reason to believe otherwise.

Brian Duke is an educator born and raised in the United States. He now lives with his wife and teaches in a private school in Berlin, Germany. He has been published in Monkeybicycle, Apocrypha and Abstractions, Apollo's Lyre, and Pathos Literary Magazine.

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