Breaking the Links

I tried so hard to keep fear away from her. In the garden, I’d say, “See, honey, a worm,” and watch her pick it up, never showing the squeamishness that kept me from touching a worm myself.

We read stories of strong, brave women, who surmounted obstacles, forging ahead, not allowing fear to vanquish them. Overprotected Understood Betsy learned to stand on her own, and when she and little Molly were accidentally abandoned at the county fair, Betsy hid her fear. She promised Molly she would find a way home—and she did. In So Far form the Bamboo Grove, Yoko and her sister survived horrifying war privations and subsistence conditions before being reunited with their family.

When my daughter went to college in 2002, with the ashes of the Twin Towers still nearly visible, we walked up the Harlem hill, through the wrought iron gate into the university that had welcomed immigrants. Then we walked down the hill to the Hudson River.

“Which way is home?” I asked. She pointed north,.

“Right,” I told her. “The river goes home, If anything happens, try to get a ride north, as far as you can if you can’t get all the way.  Route 9, Broadway here, goes all the way to Saratoga. You can follow Route 9 home. If you can’t go by road, follow the river. It will take a long time, weeks, maybe longer, but the Hudson will bring you home.”

She listened, nodding silently but confidently, secure in her strength, in her wood skills, in her ability to find my love waiting for her whatever happened, where ever she went, secure in the shining innocence of youth.

I left her and drove home listening to the rattling chains of fear traveling with me.


by Jane Arnold


Jane Arnold has been writing and publishing nonfiction essays and memoir for over 25 years. During the past five years, she has been writing and publishing fiction, including flash fiction and short stories. She teaches writing and literature at a community college.


The Truth, As I Remember It, Regarding Your Father

He was my summertime fairytale prince, cigarette pressed between his slim piano playing fingers.  The smell of smoke mixing with the scent of that tangerine tree where he first pressed his exquisitely shaped lips to my neck and where we intertwined grandeur dreams of forever.  We played dumb, like we forgot I had a scholarship to a mid-western university with decent academics and a stellar basketball team. Like he didn’t have a demo tape and a bus ticket to L.A.  I surrendered my virginity to him under that stuffed elk head in your grandfather’s study one Sunday afternoon when everyone was at the church picnic. I weaved my fingers through that glorious hair he was too cool to comb, looked him right in the eyes and told him it was perfect.  He believed me.

The last time I saw him, he drew on his cigarette long and hard and didn’t say much.  I could tell he wanted to drag out our goodbye.  His eyes shadowed under that newsboy hat he wore.  Silence built up and closed us in a beautiful dream.  We didn’t need words or promises.  I could have woken us both up, but there was no need for him to know I was late.  He would have offered to help.  Maybe even offered to marry me.  But I loved him too much to stop him from getting on that bus.

At least, that’s the way I remember it.


by Diane D. Gillette


Diane D. Gillette has a couple master degrees, two demanding cats, and lives with the love of her life in Chicago. When she isn’t too busy reading, writing, or appeasing her cats, she blogs about writing at You can find more of her published work there.


I have an image in my mind. It is an image of a particular man. He is perhaps less scruffy than he was over the weekend, and no matter how close his morning shave he reached the evening’s shadow. I see him, soaking in a tub. There are no candles burning. No bubbles. No salt crystals filling pastel jars tucked in the corner. I see the steam rising, clinging to the surrounding tiles, everything about him shines, and so does he. Eyes closed, his hair drenched enough for droplets to drip off the ends and down his neck. Shoulders peaking above the service waiting for their turn to soak after his knees finally give up creaks to the bath. His sighs cast ripples to his toes as the heft of his worry evaporate from the substance of his thoughts as he soaks. The gate of his imagination opens to an image of a woman. She is by far more tousled than she was at the start of her day. He sees her, in the particular way she leans against the bathroom door, arms folded, barefoot, smiling, with him on her mind.


by Julieanna Blackwell

With a Slash Between

She scribbles a few letters on the back of her card and hands it to him. She smiles and says something cheerful. The words don’t matter. As he takes the card, he answers in kind, if only to keep his tenuous grasp on the vision of civility he’s retreated into. He does not think of all the countless things he would like to say, because he does not want to risk their appearance, even in his eyes. But she is not as perceptive as he fears. She has another appointment waiting, and he is not the face she puts on a world’s betrayal; he just isn’t that important to her.

In the elevator on the way back down, he presses himself into the corner though no one else is riding;  it’s the only way he can keep from pacing. He walks past the metal detectors, where a man is shaking his head as he struggles to undo his belt; false suspicion has shamed this nameless man into stripping away another layer of his pride, if only to prove his innocence. The security guard that mans the machine doesn’t notice this inner struggle the man is having, but only does his job instead. But our man notices, just before he hits the door and once more takes a breath of the good air under an open sky. He wishes he could remember what it was like to take that for granted.


by D.F. Paul


D.F. Paul lives in the Midwestern United States. He’s been writing since he was a child, when he uncovered a beat to hell typewriter cleaning out the garage. Many years and a lot of wasted paper later, he still doesn’t understand the process any better. A list of his published work can be seen at:

Cerebral Atrophy

They came in a pack of four. The wolves from the Justice Department descended on my father once the disease became too advanced to conceal. Sometimes he recognized them for the enemy they were but there were instances when he thought they were old acquaintances and he wanted to reminisce about incidents that they had no prior knowledge of. I did my best to keep the predators away but they snuck in disguised as doctors, deliverymen and caretakers.

They came in a pack of four. The extended members of the family pretended to visit but really wanted to assess the situation personally. They insisted on holding their “visits” where they could whisper so low that my father had no idea what they were saying. They looked at each other more than they looked at him and some, I am sure, had never met him before though they all insinuated otherwise.

They came in a pack of four. The batteries arrived in the mail accompanied by a handful of wires in an unmarked envelope as a warning of things to come. My hands shook and everything spilled to the floor. The meaning was that the guests from out of town were more worried about the local boys than they let on. If you’re lucky, you get one warning.

They came in a pack of four. The sleeping pills with all the warnings, side effects, and harmful drug interactions were in individualized boxes but there was no shortage of them.  I made sure my father’s prints were on every box, every label, and every piece of inner wrap. I put all of them in his mouth – four at a time – and forced him to drink them down. I held his hands and watched him leave.

by Michael Gunn


Michael Gunn has been previously published in Shotgun Honey.


After I dropped out of university I spent some time working on my uncle’s farm. My uncle was called Frank and wasn’t much to look at, the whiskey had done that to him, whiskey and heartache. He was getting on now so I chopped wood for the fire and made dinner as best as I could. In the evenings I lost myself in Tolstoy.

My uncle got me into butchery. The first thirteen pigs I killed I named. The last thirteen I resorted to using numbers. Perhaps I was feeling more human.

The one person I killed, in an accident, her name I have long since forgotten.

I remember the date it happened though, that’s something.

When the summer was over I started back for the city and found myself in a diner with a woman I did not know. I told her that I loved her right there and then and knew from the moment I set eyes upon her that we were to be married. She was called Mercy and she thought what I said and did was very strange but that she would leave it go this time because I had a tired face and when men are tired they do foolish things.

Frank died a little while after that and the pigs cannibalised each other before the last one finally starved to death. I don’t know if she had a name or a number.

I married Mercy but she left me after a few years and married another pig farmer because he was heartbroken and she felt pity for him. I told her as she was leaving that she had too much faith in the word and she said she knew this to be true.


by Roy Endean

Roy Endean lives in the south of Ireland. His work has appeared in Brand Magazine, The Steel Toe Review and Corium, and has been performed by The Accidental Theatre Company. He is the recent recipient of the Burbage New Writing Prize.

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