Before You Left the House

by Diana Cage

This morning I really wanted you. I’m not sure if you wanted it and if you didn’t then it isn’t the same. You got out of bed while I was still sipping coffee, not yet awake enough to realize I should have moved faster. Should have made a move or even just asked.

Your brain is somewhere else now, sipping Kenyan coffee in a café that boasts about its hand pours, but how else would it get in the cup? My mind is on a dull, dual ache, a dichotomous throb split between my left temple and a spot considerably lower. Artifacts from last night. The beer animated me, your hand on my lap gave you away. You like me like that.

Other couples seem fragile. I’m worried about Julia and Allison’s fate. The west coast is mythical, until you are there and realize anything outside the city proper is as populated by strip malls as the midwest. Don’t go, I kept thinking. They couldn’t hear me. They weren’t tuned into the same frequency.

You were shocked when I told you I thought they were making a mistake. They are teetering. Why don’t I stop them. Their fragility fortifying us. Not to worry, we aren’t them. We aren’t moving to California.

You were tapping your foot, our glasses empty. Ready to go. We fell into bed too tired and drunk for sex but this morning I regret it. There aren’t enough perfect moments to let any get away.

Diana Cage’s most recent book is A Woman’s Guide to Sexual Ecstasy, forthcoming from Seal Press. She was formerly a pornographer, then a radio talk show host and now teaches Women’s Studies at Brooklyn College.

Always, Always

He looked at her and he asked: are you dreaming still? She closed her eyes and her hair burst into flames, sending shimmering golden sparks across the wooden floor of their tiny one-bedroom apartment. And his eyes were blue and they were pouring out water that could not quench her or drown her but hold her only, curving around her small smoldering shape. She looked in and in and into him and said, finally: yes, I think I am. And the day drained out of their tiny space and then there were no walls and then they were just fire and water standing together in a field of sunflowers. In the yellow field, the two wove entwined until they were one elemental rope, fire and water holding hands, arms against arms, mouths against mouths. And then they were steam – two bodies become one cloud. Recombined, they felt their atoms grating together as they floated up over a thousand wavering yellow suns, relishing that delicious atomic friction and he looked at her and he looked at her and he was water again, crying back to the earth, where she collected him in small galvanized buckets knowing the answer to the question he could never ask was: always, always.


Mary Cafferty enjoys the sound of typewriter keys. Her work has appeared in Borderline, as well as Westfield State University’s literary journal Persona, and has been presented at Sigma Tau Delta’s annual international conference.

Fifth Avenue Debut

Momma was worried. “Three weeks until Paul’s Bar Mitzvah, and Beebee still has nothing beautiful to wear.” Saturday after Saturday, we traipsed all over Brooklyn, from one store to the next, trying on party dresses. I fell in love with a black velvet dress with a white stand-up collar and lacy ruffles down the front.  Momma shook her head. No black dress at a Bar Mitzvah. Frieda, Momma’s best friend, took us to Greenberg’s Dresses for Girls. Mrs. Greenberg showed us a white chiffon dress with a slip underneath. She suggested we dye the slip light blue, so I could be blue and white, the colors of the Israeli flag. Momma thought about it for a minute, but shook her head.

Aunt Rose, Momma’s sister, who loved fine things, suggested we meet her at Lord and Taylor, on Fifth Avenue. “I know it’s expensive, but the quality is tops.” Momma was tired of shopping and ready to end the search, even if it meant a big splurge. She shrugged her shoulders and agreed to meet there.

The next Saturday morning, Momma and I walked ten blocks to the 7th Avenue subway and rode to 34th Street in Manhattan. Coming up out of the darkened subway, we were greeted by the noise of traffic in Herald Square. 34th Street was crowded with shoppers. We walked along, stopping to look at mannequins in the windows of Macy’s and Orbach’s. One more long block and we arrived at the quiet refinement of Fifth Avenue. Neither Momma nor I had ever been there before.

Aunt Rose was waiting in front of the large stone building. We pushed through the glass revolving door and entered the store. I froze. Shoppers in elegant dresses, examining treasures, glided from one display of glittering jewels to the next. Brightly lit crystal chandeliers cascaded from the ceiling. The air was thick with the intoxicating scent of heavy perfume. Wide-eyed, I drank it all in.

We approached a saleswoman in high heels, hair perfectly coiffed, eyelids painted iridescent blue, brilliant red lips fixed in a broad, permanent smile. “May I help you?”

Momma pointed to me. “I need a dress for my—”

The woman glanced at me. “Oh yes, of course. You want the Children’s Chubby Department. Take the elevator to the second floor.”

Ears burning with shame, I stared at the intricate pattern of the black and white tiled floor, the magic of the moment draining away.


Bea Epstein is a a psychotherapist and writer living in Rockville, Maryland. Her work has appeared in “My Words Are Gonna Linger” 2009, in “Pegasus” 2010 and in Storyteller Magazine”, March 2011

Bravo, Julie Andrews!

The ballet recital at the end of school year was as usual: little girls (and occasionally one or two boys) demonstrated their achievements before an audience of adoring relations.

Light-colored tutus, epitomizing the eternal beauty of classical ballet. Sweet-sounding melodies, including Tchaikovsky’s. Bouquets of flowers held by the dressed-up adults. Suspense: when will my baby come on stage? Sighs of relief: here she is, so adorable! Generous applause at the end of every number. All of these created the mood of festivity and excitement.

But when Julie Andrews’s beautiful, unmistakable voice started the tune of “My Favorite Things,” sighs of thrill and pleasure swept through the space like a wave, swallowing up all other sounds and emotions. Faces were lit by smiles; bodies slightly moved to the rhythm of music; hums and whispers were heard. Kittens . . . mittens . . . strudels . . . noodles. As if under a spell, the spectators gazed at the stage, but, it seemed, saw the screen, their children cuddling in bed, throwing pillows at one another, and dancing with Maria.

When the song ended, all got up, applauding and cheering —Bravo! Bravo! They didn’t realize that their one standing ovation of the night was not for the cute, but clumsy little children dancing in a dull and uninventive dance, but for one person only: Julie Andrews.

Her peerless voice, genuine acting, and that funny face, forever associated with Maria’s, brought to life the enchanting story, music, and songs of “The Sound of Music.” It has been seen by all, loved by all—as much today as fifty years ago, when the parents of the grandparents sitting in the audience saw it for the first time.

Julie Andrews made it ageless. Bravo, Julie Andrews!

The Drain

One of the few things that I remember about my first childhood home, which my family had lived in until I was eight, is the shower drain. The grate covering the drain wasn’t screwed in, so it simply rested in the indentation of the drain hole. Every now and then I would accidently kick it out of place while showering, exposing the softball-size drain below. The uncovered drain became a dark abyss in the middle of the shower and when I would look down into it a dull throb would kick in my stomach, a slow torturous feeling, like being jabbed maliciously and repeatedly with the nub of a broom handle. Every time the depth and darkness of the drain was exposed I would have the same overwhelming fear-a snake. I had intense, paralyzing images of a snake slithering up from the drain, slowly and broodingly coiling its never-ending body around my legs, caressing every inch of my skin with its pipe grime laden underbelly, wrapping itself tighter and tighter around me, until it was tickling my chin with its thin, lisping tongue. I would go down in history as the young girl who died in the shower by a snake attack, all while my mother was washing dishes in the next room. To think! The misery of it all! I would use my toes to grasp the drain grate and drag it back into place as quickly as possible, to block the dreaded snake from emerging from the darkness, to return all back to its proper place, to put life back in order.  The unknown, the dark, it all seemed to converge into all the dismal possibilities of the world or rather, at that time, probably just the dismal possibilities of my young life.


I happened by your street last night, just as you were going out the door. I wanted to say hello but you seemed in such a hurry so I followed you instead, thinking that perhaps I’d catch you when you came to your destination.

It was an unfamiliar part of town–at least to me–so I parked several cars behind you. I waited a moment too long and you were out and up the stairs of an address I just scribbled down. A short while later you came out and a girl was a step or so behind you. Odd, you both got in your car.

You went to Antonio’s Real Italian Restaurant. Isn’t that funny–you and I went there all the time. I guess you must have really liked it there and hadn’t lied. I thought about going in and having dinner too, then I’d get a chance to talk to you and meet your friend. But honestly, I wasn’t very hungry.

She looked quite tipsy, your friend; was it the sauvignon? Or did you have the burgundy we always had with the lasagna? I deliberated and then decided that I shouldn’t approach you both just then. I’m sure she would have just been too embarrassed.

I waited for a long time when you dropped her off. Then I woke up in the morning and your car was gone. I would have liked to say hello and ask you if you miss me.


Susan Gibb, recently both recipient of the 8th Glass Woman Prize and a Pushcart nomination, writes one blog on literature analysis and another on hypermedia writing and reading. Her poetry, fiction, and digital art have been published in many fine zines. Her work is included in the “Valentine Day Massacre” chapbook (Cervana Barva Press). She wrote 100 hypertext stories in Summer, 2009, 100 flash fictions in Summer, 2010 and in 2011 she’s teamed up with an artist and writes one flash piece each day. Her work has been linked as a resource in Creative Writing courses in several fine universities.

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