Why doesn’t love end when it should?

The man I loved has found someone else. Palm trees lance skies full of low clouds. Sunset breaks like a jellyfish tide. It will rain.

She walks to his door with her wolfhound. I’m shocked seeing how old she is. Black hair, dark eyes, short, thin, not his type. He greets her, hugs her, and the dog, immense, jumps up. She glances in my direction.

What am I doing? Stalking? What is this craziness?

I married him six years ago. We divorced. What am I doing here in a rented car, looking at Jack and this woman? In the cloudy light, her long hair sways; she reaches for his arm. I hear soft rumble of thunder like the dog growling. She’s ordinary, nothing but a dark woman with a huge dog, an eerie look, Jack grinning like a fool at the door.

Don’t let her in.

Don’t don’t don’t don’t let her in.

In Greece, on our honeymoon, Jack found a statue of the goddess Hecate. We laughed, swam, drank too much wine, made love by a sea that hissed against black rocks. I left that small figure among shards and broken shells, dead fish and live gulls on that stony beach. I didn’t like her.

Jack, don’t let her in.

Death walks around these havens where the old come to the humid air, the orange groves, come in their millions, and die, one by one. In a flash he is shadowed, inside, in her arms while a wrongful dark stretches under the palms.

The woman, maiden, mother, crone, whatever she is, reappears, as red sirens rip the distance and some eager ambulance begins begins begins in the dusk-filled street to arrive.

Janet Shell Anderson


Janet has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize for fiction and published by Vestal Review, decomP. FRIGG, The Citron Review, Grey Sparrow, Cease Cows and others.


The Bridge

The old man rested his elbows against the rail of the bridge and contemplated the churning depths below. He was ready to be done with his problems.

He held the plastic card over the rail and let go. There. He would never be tempted to spend himself into so much debt again.

Sammy shivered under the thin blanket as the wind invaded his space under the bridge. Something sharp hit him in the forehead. He swore and searched among the rocks for the assailant.

A credit card, sent to him straight from the heavens. Sammy knelt and praised the Lord.

Anna Zumbro

The Things They Were Wrong About

Melissa didn’t know why she was surprised that you could see all the gum stuck to the parking lot. You could see it right through the clunky gray snow and ice drowned by exhaust fumes. Every frostless patch shone with a newer squashed piece of color against the old, worn black tar. She imagined future gum archaeologists studying the rise and fall of the Clear Valley Mall.

Ah yes. Here we have a fine specimen of Big League Chew. I’d say probably from around 1984 or 85. Hmm. Could be from a mall rat or arcade junkie. Oh, and it looks we could have a teeth whitener, circa 2012, over here.

She remembered giggling in school when the nuns got riled up about gum in any form, whether it was being chewed, stuck under desks, or shoved in notes. Gum took them under siege—it was everywhere.

Melissa felt a little overwhelmed when she thought about the things they were right about, but even more so about the things they got wrong, and in that brief few seconds, before she continued walking toward the mall entrance—when her eyes perused the vast parking lot wasteland filled with dirty snow and chewed up gum—she wondered if she really believed in anything.

J.M. Breen

My Heart Grows Heavier

My center grows cold and heavy. In Nagasaki, the winter months move on slowly. With my cast iron heart planted firmly in my chest, I find that simple tasks have now become difficult: getting out of bed, grooming myself, getting ready for work. The heater has been on the fritz—that, or my Welsh roommate and I are simply too stupid to read the Japanese on the remote and can’t figure out how to turn it on. After fiddling with the remote for the millionth time, I set the thing down and forget about it. I crawl into the warmth of my comforter and futon mattress and wait for my heart to grow heavier.

Daniel Clausen

The Hungry Man

The burgers sizzled on the griddle. Bun, lettuce, onions and ketchup off to the side. I glance at the ticket. Drop the fries into the famished Canola oil. Nine more orders are tugging at my grease-tipped sleeves. Bring it on. I’m in the zone, slinging meat and killing potatoes. Sweat leaking from my ball cap. A welcomed type of sweat. Perspiration that pays. Heals.

I walked into this burger joint three weeks ago. Broken. Groveling. Borrowed a pen from the cute counter girl with a nose ring. Filled out the application, adding a few small untruths to cover the gaps of unemployment. My hair was unruly, my beard unkempt. Clothes outsized and pilfered from a church bin, shoes battered from pounding ashpalt. Walking to soup kitchens, walking to forget. Told the manager a sad tale. Homeless, formerly addicted, just needed a break. Pleaded softly. He stared. His eyes measured me, my eyes returned the volley with an inaudible prayer. Shook my hand. Start Monday he told me.

I flip a couple of beef patties and pulled the fries out before the coroner had to be called. Grabbed the pickles. Wiped my forehead, eight more tickets needing my magic. I wrap the burgers snugly and smiled at nose ring girl. Hope was percolating again. I shuffle over to the griddle, people are hungry, so am I. Bring it on.

Chris Milam


Chris Milam resides in Hamilton, Ohio. He’s a voracious reader and a lover of baseball. A flash story of his was recently published by The Molotov Cocktail.

A Tattoo

She got a freaking tattoo! The nose piercing last year wasn’t enough. She had to get a Celtic arm band tattoo. She’s not even Irish.

I blame Janice for this—introducing liberal ideas into our home like some greenie on a mission. Still, when I told her, I expected her to be upset. I should have known better. “Everyone should be able to do whatever they want to their bodies,” she said. “It’s her body and her choice.”

Back in the old days we didn’t have choices. You either did what you were supposed to do, or you were put out of the house.

A freaking tattoo! My father would have used his belt. And I would have understood. Normal woman don’t get tattoos. They’re for biker chicks or women with weird hair.

“It’s my body, she said. “You don’t own me. I own me. It’s an expression of my rights.”

She’s got rights. She can vote, can’t she? Why does she need a freaking tattoo?

I blame Janice for this, introducing tofu and yoga into our home—the two goddamn things that have ruined this country. Now, mother and daughter go off yoga-ing together.

I wish I had a son. He would’ve introduced football, wrestling and NASCAR into the family. Good ol’ American-family sports. We could’ve gone bowling together. Not yoga-ing. We could’ve joined a league and worn those cool shirts with our names embroidered above the front pocket. We could’ve had a few beers together. We could’ve been a real family.

Instead we have greenies, tofu and freaking tattoos.

I blamed Janice for this. I stuck my finger in her face and shook it up and down. “Janice,” I said. “I’m not happy! Your mother has gotten herself a freaking tattoo and it’s your goddamn fault!”

Gerard Bianco


Gerard Bianco is a playwright, author, jewelry designer, artist and filmmaker. he holds an MFA in Writing from Albertus Magnus College.

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