My Catch-22

by Maura Campbell

I need to learn to be a more gracious receiver. My daughters and I discussed this the day after my wedding anniversary as they explained to me that I'm an intimidating gift giver since I often come up with spot on choices and that makes it hard to reciprocate. And, when the gift given is not quite right or worse quite wrong, I am not very good at hiding my disappointment. They were feeling very guilty that they hadn't gotten to their dad early enough to help him choose a good 22nd anniversary gift. I mean, really, a gift certificate ordered online and printed out at 5:45 p.m. on the evening of our anniversary? Luckily for him and for me and the girls for that matter, after 22 years, he is still a very good catch.

6S

Maura Campbell, author of My Weeble, usually writes for other people - putting words in the mouths of (and on the page for) assorted public relations and marketing clients. This time of year in Michigan, she misses the sun and finds herself longing for her home state of Colorado.

The Day Before 3/3

by Erica

Today I received a text message from Ryan saying it's his last night in PA. I never liked Ryan much, but I met a beautiful and wonderful person through him, who doesn't talk to me anymore. I miss that beautiful and amazing boy very much, painting, singing, and other things that we did together. Also today I told my boss I'm moving to California, and my last day at Fishburn will be March 30th. I thought I was going to puke all day because I was so nervous and full of anxiety, and now, instead of feeling like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders, I just feel slightly less sick. A beer after work might fix that.

6S

Erica enjoys changing her location on the planet Earth as well as the color of her hair; she also changes her name to Janet when appropriate. While she is not a published writer, she occasionally contributes beer and bar reviews to BeerAdvocate.com.

Deerhoof

Part 6 of 6 by Peter Wild

Concupiscent, made monstrous by your demure obeisance, I grew lusty and flagrant, crossing swords with whosoever took my passing fancy. And, as I dallied gradually further and further from home, sometimes for days at a time, you – you – grew strange, prowling the house like a vagrant Victorian, turning first all of the mirrors and later all of the pictures and photographs so that they faced away from you, prohibiting the use of any item powered by electricity during the hours of daylight and, latterly, posting meaningless bulletins (listing everything from types of jam to organisations responsible for public utilities) on doorjambs and walls and, on one occasion, to the ceiling above our bed. I knew it was a situation that could not be allowed to endure and yet, even so, I did nothing. I allowed you to wade out into the shallows, figuratively speaking, watching from the safety of the shore, my heart in the grip of trepidation and hushed, tentative awe, wondering what you would do next, wondering how mad a person could be before they were stopped by outside forces. There was a crisis (your older brother caught you bent over in the shoe cupboard under the stairs snapping 7” singles into bite-size chunks which were then placed upon your tongue like communion wafers, one atop the other, until your mouth was full of fractured slices of vinyl and blood, the sides of your cheeks in tatters from the shifting slivers) and an intervention, in which you removed, pointedly, from ‘my care’ to a secure facility capable of – if not curing – at least restoring a semblance of your former well-being. If there is a lesson to be learned, the lesson is this: however indirectly, be careful what you wish for.

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Peter Wild, author of Deerhoof, Part 5, makes his online home at peterwild.com.

Muse/muse

by Anna

I came back here this year just for you, you said, and these were not idle words, I think, carried out to me on your delightful delighted smile, and through those earnest, too young eyes. In the summary of your life for a year - not once mentioning the house that was purchased, the dogs who came along, the woman who waits even now in that house for your return, the dogs coursing out to meet and adore you anew, to sniff all the new strange scents you bring back with you, on you— you tell only of a trip to Indonesia. This is interesting, impressive, I will like to hear this of you, you will like saying it to me and watching my eyes for interest in another, larger side of you; and then, the gift of admission: you thought of me there, picked up pieces of the place in your hand and wondered at my reaction and appreciation of them, wondered how you might reproduce them in your work to make me say how you have grown and become a god of your medium. But the woman was there, walking all the while beside you; she watched you lift each item, each artifact, and did not know you thought of anything but furthering the life you two have in that home and in the studio you deny her sometimes so that you can be the real you and she can love what she has helped you to become. You will go back, with your smile and your tales and your desire to show the beautiful to someone who does not adore you, who lives entirely outside and far away from your day and your house and the awful security of love. Go; use these yearnings you require to turn wood and steel into wind and water and birds in flight; do not fail to love those dogs, and try to see the woman who is there.

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Anna, author of Fall Home, is writing again after 17 years in the doldrums. We're happy about that.

The Secret Past of Mrs. Komp

by Heather Leet

She waited for the door of the elevator to close before she removed the letter from her bag and stared once again at the face that had haunted her dreams since that night 60 years ago. That night had changed her life forever and this face was the reason she had become the person she was today. That night 60 years ago was supposed to be her wedding night, but one bullet had ended her dreams and set her on this path of destruction. Tonight she would end it and with this one last job she could retire and disappear to a tropical island. She had grown weary of this profession and besides her eye sight was faltering, that is what happened when you got old. As the elevator reached the 25th floor and the doors began to slide open she pulled her .45 from her bag and waited for her moment.

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Heather Leet, author of The Turquoise Bike, is a modern day Robin Hood, but instead of stealing from the rich she cajoles them into giving her money to help fund programs that will hopefully one day make the world a better place. She spends not enough time writing on her blog, and hopes to one day publish her collection of Love Poems to Dictators.

The Last Act

by Joshua Weston

He had to abort, he couldn’t stand it. He said his goodbyes to his pistol as it entered his mouth and blew his brains onto the wall behind him. The pain was immense. His head hit the toilet, throwing out more chunks of brain matter, and he slumped on the floor. He could feel the blood encompassing his dying body. Then, he felt nothing.

6S

Joshua Weston is a novice writer living in Nevada, Missouri. He's had several works published in various publications ranging from local to national. Procrastination is Joshua's nemesis, so short stories come easier to him. He used to write as Josh Weston, but that name is currently being used by someone in another profession. (Do not do an image search for Josh Weston.)

My Weeble

by Maura Campbell

Resiliency is an under-appreciated character trait. My mother in law is resilient; so is her granddaughter, my middle child. My daughter, in fact, may be the most resilient person I know - lord knows she's had to deal with more than most. She was diagnosed gifted with a learning disability at 7 (she can't spell and writing is painful) and bipolar at 14. Without trivializing her challenges, she is my amazing, complicated, frustrating, funny, brilliant and beloved "weeble" that wobbles but is never down for long. No matter what the setback or disappointment, she finds a way to get back up and fight or just face another day.

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Maura Campbell, author of Brittle, usually writes for other people - putting words in the mouths of (and on the page for) assorted public relations and marketing clients. This time of year in Michigan, she misses the sun and finds herself longing for her home state of Colorado.

Deerhoof

Part 5 of 6 by Peter Wild

You were at once a different creature: the wayward, contrary girl I’d fallen in love with was gone; suddenly, out of nowhere, you were docile, gamine, obedient, a girl out of time. If I came home from work in a mood, if I lashed out or barked at you, for whatever reason, whether it was deserved or not, you just took it, like a dog brought to heel. I couldn’t work it out, couldn’t work you out, had to keep asking you whether you were alright, whether we were alright, whether everything was alright – and each time I asked, you smiled sweetly and said yes and of course and why wouldn’t I/we/everything be alright? I tried to not let the change bother me (I tried to bask in all of the attention, luxuriating in the peace and the quiet, open and receptive to your many ministrations – you, the pliable doll) but your sweetness eventually provoked me beyond all measure. Over a period of days and weeks and months, I grew more and more cruel, taunting you and mocking you and hurting you in every devious way I could in order to shake you up and make you fight back. But there was nothing, nothing beyond your sweet, confused hurt, your bruised acceptance of whatever I threw your way, your stoical martyrdom – and that wasn’t the worst thing, not by a long chalk.

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Peter Wild, author of Deerhoof, Part 4, makes his online home at peterwild.com. Part 6, the conclusion, arrives on Thursday, March 29th.

Vinny the Vegetarian Vulture

by Harry B. Sanderford

When Vinny was little his grandpa told him stories of how the old timers used to panic westbound pilgrims and prospectors into picking up the pace just by circling overhead. Those days were long gone, the pioneers may have had to keep one eye on their canteen and the other one on Grandpa's grandpa but these days humans didn't go as far as the corner market without a cell phone, a bottle of water and their own personal GPS so the likelihood of his ever tasting the chewy center of a thirsty cowboy was looking pretty remote. Vinny spent most days with his pals along the shoulder of US highway 17 between Pierson and Barberville just waiting for a pokey gopher turtle or near sighted armadillo to wander into traffic and day-dreaming of circling high overhead. One day a carload of passing surfers hucked half a cheeseburger right to or maybe it was right at him, handout or hand grenade it was an epicurean epiphany for Vincent. He'd never tasted seasoned or cooked meat, when he thought of all the Uniroyaled roadkill he'd snacked on sans any salty benefit he cringed, but even bigger he'd unknowingly been on the Atkins diet his whole life and this crusty, pickle chip imbedded, half burger bun, this castoff cache of culinary carbohydrates, triggered sensations of delight beyond any earthbound buzzard's bearing. And so began Vinny the vulture's vegetarian sojourn, he took flight soaring higher than he'd ever been before following the little blue maverick with the surfboards on top all the way to New Smyrna Beach where he can still be found circling overhead on the afternoon trade winds with his new girlfriend, a seagull named Sasha who taught him where to look for kid-dropped ice cream cones and Pedro, a pelican pirate from the panhandle who claims to have dined on every bait barge from Pensacola to Jacksonville the long way around.

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Harry B. Sanderford, author of Commercials: They're Great!, is a Central Florida surfing cowboy who'd sooner spin yarns than mend fences.

The Last Days of the Cross

Part 2 of 6 by Joseph Ridgwell

Soon I was well ahead of her and I crossed back over and stood outside a kebab shop - within seconds she was within sight, and no I hadn’t been imagining things because she was the most stunning girl I’d ever seen, not classically beautiful, but oddly beautiful, quirky. Her hair was died blonde and all over the place, her lips were full, and she was wearing a big plastic necklace, made up of huge white balls, and which was way too big for her long skinny neck. Her skin was honey coloured and her eyes were blue. The eyes were what did it; they were so brightly blue, unnaturally blue, a shocking aspect about her. There was no way those eyes could be natural and as she approached I tried to see if she was wearing coloured contact lenses, but to my surprise she wasn’t, those piercing Steve McQueen blue eyes were the real deal. I took a deep breath.

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Joseph Ridgwell grew up in the East End of London and left school with few qualifications. He then embarked on a succession of menial jobs. After being stabbed in a bar brawl and getting robbed at knifepoint he decided it was time to leave the country and promptly travelled the world. He returned to London in 2001 where he lives and writes to this day. The Last Days of the Cross is excerpted from his latest novel. Look for Part 3 on Tuesday, April 3rd.

Spade

by Nathan Tyree

Had I known that you would be coming back, I would have done some things differently. Perhaps I would have been nicer to you. I guess that, in retrospect, I should have given you more of my time; more of my affection. None of that seems all that important now. Now I can see that there was only one thing that I really should have focused on. I should have buried you deeper.

6S

Nathan Tyree's work has appeared (or is forthcoming) in Flesh and Blood, Doorknobs and Body Paint, The Flash, Bare Bone, Dogmatika, Wretched and Violent, and The Empty Page: Stories Inspired by the Songs of Sonic Youth. He's also the author of The Cost of Forgiveness.

Deerhoof

Part 4 of 6 by Peter Wild

You’d changed out of your clothes, out of what you were wearing at the dog track (standing there, exposed in the doorway, dripping and expectant of imminent anguish and earache, I couldn’t for the life of me remember what it was you’d been wearing) into your PJs and you were lounging on the couch with a half-filled glass of red wine and your book, The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters. I cleared my throat – not to attract your attention so much as to actually ensure I could speak without the cold and the rain and the walk and all of that getting the better of me – which, apparently was all the prompt you needed; you looked up, mouthed the word Oh, and sort of clambered (in a way that was at once both beautiful and ungainly) to your feet, placing the glass of wine gently on the floor and leaving your book to flutter closed. I wondered if you’d flipped your lid and considered making a run for it – leastways until you got to me and took my hand (the hand I’d slapped the kid with) to your mouth, kissing each knuckle in turn as you said, my – big – brave – man. You kissed my knuckles and you kissed me, softly, on the lips and then you said, Let’s get you out of those wet clothes. You said Let’s get you out of those wet clothes, I shouldn’t have left you, it was wrong of me and then you said the magic word: I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I didn’t know what was going on (didn’t know what to make of the way you were behaving) but, as you led me by the hand up the stairs and to our bed, as you undressed yourself and slipped in besides me, as you gave and gave and gave and gave, for my sins, I didn’t care.

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Peter Wild, author of Deerhoof, Part 3, makes his online home at peterwild.com. Part 5 arrives on Saturday, March 24th.

Untitled

by Caroline Woolard

The quest for the horizon is a bed, an unreachable, horizontal dream land of vacation islands where water and sky touch freely. Only sailors and sunset interrupt this line of blue against blue with myth and poetry. The vertical reach of cities, like the upright character of waking life, slaps neighborhoods awake in construction's eternal quest for clouds: vacancies appear only upwards, above and on top. Lonely horizons are levitating bodies in beds, beds filled mostly by ones not twos. City buildings stand in crowds barred by streets, with so many not-slanted, flat roofs collecting and evaporating because where would the water go? The anonymous intimacy of subway mornings with sleeping fists gathered, gripping, piled on totem-pole-of-hands railings.

6S

Caroline Woolard explores the space between people and architecture, making a place for the body amidst gigantic buildings on the streets of New York and finding new ways to occupy public space. Her work includes a personal subway seat, a seat/space to visualize conversation, and a house balanced between two stories.

The Significance of Mud

by W. Kay Washko

Back when the river was a metallic yellow brown rimmed with sluggish foam and scum, there was plenty of Industry in this town. The banks of the river were not places where earth, water, rock and vegetation met in balance, as they did on the banks of the feeder streams crisscrossing the countryside. Rather these river banks were once lined with fine black silt washed down from the belching foundries situated along the bends and folds of the conveniently useful waterway. The stains of this soot did not wash out of our clothes, and playing by the river was never merely a case of getting "muddy." I never thought much about the significance of mud until it reappeared, and with the mud came a different kind of river - one wearing reflective ribbons of shifting colors, muted jade green in spring and summer, warm umber in autumn, choppy black and blue foil laced with small whitecaps in winter - a source of fresh wonder every time I look on it. Maybe I'm a heretic, but I am pleased that Industry has taken its oozing lesions elsewhere, returning the mud and this river from the dead.

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W. Kay Washko, author of A Change of Taste, writes because she must, and for occasional profit. Very occasional. You can find her poem "Mushrooms" this month in the spring issue of Philadelphia Stories. (She does not love a wall.)

Ouija Boy

by Robert McEvily

On St. Patrick’s Day in 1988, a young boy named Samuel Popp was struck by lightning. He survived, but his growth was permanently stunted; his body permanently magnetized. His mother took advantage by tattooing the alphabet, the words Yes, No and Goodbye, and the numbers 0 through 9 to his chest and stomach, and forcing him, whenever the Circus came to town, to swallow a small refrigerator magnet. Using his pectoral and abdominal muscles, the boy was able to manipulate a Ouija board indicator around his midsection to answer questions according to his mother’s directions. His mother, by shamelessly using her son, by telling people what they wanted to hear, made a handsome profit. Then one day – St. Patrick’s Day I believe – some cool leprechauns showed up and kidnapped the boy and changed his name to Seamus and gave him a better life, and the boy lived happily ever after.

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Robert McEvily, creator of Six Sentences, wishes everyone a happy (and crazy) St. Patrick’s Day.

Night School

by Louise Yeiser

"You look beautiful today," my classmate whispered in my ear. I felt the red fly to my face and heard his 31 years screaming at my life's middle ground. I've had my eye on him since the beginning. Long and lean, with commendable shoulders and brown eyes, all droopy and heavily lashed, that make me want to dig around in my bookbag for something like my pen or a highlighter or my lipstick. I would love to see how he'd fare with twenty more years under his belt. Maybe we'd find something else to do besides fidget side by side in English class.

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Louise Yeiser, author of Teatime Tangent, is a writer and student who lives in her spare time.

The Last Days of the Cross

Part 1 of 6 by Joseph Ridgwell

I stood on the corner of Roslyn and Darlinghurst trying to make up my mind, people walked past, forcing me to get out of the way, and then I saw her for the very first time. Juanita, although back then I didn’t know her name was Juanita, she was just a face in the crowd, but not just any face, no, she stood out like a shimmering vision and everyone and everything became part of a blurred grainy backdrop as soon as she hove into view. She was a young aboriginal girl with long legs and mad hair, dressed like a hooker, torn fishnet stockings and a silky yellow blouse. She was walking fast, pushing past people, like she was on a mission. For some mad reason I decided to follow her, I don’t know why, it was just an impulse, an overwhelming urge, but I did it. I crossed to the other side of the road and ran fast along the main drag until I was in front of her.

6S

Joseph Ridgwell grew up in the East End of London and left school with few qualifications. He then embarked on a succession of menial jobs. After being stabbed in a bar brawl and getting robbed at knifepoint he decided it was time to leave the country and promptly travelled the world. He returned to London in 2001 where he lives and writes to this day. "The Last Days of the Cross" is excerpted from his latest novel. Look for Part 2 on Thursday, March 22nd.

Brittle

by Maura Campbell

He called me brittle. None of the definitions sat too well as I stood there trying to think of something to fling back at him. Am I really "hard and likely to break," or "sharp-sounding with an unnerving quality or tone?" He can't possibly mean I am "lacking durability or permanence;" after all, I've been married to him for 22 years! I'm sure he means that I seem "easily irritated or annoyed" these days. But, I prefer to think I am more like that tasty confection of caramelized sugar and nuts - sweet really, with a hearty crunch and a touch of salt.

6S

Maura Campbell, author of Oops!, usually writes for other people - putting words in the mouths of (and on the page for) assorted public relations and marketing clients. This time of year in Michigan, she misses the sun and finds herself longing for her home state of Colorado.

Deerhoof

Part 3 of 6 by Peter Wild

All of which leads to what can only be described as a pivotal moment – and the pivotal moment is awash with surface detail (like, for one thing, I retrieved my shoe from where it was lodged, in the mud beneath the car alarm car, and it occurred to me, as I crouched and hopped, one hand on the top of the car and one hand jogging the heel to get the damn thing back on my foot, that the car alarm sounded like a Beefheart tune but I couldn’t for the life of me say which one – and then I thought, as I made my way through the car park to the gate, maybe it wasn’t Beefheart maybe it was Daniel Johnston or Pig Destroyer or – hey, maybe it was Deerhoof; like, for another thing, within about ten minutes the rain was falling like rain out of a Kurosawa movie, the rain was Rashomon rain; like, for a third thing, the streets were empty even though it was Friday night, there were no cars, no bikes, no rickshaws, nothing), but the surface detail isn’t what is important. What is important is what was going on beneath the surface. I’m not saying I made a wish and heard thunder rumble and found myself caught in cut-out, a dark shape against the electric sky. All I’m saying is – as I hashed and rehashed the furious five minutes that passed between me slapping that kid upside his head and you driving away – it may be I thought life could only be better if we didn’t argue. I don’t know if there’s somebody up there or somebody down there or somebody some fucking where who was listening. All I know is, by the time I arrived – foot-sore and wet as a dog – back home, the world no longer resembled the world I knew.

6S

Peter Wild, author of Deerhoof, Part 2, makes his online home at peterwild.com. "Deerhoof" is a six-part story, with each part exactly six sentences. Look for Part 4 on Tuesday, March 20th.

Going Down

by Madam Z

I was heading down the narrow stairs, just as he was coming up; and we stopped, at an impasse. His head was level with my hips and he looked at my crotch before he looked at my face. I tried to say "Hi, Danny," but my voice was stuck in his smokey green eyes. He reached out his hands, put one on each of my hips, and I gasped, as an electric charge seared my guts. "Don't, Danny," I think I said, or maybe thought I should have said, but he did, and I did, and we did, and we did again. And then I heard someone else on the stairs, and I was almost sorry I had ever come down those stairs, or at least thought I should have been sorry.

6S

Madam Z, author of Three's a Crowd, knows all and hears all.

Thick and Thin

by Don Pizarro

I address the letter to Katie, but I might as well have written, "Dear Occupant." I leave it where she's bound to find it and force myself to walk to the door, reminded of how she said (in one of her clearer moments) that she'd totally understand and wouldn't blame me. It's just that all the tips and tricks we've tried to get to know each other again just haven't worked. Through thick and thin, we'd said, but we never imagined her skull would have anything to do with it. I take a moment to reconsider the letter, but convince myself that it's more decent than vanishing. And if I'm wrong, I know there's always a high probability that she'll accidentally toss it out with some junk mail or simply forget where she left it last.

6S

Don Pizarro, author of Code of Conduct, lives in upstate NY. His writing has appeared online at McSweeney's, American Nerd, and Byzarium.

The Order of Things: Dispatching

by RJ Gibson

The snake should not have been there, in the seam of the wall and concrete slab: it disturbed the dogs. Matte: dark as raisin, with random creamy scales; the slender tip of its tail curled over itself. One of the older boys came, took shots at it with rocks and bricks. After the second, the third, the fifth solid hit, it raised itself and flashed its dove-white mouth. Swaying, it struck at the bricks, the wall and finally its own thicker middle, where some bit of its guts bulged from a tear in its side, soft and sexually pink. After watching it bleed out blood brighter than our own or any that we'd seen, we went inside, we watched TV, we waited for its twitching to stop.

6S

RJ Gibson is not nearly as ophidiophobic as you might believe. He splits his time between West Virginia and Baltimore, where he hopes to have a random John Waters sighting. He blogs at On the Cusp.

Nuclear Physics Nightmare

by Rod Drake

Clive was, as usual, in over his head, but this time, he was in over everyone else’s head in the whole Cambridge LINAC Center as well. It had seemed like a neat idea initially, popping a microscopic piece of silly putty into the linear particle accelerator to see what would happen. But somehow it had all gone wrong, horrible wrong. Something in the putty, maybe a smudge of Clive’s DNA, had combined with decaying ions and developing antimatter in the accelerator, and the result wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t anything remotely from this earth, solar system or galaxy; it was a totally new life form, if that’s what it was, growing geometrically in size and appetite, absorbing everything in its path like a black hole. As Clive and the lab staff were stretched out and sucked into the dark matter center, he wondered if maybe he had gone too far this time.

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Rod Drake, author of Sex or Syntax, lives in over-the-top Las Vegas and has decided that work is less fun than it was advertised as being in college. Check out Rod's longer stories in Flashes of Speculation, Fictional Musings, Flash Flooding, Flash Forward and MicroHorror.

Oops!

by Maura Campbell

The bile rose in her throat. She knew it was too late. The deed was done. With one click of the mouse, perched on its usual spot next to her computer, she had sent the wrong file. Desperate times call for desperate measures. She began clicking through the many icons and pull down menus on Microsoft Outlook frantically searching for the recall this message option and the relief it would bring.

6S

Maura Campbell, author of Stella, usually writes for other people - putting words in the mouths of (and on the page for) assorted public relations and marketing clients. This time of year in Michigan, she misses the sun and finds herself longing for her home state of Colorado.

Simple Mathematics

by Rocky Balboa

You ain’t got a boyfriend; you know why? Because you hang around with them coconuts on the corner, you understand? You hang around with coconuts, you get nowhere – they’re lemons. You hang around with nice people, you get nice friends, you understand? You hang around with smart people, you get smart friends; you hang around with yo-yo people, you get yo-yo friends; you see? It’s simple mathematics.

6S

Rocky Balboa, a professional boxer from Philadelphia, was a fictional character created and portrayed by Sylvester Stallone in six films. His six sentences are taken from Stallone’s original screenplay for the first film. (“Rocky” won the 1976 Oscar for Best Picture.)

The Turquoise Bike

by Heather Leet

When the snow stopped falling she knew it was time to finish it. She loaded the glock, strapped it to her thigh, pulled on her leather jacket and headed out the door. She ran into her eighty-seven year old neighbor Mrs. Komp on her way down the front steps where Mrs. Komp was chaining up her turquoise bike. “Off on another of your adventures?” Mrs. Komp asked. She just nodded her head at Mrs. Komp as she pulled her car keys from her pocket. “Be careful dear and don’t shoot any bystanders this time; one shot to the head is all it should take for that weasel,” Mrs. Komp said.

6S

Heather Leet, author of This Place, is a modern day Robin Hood, but instead of stealing from the rich she cajoles them into giving her money to help fund programs that will hopefully one day make the world a better place. She spends not enough time writing on her blog, and hopes to one day publish her collection of Love Poems to Dictators.

The Power of Distance

by Stephanie Sellars

“I never get jealous,” I used to boast. My boyfriends’ titillations with other women confirmed their desirability while justifying my shamelessly flirtatious behavior. Usually, if another person shows interest in someone I’m dating, I feel proud, not in a possessive sense, but as if my lover is a work of art. If he hangs alone in my private gallery, he may lose his appeal; the more admiration my lover inspires in others, the more value he has with me. Beyond the relativity of attractiveness, the idea of my lover being with someone else is often a turn-on, as the image places him in a new and distant light. This is especially effective in a long-term relationship suffering from the loss of novelty: distance, whether real or fabricated, re-opens the door to seduction.

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Stephanie Sellars is a singer, actress and writer. Her six sentences are taken from “Beyond Jealousy,” the March 6th entry of her “Lust Life” column in New York Press.

Deerhoof

Part 2 of 6 by Peter Wild

I called your name, sang Josie in that pathetic sea shanty sing-song way I have that you detest and I know you heard me because you jerked your shoulder, the way you would if some salesman or something was invading your personal space, you jerked your shoulder even though I was about forty, fifty paces away from you. It occurred to me that I could stay, try and win my money back and drink more beer – but if I did that whatever shit I was in would magnify beyond all proportion by the time I eventually made it home; so I didn’t stay. I did shout your name once more, though, as I legged it after you, heels kicking up sand behind me – shouted Josie, pleading, like a kid asking for ice-cream. You didn’t respond, didn’t look back, didn’t so much as register that there might possibly be a question in need of an answer. By the time I made the car park (sweaty, and it has to be said sort of desperate-looking like that guy at the end of the Don Siegel version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers), it was starting to rain and you – you were in the car with PJ Harvey shrieking Sheela-Na-Gig at top volume, driving away without so much as a second look at me, wearing that expression that says: I know you’re there and I know you can see me and I know you know that I can see you but I’m not going to let on to you, you can go and fuck yourself, you can go and fuck yourself, and when you’ve finished (fucking yourself), you can walk home in the rain and let’s all hope that the rain helps you work your shit out so that by the time you get home you’ll be in a position to apollo-the-fuck-a-gise, because that’s where you are now and that’s what you need to do. Knowing a futile gesture was called for, I removed my shoe and pitched it high and dumb in your direction, or in the direction of our rapidly diminishing car at any rate, and I said shit quietly once and then (as my shoe bounced off the bonnet of some other schmo’s car, thereby forcing said car’s car alarm to blossom forth in all its shrill glory) much louder – SHIT! – into the rain-wet, argument-spoiled night.

6S

Peter Wild, author of Deerhoof, Part 1, makes his online home at peterwild.com. "Deerhoof" is a six-part story, with each part exactly six sentences. Look for Part 3 on Tuesday, March 13th.

Teatime Tangent

by Louise Yeiser

In my next life I’m going to have those legs (I looked the other way to avoid staring, but gave up after about two seconds). And those arms and that hair (I took a sip of tea) and those eyes and those hands with their ten perfect fingernails shaped in squares and painted just the right amount of white. The tea was too hot. I was supposed to be enjoying my little Starbucks escapade, sipping sweet tea that tasted like gingerbread graham crackers, munching an exquisite — albeit unusually crumbly — piece of coffee cake, and dissecting fragments of poems assigned for homework due tomorrow; but instead, I was placing my order for my next life and burning the roof of my mouth. It was a relief when she finally left, giving me a nice, round derriere that was quickly added to my list. And that was the end.

6S

Louise Yeiser, author of A Tribute to Madam Z, is a published writer and writing student at the University of Pittsburgh. She authors Sneak Peeks, edits A Good Look at Mastiffs and lives with her two cats and as many English Mastiffs as she can fit into her house. This week, her hobbies include homemade soup, walking in the cold, and Season 2 reruns of Grey’s Anatomy.

An Expensive Wisdom

by Jerusha Ponniah

This bookstore was unlike any other: there was only one bookshelf in it, which had one rack, which held one book, which contained one page. Of course, people being the curious people they are stopped by daily at odd hours to enter this odd shop. No one actually bought anything, for the one sole rule this shop had was No Touching the Merchandise. A tourist entered it one day and paid the sticker price of $72.50. Dozens gathered around to see what was inside of it. Lo and behold, it contained one dark, bold word: Non-Refundable.

6S

Jerusha Ponniah is from Malaysia and constantly fights a tug-of-war battle with words.

Needlework

by Erin McKnight

The last time my hands explored my chest, I wasn’t bothered by its flatness. My chubby fingers were so focused on tracing the raised threads of the dress’s embossed flowers that they didn’t notice what was missing. But back then, of course, nothing was. It isn’t until I’m in the surgical gown that I find a ragged thread and remember the daisies. As my fingertips twist the strand, I wonder whether it’s a remnant of the decorative stitches once loosened by growing breasts, and which now hold closed my mutilated chest. Flowers will again bloom.

6S

Erin McKnight was born in Scotland, and raised in South Africa. She is an assistant editor for The Rose & Thorn, and has recently been accepted into an MFA program. Her writing currently appears in Siren: A Literary & Art Journal and Diddledog, and is forthcoming in Ginosko and The Rose & Thorn. She now lives in Virginia, where she is at work on a collection of flash fiction.