by Adam J. Whitlatch

David stares down at the blue denim-bound book nestled in his sweating palms. A lewd, drunken voicemail from a man he doesn’t even know led him to this book, tucked discreetly between the mattress and box springs. The book grows heavy in his hands and he almost considers putting it away, but can’t. He has to know the truth. His breath comes in ragged gasps as sobs of despair threaten to tear his heart to shreds. He swallows the sobs, takes a deep breath, steels his resolve, and with shaking hands he opens his wife’s diary.


Adam J. Whitlatch, who brought us The Show Must Go On, is the author of several horror and science fiction short stories as well as the novel The Blood Raven: Retribution. He lives happily with his wife Jessica and their two children on a little farm in southern Iowa, where he continues to work on his new science fiction novel, E.R.A. – Earth Realm Army. Check him out on MySpace, and tell him that you read his work here on 6S.


by Brent Fisk

The crepe myrtle snows hot pink blossoms into the backyards of cotton-haired widows. Green clothesline is abandoned to mourning doves and in their kitchen windows, green glass bottles hide dead flies. Some nights when a storm comes knocking through their knees, they rise and limp to the porch. Dig a stale cigarette from the shredded pocket of a house coat and strike a red match against the stone foundation. In the dark, the wind comes up and drives away the smoke. They shift in the shadow of the thrashing leaves, alive again in their skins, the betrayal of bones grown small as the hot tip of a cigarette.


Brent Fisk, author of Honeymoon Period, is a three-time Pushcart nominee who recently won an honorable mention in Boulevard's Emerging Poets contest. His work has appeared in Mimesis, Rattle, Fugue, and Southern Poetry Review among other places.

My Spooky Son

by Siobhan

I was looking for a book in Thins. The entrance to the shop was a long corridor fanning out at the end, not unlike the shape of a big wine glass. As my 3 year old son went one way on his postman pat scooter and I went the other, I mused to myself, aloud, that I didn’t even know where to start looking for the book called Edinburgh for the Under 5s. Kyle said it’s over here Mummy; I instinctively made my way over to him and he pointed to a shelf. There was the very book which had been recommended by my friend on the phone. I said, "how on earth..." to which he responded with a knowing smile.


Siobhan just made her English teacher proud. ("Thins" is a bookstore. This story is true.)


Loose Change

by Andrew David King

He lifts the beers onto the counter as I watch carefully, and then it's whiskey and gin and rum, bottles of it. White trailer-trash scum I think, no money to pay taxes, help the poor, no money to help anybody, but when it comes to alcohol, there's always some secret Fort Knox somewhere. I watch him as he pays the grand total, face dirty, hair uncombed, dressed in his grimy shirt, and I put my stuff on the counter and listen to the cash register's drawer go ca-chiinng. "You're short seventy-five cents," she says, gazing at me as if I'm a criminal trying to rob her of her life savings. I don't have the change, but I so desperately need the groceries, and now the line of customers is cast in the awkward silence between me and the cashier. Before I can say anything to defend my case, I feel the smooth metal of three quarters against the skin of my palm, and turning as fast as I can, see two pairs of legs dressed in worn and tattered jeans walking out of the door, and a paint-stained hand waving, as if to ward off my petty assumptions.


Andrew David King, author of Action is Permanent, is a writer from Fremont, California. He has been published in numerous in-print and online publications, as well as alongside authors Ursula K. Le Guin, Luis J. Rodriguez, and others.

A Question of Physics

by Robert Clay

At 14 years old Taplow was as big and strong as an 18 year old, and he took full advantage of this fact because Taplow was a bully. He would push smaller kids around, pin them up against the wall for stomach punches, and that sneer, if I remember nothing else about Taplow, I remember that bully's sneer. My younger brother Josh grew up small and spindly due to an early childhood illness, even so he was always laughing because for him, every day of life was a bonus. He started school two years behind me, but after a week of Taplow I saw something unbelievable, he went a whole day without smiling. Something had to be done, so I came up behind Taplow with a cricket bat and swinging hard, bought the edge down on his skull, crumpling bone into brain with breakfast egg-like precision. Taplow doesn't bully anymore, it's not something a drooling vegetable can do, and I'm locked away, but Josh is laughing again so I don't mind; you see, it's all a question of physics.


Robert Clay, author of Moth-Like Stars, is a Seafarer now stranded on land. He lives in Cornwall in the UK.

Undone by Love

by Jennifer Weber

The kiss started in the still humid air just before his lips reached mine, which were already trembling. At first his soft mouth did not crush or crease my own mouth but simply cruised it, like a savvy shopper eying tempting wares. Then the pressure started and I felt a frisson of current originating in my pinky toes, using my hot-honey veins as migratory routes, finally ending in my brain, which cried for more. When I breathed his fertile scent my lungs knew what it was to experience the unique air of a prestigious address smack-dab in the center of paradise. It was at once prophecy and revelation, sting and poultice, advance and retreat. Dark lines appeared through every item on my to-do list; undone thus, loving him was all I had left to do.


Jennifer Weber is a court reporter occupying an empty nest in South Carolina. When she grows up she wants to be a writer.


To My Crap Mistress

by Peter Wild

Sometimes I look at my hands and think these are the hands that held your face. I still miss you, you see. I look at my hands and I wonder if I was to place my palms over my nose and my mouth would I, if only for a second, be able to smell you again, the smell of your skin and your neck. That's all it takes to open the flood gates: there I am, in your kitchen, holding you in my arms, my hands on your face, your hungry mouth on my hungry mouth, the two of us wrestling with love and sex and betrayal, the entire world balanced... just so. Remembering you, though, has a narrative arc as sure as the path of any arrow. The archer removes the arrow from an almost empty quiver and - ping! - said arrow flies, taking in missing you and remembering you and the memory of your smell and your skin and the two of us fucking every which way in your house but the tree that arrow hits is pain and the pain is gouged into the bark so deep you can bet our children's children will be able to see it from space four hundred years from now.


Peter Wild, author of They Were Actors, is the editor of The Flash & Perverted by Language: Fiction inspired by The Fall. You can read more here.

For All It's Worth

by Anthony Shepherd

Alex Michelson begins to choke, having cinched the knot too tightly against his larynx. He loosens the tie for a bit of relief, but it's slow coming. Today his band signs with one of the largest record companies in the industry, and, for all it's worth, Alex knows full well what possibilities lie ahead: million-dollar advances and extravagant gifts; music videos and radio singles played in heavy rotation; autograph signings, CD release parties, Rolling Stone magazine covers, the Billboard Top 20; corporate sponsorships that leave him playing only Gretsch guitars, with Ernie Ball strings strung over GFS pick ups (or some such combination); a ten-year, seven-record deal, with label execs to control creativity and ensure they'll be more of a business than a band. In short, it means that he's made it. But Alex's stomach sinks, and he nervously swats a lingering fly from his cold and clammy brow before rubbing a kink from his stiffening neck. For some odd reason, he can't shake the feeling that something has just died.


Anthony Shepherd still thinks too much and acts too little, but now grows impatient waiting for change. His other 6S is titled Surviving This. You should read it.

Posthumously Yours

by Tara Lazar

It was complicated and demanding getting to know Leona after her death, but I eventually came to love her. She changed her name two times in an effort to thwart a persistent former lover; she was pregnant three times but all resulted in miscarries; she wore a locket containing a photo of her first cousin, her one true love; she had a penchant for mint juleps and telling white lies. The weathered journal remains in my antique store, secret glimpses of her life available to anyone willing to browse its pages. Dirty hands touch her and do not appreciate. I remove her from display and lock her behind glass. I hold the only key.


Tara Lazar, author of Past Imperfect, loves writing and browsing through antique shops. She tries to imagine to whom each item belonged and the life it begs to reveal. You can find her not-so-anonymously here.


by Loobell

She shuffled awkwardly forwards in the queue, kicking the bag along the pathway in front of her with her battered sneakers and ran her bitten fingers through her matted hair, sighing audibly as she did so. The others waiting in line wrinkled their noses in disgust at the somewhat ripe smell surrounding her slight body, moving out of the way slightly, yet keeping their spot whilst trying to pretend they hadn’t noticed her. She thrust a hand deep into her jacket pocket in a somewhat theatrical manner and rifled around for a moment or two expelling several used tissues and some empty sweet papers, until she found what she was looking for. Her queue mates made noises of disapproval as the debris were caught by the wind and blown along down the street like pieces of confetti, but no one actually said anything to her. Hesitantly yet deliberately she dialed the number into the mobile phone she had retrieved and pressed send, screwing up her bright blue eyes against the early morning sun and exhaling a cloud of frosty breath. "Mum it’s me, don’t speak, no credit... I’m coming home," she said, then promptly burst into tears.


Loobell - harassed middle aged mother, badly lapsed blogger - is fed up with taking the blame. She once showed us the Light at the End of the Tunnel.


Visiting Alex

by James Boyt

It was Saturday afternoon and I was walking down the alley to Alex’s house; Alex is my best friend ‘cos he can blow really massive snot bubbles from his nose. I was walking past this garden when I heard a woman making lots of noise like when mum stubbed her toe, so I looked through a hole in the fence and I could see her in the kitchen and she was on her back on a table and there was a clown on top of her. It was when she shouted Oh God I’m coming I knew it was killing her ‘cos people go to God when they die - we learnt that at school. I ran away as quickly as I could and told Alex all about it and he said not to tell anyone else ‘cos the clown might come and get us and we’d have to go to God too, and then no one would feed my snails I keep in a box under my bed so they might die and I don’t know if God lets snails in heaven when they die. It’s my birthday next week and Mum’s got a clown for my party. I don’t like clowns.


James Boyt, author of The Hunt, is a 31 year old IT worker from the Southeast of England, who firmly believes that, despite lack of ideas and motivation (not to mention talent), that bestselling novel is living inside him somewhere, if he can just find someone to write it for him.

Sometimes She Dreams of Spain

Part 6 of 6 by Nathan Tyree

Sometimes she dreams of Spain. She thinks of the beautiful people and their musical language. She longs to escape; to fly away and live a magic existence in a land that she barely believes is real. Mostly, though, she doesn’t. Mostly she thinks about growing old right where she is. Sometimes she thinks about ending it.


Nathan Tyree is the author of Sometimes She Dreams of Spain, Part 5 and How to Make Love Like a Zombie.


by Joseph Grant

In the still echoes of a late afternoon, distant tawny sunlight reached through the wooden blinds into the cafe; caressing and warming those nearest the windows, while silhouetting those seated in corner portraits of somber cerulean shadows; a portent to the gathering night. The cafe hummed with the ghostly din of its non-descript patrons, but no one truly existed until in she walked and all eyes, male and female, turned almost in an obligatory way to catch the sensual dance of her entrance. To look like this had been a virtual birthright of hers from her mother's side and while it had gotten her through countless doors much of her young life, including this one, where she was once again, the most-stunning person in the room, it would do nothing for her in the long run or for her self-esteem and there were many doors from which she should have stayed away but did not. Deflecting or possibly not even caring about the leering of the diners around her or the impending arguments those hungering looks would later boil over into nor the eventual verbal leftovers for days to come; she smiled at Jack and grabbed and squeezed his hand; telling him, "It's good to see you again, Jack, I've really missed you." Even though he had known her for years, the authenticity of her tone caught Jack off-guard, but not as much as the epiphany of luminous golden flecks that he became suddenly aware of dappling her warm, brown eyes, as the sunlight reflected off the back pressed-copper wall, and for the first time he was taken aback at how with her curly blonde hair, full lips and her overly-blessed Mexican curves, she was the embodiment of breathtaking radiance. After various brief conversations and a drink or two she suddenly exclaimed, "I gotta go, I hate it when guys just eye-fuck me," and stood up, her mind already obfuscated and elsewhere and it suddenly struck Jack how much she had the same sensuality Marilyn Monroe had and possessed the same loneliness by never allowing herself to get very close to anyone except all the wrong guys and he realized this was her method, so he watched her leave out the door, the very same way she had walked in with all eyes following her and felt them all suddenly descend upon him and when he paid the bill for the drinks, he thought not of how she had broken many hearts, for she had, but of how one day she will break his in a most comparatively obscure way; the heartbreak of never being able to have her, he mused, playing with his ring as he walked out of the restaurant alone into the moonlight, still hungry.


Joseph Grant, author of The Devil You Say, has been published in over 55 literary reviews and e-zines, such as Byline, New Authors Journal, Howling Moon Press, Hack Writers, New Online Review, Indite Circle and Cerebral Catalyst.

The Boss

by Jerry Allen

It has been 14 hours and 37 minutes since Jacob slashed his best friend's throat. He didnt want to do it, but he had to do it. He had to or die at the hands of the men who had ordered the hit. Now he sits and waits on the hitmen that he knows are coming for him for doing his second job in less than fifteen hours. Sure, his best friend is dead, but so are the three men who ordered the murder. It gave him comfort knowing that he did his job and got revenge for doing it at the same time.


Jerry Allen is a self proclaimed "noob" at writing, but is pursuing his dream of becoming a writer. You can check out his blog here.


The Flying Machine

by Dustin R. Packwood

Still believing that the world was a place that rewarded the righteous and the brave, the madman has continued to pursue his dream even after that disastrous fall into the ravine that had left him unable to walk for three weeks. The medicine man claims - to this day - that was the most broken patient he has ever cared for. The last event has been so widely discussed about town, it is with no surprise I realize the entire village is gathered around the cliffs, watching him and his latest flying machine with rapt attention. He claims this one will work, and ignores the laughs and comments, but this fall will kill him, so I try to stop him. He looks at me, smiling, his super-inflated eyes blinking behind the thick rims of his ridiculous goggles. Without a word, he leaps - and we laugh at him no more, because on that day we watched him glide above the clouds, into the heavens, further and further away from us non-believers.


Dustin R. Packwood, author of The Entertainer, has spent all 24 years of his life wishing for a pet dragon. He continues to believe that the world would be a better place with wizards, magic, and kingdoms.

Right On Time

by Pam Hawley McInnis

Not long ago, I called my married, settled friends, the ones who ordered pizza in and rented movies on weekends, old homebodies before their time. Friday night wasn't Friday night unless it involved too many shots of vodka-and-something, glances exchanged with some guy at the other end of the bar who had probably been there since noon, a pee-dance with my girlfriends while we waited for some drunk chick to reapply her makeup in the bar's tiny bathroom, a crowded cab ride home, and watching the sun come up before tumbling into bed. But last night, you carved our jack-o-lantern and made him look like a pirate while I ordered Chinese and found a scary movie. We curled up on the couch, and you tickled me just as the creepy music kicked in, making me jump. We watched our movie in the darkness, the glow of our pirate pumpkin and the warmth of your body next to mine much better than any vodka-and-something pee dance I've ever known. This morning, I drank coffee on our deck and watched the sun rise, and decided that instead of being an old homebody before my time, I've simply found home in time to avoid life getting old.


Pam Hawley McInnis lives, works and writes in Baltimore. Some of her additional work can be found here.

Overlooking China

by Robert Williams

Thirty some odd years ago, my father purchased a set of china teacups with matching saucers as a Mother's Day present. It wasn't the type of set one uses to serve a white gloved afternoon tea with cucumber sandwiches, which was perfectly fine with my mother who preferred her tea barehanded, overly sweet and in a tall plastic glass filled with ice and topped with a wedge of lemon or, every now and again, when she was feeling especially sophisticated, a fresh sprig of mint. This tea set consisted of twenty five different cups and saucers made by twenty five of the most renowned china manufacturers from all around the world and came with a plain white wooden display case which, for the next thirty some odd years, would occupy a prominent place on the family's living room wall. When people came to visit they always commented on how pretty the cups were and my mother, with distant eyes and a girlish smile, would thank them as she ran a finger along the rim of one of the cups searching for a few specks of trespassing dust that would give her an excuse to spend the next afternoon polishing them. As a six-year-old child I had regarded those cups as a priceless exotic treasure when, beneath my father's anxious awkward gaze, my mother untied the thick pink ribbon and opened the clumsily wrapped box. At thirty some odd six, returning home, failed in marriage and gratefully accepting the ever standing offer of a ready room (for no more than a couple of weeks) I would walk past the gleaming china teacups without affording them so much as a passing thought, having long ago relegated them to part of the prosaic scenery that serves as a backdrop for the achievements in life.


Robert Williams is an amateur writer who left his childhood home in Houston for Boston, by way of Biloxi (after a short stint in D.C.), where he hopes to live a long and happy life, in spite of a terminal case of hypochondria, and to amass a world record-setting collection of rejection letters, or contrarily, to one day be published.

Road Rage Rectified

by Shawnté Salabert

“It’s a vehicular mêlée; a smashup with a backup!” the voice cackled through the radio on this mind-numbingly hot afternoon. My car was a rotisserie and I could imagine turning on an invisible spit, the lack of air conditioning made painfully obvious with each slooooowly passing mile marker. As the sweat slid down my forehead and pooled under my eyes, I heaved a heavy sigh and shuffled around in the glove compartment — dead flashlight, unused owner’s manual (dried chocolate smudging the cover), overused map of South Carolina (more chocolate smudges), one red sock. Reaching all the way to the back, I finally found it, wedged in beside a smashed box of superhero Band-Aids and The AAA Handbook to Great Camping Spots of the Western Plains. I smiled, knowing that in mere seconds, the glacial pace of the 101 would seem a distant memory, and proceeded to remove my salvation from its case. An instant later, Michael Jackson’s “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’” came throbbing through the speakers and I exhaled, feeling the cool power of Thriller flood my boiling veins.


Shawnté Salabert wishes she had a clever book title to insert here, but instead, all she has to show for her wit and talent is a backlog of rock and roll musings mixed with anecdotal ramblings on police officers with suspect salads and Cameroonian polygamist physical trainers. Read all about it here.


Honeymoon Period

by Brent Fisk

The bride blacked the groom's eyes with her tiny fists. Grass stained both knees, and he wobbled away in his bloody, ruffled shirt, tossing his cummerbund in the punch bowl. Small children sucked on mesh bags of rice, crayoned the pages of black-spined hymnals. The white doves huddled in their cages, pink eyes blinking through the wire. Both mothers sunk in their pews, flesh erupting from the runs in their nylons. Everyone glared at the minister, who thumbed his Bible and would not look up for anything.


Brent Fisk is a three-time Pushcart nominee who recently won an honorable mention in Boulevard's Emerging Poets contest. His work has appeared in Mimesis, Rattle, Fugue, and Southern Poetry Review among other places.

To Die For

by Patricia J. Hale

Deep, dark, delicious, deadly. He should have understood, anticipated. He didn’t. He took them all. All I could taste was revenge, not sweet but satisfying. Killer brownies.


Patricia J. Hale has had stories published in Powder Burn Flash, Flashshot, Flash Pan Alley, MicroHorror and Fictional Musings. She writes because she can’t stop herself. Her husband can’t stop her either. Visit her here (especially with paying gigs).


by Chris Conroy

Xavier Michael Roberts (aka "X" to his classmates) had great big ideas running through his ten year old brain. He would imagine these ideas, these things - vivid blood reds exploding off shiny swords swung by muscled heroes and toothless villains riding fire breathing winged monsters over great mountains and crashing seas - while staring out the window of his fifth grade glass run by the sweaty, overweight, bushy-eyebrowed Mr. Hoffman: Xavier... Xavier... XAVIER the fat bastard would yell, snapping X from his world... When did... What has... Who was... How does...? But X never knew the answers, he never heard the questions. His classmates would laugh and then Peter Danko or Sue Wong or one of the other "normal kids" would blurt out the correct answer - 1776, Martin Luther King, Hexagon, Osmosis - and X (confused/frustrated/embarrassed) would turn with a speedy leg back to the window until the bell rang. X's parents had a conference with Hoffman and then, a few days later, X had to sit and talk with Doctor Chybicki - you can call me Doctor C - who, after just one visit, diagnosed X with ADD/ADHD. Xavier Michael Roberts now eats a focus pill (addconstasalmethylfindynomite) once in the morning and once before bed and his classmates call him Michael, Mike, instead of X, and should Michael, Mike, happened to now look out the window, he would see a packed parking lot of cars, all empty inside but full of gas.


Chris Conroy, maker of Toast, writes after breakfast and before lunch.

Tuesday Tickle

by Crustybeef

Today, this morning, while Sullivan was at his preschool, Jack and I worked on his homework as I also worked on a towel cake that I'm making for my sister-in-law's bridal shower in Miami. Unfortunately I can't attend due to my Bigdogg and Jack having prior plans that are good for their special daddy-to-firstborn-son time, so... she'll get my towel cake instead. Anyway, long tangent, today as I sat assembling the towel cake, while working on Jack's homework with him, he looked at me after we were discussing his "poem" that he is required to be able to recite alone; he looked up at me with these crestfallen eyes. His face forlorn, a deep deep sigh, his precious mouth opening up to speak: "AwwwwwwwwwwwwwWWWWww, I'll never get to see my face. Only everyone else will get to see my face cause I'll have to look in the mirror to see it. I can only see my body parts and other peoples faces, but - sigh - I'll never get to see my own face when I want to cause I'll have to go find a mirror somewhere."


Crustybeef is just an average mommy living in an interesting town. She shares her stories to help herself grow as a parent.


They Were Actors

by Peter Wild

They were actors, the two of them, the man and the woman, they were actors and they were engaged in a relationship, apparently, one with the other, as they lay - he on his perfectly toned tummy, her, upright on her much-discussed bottom - upon a patchwork blanket on Clapham Common, this brightly lit summer Sunday afternoon, books, newspapers, fruit and smoothies all within reaching distance. Not that either of them was reading or eating. They were hardly even talking. The reason for this was simple: they were (the both of them) hyper-aware of the fact that the two of them (the actor and the actress, the - can we say it? yes we can - famous actor and the famous actress) were together on Clapham Common for all the world to see, for all of the other no doubt lovely people who had chosen to spend their summer Sunday afternoon lounging in the sun but also for the inevitable snapping papster who was (no doubt) currently click-click-clicking their likeness into shot after trivial digital shot, thereby immortalising the two of them together in the pages of tomorrow's newspaper or next week's supplemental style mag or next month's Hello or Heat or whatever. This was publicity and publicity these days was as easy as ordering a pizza. Much later, the actress would say that that afternoon they shared together on Clapham Common was the most fun the two of them ever had together ("outside of the bedroom"), but it wasn't true, the two of them never had any actual fun at all, it was all part of the game, from the self-conscious way she lay her hand upon his back to the smile he chose to adopt in response, everything was calculated and empty but that - the calculation, the emptiness - was all they knew.


Peter Wild, author of The Black Francis Flirtation Device, is the editor of The Flash & Perverted by Language: Fiction inspired by The Fall. You can read more here.

Love Song on the Inner Loop

by Linda Simoni-Wastila

Wipers smear the fine mist into a greasy, rainbow residue. Taillights flicker red, then fade into the grey crush of monotony. She sighs, impatient, lifts the stainless steel mug of tepid coffee to her mouth as the headlines drone into tinny white noise: Marines press to remove forces from Iraq; gunman opens fire at Cleveland high school; Turks angry over House Armenian genocide vote. The radio segues into the scratchy, breathy guitar wails of Shiver; and the familiar, forlorn yearning flames from her gut to her chest, catching her mid-sob. The sky opens, God slices through the lifting fog in brilliant gilded diagonals; for a perfect instant, the city's towers puncture the horizon, shimmer into opalescent marble minarets, the receding cloudbank transmutes to snow-capped pinnacles. She smiles through her sip and her heart wings east, over the ocean to another continent.


Linda Simoni-Wastila, author of Small White Pill, can be found most mornings on the metro to Baltimore, scribbling madly in her notebooks or gazing out the window, day-dreaming of people and places faraway. She also blogs and strives to pen the perfect haiku.

Sometimes She Dreams of Spain

Part 5 of 6 by Nathan Tyree

When she bothered to ask herself how she had gotten here she realized that it had been a steady slide. College had not been an option for her. For her family. Temporary jobs had become permanent jobs. If she had the energy she could have changed it. But mostly she didn’t.


Nathan Tyree is the author of Sometimes She Dreams of Spain, Part 4 and How to Make Love Like a Zombie.

The Show Must Go On

by Adam J. Whitlatch

The band was rocking out in their basement, the guitarist channeling Hendrix, the drummer Ulrich, the singer Morrison. As the song reached its climax, a teeth-grinding static belched from the ancient amplifier. The guitarist cursed loudly and viciously kicked the buzzing box. “What do we do now?” asked the singer. “Duct tape,” said the guitarist. “The show must go on.”


Adam J. Whitlatch, author of Confessions of a Horror Writer, is the lead singer of a heavy metal band constantly fraught with troubles. When not duct taping stubborn power cables onto decrepit amplifiers, he spends his days writing short stories in the horror and science fiction genres.


Past Imperfect

by Tara Lazar

I want to talk about today in the past tense. The babysitter has arrived, my husband has warmed the car, and I sit quietly in the kitchen, unable to drink a glass of water, the one thing I am allowed to have in my stomach. I rub my belly, feel it shift beneath the weight of my hand, and try to say goodbye. She will not live, they told me, she cannot live. Have this done, they said, and you can move on. Move on to the child who will come next, whose fate is sealed after today.


Tara Lazar, author of PTA Newsletter, writes for the sheer joy of creating. You can find her not-so-anonymously here.


by Danielle Smith

The world is still, motionless. I watch it with anticipation as the trees remain frozen and the wind holds its breath. There are no clouds, no sound. My heart hammers in my chest as I wait; the blood pounding in my ears. Then, like a picture suddenly come to life, a single drop of rain splashes against my nose. The air bursts with ferocious electricity and the wind abruptly lets loose - howling, rushing, pushing, alive and the world is no longer quiet; the storm is finally here.


Danielle Smith is just an ordinary community college student with no money, and, let's face it: no life. She still lives with her family and is forced to eat Top Ramen daily. She believes writing on a whim is great, even if it never really gets anywhere.

What's On Your Mind?

by Victor S. Smith

She was a mess. She was crying on the phone, and even holding the receiver two feet away from his ear, Marlowe could hear her wailing. What he had said to her was that he wasn't sure if they should see each other anymore, that the relationship had run its course and that maybe, in light of the speed with which their relationship started, they should try being friends, to see how it all worked out. Marlowe wasn't sure what he was expecting if he had been honest. In retrospect he should have just told her exactly what he was really thinking. At least that way she would have been angry instead of sad.


Victor S. Smith, author of Long is the Winter of Our Discontent, is undertaking a frightening new endeavor. He is trying to dedicate three hours every day to writing. Follow along at Marlowe's Sketch Pad.


by J.A. Tyler

And yesterday a suit walking slink-backed and slick nearly doubled himself over guffawing at the ignorance rampant on those streets. Right in his face - laughing. Glossy black sunglasses unforgiving too in their reflection of his declining figure. But the next woman by a mother of two or three sighed and collected her hands in her purse and came out with a tenner that she dropped with a look that said you poor dear or something to that effect. That was a good day. Best of both worlds, ups and downs.


J.A. Tyler has featured work in (or appearing soon in) The Feathertale Review, Thieves Jargon, Underground Voices, and Word Riot. He is also founding editor of Mud Luscious. These six sentences are a part of a novel in progress. Check out more here.



by caccy46

My strongest memories usually involve "firsts" or "lasts;" I wonder if that is a universal truth. Last Saturday I spent a bittersweet afternoon reading on my front porch with our dog, Stella, cuddling at my feet. It was my last cuddle with her, and I treasured each moment, aware of her warm heft against my ankles, mindful every time she'd lift her head or emanate a low, soft growl as someone would enter or exit the park across the street. I knew we made the right decision. She deserved to be loved, played with and exercised by a young family; she deserved being with children who shared her youthful energy and she'd welcome the constant companionship. But, oh, how we would cry and miss her snuggled between us at night - my first night without her - my last dog.


caccy46, author of Dying, is 60 years old, a mother of two, and has been married for 32 years.

Is Something Wrong With Your Soup?

by Doug Wacker

Venton could feel it again, that light pressure on the top of his left knee. He was sure it was a mistake the first time, but now he didn’t know what to think at all. He looked at his wife, Mary, and smiled, then slowly twisted his head, carefully making sure everyone was consumed with their own conversations, until his eyes fell on the young woman seated to his left. Valarie Jones, his boss’s nineteen year old daughter, was in a heated conversation with her father about whether majoring in art history was a waste of time or not. Her hair, reddish brown, long, and thin, was cut just above her shoulders, in such a way that the ends curled up from her pale neck. Then, as quickly as it had come, the pressure was gone again, and Venton sat uncomfortably as the Jones’s maid took away his half-eaten bowl of cold tomato soup.


Doug Wacker, an avid member of The Drinklings, is an adjunct professor in the Biology Department at Seattle University. He lives with his lovely wife Kim, and two persnickety cats, Luna and Nimbus. He is currently working on his yet-unnamed debut novel about paternal betrayal, hyperborean self-exile, and the lives of three brothers.

Sunshine and Sand

by Elizabeth Rollo

Standing at the edge of the shore, waves are crashing over my feet and memories are washing over my mind. I find myself going back thirty years to another beach and time. I see myself growing tall and wild and free, always with the waves, the blue sky and sunshine. It was such a carefree existence with laughter and palm trees and sand. Turning as I hear their voices, I smile. I see my children learning to live free with sand between their toes, sunshine in their hair, and blue sky reflecting in their laughing eyes.


Elizabeth Rollo, author of October in the Springtime, currently lives in New Jersey, not far from the beach. She grew up, however, with the waves, sun and sand of Southern Florida.

Autumnal Somnambulation

by T.J. McIntyre

Brightly colored leaves fell to be swept away by the currents of the muddy river. Sticks and refuse collected along the banks clouding the already opaque waters obfuscated by sludgy sediment. Intermingled with the rubbish, reflecting the light of a haze-diffused sun, shone a diamond earring. If not for the glint, the catfish-nibbled ear might never have been discovered and the killer might still be free. The chill of winter, tinged with remorse, now blows through his darkened cell. He mourns those missing memories from that night.


T.J. McIntyre, author of Paperback Writer, sometimes gets carried away with the thesaurus looking for new colors to add to his palette.



by Quin Browne

I will never be kissed again. Lips may touch my neck, my breasts, my back... that sensitive skin at the nape of my neck, the crook of my elbow, the inside of my wrist. The soft and delicate tissue just inside your lip will only touch me on my sweat slicked skin as our breathing stills, in joy, in release, in... that moment when we bond. Deep kisses give the promise of emotions surrendered, of soft sun filled places to which I will never go again as I choose now to only swim in the dark, deep maelstrom of physical twists and touches. Do not look for more, this is all I am able to give and this, this is better than nothing. Isn't it?


Quin Browne, author of Horizontal Vortex, lives in New York City. She likes it there.

It's Time to Do Some Business

by Andrew David King

I could barely breathe in the darkness, the stale air having been circulated in this box for hours. The lid of a coffin is so much heavier from the inside, I realize, as I push with all my might, and suddenly the sunlight stings my exhausted eyes. Lifting my legs out, one at a time, I climb over the edge, my boots clanking against the riveted metal floor of the parked cargo aircraft, jumping up quickly to make sure there are no security guards around. My hands involuntarily check the pockets of my burial tuxedo, making sure the Glock 37 and my trusted Sig Sauer are still there, along with my GPS cell phone. It looks like I'm going to a funeral. And then I think, for a second, maybe I am.


Andrew David King, author of Action is Permanent, is a writer from Fremont, California. He has been published in numerous in-print and online publications, as well as alongside authors Ursula K. Le Guin, Luis J. Rodriguez, and others.

The Collector

by Dustin R. Packwood

The young lady licked her ruby red lips as she lovingly petted her collection of pewter figurines. She had given each of them a name based on the emotion they best represented: the embracing couple was Love; the wide-eyed warrior frozen in the act of reaching for his sword, Surprise; the man caught with his face twisted, a curse on his smeared lips, she called Anger. Sighing lustfully, she turned away from the collection to regard her guest. The small boy sat huddled in on himself, already smashed into the corner of the room but still trying to back away. Yes, she decided as she raised her wand. He would make a perfect Fear.


Dustin R. Packwood, author of Monster, has spent all 24 years of his life wishing for a pet dragon. He continues to believe that the world would be a better place with wizards, magic, and kingdoms.

A Day at the Beach

by Harry B. Sanderford

Rothko and Stella loved the beach, to Jalapeno it was just one big litter box and for her it held no great appeal. She sprawled sunbathing on the dashboard lifting a lid occasionally to watch Kenny riding a wave. The dogs delirious with freedom romped and chased tight figure eights in water chest deep on little corgi legs. She didn't like riding in the truck and she'd never understand why dogs and humans like being wet so much. She licked a paw, caught a lovely whiff of something fishy on the seabreeze, stretched in her sunny spot and slept. Here's to good waves, long dogs and flexible cats.


Harry B. Sanderford, author of Bananas, is a Central Florida surfing cowboy who'd sooner spin yarns than mend fences.



by Philip Alexander Rex

An entire world was blessed with the gift of you and I'm damn lucky enough to be part of it. Whether I'm 15 minutes or 15,000 miles away, you're never too far as long the heart still beats with the same pulse that's keeping me alive. I see you in my minds eye and feel invincible in the face of all loneliness, lovesickness, homesickness, sickness, whatever; in retrospect, my solitude from this distance is a true test of how much I really want you, so let me be the first to reassure you that I will see this through. You are worth everything I feel and my resolve is unshaken no matter how my insides scream for your presence to be felt; count on me to be the same person you promised to share a love with and I swear by the very force that is making me write right now, I will not fail you. I think of you and immediately the poisons that are doubt, fear, anxiety, and weakness melt away; all that is left is the bright light of a promise I made. With you, "life" is no longer the only four letter word that means everything to me Cess.


Philip Alexander Rex is a freelance photographer, a part-time creative writer, and a full-time businessman. He turns pictures into words, words into ideas, ideas into cash. (But not always in that order.)


by Dustin R. Packwood

They hung from his ceiling on hooks and clattering chains, the marble floor of his chamber slick with their blood, piss, and excrement. The smell was only slightly less offensive than the pitiful gasps for breath, sobbing cries for mercy, and tormented screams that left their doomed mouths as he plied them for information. Some - usually the women and children - broke easily enough: just a little pain, only a few nightmares callously whispered into their ears as they swung in lazy circles, suspended by flaps of punctured, dying skin. It was the warriors that had to be broken, much like wild horses; the horrors he had inflicted upon them were too gruesome for even him to face, so he always suppressed them as soon as he created them. He justified his actions by reminding himself that all of the information he had ever tortured out of their enemies had been put to good use defending the kingdom and its citizens. But every person that shied away from him or refused to meet his eyes, only served to remind him of the monster he had become.


Dustin R. Packwood, author of The Entertainer, has spent all 24 years of his life wishing for a pet dragon. He continues to believe that the world would be a better place with wizards, magic, and kingdoms.

Sometimes She Dreams of Spain

Part 4 of 6 by Nathan Tyree

Raj has ideas like others have heartbeats, each one racing and raving in his subconcious like a loon. Not that the observer can notice, but Raj is on fire. Each silent moment intensifies the forging heat where he focuses his attention. When he jokingly kissed your hand in Organic Chemistry, why did you flinch away from his sandalwood skin? For in this one moment all of his ideas and passions were distilled into one simple devotional act towards you. You could have become a patroness to his peculiar genius, were you not blinded by the faint scent of curry, the cheap shoes.


Nathan Tyree is the author of Sometimes She Dreams of Spain, Part 3 and How to Make Love Like a Zombie.

Bird Lover

by goatwriter

He is a bird lover. Hates cats. Hates magpies too, even though they’re a type of bird, because they eat other birds, though hawks get a free pass because they’re majestic. Down with magpies, down with cats, down with nut-pilfering squirrels. Except the one he’s just killed. He’d give anything to bring back the small creature in his hands.


goatwriter, author of many a to-do list, has known for a long time that writing was one of the rocks in her jar but has only just turfed out enough sand to fit the thing in.


Individualists in Uniform

by Mel George

I put down the shopping bags which were cutting into my hands for a few minutes, and as I looked up, my eyes fell upon a goth. Under the thick, black makeup she couldn't have been more than fifteen; those people who assume that teenagers always “loiter” would have said she was loitering outside the McDonald's, shrouded in black, staring at the ground in a fairly melancholy fashion. For some reason, today, I seized the opportunity to ask. I wandered over and excused myself politely before saying, “Don't take this the wrong way, I'm just curious – your clothes, the whole 'goth' thing – why do you do it?" She peered at me strangely through her long, black fringe and muttered, “I do it cos I want to be different, not the same as everybody else." We got no further though, as her friends appeared and they mooched off together in a huddle of long, black apparel and mysterious jewelery, all dressed exactly the same.


Mel George, author of Distance, lives in Oxford partly because it is one of the strangest places on Earth. She would like to hear from you at The Pygmy Giant if you are British and like writing things.

The Man in My Life

by Juliana Perry

If I close my eyes, I can see the image of his deep baby blues looking sideways at me, sizing me up. I wait patiently, my breathing slow and steady in anticipation, for him to make his move towards me from across the room through the maze of furniture, you know the way some people overcrowd and clutter their homes with pieces? There is some distance between us so it is easy to catch the small cough, watch as the back of his hand covers his mouth; this makes me smile. I look down and study my hands and I can sense him sidling closer to me, I am his rock in a sea of uncertainty, I am a mother. Like Frankenstein he comes towards me, stiff-kneed and arms outstretched, my son with the extra chromosome, having made up his mind to grace me with his maniacal grin, almond eyes and strong grasp. I close my eyes and hold him close just as he falls into my arms, his embrace sweet.


Juliana Perry is a single mom of three, a lover of all things wine, cheese and bread, a maintainer of all things house and home, a student of business and psychology, and a professional scheduler and multitasker.

One More Day

by Justin Feiler

A day at work is a day in hell. By my calculation, after forty years in hell I have satisfied my tour of damnation and I should be done. Now, all that is left is to sit and wait for the winds of fortune to shift in my direction, which I can feel are closing in. I don't need to lift a finger, nothing else is required of me except to retreat to a pleasant and tranquil place where I can savor the anticipated reward to its fullest. But when I tire of waiting and nothing happens, I conclude that I must have tabulated wrong and I still owe one more day. That's it, just one more single day and then I'll truly be done.


Justin Feiler has been writing all his life and always carries a pad in case the urge strikes.

The Santa Anas

by Samuel Sukaton

They blow, in a lot of ways. But in only one direction - southeast, off the Rockies, over the Mojave, and into the L.A. Basin, throwing the Southland into a volatile clarity. Just as one strains to appreciate the fresh view, it explodes into infernal madness, obscuring everything all over again in a panorama of smoke and flame. Isn't life like that, a series of moments of almost agonizing clarity, trapped between the choking smog of indolence and mediocrity on one side, and the blazing, passionate fanaticism (and the unbearable smoky atmosphere of fear and uncertainty that accompany it) on the other? Sometimes, we all need a Santa Ana wind in our lives. Just not near our homes.


Samuel Sukaton, author of Wednesday is the New Friday, represents the Blue and Gold of UCLA.


Action is Permanent

by Andrew David King

The IV machine goes beep, beep, beep against the whitewashed walls of the delivery room. Right now she sleeps restlessly, in her hospital gown, belly bloated, feet poised for the birth that could happen in days, hours, maybe seconds. Her face scrunches in anxiety as she dreams of the nameless man she had met at the bar, under flickering neon signs and wafting cigarette smoke, the night her husband left the house in anger. It has been almost a year since then. Their late-night encounter is now nothing more than a vague memory of a severe lapse of judgment, one she deeply fears the consequences of. In just a few hours from now, she will feign surprise at the baby whose skin is a different color than her own husband's, although by then it will be too late for words, too late to call anything just a mistake.


Andrew David King, author of Final Answer, is a writer from Fremont, California. He has been published in numerous in-print and online publications, as well as alongside authors Ursula K. Le Guin, Luis J. Rodriguez, and others.

The Dog

by Antonia Nardellini

The love of their dog kept them together. When they fought it always came down to who would get the dog. So, they stayed together, neither willing to relinquish their hold upon the animal. And when, at long last and nine years, the dog took sick and died, it was a shock. Their first fight after the burial, she said, "I'm leaving!" He replied, "How soon?"


Antonia Nardellini's newest published work can be found in "The Mammoth Book of Lesbian Erotica" edited by Barbara Cardy.

The Project

by Justice

The hammer was heavy now as if it had gained weight with each swing. Anne chuckled softly to herself thinking about how it was her husband who had bought her this set of tools. He said he was sick of being the only one doing any handy work around the house. It was too late to turn back now, and besides he always hated unfinished projects. Just a few more whacks on the temple should do the trick. Now if he had only shown her how to use this new power saw.


Justice, author of Thief, is an exasperated husband who, after 20 years, still unconditionally loves his wife.


by Louise Yeiser

"How would you know? You live in an ivory tower," my boyfriend said. "I do not!" I yelled. It was the 60's. When he dropped me off, I stomped into the house, slammed the door, and went straight to my parent's dictionary that lay open on a metal stand in their den. I spent five minutes looking, but ivory tower wasn't in there.


Louise Yeiser, author of A Night at the Opera, has been way too busy lately, and hopes she is back in Rob’s good graces.


Morning Exercises

by Larry Tipton

The sun shone down on the deck, but offered little in the way of warmth against the morning chill. Luckily, I already had my big old mug o' java to warm my innards as I plopped down in front of my laptop. Momentarily distracted by the dull roar of the incoming surf and the gulls crying above the nearby dunes, I soon turned my attention back to the task at hand -- this morning's 6S entry. Should it be a vain attempt at overkill, cramming as many words as possible into a bastardized conglomeration of hyphens, commas, semicolons, and run-on sentences? I decided against that, and instead painted a pleasant scene on my word processor. The morning's mental and creative exercises now complete, I laced up my running shoes to tackle the physical element next.


Larry Tipton, author of Frozen Diners, lives in the Midwest with his wife Raul and sons Peggy & Beatrice (not their real names). He is currently holding a raging internal debate on the use of "flammable" vs. "inflammable." He suffers from "The Gout," and once shot a man in Reno just to watch him die.

Romeo and Juliet

by Bob Jacobs

Gloria and me were in the middle of row twelve with a perfect view of the stage when an old couple, a little bald-headed guy and a pear-shaped woman, sat in front of us and immediately began kissing passionately, making obscene slurping noises. I tapped the guy on the shoulder, but without looking up he told me to pee off and mind my own business, and Gloria held me back before I could say anything. The old woman's bra appeared on the back of her seat, dangling against my knees, then the guy was all over her, kissing and sucking and murmuring, lifting up her skirt and pulling off her tights. She straddled him, for Christ's sake, her face silhouetted against the stage, head bobbing, Gloria pinning me back with her arm and glaring at me while they had horribly noisy sex. When the old couple had dressed again and slipped out I asked Gloria why she'd held me back, and she said, "You never know, one day that could be us," and smiled sweetly. I knew then that Gloria and I would never see another play together.


Bob Jacobs, who took us back to 1969, lives in the south-east of England with his wife and kids and Sony Vaio. In his spare time he likes to lie motionless on his back, whistling and staring at clouds.

The Entertainer

by Dustin R. Packwood

Once a year, the Entertainer rides into town, his colorful wagon led by a team of trained tigers, a contagious smile on his clean-shaven face. This year, he looks a little older, but only if you look close: there are a few more lines on his face, a few more strands of silver in his black mess of hair, a slight slump to his shoulders. But his performance is extraordinary, as always. He lit fireworks, showed us all the tricks his tigers knew, pulled glittering coins from the ears of all the children that eagerly crowded around him. For a finale, he produced dove after dove after dove from the folds of his worn robes, giving each bird a dramatic send off. Given how much we love him, I was very confused, later that night, to hear him crying when he thought that nobody was around.


Dustin R. Packwood, author of The Dark Wizard, has spent all 24 years of his life wishing for a pet dragon. He continues to believe that the world would be a better place with wizards, magic, and kingdoms.

The Devil You Say

by Joseph Grant

I’ll be damned thought Jack Pennington as he drove towards the strange-looking bar in the middle of the desert and thought how weird it was to see a bar out here in the middle of Death Valley and that it must be some sort of mirage at first, but this peculiarity did not stop him from going in where he found one lone patron and a stunning blonde directly across from him and as he sat down, the decrepit old man rasped: “I bet you everything I have you can’t go over and kiss that beautiful girl.” Not one to pass up a good opportunity, nor the man’s insanely generous offer and thinking the guy could be a Howard Hughes-type in desert rat disguise, Jack went over, small-talked the breathtakingly beautiful girl and then after a few moments of intense connection, with nothing to lose, he kissed her long and sensually until she was all his. “Okay, you old goat, now I am ready to collect on our bet as you bet me anything that I couldn’t kiss that hottie over there and well, I’ve kissed her and I also think I’ll be taking her home as well, thanks to you.” “Allow me to introduce myself; I go by many names; you may know me by Lucifer, Mephistopheles, the Accuser, Beezlebub, El Diablo, the Morning Star, but to all I am the Devil and that girl you made out with is The Whore of Babylon, but a bet is certainly a bet, we’re bored and I didn’t think she’d go for it; but alas, name it, whatever you want is yours.” “The Devil you say... well, I’ll be damned.” “As you wish!” The old man roared and everything, the old man, the girl, Jack, his car and the bar itself disappeared into the heat of the fiery noon-day sun.


Joseph Grant, author of The Drowning Man, has been published in over 55 literary reviews and e-zines, such as Byline, New Authors Journal, Howling Moon Press, Hack Writers, New Online Review, Indite Circle and Cerebral Catalyst.


Don't Lie, Just Don't Say Anything

by Kimi Goodrich

Your tongue is down my mouth, and it shouldn't be. I can still hear you whispering in my ear, and what you said is almost as intrusive as the tongue in my mouth that I am cleansing like a cat. "Don't lie, just don't say anything." Not saying anything. That should be easy. Our mouths are glued together tighter than a vault.


Kimi Goodrich is digging on Tegan and Sara. You should too.

PTA Newsletter

by Tara Lazar

Mrs. Carol Freeling, JFK Middle School PTA President, took the name of our organization a little too literally this month when she engaged in an affair with Mr. Garibaldi, eighth-grade Biology teacher. Sharon Fines, PTA Secretary, reports that the flirtation began at the annual Election Day Bake Sale, when Mrs. Freeling wore a fitted shirt emblazoned with the phrase “Jersey Tomatoes are the Best” and Mr. Garibaldi asked to sample the merchandise, and he did not mean the tomato and basil focaccia, submitted by Marie DeCecco (look for Marie’s recipe in our next issue). Patricia Needles, PTA Treasurer, calculates that the bake sale raised $33.75 towards the seventh-grade sex ed assembly program, “Worth Waiting For.” PTA Vice President Lauren Kindler will serve as acting President until Mrs. Freeling returns from her impromptu Caribbean vacation. Mr. Simon French, teacher’s aide and graduate student, will substitute for Biology periods 1-4 while Mrs. Jody Turnblatt will return from maternity leave early to preside over periods 5-7. Volunteers are needed for next month’s Silent Auction; please contact Sharon Fines to register.


Tara Lazar, author of Grades of Friendship, loves trying to compose witty bios that make her sound interesting, but often fails. She is currently participating in one too many bake sales. You can find her not-so-anonymously here.

Ode to a Squirrel

by F.S. Hallgrimson

Just a fella looking for nuts. Found a car that smashed his guts. Now he lay amid the street. Every driver he would greet. Not with a smile or a twitch of the tail. But with his furry backside and sweet entrails.


F.S. Hallgrimson is the author of A Visitor in the Night.

The Dive

by Joseph Parslow

Sitting in the canoe I can hear the pond fish jump up out of their dark lagoon as if gaining momentum for a terrible dive from which they have no intention of returning. The moon glistens along the wet edges of the boat where my paddles, slipping from these old man's hands, have cast up tiny drops of water. I stop, lean back in the craft as it drifts, and look up to the stars. Sparse clouds drift through space and in them I see the forms of old men from beneath; they lean back and listen to the world under them, marvel at the stars above them. Moonlight glistens at the edges of every one. I close my eyes, roll my back along the wet edge, and tumble my bald head backward into the quiet splash of a terrible dive.


Joseph Parslow writes from a very small room in Albany, New York. He has travelled to 18 countries, consumed both wild boar and reindeer, and has lived on a boat. He is the editor of the Holy Cuspidor.


Our Parents

by Violet Hansen

Every time they said “Wait unit you are older,” or, “You have plenty of time for that,” you filed it away under Things That Have Nothing to Do with Me. It felt like a push towards something when they doubted and worried and warned. You arrived early, as was your plan. If they had said, “Do it! Hurry!” you might have bolted for India or even Omaha. You can blame them. Last week, when the car was repossessed, you walked your children to school and wished yourself inside, crammed into a tiny desk with the whole thing to do over.


Violet Hansen is a pseudonym. The author is currently working on numerous projects and not finishing any of them. She lives in Washington.

A Perfect Family

by Sarah Gelfand

Zebra-striped throw rugs, gilt chandeliers, and porcelain busts of buxom water nymphs that would have made the thugs from Scarface feel right at home – yes, the Bernstein’s mansion was full of late 1970s’ luxuries. Their assorted kids wallowed in crushed-velvet upholstery, grabbing random meals when hungry, and poking holes in waterbeds when bored, while the six Dalmatians bred in dark corners. The kids were supposedly being raised by a couple of teenage maids, but those girls barely spoke English and spent most of their time watching telenovelas. They weren’t mean, just completely uninterested in parenting their employers’ children, not that this seemed to disturb Dr. or Mrs. Bernstein. Actually, I never met the Doctor, but the Mrs. (aka “Dee-Dee”) occasionally said a few words to us, usually while hurrying to leave for someplace more glamorous. She was a petite woman, tucked into brown leather thigh-boots, with a hip-switching walk; I thought she was fabulous even though she never noticed me much, but then neither did my own mom.


Sarah Gelfand, who has creative and technical publications in various venues, recently became an English teacher. She lives in northern Colorado.

Silent Communication

by Prachi Jain

He does not demand. He just seeks. Something which he cannot express, for the physical pain exceeds the mental agony he bears every day. He lays there with questioning eyes, with unmoving limbs and a pale face. Until one day his eyes closed and his lips curled into a smile. As if he sought the answer to his silent question.


Prachi Jain, author of Play, Love to Struggle, The End, has been a teacher for several years and has a keen interest in writing. She mostly writes for young readers.

Sometimes She Dreams of Spain

Part 3 of 6 by Nathan Tyree

Her mornings came around 1pm. She would roll from her bed without the assistance of an alarm and make oatmeal and dry toast, which were the only dishes she could manage without burning the building down. Suze would flip through the morning paper, giving the stories a glance then reach for the classified ads, which were her destination all along. There she would search for listings that seemed promising. Once in a while she would locate one: Office Assistant Needed, must have people skills, filing, typing, and light book keeping, salary negotiable. She would circle this, then insist to herself that she would type up a resume and send it in.


Nathan Tyree is the author of Sometimes She Dreams of Spain, Part 2 and How to Make Love Like a Zombie. (Look for Part 4 on Tuesday.)


Have Another Piece

by Ashley Bishop

This morning I played with the belly fat jiggling over my underwear. I'm slender enough still, except for that, and still own the pants I wore only just last year, even though they don't fit any more, because I can see me then. I can see my flat stomach, toned legs, elegant arms, and I can see myself as I was when I was one of "those" girls. You know the ones; those girls who are so confident in their youth and strength and never-will-I-die beauty. The ones who look at people like me and say to themselves, "I will never be that woman." But I can see the hill now, too, and the death that waits on the other side, and I wonder, as I reach for another chocolate, if it's worth the fight.


Ashley Bishop is many things, but mostly, she's just Ashley. Someone once said to her, "You know, I just can't put you in a box," and that was the nicest compliment she's ever had.


by Bree Barton

I remember the night the sky wept, when raindrops struck velvet chords on windowpanes and I hummed a wordless melody into your tangled curls. We clasped each other in that naked room, your head between my breasts as you bathed my nipples in your tears. That was the night I knew I loved you. I held you against cotton sheets soaked in the mingle of our sweat, breathing shadows of forever into your ear while muted sunlight unmasked the smudges on each bare wall. But when you reached for me by morning, blissful eyes ablaze, I froze; fear, all bruised and blackened, charred my soul to ice. And so it vanished, my love for you, suspended in the air for one perfect moment between warm whispers and soft illusions, lingering for one last kiss before dissolving like the salt on your cheek.


Bree Barton, true to her name, is a dedicated fan of both cheese and alliteration. She's also a recent college graduate who's having a hell of a time figuring out "real life." To help maintain her sanity, she's started a blog to chronicle her humorous (mis)adventures as a twentysomething. Not everything she writes is about dissolution; for a sample of her not-so-depressing work, check out Dante, Degreed.

What With the Dying

by Tamara Linse

My life sucks, what with the dying and the horrible beauty of everything. Colors thrust themselves into my eyes, sounds ejaculate in my ears, smells come inside me. Yes, we’re all dying every day, only I know when I’m dying because I celebrate it every year. It’s coming up. Will it be this year? I almost hope so, because the anticipation is killing me.


Tamara Linse is a writer living in the state of Despair, a well-known but hard-to-locate protectorate with a population of 6.6 billion. Its principal imports are writers and vodka (because it can’t be smelled on the breath). Its major export is critics.



by Christopher Cocca

Rachel has these sweat pants with an old boyfriend's college on the thigh and she wears them in the morning sometimes before she leaves. I don't remember what she wears the nights before and sometimes I feel guilty. She says she sees there's more to me and I say I'm not so sure. I say we can't keep doing this and she repeats there's more to me and I ask her where she's looking. Rachel smiles and I see the red straps on her halter and think that might be something. She picks the letters on her thigh and nods.


Christopher Cocca is the author of Before Another Breakdown. ("Progress" is excerpted from a larger work.)

Wednesday is the New Friday

by Samuel Sukaton

Few of you can imagine the song in the heart that has a doubly long weekend. But some of you might share kinship with the feeling of ambling out of De Neve Commons, tweed jacket on my back, feeling the light edge of an Angeleno autumn, stomach stuffed with lunch and brain bursting with information, eyes roving behind retro-geek glasses and Adidas-shod feed waltzing up stairs, two at a time, onto Charles E. Young Drive South. Others might nod with appreciation at more prosaic, but no less uniquely poetic sensations -- my friend from high school's roommate, who has a painfully cute grin, which works its normal magic on me as I lope up the hill to Hedrick. UCLA is achingly beautiful, if you know where, when, and how to look at it -- like the room at the top of Hitch Suites which has an view all the way to the Pacific, or my own room -- you can barely see Royce's towers off in North Campus, and everything between the Hill and North Campus. The students spit truth when they say that Westwood's color palette is AMAZING -- brick red, leafy green, and sky blue, the smartest (and most beautiful) 400 acres of land west of the Rockies. I love this place, the people, the life... but there's something inside me that's not locked in, not ringing with pleasure, the part that tells lame jokes, that keeps me distant from my floormates, roommates, and classmates, the part that nags and insults and leads me to do stupid, awful things, then mocks me in my guilt, that's not simply dead weight, but a collaborator with the Enemy of all that's true and beautiful, and I'm not quite sure why I can't handle that part.


Samuel Sukaton represents the Blue and Gold of UCLA.


by srchngformystry

he wrote, so, what do you sleep in... pajamas or other? it depends on who is going to be next to me. lately, its just been a gray t-shirt, and no thank you to pajamas, she wrote. okay, if someone was next to you, what you be wearing other than that gray t-shirt? he wrote. id be wearing his scent, she wrote. i like that, m, he wrote.


srchngformystry is the author of in which the intensity is high.



by Joey Johnson

"I told you," she said, "I don't like the way you speak to me." "Too bad," you reply, "I don't like the way you squint during passionate moments." You put a strong emphasis on passionate moments to make sure she understands what you're implying. And so it was done, you continued on with your arrogant tone of voice and she continued to squint mid-climax, and that was how you liked it. No harm, no foul. You close your eyes during sex anyways.


Joey Johnson is a bear, he's a nice bear. He's not the kind of bear that will rummage in your knapsack whilst you and your playful lover nap in the joyous autumn evening. He is the kind of bear that will lay down and snuggle right up next to you, fish breath and all.

Grades of Friendship

by Tara Lazar

Who does she think she is, blubbering to me about Jimmy, as if I should sympathize? Oh yes, I’m sure she’s worried about him skipping two grades — the social implications, the workload — boo-hoo, I’m really torn up, listening to her lament. I highly doubt her genes begat a genius with her husband the gainfully unemployed, her father the drunk, and her job bagging groceries three days a week; I’m the one who used to be the litigation attorney, for chrissake! It’s not as if I haven’t tried with Stephan, he's just a complex boy, requiring more structure than most teachers are willing or able to give. He is seeing a child psychologist for the outbursts and he’s made incredible strides within the last six months, identifying more letters, expressing himself more with words than gestures. I can see the emotion and caring in his eyes, and isn’t that what's most important?


Tara Lazar, author of Parkinson's, carries a writing notebook in her diaper bag so she can eavesdrop and write stories based upon the conversations of strangers. (Beware of mothers bearing pens.) You can find her not-so-anonymously here.

The Edge of Night

by Kevin Michaels

The night wrapped its arms around us as we drove west, taking the highway past Medford towards Philly. The kids were asleep in the backseat and we were both counting the mile markers, staring out the windows with quiet eyes. I listened to the drone of the Chevy's engine and tried to figure out if the rumbling I heard was thunder in the distance, or something else I'd have to deal with when we got home. Playing with the knob on the radio she found a song we both remembered on the classic rock station; the lyrics came back easily but I kept them to myself - content to listen to her mangle the words as she tried singing along in a soft, broken voice. I thought about how we had danced to the song one time, slowly and carefully across the kitchen floor after the kids had gone to bed, but that was before we started measuring the blood we'd drawn from each other and comparing the scars that had been created. Now all I could do was hold on to the memory of how much I had once loved her as the night fell apart around me.


Kevin Michaels is everything New Jersey (attitude, edginess, Bruce Springsteen, and Tony Soprano). The author of two upcoming novels ("Bounce" and "Still Black Remains"), he has also written a number of short stories and articles. He lives at the Jersey Shore and refuses to leave.

Sometimes She Dreams of Spain

Part 2 of 6 by Nathan Tyree

After work she would walk to the apartment where she lived alone. It was a cramped, cold series of small rooms that never seemed to have enough light no matter what wattage of bulbs she chose at the hardware store. Like the waitressing job, this apartment was supposed to be temporary until something better came along. Something better never had the time or interest to make it her way. She’d shower in a vain attempt to scrub away the bar stench of cigarettes and sweat then collapse on her bed to read before drifting off to tumbled intermittent sleep. Sometimes she dreamed of Spain.


Nathan Tyree is the author of Sometimes She Dreams of Spain, Part 1 and How to Make Love Like a Zombie. (Look for Part 3 on Thursday.)


What Draws the Eye

by Nan Andrews

Everywhere he looked, he noticed breasts. The woman crossing the street had large, liquid globes that swayed under her shirt. He noticed the deli clerk's small, pointed ones and wondered if they were all nipple, jutting under her t-shirt. His eyes were drawn down by the pendant on his secretary's ample chest, bringing a blush to her throat as she noticed his stare. That night, he stepped behind his wife as she undressed. Watching their reflection in the mirror, he held her in his arms and squeezed his eyes shut on the tears as his thumbs traced her scars.


Nan Andrews writes sensual stories. She has a ghost story published this month on The Erotica Readers & Writers Association, and you can read more of her work at her website.

The Juniper Place

by Amy Guth

Maria Elena ached to rid herself of the constant arranging - lining up her things to be in perfect order again and again - and counting - counting the times she blinked, counting corners in each room, counting words in sentences, and felt Santa Dymphna was her last hope. Kneeling in the clearing of juniper, Maria Elena bowed her head and shut her long, black, fringed eyelashes over her dark, troubled eyes. Santa Dymphna, Santa Dymphna, Santa Dymphna she whispered, begging for relief. Her heart beat fast, having run fast from her seventeenth birthday party and its guests, from the laughter and gifts, from the house and hill, to reach this clearing she was sure was the best place to commune with her saints. Through a gap in branches, with the sweet, piney smell of juniper at her nose, she could see from this vantage point only the steeple and cross of Iglesia Santa Miguel, where she was only permitted to attend on Easter and Christmas. Going to mass anytime other than the two holidays were, to her parents, fanatical and impractical, but to Maria Elena, the peek of the building was an ideal symbol of the changes this year brought and the peace she found and so, to her, this view was the best mass she could find.


Amy Guth, author of Pink, has written about blaxploitation, Judaism, feminism, media literacy, bandwagonism, art, cult films, racism, hate crime and social irritants for all sorts of places like The Believer, Monkeybicycle, blah blah blah. She's toodling around at the moment promoting her novel Three Fallen Women and having a very nice time, thanks. ("The Juniper Place" is an excerpt from her new novel-in-progress.) She blogs Bigmouth Indeed Strikes Again. Come say hi.


The Poem

by Jeni Rall

His father had poetic aspirations. This is what my husband tells me now, his hand across his mouth, head bent. He dislikes the memory. I imagine the scene: a third shift postal worker comes to his son with a poem in his palm about mockingbirds and weeping. "Maybe he was trying to connect," I offer, but my husband shrugs as if he’s still that fifteen year old boy, afraid of the father who sleeps in daylight, embarrassed by silence broken with rhyme. "I remember it wasn’t very good," my husband says at last, "and I haven’t written a poem since."


Jeni Rall lives and writes in the sausage capitol of Texas.

Lost and Found

by Andrew David King

The wind pushes back the blue curtain with the agility of an ocean wave, rubbing its fabric in the warm sheen of the sun. Aside for the scribble of his pen on the paper, the only sound is complete and utter silence. It's been another day of sheer repetition, and he fears that she will never find him, although part of him is content if he remains undiscovered, unknown to the world for the rest of his life. The quietude is shattered into a million tiny pieces as she slams open the door to the room, chest heaving, air flowing raspingly through her throat. "I've been looking everywhere for you," she mutters, eyes scanning the carpet for something to pay attention to, anything besides him. "Truth is," he says, catching her eyes with his own, "I've always been right here."


Andrew David King is a writer from Fremont, California. He has been published in numerous in-print and online publications, as well as alongside authors Ursula K. Le Guin, Luis J. Rodriguez, and others.

The Revenant

by Joseph Grant

Nearly all of the newspapers of 1895 said nothing, choosing to bury the story, while several of the Hearst-run newspapers reported a lurid account of a wild dog mauling in Central Park and then a few days later, revamping the piece, saying it was the malicious work of a madman, certainly a fiendish lout from the lower classes. One of worst of all of the yellow journalism rags even hinted that it could have been the work of Jack the Ripper himself, transplanted fresh from a successfully elusive killing spree in the foggy White Chapel District of London. This implication did not trouble the doctor on graveyard duty at the Bellevue Morgue as he put down his folded paper beneath the sputtering gas lamp and proceeded to ready himself with the worn leather butcher’s smock for yet another routine autopsy. He ruminated on how awful a disgrace it was the way the man on the examination table had died, a defrocked priest from the nearby maritime mission who was pulled from the East River. He knew that it was uncommon for clergymen to kill themselves let alone by jumping off the decade-old Brooklyn Bridge, nor were they drained entirely of their blood before doing such; therefore the conclusion was an apparent one: the man was undoubtedly murdered. As the coroner fixed his pince-nez and turned to sate his salacious thirst and read again from the depraved report, he did not notice his impious guest sit up with eyes fiery red lunging for his jugular until it was much too late.


Joseph Grant, author of The Drowning Man, has been published in over 55 literary reviews and e-zines, such as Byline, New Authors Journal, Howling Moon Press, Hack Writers, New Online Review, Indite Circle and Cerebral Catalyst.

Sack of the Goblin City

by Dustin R. Packwood

I remember when the Goblins attacked us - that winter was unusually cold. They had come down from their mountain city and invaded our towns. Blessed by our Gods, we marched on their city, advancing like wraiths through the fog and swirling snow, vengeance in our hearts. In their storehouses, we found many things that they had taken from us: thatch, wood, oil, torches, food, and bottles of fresh water. Our Warrior-Priests demanded that we leave no survivors. I am proud to have single-handedly put twelve of their cursed children to the sword.


Dustin R. Packwood, author of Reflections, has spent all 24 years of his life wishing for a pet dragon. He continues to believe that the world would be a better place with wizards, magic, and kingdoms.


Cheap Shoes

by Rion

Raj has ideas like others have heartbeats, each one racing and raving in his subconscious like a loon. Not that the observer can notice, but Raj is on fire. Each silent moment intensifies the forging heat where he focuses his attention. When he jokingly kissed your hand in Organic Chemistry, why did you flinch away from his sandalwood skin? For in this one moment all of his ideas and passions were distilled into one simple devotional act towards you. You could have become a patroness to his peculiar genius, were you not blinded by the faint scent of curry, the cheap shoes.


Rion (Amy Chesbro), author of Submsson, challenges 6S authors to a duel at Raincoat Flashers.

Blondes Have More

by Peggy McFarland

The first day Sienna changed her hair color from her dull, natural brunette to bright, shiny, platinum blonde, the world treated her different. Men whistled when she passed them on the street; they asked her for her phone number at the deli counter; they started conversations with her while she waited for the subway. Women smiled hello when she passed them on the street; waved to her across the crowded platform as if she were a familiar friend; asked her opinions on purchases at the department store. She became addicted to the lavish attention and craved more, and figured - why only change the top of her head? Her best friend suggested enhancing the inside of her head and invited Sienna to join her book discussion group, but Sienna chose a different development. After smoothing a stray whitish-yellow strand back into place, Sienna closed her compact mirror, lowered her tight-knit sweater zipper two more inches, thrust forward her new Double D’s and strutted to the escalator.


Peggy McFarland, author of Tanning, thoroughly enjoyed blonde for six months, and wonders why she now only uses blonde highlights to cover the gray.


by Blane Conklin

Their eyes met for a moment. The eyes — their only features not repulsive to the gaze. The only thing about either of them still open to interpretation. Hers green, his brown; matching lost souls. One could still catch a glimpse of innocence and promise not quite buried beneath the pain and loss there. He blinked, and looked down at his sandwich.


Blane Conklin holds a PhD in ancient Semitic languages, and is employed in a completely unrelated field. He also likes to write, and enjoys the good life in Austin, Texas, with his wife and two daughters.

A Visitor in the Night

by F.S. Hallgrimson

He heard the footsteps slowly making their way up the stairs as he lay in his bed across the hall from his parent’s room, seemingly miles away from them. With each gentle step, his panic grew more intense, paralyzing his entire body with a weight of some unknown irresistible force. Knowing his bedroom door was slightly open behind his headboard and feeling the threat moving closer upon him, he screamed for help but no sound came out. It was too late. In a moment, the Visitor stood above his headboard, and with one final act of courage, he lunged upward successfully towards his face, ripping off a rubber mask. He sat up violently to meet his killer, but his eyes betrayed the whole event, no mask in hand or intruder anywhere in sight.


F.S. Hallgrimson is the author of The Accidental Suitor.


Car Crash

by Samantha Duncan

I'm upside-down, then right side up. A glimpse of blue and green florals against a starchy, off-white, cotton fabric reminds me, I'm not wearing my favorite shirt. Engulfed by a symphony of metal, I'm upside-down again, wondering why it is I never liked tomatoes. Because perhaps I never gave them enough of a chance. And it's chilling to consider that I gave some things too many useless chances. I'm right side up but still rolling, and there's just enough time for me to feel the ragged edge of devastation as my bones grind with gravel and my blood fuses with dirt.


Samantha Duncan recently earned a BA in Creative Writing and Sociology from the University of North Texas and thinks college degrees should come with instruction manuals, because she's still not sure how to use hers. After growing up in Texas, she spent a short time living in Washington, D.C., and currently resides in Georgia. She does not recommend nomadic lifestyles.

Sometimes She Dreams of Spain

Part 1 of 6 by Nathan Tyree

Maybe he was a big shot down at the slaughterhouse, but Suze was never going to give in to his pleas for a date. Every night she carried trays of whiskey and gin and vodka to the table where he sat surrounded by loud friends and pungent co-workers buying round after round to cement his position within his clique. Sometimes he’d pat her on the ass as she unloaded her cargo of booze onto the sticky table top. Sometimes he’d gently lift the edge of her too short skirt as if to take a peek underneath. Invariably, she’d smack his hand away and give him a good natured rebuke. Each time she had to do this she felt herself recede a little bit farther into herself; almost all the way to gone.


Nathan Tyree is the author of Space Men and How to Make Love Like a Zombie. (Look for Part 2 on Monday.)