Watching the Other Side

by Peggy McFarland

Did you ever watch smokers? Sure, they are the new lepers of society, but there is a camaraderie among smokers I envy. They share a light, a conversation, and a laugh while they stand in sub-zero temperatures - sure, slaves to their habit, but also enjoying a human connection which all the booze in the world served at oaken bars with flickering candlelight and sparkling bottles will never provide. Smokers meekly take their lighters and packs outside, accepting the outcast position they’re been bullied into because there is a sense of guilt; smokers know they should quit the habit, but how does one give up a constant friend - the one that was there through every meaningful moment of life, ready to celebrate or commiserate, always faithful and available? I watch smokers, and I envy them, but I stay on my side of the pungent cloud; I surrendered my membership to that club years ago. But... if I knew the world would end tomorrow, I would drive to the corner store today and reacquaint myself with my old habit, and maybe share a light, a memory - hell, maybe even a laugh - with a new friend.


Peggy McFarland, whose full catalog is here, celebrated eight years of smoke free living on January 20th. (Start her thread of past 6S posts with Midnight Snack, if you want to see the musings of a smoke-free mind.)

The Secret

by Stephanie Brannick

Mama never did come out and say what really happened that summer and folks acted like it was just one of those things that occur in the course of everyday life, but it wasn't. Daddy took off after the doctor arrived, hiding out from the pain of not being able to do much for Mama, but he came back soon enough to find out how to tend to her stitches. Pastor Dave stopped by to offer a prayer of recovery and let neighbors in to leave fresh baked offerings, grasping their hands in thanks as they whispered and cast woeful glances at the bedroom door. The next morning, it was all but forgotten when a man's body was pulled from the river causing a quite a ruckus in town, but seeing as nobody claimed him; he was buried a few days later without so much as one person to send him into the loving arms of Jesus. By the time my brother Joseph was born the following spring, I had given up on asking Mama how she'd gotten those bruises around her neck, and just kept myself busy with changing diapers and helping with extra chores around the house after school. I figured if the secret was too much for Mama to tell, then it's better to be buried all this time, and not something for some gangly southern girl to be knowing, and besides, Mama always did know best.


Stephanie Brannick is occasionally known as Goat Girl.

Fateful Decisions

by Rick Bylina

With unabashed sadness, the monsoon of tears erupted from her hazel eyes, flowing down her face unabated, streaking indifferently her dark mascara, and lingering with regret on her chin before dropping to stain her red blouse. She shuddered and drew her burgundy jacket close to hide from prying eyes that knew the truth, suspected the truth, or suspended judgment absorbed in their empathetic grief. Gusty winds blew away comforting words like the last dead leaves on the nearby shivering oak that flittered across the grounds. He stood so close his aftershave wafted over her in waves, but yet a sliver of morning light sliced between them and shined on the small graveside plaque. She wrapped her fingers tightly around his hand seeking a touch of warmth and found none, realizing now that she knew for sure. The decision to terminate had not been mutual after all.


Rick Bylina is a writer living in Apex, North Carolina. His particular brand of writing inspiration can be found here.

I'm Back, Baby!

by February 29th

Hey everybody! It’s me, February 29th! I’m the coolest day EVER, ‘cause I’m the rarest day ever! So... you guys miss me? Of course you did! And this year, that bitch March 1st can just kiss my ass and WAIT – I’m in town for the WHOLE DAY and I ain’t goin’ NOWHERE ‘til midnight!


February 29th, who gave birth to Ja Rule, will be back on 6S in 2012. Mark your calendar.



by Mercury

Sometimes I get the feeling that people judge me as soon as they see me. Their eyes fall upon this cheery girl with the brunette hair and rosy cheeks (dimples included) and they immediately know what category I fall into. This interests me, because I myself have absolutely no clue what category that might be, not an inkling. To have that sort of clarity has to be very enlightening. The only part of this process that really annoys me, however, is when they claim to know what goes on in my head, and this irritates me because there is no way they can. Even I don't know everything that is concealed up there.


Mercury, author of A Rambling, is often confused by simple things, but she has moments of severe intellectual triumph that make up for it.


by Berlin Germanium

The apartment is sparsely littered with furniture; a cheap pressed-wood desk sits in the corner, some yellowed papers scattered across the top, a rusted metal bed with a thin, worn mattress, and a threadbare recliner sitting underneath a pile of cardboard boxes. Around the room, there are holes drilled in he splintered wood floor, underneath each hole a name: Mildred Donahue, Antonio DiNapoli, Gretchen Weissman, William Flowers. I press my eye to the hole labeled Gretchen Weissman, to find that I can see straight into the apartment below. There is an old woman asleep on her couch, a brown cat curled up on her stomach; I cross to the other side of the apartment. There is an old Polaroid tacked to the wall, the subjects of which are wearing enormous grins, arms wrapped around each other’s shoulders – Jane and I, 1983, the caption reads. As I turn to leave, I wonder if the young man in the photo’s life had become as much a barren wasteland as his apartment had.


Berlin Germanium wrote this for her AP English class in 11th grade. Her fantastic blog is here.

Not Who You Think I Am

by Donna Ekart

There are photos, someplace in the house, of me in D.C., on the Mall, in a group of happily random, younger-than-they-thought-they-were women, smiling, and holding a round blue sign. I loved those girls, loved the silly pledge we made when we set out from the middle of the heartland to D.C. to only listen to music by women, loved that by half-way home they were all screaming for crazy hiphop by some loud guy, any loud guy. In those moments, I never would have believed that I could have changed my mind, and later, as I felt it start to change, I resisted, fearing that the change would make me forget those women, that time, who I was then. But it never came to pass; I didn't forget them, didn't forget a single one of the arguments that were so persuasive to me then, didn't forget what wrong I was attempting to make right by my belief. There are days when I wish I could, days when I realize that what I should have been afraid of was remembering. So, when I say it's not that simple, that it's not just a thing that I believe just because some authority tells me to, I know: I know what I've turned my back on, I know the utter lack of malice in the hearts of those who believe differently than me, and I know that there's still a wrong out there to be righted; I just can't bring myself to make it right the same way.


Donna Ekart, author of Well Done, Good and Faithful Servant, is a librarian who really likes the sensation of words falling out of her head. She lives in Kansas, which isn't as flat or dull as you might think.

Chronic Illness & Childhood Collide

by Just Another Mom

I didn’t plan your life to turn out this way, after all what parent would? You’re my child, I wanted you to soar, not be tied to an IV pole. If I could take away every once of pain you have felt because of this fucking chronic illness, I would. But I can’t. No matter how hard I try, no matter how much I want to, no matter how many times you beg me to, I can’t. I’m sorry.


Just Another Mom is just another mom.


My Friend Danny

by Xavier Toby

Now we're nearly thirty and still friends. He gives me drugs for free. That's not the only reason we're friends but without them, I wouldn't make the effort. When I'm high I promise to pay him, but later he never asks. We often plan to hang out during the day, without the drugs, but that never happens. Maybe we're terrified it won't be any fun.


Xavier Toby is a journalist for an Australian newspaper, but would much rather be a full time writer.

The Brawler

by Joseph Grant

“Alright fellas, hey, I said break!” the balding referee in the bow tie, blue shirt and pressed black slacks bellowed and pushed Archie “Boom Boom” Mannis and Jimmy Jay Tanner apart as they wound up in yet another crowd-groaning clinch, but not before Tanner threw a few rabbit punches, a thumb, a headbutt and an elbow or two. It had been the second warning by the blood speckled thirty-year veteran and he was clearly becoming agitated, Mannis knew, as he welcomed the breather in between getting pummeled by a palooka like Tanner, but he knew if there was one more hold, they could each be docked a point by the judges down below at ringside and he needed those points. Mannis took a step back from his opponent, a young bleeder, an outside fighter who possessed the exasperating technique and footwork style of stepping back after each combination, sometimes even feinting bolos, making it nearly impossible to weave and let Mannis deliver his signature hook and jab, leading to his legendary power punches. The peal of the round bell sent both combatants tiredly stumbling to neutral corners while Mannis’ Chief Second took out the bloody rubber mouthpiece, gave him water to wash the metallic, bloody taste from his mouth, handed him another mouthpiece, dabbed at the cut above his swollen eye with q-tips dipped in coagulant and Vaseline, with his cut man and corner man both reminding him as he stood to work his uppercut and to remember to keep his guard up. Mannis watched the blurry and slightly chubby round girl as she paraded around the ring in her ridiculously small bikini holding her card too low, not that the fans cared and recalled the card girls were better-looking and had less cottage cheese on the thighs for the bigger purse fights, but this one looked familiar, although he couldn’t remember or not if he had slept with her. Slight nausea washed over Mannis, cold sweat stinging his puffy eyes as the clang sent both he and Turner between the ropes for the last round and as Mannis swung, landed, missed and was tagged repeatedly, hearing the crowd roar in vacuous slow motion, he did not hit the canvas once and although he lost the fight on a split decision, the morning newspapers would write of how the aging boxer was beaten but never is he defeated, go the distance and could leave the ring and his boxing career on his own terms, still standing.


Joseph Grant, whose full catalog is here, 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. Joe is also a 6SC3 Prize Winner.

Dear Poet

by Taylor Murray

I'd think of lying awake in my bed, glowing. I'd think of drinking you in like the dawn until it turned to morning. I'd think of how you poured the words back into my heart. I'd think of the smell of sunshine and burning leaves in the fall. I'd think of how you struck a chord in my soul so deep that it twanged to the edge of the universe. I'd think of how you gave me chills.


Taylor Murray, author of Dillon, is a High School Senior in Southern California.

A Hot Corporate Cameo

by Meera Kannan

The air conditioner was playing snowball with us. Weird, these work places, it’s always "extreme weather" here. As usual, I turned around to the administration department behind me. There is this glass screen like the equator that separates us & "them" and divides the climate in their favor. I dabble with different art forms to attract their attention, too lazy to drag the earthly but committed soul onto the other side of the door. A shadow game, an action stunt, puppetry or pop act; my hot cameo role never fails to warm us up.


Meera Kannan, a financial analyst, is as passionate about words as she is about numbers. She once told us a Timeless Love Story.



by Sarah Holland

The full moon hits me, and my skin breaks out in shingles. My ribs widen, spread, grow into stout oak rafters and joists. My face distorts, becomes a pair of flinty windows bracketing a red front door, while my teeth push forward and sprout from the lawn as a white picket fence. I don’t want to bite, rip, or gorge. All I want to do is provide shelter and comfort. But all night long, people stroll past saying “I never noticed that there before,” and “Strange how nobody’s ever home.”


Sarah Holland lives in Maine. People who read her fiction often go on to lead very normal lives.

The Joys of Public Transport

by Chandler Craig

When my Gram drove, I vomited gobs of yellow bile. Riding the bus feels a lot like that, but now I swallow it. The Indian man next to me smells ashy and sprays dandruff on me when he answers his cell; I've been snowed on twice so far. I hate him and want to slime him with bile, but I fake sneeze on him instead. Droplets shine wet on his polyester coat and he glares at me. I don't care; I hate the bus.


Chandler Craig is a recent graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and will be attending law school in the fall. She is currently unpublished.


by David Gianatasio

Ah, the new day that with the sun streaming in through the open window! What's a metaphor (or at the very least a better description) for the sun streaming in? Joni Mitchell's seeping through the headboard; God, I hate Joni Mitchell. Tick, tick, tick... the sun's midway through the sky; oh wait, WE go AROUND the sun - I can never keep that straight. Did I fall asleep and miss Petticoat Junction? Now the day's done, there's no more sun, and if I wanted a metaphor it's... c'mon, it's - HEY, IT'S TIME TO GIVE "CHELSEA MORNING" a REST ALREADY!


David Gianatasio's first book of fiction and commentary, Swift Kicks, was published last year by So New Publishing. He's the author of Views with a Room.


by Keekah

"You don't know him like I know him," I said teasingly, laughing breathlessly as we walked back to our room. Silence greeted my comment; silence that stretched into uncomfortableness as I realized she was not laughing back. Our hands were joined, but where before they were joined in love, as the sound of our giggles and soft kisses danced around us, now they were suddenly just two hands holding onto nothing. "What's wrong?" I ask, angry and frightened because I already know the answer. "Why do you throw it in my face that you know him better than I do?" she asks with anger in her own voice and I sigh, resigned, as her insecurities fill the space between us that moments before was filled with anticipation as we returned to him, to our shared lover. It was going to be another long night.


Keekah is a native of Colorado dabbling in writing at An Existential Keekah. She aspires to write a novel or two before she dies.


Six Sells

a new Promo Video from 6S

David Beckham? Naomi Campbell? George Clooney? Current Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue cover model Marisa Miller? What do they have to do with Six Sentences? Only one way to find out – watch the video!


Six Sentences is not above using the oldest advertising trick in the book.

When Harry Met Jennifer

by Harold N. Walters

Harry had lusted after Jennifer Aniston since he first saw her on Friends. Then one lucky day in a busy airport he saw her step onto the Down escalator from the passenger lounge, a Bluetooth phone clipped to her left ear. Enchanted, Harry leapt like Lochinvar onto the Up escalator, his Bluetooth fastened to his left ear. When they met at midpoint their phone signals mingled, and as if experiencing a Vulcan mind-meld, Harry and Jennifer saw into each other's head. Harry saw Jennifer’s luscious silken underwear and leered. Startled, Jennifer scowled, but then she smirked, and Harry, crestfallen, knew the reason why — she’d seen his moth-eaten, threadbare, baggy boxers.


Harold N. Walters lives in Newfoundland, the Canadian province that contains the remnants of the Appalachian Mountain Range; the Canadian province fondly called "The Rock."

Take, Take, Take

by Frustrated Female

I hate the way you take, take, take. I hate the way you take me for granted. I hate that you would rather fuck anyone than me. I hate that you put all others, all else ahead of me, your girlfriend. I hate the way you make me regret honesty. I somehow love you in spite of all this shit.


Frustrated Female is an anonymous girl from the midwest.

The Book

by Joel Heffner

It happened during an interview for a low level job. The question took me by surprise. When the editor asked if I could write the book I said, "No problem." We immediately came to terms. I assured him that the book would be ready on time. When I got home my wife asked if I could write the book and I told her, "I have no idea!"


Joel Heffner, a writer and speaker who created How We Became Writers, blogs about Myths vs. Reality.

Tragic Engine

by Jon Catron

She was a Tragic Engine. She ran her tears like a racing shifter, smooth and effortless; she slammed through them with wild abandon. She was a Machine; she burned me hot, guzzling me, breathing me deep, sucking me down by the fuming gallon. She was a four-banger, nailed to the floor, screaming wide open down the dirt road going south from Bronson. No rest stops, no destination, nothing but speed and gravel and a need to burn. Old men shake their heads as they pass the rusting husk of my love.


Jon Catron, who told us A Lie, enjoys caffeine and sugar and other health foods. He hopes to review "Ship of Ishtar" shortly.


Simple Pleasures

by Alone on the Isle

I can taste your weakness, and it excites me. In time, I will exploit it, make it my strength, and crush you. You don’t deserve it, and that heightens my anticipation. The thought of you dissolving into self-hatred gives me a purpose. I have a talent. And, as mom always said, find what you are good at and become the best; she would be proud.


Alone on the Isle, author of Thank You All, is a twenty-something male, making a go of it on an island while his friends and family move on without him.

Of Our Time

by Joseph Grant

At dawn’s early rising, I observed her coming out of the ocean warming the sand beneath my feet, a Venus to behold, beautiful and young, a pure and perfect siren luring me from the safe port of desultory waters, a gorgeous and shapely young woman with more than sailing on her mind. As the sun arched into mid-morning, we shared many long sea tales of lost love and regret and cried an ocean of sadness and I kissed away the salt of her tears, never wanting her to hurt or be hurt again. During the radiant afternoon we swam together in the mysterious coves we discovered within ourselves, became rapacious lovers upon the sands of our time and we became as intimate and knew each other as closely as two people possibly could with both our seas shared, harboring no lament. Drying upon the new shore of the late afternoon, there were borne the first signs of our staying in the sun too long, the salt etching lines where clearly there had not been any before, the wind and sands shifting, stinging my body and I saw the siren steering me into the rocky inlet of marital, not maritime life and did nothing but heed the call of Mother Ocean. By the time the nocturne reached us, two had become three and the two had become one, the day we had together now distantly cold, the sand sodden and unfamiliar beneath our heel, the golden afternoon had turned into a fog and the moon had ascended gray and old, losing its luster, gathering clouds with it, covering a once bright horizon and we were warmed only by memories of the day when it was new and young. Relationshipwrecked at dawn, I awake only to find her gone, to return from whence she came, I presume and I wander, cold, broken and lonely-hearted upon this strange, new world.


Joseph Grant, whose full catalog is here, 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.

Staged Innocence

by caccy46

Elizabeth's first heartthrob was Ronny Horner. He lived two and a half blocks up the road, just close enough for Elizabeth to look through her dining room window and watch him begin his walk to high school. Every morning, Elizabeth, still in junior high, timed it properly so she could cross the road and say "hello" as she passed him walking in the opposite direction. She never realized how obvious she was, how red her face would become or that her voice was simply a tiny whisper. Two years later on a hot, sticky summer night, as they lay in each other's arms on her parent's back porch, Ronny told her how cute she was on those mornings long ago. Again, she blushed, thinking, he knew?


caccy46, whose full catalog is here, is 60 years old, a mother of two, and has been married for 32 years.

Dream Maker

by Rob Marshall

At night – asleep – Alison’s dreams are scattered across the bedroom wall like grainy cine film; voices or sound do not accompany this nocturnal soap-opera, just the hum of Alison sleeping and the somnolent rhythm of the city. On her back, amber streetlights caress Alison’s nakedness – LIGHTS CAMERA ACTION – she dreams in colour, of ivory shoes on a bone staircase, of paper mouths kissing, of crashing planes, of children burning, of the house at the foot of her memory. In this dream landscape nothing makes much sense, but lately Alison dreams of a handsome man and groans deep into the night – legs up and apart – as her dream lover gropes, fondles and kisses her. It is not me. LIGHTS CAMERA ACTION – I want to shake her awake and ask who he is, but I can’t – I’m dead. She wouldn’t see this ghost on our bed: it is not me.


Rob Marshall, author of The End of the Beginning, is the 18th pale descendant of King Kong and sometimes dreams in black and white.



by Jessan Dunn Otis

If love was the only way to make my way in this world - I would choose love. If faith was the only way to make my way in this world - I would choose faith. If joy was the only way to make my way in the world - I would choose joy. If I only had love, faith and joy as my companions to make my way in this world - I would have enough. But, I have so much more. I have you.


Jessan Dunn Otis lives and writes on Rhode Island.

Like Life

by Tom Conally

Origami is one of my passions. It reminds me of life. A simple piece of paper folded into complex and convoluted patterns which are made to look like real objects such as a crane, an elephant, or a rabbit. Oh, so carefully folded, creased and nurtured then put on display sometimes privately, sometimes publicly for all to see and comment upon. Sometimes when in a hurry, the paper is misfolded and crumpled and discarded. Like life.


Tom Conally, author of Smoke Damage, has a picture gallery.


by Michael Mira

There was a knock on the door. What did he do now? Again? When will they ever learn that those things aren't toys? Sorry officer, I'll make sure he won't get his hands on any of my lighters again. Brian, get me my cigarettes!


Michael Mira, author of Purely Decorative, is a writer, photographer, and visual artist living in Houston, Texas. He is trying to get his poetry collection published and spends his time blogging here.

If Only

by Bhawna Gupta

I had promised myself that I will refute it the next time it knocks. I closed my eyes, shut my ears, sealed my lips and held my breath. If only I could stop sensing too. If only the impossible was possible. In all humility, I accept that I am in love. I am ready for another dejection.


Bhawna Gupta is a software engineer in New Delhi. He blogs here as "Truly Me."


Alien Wisdom

by Jason Davis

"I eat rocks" was the first thing that the alien said. Later, over limestone and shale, it told us that it didn't know what we meant by "love," and when we explained the term, it replied off-handedly that the whole thing seemed contrived and put upon, an affectation that did no one any good. It said the same thing about God. It told us that it was only being honest, and, whale-sized bone-plated jaws crunching away, whistling its speech through what I can only guess was a nose, it said that we, as a species, were just lying to ourselves, brainwashing each other to believe that there was some bigger meaning hovering over us in the dark. We asked it, hands in our pockets, what then, was the point, what was the meaning of existence, the real reason for getting up in the morning, for breathing, for living, for talking to it right now, if not a hope for something transcendent. It sat there for a while, apparently mulling things over, a spray of eyes the color of rusting iron peering without focus from the stalk on the top of its head, and then it said "I eat rocks."


Jason Davis, author of Sky Lighting, currently lives on the Tibetan plateau, where he spends his days studying the habits and behaviors of small nonmigratory birds. For reals. His warmth comes only from the friction of pencil on paper, and so he writes an awful lot. He is also a contributing member of The Drinklings and of The Story Game.


by caccy46

She's 21 years old and still sleeps with her Blankies. To my utter horror, they consist of three very old, very ratty nightgowns that I wore many years ago. The three of them are in tatters, but give her endless pleasure. Her routine to get them in their finest, most adored state, is to throw them around a bit, sort of fluffing them up, and then letting them fall on her face. She moans in pleasure and claims they're at their best then because they're "cold". When I asked her what she loves so much about them, she said, sweetly, "They smell like you."


caccy46, whose full catalog is here, is 60 years old, a mother of two, and has been married for 32 years.

Straight Flush

by John Mutford

“I’ve got cancer.” Gerry throws this out like a confession, right in the middle of the third hand. Craig looks at his hand; 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 - heart, heart, heart, heart, heart. “Shitty luck, man,” someone says. Craig puts down his cards. He looks at Gerry and stops playing.


John Mutford hosts The Book Mine Set. Check it out.

I Do This For You

by Adam J. Whitlatch

My armor’s growing heavy, the weight bearing down on shoulders already burdened with the stress of this endless war and I can’t help but ask myself, “What’s it all for anyway?” I look down into the black, expressionless visor of the helmet clutched in my metal hands, but it doesn’t offer any answers. A fat, wet raindrop splatters against the visor and streams down the contours of my helmet like a teardrop - tears of God. I look up and see the first of the mechs – heavily-armed and merciless death machines – rounding the corner and marching toward me, followed by nine more and at least five dozen of the Khan’s best storm troopers and I don my helmet with a sigh, the hissing of the airtight seal around my neck covering the sound of my lament. Just another day in the E.R.A., I tell myself as I surge forward to engage the first mech. I do this for you.


Adam J. Whitlatch is the author of several horror and science fiction short stories, but right now his epic novel "E.R.A. – Earth Realm Army" is demanding most of his attention. "E.R.A." is a work of fiction... except for the parts that aren’t. (Adam's complete works on 6S can be found here.)

Dancing with Marlee Matlin

by Paulo Ignazio

I’ve always had a thing for deaf women. (Any woman who can’t hear herself talk is okay in my book. Means less talking, which is great.) If I was a professional dancer paired with Marlee Matlin on Dancing with the Stars, upon our first meeting, I’d smile at her warmly and point to my feet and dance around and pump my fists (all to indicate how we’re gonna work hard and have fun, and to demonstrate my sensitivity to her deafness). She’d be charmed by me, taken with me, and eventually fall in love with me, and then I’d be set. Then I could finally do a deaf woman – boo-yah!


Paulo Ignazio is a handsome gentleman who lives in Hackensack, New Jersey.


Lindsay Lohan and the Haunted House

by Amanda Fortini

(Lindsay) Lohan called (Marilyn) Monroe’s suicide “tragic,” and then added, elliptically, “You know, it’s also tragic what just recently happened to someone else.” I asked whether she was referring to Heath Ledger. She nodded: “They are both prime examples of what this industry can do to someone.” Why some and not others, I asked, since it has often seemed that the thrice-rehabbed Lohan might meet a similar fate. Lohan replied with a flicker of annoyance: “I don’t know; I’m not them; but I sure as hell wouldn’t let it happen to me.” Still, one wonders whether Lohan’s participation in this project, given all the spooky parallels, isn’t the photographic equivalent of moving into a haunted house.


Amanda Fortini writes for New York Magazine. The project she’s referring to is “Lindsay Lohan as Marilyn Monroe in ‘The Last Sitting,’” a nude pictorial featured in the magazine’s 2/18 issue. Amanda’s six sentences (which are slightly altered to fit the format) are excerpted from her accompanying article.


by Dan Kaschel

I hate the word "hot." I hate the concept of perverting beauty until nothing remains but pure animal attraction; I hate that this word gives free license to make animals of each other. Physical beauty, though, is all balance; the right moment, the right angle, the right expression. With no context of personality, a long shot of a too-strong chin or a too-sharp nose will quite suddenly obliterate the fickle binary of "hot." That is, I suppose, my revenge: that to pursue such a word one must battle endlessly against the endless permutations of situations that decry it. And this is my compassion: that some such people may give up the struggle some day, despairing - and find that they are uniquely, heartbreakingly beautiful.


Dan Kaschel, author of Human Love, is a poet, rock climber, and poker dealer. A blog of his poetry can be found here. He lives in Florida, seeking the joy of novel experience.

The Widow

by Heather Leet

She stood over his prone form with her colt revolver drawn and ready to shoot again. It had taken her months to track him down, months of ceaseless riding, months of dirt, months of hate, and now that she had finally filled him with lead she felt empty, as if all of her anger had been fired from her body like the bullets from her gun. The first time she had seen him had been that rainy night a year ago when he and his gang had ridden in while the moon was obscured by the clouds, killing her husband, shooting her pregnant belly and leaving her to bleed in the rain as she listened to their laughter as they rode away. She had survived but the child had not, so when her sister had arrived to take her back east she did not resist at first, but then she found her husbands old trunk of clothes left over from his days as a gunslinger and at the bottom was the buttery soft white leather jacket, when she put it on she knew what she had to do. She practiced every day for three months, honing the skills she had begrudgingly learned when she first moved west to marry her husband and after three months she knew that when she found him she would beat him shot for shot. She found him in a whore house in Abilene and at noon the next day she had eased the knawing, burning anger in her gut.


Heather Leet, whose full catalog is here, 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.

Where I Come From

by Erin Pineda

That's when I decided that it wasn't going to work out - or that it shouldn't. We were standing on that little triangular island in Times Square with the silver mini police outpost thing - you know the one? Our necks craned up so we could see the top of the buildings, but honestly I kept getting distracted by the giant neon shellfish spinning in front of Red Lobster. The crowds and the people and the noise and the now of it all were starting to make me feel queasy and defeated. Robert looked at me, squeezed my shoulder - I hate it when he does that - and whispered through his grin: "You'd have to be either crazy or dead not to feel alive standing right here." After all this time, I thought, you still don't know where I come from.


Erin Pineda is a desert nomad who is learning to sit still, and a country bumpkin in a big city. On good days she musters up the nerve to like it here. On off days, she writes about it.

Timeless Love Story

by Meera Kannan

Almost the entire city comes here to get parts of themselves paralyzed, and leaves with all-season, puzzling and final cut grins. Just like the one on my groomer’s face – I make out if it is a smile or smirk based on what I ask for. As I gazed around sitting next to my groomer, I could see a lot of glares pouring onto me – glad rags, well groomed ramp walker that I am. Suddenly, my heart skipped a beat as I saw the most handsome hunk next to the doc. A charmer, all-wrinkled, untouched and proudly so - a bang at the Botoxologist’s! God, please make that Pug this Shih Tzu’s forever!


Meera Kannan, a financial analyst, is as passionate about words as she is about numbers.


My Brother's Last Run for Swift

by Scott Beal

The sky's black mat flattens everything against the rush of road which undercuts him from the edge of his headlight beams. The cab seethes around him, panel and windshield buckling in with each gasp. The pavement's metronomic white dashes run him through — a seam, splitting. Five hundred miles away she sits his son in front of thawed nuggets and a cartoon sponge. Every minute at the wheel he rolls deeper into anesthetic panic, farther from nightlights and gladware. If he pulls off now for a mouthful of air, the cab will never let him back in.


Scott Beal was 826michigan's Volunteer of the Month in November 2007.

Pink Cup

by Tovli Simiryan

You were sixty-five the year I was born and when I was fourteen you reminded me it was time to decide on a philosophy of life. If you recall, my parents had few plans to invest in their only daughter and their decisions were sorely affected with an uncanny suspicion toward unplanned wind storms, three-dimensional chess matches, or change resulting from the intentionality of any offspring developing a quick and insurmountable wit. At fourteen, it was as if life was forever grey with low hanging fog refusing to burn away unless I opened your door; sipped tea from pink china, attracting patience, saving strength and settling for this pensive assumption: “Life is too long, much too long.” At eighty, your eyes still sparkled with a residue of youth; long, unplanned journeys; you answered as if forecasting another sojourn, this time with your great granddaughter along for show, “S-s-short—life is forever... but never long enough.” You would be 120 years old at the end of this month and I thought you’d like to know it has been nothing more than limitless, brilliant mountains that eventually sloped into unending plains, surrounding clear mirrors that became the deepest lakes and rivers I could have imagined. I am still drinking from your pink cup, which has collected many chips along the way and when it’s time to light the candle on your special day of remembrance, I may let your light burn until the darkest place in the universe admits to hope and is forced to shine, like a fat moon into the last quiet place I have left to visit.


Tovli Simiryan, author of Somewhere They'll Love You, is an award-winning writer living in West Virginia with her husband, Yosif, and mother-in-law, Ester. She has published two books of poetry: "The Breaking of the Glass" and "Fixing the Broken Glass." A collection of short fiction, "Ruach of the Elders - Spiritual Teachings of the Silent," will be marketed in 2008. (This piece is dedicated to Daisy Alice Kellogg.)


by Z.W.

Turbulence can mean a rough spot in the air. Or, to others, a rough spot in your life. Turbulence can throw you off course and make you feel unloved. It can make you feel alone and rejected, and you beg time to stop and it doesn't. It goes on, and you have to run through that awful turbulence to catch up to the people, the people who shun you and look down on you. The turbulence that got you behind in the first place keeps you down, keeps you behind, 'til all people and time move on without you, and you're left behind, staring off sadly.


Z.W., author of November, has had her share of turbulence. Z.W. hates turbulence, even though it helped her find herself in life. Z.W. wishes that no one had to have turbulence in their lives. Z.W. wants to banish turbulence.

Winds from the West

by Josh Franken

Frigid gusts push against my face as the smell of pine invades my spirit. Clouds from the west crouch along the timber line yearning to release the much needed rain. The sounds of trees cracking and leaves falling enter into me and I pause to look at the sky. Another western wind hits me and and I feel the chill of winter beginning. As I begin to pray, I ask Mother Earth to show me a sign of the season change. My prayers are momentarily suspended by the squawking of a crow looking for shelter from the inevitable change.


Josh Franken lives on the beautiful Umatilla Indian Reservation. He is active in his community and enjoys such hobbies as writing, art, and the wonderful field of Bar-B-Que.


Introducing “6S-ful Writing”

a Cool New Feature here at 6S

A 6S Newsletter sent last month mentioned how it’s always interesting to take a peek inside the minds of other writers. In the debut issue of 6S-ful Writing, Angela Pitt, who took part in The First 6S Mash-Up, and Madam Z, whose full catalog is here, graciously open their notebooks for all to see. To view the document, just click the blue “OPEN PUBLICATION” tab above – you’ll be taken inside, where you can turn the pages by clicking the arrows to the left and right of the pages. To view a “full screen” version of the document (which is recommended, and very cool), once inside, just click the little diagonal arrows above the document (located to the left of the little envelope). For a PDF version of the document sent right to your inbox, send Robert McEvily an email at robertmcevily@yahoo.com. Finally, if you like what you see, and you’d like to be included in future issues of 6S-ful Writing, please comment below (by clicking the comments link) and leave your suggestions, ideas, and email address.


Six Sentences wants to know: have you voted for your two favorite Mixed Drinks yet?

The New Man

by Robert Clay

A long time ago, when men and women lived in caves, they had to make a decision as to who would do what. They held a meeting at which the woman wore a particularly short piece of fur, to decide who would stay in the cave and tidy up a bit, and who would go out and kill a mammoth with a pointed stick for dinner. The man, somewhat distracted by all the leg on show, got the mammoth task (pun very much intended). But one day he limped back into the cave, covered in blood but carrying a large portion of mammoth under his arm, to encounter a new phenomena, nagging. He was told he wasn’t pulling his weight, and after the hunt, he should help tidy up the cave and wash up the eating stones. The man agreed, but asked if the woman would help out at the next mammoth hunt, to which she replied, “Are you out of your tiny fucking mind?”


Robert Clay, whose full catalog is here, is a Seafarer now stranded on land. He lives in Cornwall in the UK.

Midnight Dancing

by Belinda Furby

My bed is my favorite material possession – it’s a mahogany pre-Civil War antique sleigh bed that M., my husband, bought as a Christmas gift about thirteen years ago; small, but beautiful – we can barely cram a double-size mattress into its creaky old frame. All our 22 years of married life we’ve slept only in small double beds - our friends are amazed; “How can you stand it?” they ask. I personally think it’s a big part of our secret to a happy marriage: you can’t stay too mad at someone you’re spooning with all night long. Sliding into our warm little bed every night to snuggle up against M. is one of the most relaxing and pleasurable feelings I know – it’s like pouring an ice cold bottle of water down your sandpaper-dry throat after a really long hot walk... ahhhh. We tell our friends we practice finely choreographed midnight dancing: in the middle of the night when I’m ready to shift sides, I’ll nudge my husband until he rolls over waiting with his arm raised slightly over his side until I snuggle up behind him, tucking my arm under his, intertwining and holding hands. Then he reaches back with his legs, grabs mine pulling me closer, until our feet are tucked nicely together – a sleepy little dance of peace, comfort, and love.


Belinda Furby, whose full catalog is here, met her husband when she was 13 years old. His first words to her were, “Hey, goofy!” That has pretty much set the tone for their life together. Spooning... and laughter... have been the glue that has held them together. You can read more from Belinda at her blog, Upside Down Bee.

A Lapse of Reason

by John Parke Davis

No one called him Superman, but he knew he could fly. So one day, he wheeled himself out to the bridge. He attached some ropes to a harness with caribiners, attached the harness to a trestle, put his arms out before him, and leapt. The world shimmered beneath him, the greens and blues of the river, the boulders on the bank like pebbles. He laughed once, before the harness yanked him down, and he rocked to a stop beneath the iron pylons. For the rest of his life, he would wonder what would have happened if he had taken that harness off, but he never did try it.


John Parke Davis cannot fly, but he does have a disturbing fascination with sad superhero stories. His work has appeared in Ideomancer, flashquake, and Shimmer Magazine, among others. He and his brother run a not-for-profit story gallery at The Story Game, and he has a blog that he would love to have you come visit. John is the author of Wolf at the Door.

It Was All Premeditated

by Leela

I was shaking for no apparent reason: of course I could still back out, however, my limbs said otherwise. "You won't leave me, right? For this year, you'll be my friend?" Madison looked perplexed but said "Of course, love," and hugged me a bit nervously. So everything started. At the beginning of the next year she would stop associating with me, her promise fulfilled.


Leela writes The Incredible Adventures of the Super-Terrific.


Milo's Choice

by Christopher Goodwin

I look at you looking baleful yet bored at that bird. That same dove comes every day into the yard. Maybe you welcome the routine. You disobey your nature. You won't seize the dove. And I don't know if that's a good thing.


Christopher Goodwin is an artist living in Las Cruces, New Mexico. (Message from Rob: His cool blog is here, his fabulous art site is here, and don't forget to visit Ye Olde Christopher Goodwin Art Shoppe.)

Crossing the Street

by Matt Gasda

The air was dry, his breath was shallow and weak. He readjusted his gloves and coat, waiting to cross the street. The color of the arrow indicated he could cross. He had seen her but she had yet to see him. The cars ran by him. It had been a long time.


Matt Gasda is a writer; he can't help it. You can read some of what he writes here.

The Brothers Phillips

by Arthur Daniels

In 1911, a down-at-the-heels tool maker by the name of Andrew Phillips patented a uniquely designed screw, and only LATER did he invent the necessary screwdriver to make his new screw of any use. One year later, his brother Allen, mimicking Andrew's eccentric approach to the creative order of things, designed his variety on his brother's screw and, like Andrew, patented the necessary wrench to go with this screw, and again, like his brother, long AFTER the introduction of his screw. Mr. Phillips and his brother Allen subsequently formed a company aptly named "The Screw You Corporation" and flooded the market with their products. Their insidious designs have been the bane of mechanics world-wide and have befuddled the countless millions of common folk needing the means to make simple repairs to every-day household objects. The brothers Phillips both perished in a mysterious industrial accident in 1947 and their cremated remains were strewn all over the grounds of a now defunct automobile factory in Detroit. Serves them right.


Arthur Daniels, 58, married with two daughters and four grandchildren, has been everything from a zoo keeper to a sea cook on an oceanographic research vessel. He used to play a lot of Chopin, but since his left hand no longer cooperates, he now plays a lot more like Thelonious Monk: floppy left hand outlining the harmonic structure of the music. Despite his medical issues, he's just fine, and reinventing himself daily. He is the author of The Letter. Check him out on Helium.

Lost and Found

by Claudia Wolff

At. Last. I. Finally. Found. You!


Claudia Wolff is a Web Designer currently living in Charlotte, North Carolina and enjoying her new single, solo life and her adorable 2-year-old son. (She also used to work with Rob McEvily many a blue moon ago, and found him again through the magical power of the internet!)


Heroes Never Bleed

by Adam J. Whitlatch

It’s a thankless job being a hero, and before you tell me that I’m wrong, let me tell you something: I’ve watched friends and family die at the hands of my enemies – no one should ever have to bury their friends so young. The shrapnel imbedded in my knee makes me cry out in agony whenever I climb a flight of stairs and I limp when it rains, but I never blamed anyone for it; just the price for being a hero. I’ve been dead four times; my heart restarted twice by chemicals, once by defibrillation, and once by hand. My body is a roadmap of scars left by knives, swords, bullets, arrows, and weapons that – if the government has anything to say about it – you’ll never know about. My dreams are haunted every night by the faces of the men I killed in the line of duty; bloody visions of viscera and gore and the walking dead that leave me gasping and clutching at the sweat-drenched bed sheets while my wife sleeps on, completely oblivious to my pain. But the thing that hurts the most – more than the shrapnel, the scars, the sleepless nights, or the broken bones... the thing that cuts the deepest is the fact that no one ever once said “Thank you.”


Adam J. Whitlatch is a horror and science fiction writer living in southern Iowa. His newest novel, E.R.A. – Earth Realm Army, is dedicated to heroes, both acknowledged and unsung. The author asks simply that after reading this piece you go find a hero, be they a soldier, a firefighter, a policeman, or a doctor – and just say “Thank You.” (Adam's complete works on 6S can be found here.)

First Born

by Wanda Mae Shoap

He's been gone since 1989, he had turned seventeen in May, and died that August. My son, my first born of three, I never thought I'd have to live longer than he. I learned to cope through all the years, as I watched his siblings grow and leave home. I see his ways; his funny gestures, his smile and his extraordinary bond within them every day they visit, as I encase my tears in hidden turmoil. I dream of what he might have been; what he might have achieved, of the children he could of had and the scar placed upon my weeping heart. I have to trust that he's standing beside the Father - that loaned him to me, and that with His grace, his face again I will see.


Wanda Mae Shoap, author of Just Another Day, was born in 1949 in Harrisburg, PA. She is a self-taught artist - she loves to paint landscapes, animals, homes, old mills, the ocean, fruit, and more. She has a website, and worked for over seven years at the local cemetery as a secretary.

Superhero Worship

by Rod Drake

Milo loved it when his company transferred him to Neon City, the superhero capital of the world, where colorful, costumed crime-fighters battled kooky super-villains; Milo saw it as the luckiest transfer ever while his co-workers viewed it as a dead-end move. Hardly a day when by that Milo didn’t see one of the superheroes in action; Komet Kid streaking overhead or the Dark Sentinel roaring down main street in his Sentinel-mobile or Dr. Maximum chasing the Mad Magpie across the rooftops of midtown. Most of the town looked upon this ongoing super-brawl as dangerous, the newspapers decrying the continual threat to life and property from these out-of-control Olympian-scale grudge matches – but Milo didn’t see it that way at all. He was an enthralled spectator, fascinated by the super-powered exploits happening right in front of him; what a great bunch of guys these superheroes were. One Saturday afternoon, while Milo was watching a Neon Nukes baseball game on TV, he felt his nine-story building shake, and rushing to the window, he saw a 100-foot evil robot duking it out with Captain Cybernetika, a real contest of super-powered metal giants just a block away. The evil robot took a titanic blow and stumbled down the street, less than 50 feet away from Milo’s enthusiastic window view; this was so cool, he thought, to be so close to the action, when Captain Cybernetika landed a roundhouse punch that knocked the robot solidly into Milo ’s building, crushing it into a pile of bricks, dust and rubble.


Rod Drake, whose full catalog is here, lives, observes, thinks and writes in the neon capital known as Las Vegas. Check out his longer stories in Flashes of Speculation, Fictional Musings, Flash Flooding, Flash Forward, MicroHorror, and AcmeShorts.

A Song of Loss and Love

by Rachel Green

He sits on the edge of the lake as dusk approaches, the last rays of the dying sun giving his face the ruddy glow of a denizen of Hell. Appropriate, then, for that is exactly his nature, though he shows neither horn nor hoof nor arrow-barbed tail. Instead he mourns the loss of Heaven and coaxes a melody from an ancient violin, its rich tone coming not from its construction, though Stradivarius would have wept to see it, but from the centuries of care it has enjoyed under its master's fingers. The baby at his feet gurgles and waves its arms as if to catch the mournful notes before they are carried away and Lucifer looks down and smiles. "Hold not the sadness," he tells his mortal son, "I'll play the pity fiddle no more." With a sweep of the bow the dirge glides into a jig, and young Harold giggles, opening and closing his fists in delight.


Rachel Green, whose full catalog is here, is an English woman who spends far too much time writing about demons.


Rose Tinted Spectacles

by Big Ev

Today is our official anniversary, though we have know each other longer, this is the date that we both agree on as the day we became a couple. Already I find it hard to imagine a future without her in it, as she is such a large part of my life. She has restored my faith in things I had thought taken from me for ever, such as honesty, integrity and compassion. I am constantly amazed by her devotion and by the fundamental grasp on reality that she has, saying and doing what she means, leaving no doubt as to how she feels. I am aware of how lucky I am but it gets better still, for she is truly beautiful and she has a body that fits mine to perfection. She tells me that I am still wearing rose tinted spectacles, but I do see her as she is for they were taken from me too, I love her for who she is and all that we will become.


Big Ev, a humble chimney sweep, lives in a small town on the scenically beautiful northwest Antrim Coast of Northern Ireland. He has plenty of life experience, more than most, though less than many. (There's always room for another adventure.) He's lucky enough to be loved and madly in love with another wannabe writer and already-published 6S author.

No Backsies

by Roger Daubach

“You realize you’re asking the impossible,” she said, the hardened wall of her face beginning to visibly crack. “Come on,” he pleaded, “it’s not like I want you to scale the Empire State Building after knocking back a fifth of whiskey.” “That would almost be easier.” Tears welled in her eyes and, when he reached out to touch her shoulder, she recoiled violently. “Audrey, you can do this.” “I’m sorry,” she said while turning away, warm tears cascading down her cheeks and splashing on the tile with an almost deafening crash, “but I won’t ever be able to forget what you said.”


Roger Daubach, author of The Assignment, writes but rarely submits. Submission, after all, is the first step to rejection. He lives in Brooklyn and shares his stories and poems online.


by Z.W.

November, a time of transition. When the last crimson leaf falls and the first snow makes itself comfortable. When the last bird takes to the skies for warmer places, when the first anxious holiday-goers pull out the dusty decorations. People change too in November. For better or worse, something gets into them, and they reinvent the world. Novembers will always happen, along with Januarys and Junes and leap years and time, and there's no way to stop it from happening and then happening again.


Z.W. feels like Novembers should never happen. Z.W. fears for the next one. Z.W. is afraid of change, and she doesn't like being lied to. Z.W. has had her heart broken twice, but she still laughs. Z.W. has learned that time doesn't stop for November, it still moves on.


The Rising

by Stephanie Wright

Five a.m., and she rolls out of bed, stands facing the eastern window. Ohm, three soul-reaching chants before beginning a series of sun salutations to greet the coming dawn and her coming self. Showers using Peaceful Patchouli by Kiss-My-Face. Wanders naked to the kitchen where the looming shadow fills her gut with dread. She buries it under yogurt with wheat germ and a handful of berries before pulling up her bootstraps (nylons, don't you know?) and finishing with a black jersey knit that falls to the knee. Arming herself with Rimmel in Nude, she hits the pavement ready for battle.


Stephanie Wright, author of Relocation, is a social psychologist on faculty at Coastal Carolina University in Conway, South Carolina. She and her writing can be found on Pen Pricks, LiveJournal, and her website The Hall of Mirrors.


by Liana Silva

The mother sat in the back of the funeral parlor, watching friends and family march up to the coffin. She had been quiet for days, not because she had nothing to say, but because she had no words that could express the bitter pain nestled in her heart ever since she heard the doctor say, "Your daughter is dead." One of her cousins, the one from Tampa, came up to her and said, "I'm so sorry for your loss. Lydia was such a bright young lady." The mother looked at her and stared at her black beaded necklace hiding amid the dark curly tendrils. "She was bright, but now she's dead," she replied — these being her first words in three days.


Liana Silva reads books and asks questions for a living, but she also likes to write fiction. She currently lives in upstate New York.

The Letter

by Arthur Daniels

Every day Herman checked his mail box convinced that eventually, the envelope would arrive. Not the big brown one that says (after all of the large print has tantalized and all of the smaller and smaller still print has been analyzed), "You have just been named the (possible) winner of Ten Million Dollars!," but an ordinary plain white one with his name and address in large raised bold type right on the envelope itself (not appearing behind a little glassine window) with "Prize Notification Department" printed in the upper left-hand corner with no return address (but still quite officious looking), that would contain not only a letter assuring him that he was in fact the winner of ten million dollars, but also a certified cashier's check for that amount. Finally, on the thirteenth of March, 2015, after years of entering countless sweepstakes and accumulating more magazines than the reading rooms at every library in the state, the long anticipated letter, THE letter, arrived via registered mail. Herman immediately drove to his bank, cashed the check ("Large bills please"), returned to his car, and sat for a while carefully planning how he would spend his long-overdue windfall. After filling his gas tank and driving across town and personally handing his landlord three months rent in advance for his cramped one bedroom apartment, then making the same arrangements with the phone, electric, gas, and insurance companies, Herman headed for the Super Wal Mart where he gleefully roamed the aisles of the grocery section filling two (two!) carts with at least a month's worth of food, and, after walking over to the men's clothing section where he picked out a few pair of socks for himself, he sought out the new coffee maker that his wife Agness had been wanting for some time. Herman had planned it well, right down to the last few dollars and went home almost broke (again) but contented and slept well that night dreaming of what the postman might bring in the morning.


Arthur Daniels, 58, married with two daughters and four grandchildren, has been everything from a zoo keeper to a sea cook on an oceanographic research vessel. He used to play a lot of Chopin, but since his left hand no longer cooperates, he now plays a lot more like Thelonious Monk: floppy left hand outlining the harmonic structure of the music. Despite his medical issues, he's just fine, and reinventing himself daily. He is the author of The Stairway. Check him out on Helium.

6 Beds

by Alexa Von Hirschberg

I have 6 beds in my house. They are queen size beds. I have 6 daughters who are all g.a.y. They are queens. My house is always full. But where do I sleep?


Alexa Von Hirschberg lives and writes in the UK.


Be My Valentine (Circa 1999)

by Your Secret Admirer

In dirtier, lustier moments, I focus on nailing you and licking every pore and hungering between your legs. In cleaner, warmer moments, I daydream about being married. My crush was instant; becomes more distracting every day. We met last summer (on the best fucking day of my life). So I can’t let this first Valentine’s Day since knowing you slip by without confessing (privately). Secret notes and sneaky gifts work for now, but soon, I’ll reveal myself, and expose my everlasting need to be near you, so very near you – one way or another – forever.


Your Secret Admirer wants you / needs you / loves you without end.

You Don't Know Him, He's in College

by Marie Mosley

We agreed to meet near the hole in the fence where the Italian girls go to sneak cigarettes. I wait for him and watch a day moon rise up to frown down on New Jersey. I think about my mom's face peeking out of our apartment door - her eyes scanning the street, searching for me. He arrives smelling like a movie theater. His hands move faster than his tongue. Fingers flicker over the clasp of my bra, but I can't let him, so I pop my hands out of his back pockets and run toward the moon.


Marie Mosley doesn't like to talk about herself in the third person.

Closet Encounter

by Teresa Tumminello Brader

“Because we can kiss like that still, I’m taking you to a hotel,” Jay says to me, as I lean over him. We haven’t seen each other in years. Jay changes into a pair of khaki slacks and combs his hair. A record album revolves on a turntable. I try on a new blouse and skirt: one is too tight, the other too loose. Perhaps we can find a cozy niche in a remote closet instead.


Teresa Tumminello Brader, author of The Mexican Skirt, was born in New Orleans and lives in the area still. Her stories have appeared most recently in The Ranfurly Review and Octaves Magazine, and are forthcoming in 971 Menu and Debris Magazine.

Life or Death Decisions

by Mel George

I hovered by his pigeon-hole with a Valentine's card half-hidden in my palm, shifting from one foot to the other, gut-twistingly uncertain again now I was standing here in the light of day staring at people’s mobile phone bills. Late night introspection and melodrama had brought me to this point. Last night, alone in my dark college room, I had decided that the truth finally had to come out; Valentine's Day was surely the perfect excuse, the one day that would make such a confession seem like less of a heinous crime; it was okay to say this kind of thing today, it would almost look casual, natural, right? So I scribbled this card, nothing too profound: just so you know you’re admired, and didn’t sign it. But now, standing here... if he worked out it was me – disaster; if he laughed with our friends about it around a table in the bar, I knew I would blush – disaster; if he didn’t work out it was me, if he thought it was some other girl, perhaps one he really liked, then he might go and ask her out and they might get together and fall in love and live happily ever after – disaster. As I was trying to recall the convictions of last night, the door slammed open and I jumped like a hunted hare and stuffed the card into the bottom of my bag – and that was where I discovered it a year later whilst looking for a lost pen, and marvelled with a little laugh that I had ever thought I liked that guy so much.


Mel George, author of The Storm, lives in three cities at the moment (but still likes Oxford the best). When she's not on public transport, she writes a bit and edits The Pygmy Giant.



by Ryan Dilbert

It felt to him like it was only seconds after bashing in the intruder’s skull that David was doing commercials for Sorelli’s baseball bats. “The grip is great,” he read into the camera, “and take it from me, the wood in Sorelli’s is rock solid.” He wore the guilt under his collarbone and it felt as heavy as a car engine. The newspapers and Oprah and his Jewish foster family and the cops and the cute girls who snuck him a rum and coke all called him a hero. But he was just an eight-grader who couldn’t sleep because the image of that man’s head collapsing like a rotten pumpkin hung from a wall in his brain. The director of the commercial thanked David and joked that the Cubs could use someone with a swing like his.


Ryan Dilbert is probably writing right now or obsessing over the fact that he isn't writing (either that or eating a cookie). He lives in an apartment in Austin, Texas. He's been published in McSweeney's Internet Tendency, ESC!, and The Footnote. He makes really good sauces.

Why, Tomorrow, I Will Not Be Afraid

by Silvi Alcivar

Today I wrote a sentence and my brain spilled out. When I wrote enough sentences to make up a paragraph, my heart lept out too. When I wrote enough paragraphs to make a page, my skin slipped off, neatly, then piled at my feet. When I wrote enough pages to make a memoir, an arm picked up my slipped-off skin, suspended it high enough for it to hang, catch a bit of wind. I don't know whose arm it was, or where it came from, or why, considering all the piles of flesh in the world, it picked me up off the ground, and dangled me just so. But I do know, that for just a moment, I resembled the Sisteen Chapel's self portrait of Michael Angelo.


Silvi Alcivar, author of What $55 Can Buy, is a graduate of Penn State's MFA in Creative Nonfiction Writing. She now lives in San Francisco, and recently discovered she loves the ocean as much as trees. ("If only," she sighs to herself, looking out at the sea, "I could wrap my arms around thee.")


by Rachel Green

Winston took a long drag of his herbal cigarette holding the smoke in his lungs while it leached stress from his blood, then letting it all out in one long, controlled exhalation toward the night sky. He looked down again at the glowing tip, rolling the joint in his fingers and feeling where one of the skins was peeling away and shook his head. He passed it to Sam, a younger man with the folly of youth tattooed on his arms and knuckles and its stupidity marked by the beanie hat rammed onto greasy blond spikes. Sam took it and inhaled quickly; staccato drags that implied he wasn't taking it in and was just smoking to be sociable with his friend. He'd quit when he got a decent job, by sheer happenstance, in a company the produced cutting-edge technology. Sam didn't know shit about technology, just that they did random drug tests.


Rachel Green, author of Indecent Exposure, is an English woman who spends far too much time writing about demons.

My Man Stormy

by Daniel S. Irwin

So, my man, Stormy Norman, Paul Welshauns, and me (all being poor, broke university students) head into a local college-clientele bar looking for nourishment. We get beer glasses from the bar claiming that we have a friend willing to share his pitcher of beer and proceed to steal beer from unattended or unmonitored pitchers on various tables within the crowded establishment. Famished, we gobble down the free popcorn - the staple food of the poor student. Being a good night for snitching beer, Stormy sucks down enough to pass out on a bar stool. Once he comes to and rejoins the living, he's totally elated and delighted at all the attention and smiles the ladies give him as he wanders through the crowd. Of course, he became less than happy with Paul and me when he passed by a mirror and discovered all the straws, cigarette butts, and whatnots that we had stuck in his blond beauty shop 'fro-curled hair while he was passed out.


Daniel S. Irwin, author of Bug Juice, was abandoned by gypsies and raised in a capitalist commune. His work has been published in Krax, Moodswing, Zygote in My Coffee, Spin, and several other places.


Advanced Meat Recovery

by William Bergmeier

Darwin is in love with Emily and assumes that his shopping habits will impress her. To prove it he spends the second Tuesday of every month buying 100 hot dog packages for $206.58 with tax. He makes her ring them through one by one, to allow for conversation. This time is used to explain things like feline influenza or mammary tumors in mice. He says that he comes to her because he likes the way she packs things into boxes; so tight that he can wheel them home without getting them wet if it's been raining. She doesn't think much of people who've lived hard lives.


William Bergmeier isn't the kind of guy who cares to talk about himself. If you asked him, he might tell you that he's the host of a popular sportfishing show. But he'd be lying.

Ashes to Ashes

by Greta Igl

Carol drags her eyes open and hates the sight of another day streaming through her smoke-stained bedroom curtains. What is a new day but a disappointment waiting to happen, the god of fire and hope and desperation winking at her saucily as he floats high above the ashes of her burned out life? Ken didn’t come home again. She reaches for her cigarettes on the nightstand and, finding the pack empty, pulls a half smoked butt from the ashtray and lights it with trembling hands, her lined mouth grimacing at the ashy gray taste that coats her tongue like volcano dust. If she had energy, she’d get dressed and go to the 7-11 for a new pack, nice fresh ones, maybe menthols (like a cigarette and a breath mint in one), grab a coffee and a nice glazed jumbo donut, maybe ride the sugar-caffeine-nicotine train out of town and leave that piece of crap Ken once and for all. But she loves him and she’s tired, so she lays small in her big bed, a blue-gray twirl of smoke from her cigarette twisting into the greasy air as she smokes and stares at the infernal sunlight and thinks about how to resurrect her marriage like a phoenix rising from the ashes.


Greta Igl would like people to know she’s not as grim as her work might indicate. When she’s not writing, she spends her time arguing with a two-year-old about why cat food is yucky for children to eat.

Fat Lady in Barnes & Noble

by xtx

I'm trying to read in a big overstuffed chair in a hidden corner in a gigantic Barnes & Noble. Next to me is a fat lady trying to get comfortable. She came in like a lion... with an avalanche of papers and books and bags. I tried the i'm staring / i'm not staring / i'm really reading thing with the book I was scanning and not planning on buying. She really was huge - I decided drinking in a long glance when her back was turned. She's probably happy that chair was wide.


xtx lives, loves, and languishes in Southern California. She has already broken all of her new year's resolutions and she thinks the third Pirates of the Caribbean movie was shit. She is the author of Singular Girl. Feel free to visit her blog.

Life's Lessons

by Mon-Mon

I consider life a personal journey. A journey filled with joys and sadness, ups and downs, triumphs and failures. I consider each an opportunity for growth, both as an individual and as a member of society. Each event that approaches me, or one that passes me by, is filled with potential to challenge my personal views and to change my world as I know it. The future keeps happening, even as the past leaves in its wake circumstances and people that have moved on. Time will move on, and so will life, but I take with me its lessons.


Mon-Mon lives life.


The Parking Lot

by Arris Leighton

She approaches each car in the parking lot with her perfected, practiced pout and her never-ending story. "Can you give me some money for groceries because my children are sick and hungry, por favor?" Here she comes my way and I make eye contact - shit! She's in my face now with her line and her pout and her hand out. I give her a ten. Bitch.


Arris Leighton, author of Losing It, lives in Southern California and spends her time staying under the radar.

a freezing stare, a burning lie

by Luke McKinney

so i just kept on sitting there, hearing every word i read as i lost myself in the lines of your perfect handwriting. perfect, that is, except for the little circle you use to dot your i's. i hate that. three pages, and the only actual point i gathered was that you didn't like that i don't use milk in my omelettes. you ate them anyway, though. it didn't occur to me until years later that that was the proof you loved me.


Luke McKinney's not into bios.

Tennis Elbow

by F. William Chickering

I recently received e-mail from a concert pianist friend, complaining of tennis elbow. Happily, it does not hurt when he plays the piano. This reminded me of preparing to decamp Atlanta for New York in 1976, a season of many goodbye parties, although I think my friends called them that as yet another reason for a tipsy Sunday afternoon. At one party attended by my father and Methodist step-mother, my friend Rich recited his woes. Having visited his doctor for persistent arm pain, the diagnosis was tennis elbow. As he told it, he began to shout his response to the doctor: “Tennis elbow... I don’t play tennis... it's masturbator’s elbow, you fool!”


F. William Chickering spends his working life surrounded by hundreds of thousands of books, but only gets to read microfiction (and picture books to his three wonderful small children).

January 7, 2008

by Scott Noe

i knew it was going to be a weird monday when i walked into the dark office, and without seeing much past my own knees, heard the carpet squishing and splashing beneath my steps. i turned off the alarm and turned on the overhead lights only to find the carpet had turned to a great sponge and a parade of white powdery cat prints covered every level surface in sight. coworkers started arriving, repeating "oh my god" as they went into each room, surveying the damage. my boss called me into the conference room and asked me to close the door. i thought she was going to tell me to take my computer and work from home so that repairmen and carpet layers could come in and fix the office. instead, she laid me off and sent me home.


Scott Noe tinkers with poetry, writing, songsmithing, and various forms of creative expression. His presence can be felt here.


What $55 Can Buy

by Silvi Alcivar

Today's image: a stranger's hands lifting and cutting pieces of familiar hair until what frames my face in the mirror looks styled, defined. "Oh, mmm hmm, yes," stylist Catherine says, her purple loopy earrings shaking with her head, "this is cute." I think, It's San Francisco mod. She says, "Oh, yes, so cute." I think, It's a fancy mullet I've paid too much for. When I leave Catherine, without a tip, I walk past hipsters and homeless, wondering how you avoid being like everyone else when everyone else is trying to avoid being like you too.


Silvi Alcivar is a graduate of Penn State's MFA in Creative Nonfiction Writing. She now lives in San Francisco, and recently discovered she loves the ocean as much as trees. ("If only," she sighs to herself, looking out at the sea, "I could wrap my arms around thee.")

Well Done, Good and Faithful Servant

by Donna Ekart

I haven't forgotten what you said about your funeral. It rings in my head at odd times. Someone says "harmonica" or "maelstrom," and I wonder how those words got mixed up with your tale. I try not to think about it too hard. I fear that if I reflect on them, the mixed up words will start to replace the real things you said, and I'll introduce errors that will multiply and crowd out the truth. Despite the fear, though, I welcome the tiny reassurance that since I haven't yet forgotten, I never will, and that in that final hour, I won't let you down.


Donna Ekart, author of One Stop Shopping, is a librarian who really likes the sensation of words falling out of her head. She lives in Kansas, which isn't as flat or dull as you might think.


by Peter Holm-Jensen

The will falters yet again, so soon after being rebuilt; the drinker awakes that night in a pool of guilt; the farce continues. O Subtle Visitor, beam of light in the heart of this night, shine a little of your magic on me. I confess my will is broken; let me leave it on this altar I’m building for you with shaking hands; give me yours. Dawn is born in trepidation. The dove is thrown over the glistening water, flapping in panic. It remembers its element, regains poise, and gives itself up to the winds.


Peter Holm-Jensen, author of A Kept Woman, is an émigré living in the UK, where he writes Notes from a Room.



by Crorey Lawton

After a day like this, his tie felt like a noose. Brad let himself in the back door of his house, deftly blocking the cat's daily escape run. "Not this time, Rascal." He leaned back against the closed door, and settled into the sadness that he left behind him every day on his way to work. Carol was gone, Carol was gone, Carol was gone, Carol was gone, Carol was gone... the words echoed without meaning in his mind. Friendly exterior finally discarded, he pressed his bulk away from the door and slumped through the house, to the empty table, to another cold tuna sandwich, to be shared with the cat now preceding him into the kitchen.


Crorey Lawton says praemonitus praemunitus.

In the Moment

by Kevin Michaels

It hasn’t always been this way but you can’t remember a time in the past few years when there wasn’t some sort of tension between you, so when he tells the waitress he’s only having coffee you know in that moment that whatever time you have together tonight will be too short. Once he made the commitment to meet, it was a race against the clock – in his mind he has already determined how much time he’ll devote to you; with no crisis looming your allocation of minutes will be brief. Long enough for a cup of coffee, some stories about nothing too important, and vague promises about getting together again, followed by quick good-byes. There are so many things you want to tell him, like how the best times in your life were the days when you walked through the front door, dead tired from a two hour commute out of Penn Station and a job you hated and he and his sisters would scream “Daddy!” at the sound of the key in the front door. How they would race down the hallway and leap into your arms before you could even drop your briefcase on the floor, and how that little boy made you feel special with his own display of love and affection every time he saw you. But that little boy is left only in memories you draw on now to fill the void in your heart where you both used to dance and play together; replaced by a stranger, and a distance you can’t cross.


Kevin Michaels is the author of Broke Down Cowboy. He lives at the Jersey Shore where he is waiting anxiously for winter to end because summers are still to die for (even if you're not a teenager and years past cruising the streets in muscle cars).

Indecent Exposure

by Rachel Green

On the wall of the study, next to the shelves of leather-bound encyclopedias forty years out of date (where the entry for computer still shows a building-sized machine with less memory than a modern mobile phone) hangs a portrait of my grandmother. It is not the sepia tones that date it but the heavy glass - a daguerreotype plate with a backing of yellowed card - that shows a slightly blurred image from a too-long exposure and leaves a smile too broad for a human face. Sophia - my grandmother - is looking past the camera at something that amuses her, my grandfather, perhaps, or my Great Aunt Lydia of which no photographs were ever taken. It is a moment of joy in an otherwise secretive life captured on film and left as an heirloom for her unknown offspring, though my siblings never survived to see it. She couldn't have known that I would be able to see behind the deliberate blur to her feet, so often hidden beneath heavy Victorian skirts, and the evidence of her mother's sordid little secret. I inherited much from Grand-Mama; the photograph, the chest of drawers in the bedroom, a china tea service and the cloven hooves so cleverly hidden by slow exposure.


Rachel Green, author of A Place of Peace and Solitude, is an English woman who spends far too much time writing about demons.

Mistaken Identity

by Rita Rubin

I was trying to decide between the romaine and the radicchio when it finally registered that the store employee who kept saying excuse me, excuse me, was talking to me. "Mushrooms," he said expectantly, holding out two packages of baby Portobellos with such pride that you'd think they were oh-so-rare black truffles his dog had just unearthed. After a moment, I realized that he had confused me with another gray-haired woman who'd been seeking mushrooms in the produce aisle a moment earlier. She was shorter, dumpier, and, if I'm any judge, older. Oh, and she had bangs, while my forehead is as naked as the day I was born. "I guess we all look alike to you," I said to the man with skin the color of the organic chocolate on aisle 2.


Rita Rubin, a long-time newspaper reporter, has discovered in middle age that she also likes to make things up. She lives with her husband and two daughters in the Washington, D.C. area.


The Death of Karma

by T.F. Torrey

She was the kind of person who, when looking through her closet for used clothes to donate to the women's shelter, inevitably came out with an armful of new blouses, unable to consider giving someone else less than what she kept for herself. She was the kind of woman who would give her change to a coworker if he looked hungry and the vending machine wasn't taking dollar bills. One time I saw her give her lunch to a man with a "homeless veteran" sign at the exit ramp on her way to work, because the genuine hunger she saw in his gaunt features plucked at the strings of her heart. This is what I am thinking of when the casket is lowered into the ground and her children drop handfuls of dirt into the hole. They say the good things you do will come back to you in the end. This is what I am thinking of as we turn to go, and the sky is gray and flat as the bottom of an iron, and great drops of cold rain begin to fall in dark splotches on the bright autumn leaves.


T.F. Torrey is a struggling author working to become an accomplished author. His novel of suspense in the Arizona desert, The Desert King, is new from Samhain Publishing. He lives and works in beautiful downtown Phoenix, Arizona, and his work can be found online here.