The Unparalleled Adventure

by Austin Alexis

Megan seems to walk on tiptoes. That’s only because most things about Megan are or seem to be outlandish, oversized. Take her knee-high boots. Even in her native Toronto it had not been snowing when she left, so the boots were unnecessary. Here, on New York’s Central Park South, where the snow is only a two-week-old memory, the boots stand out as some kind of exaggeration of what didn’t really happen: the snowstorm had lasted less than three hours. The coating had disappeared in days.

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Austin Alexis appears and disappears from the Internet. Her work has been featured in Red River Review, the anthology Off the Cuffs (Soft Skull Press), and the "Poets Wear Prada" chapbook series.

For the Love of Writing

by Louise Yeiser

So many words are added in, then taken out, that my sentences feel as if I'm shuffling and reshuffling a deck of cards, or playing pick-up sticks with nouns and verbs, phrases and clauses, or attempting to complete a puzzle by pushing a piece into an empty space and then examining the whole picture from a distance. I try the words on for size, turn them this way and that, say them in different voices and buy or discard them. One single word can change the tone and rhythm of an entire piece. I am enamored with the process — bathing in words, swimming in words, flying in words — trying to make them stand still for me, when they are fluid and active and always changing. I'll never completely capture them and I'll never completely stop trying. Therein lies the challenge.

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Louise Yeiser, whose full catalog is here, is a freelance writer, living, working and breathing in Sewickley, Pennsylvania. She always offers Sneak Peeks.

That Monster is Grief

by caccy46

There are endless ways to feel grief, each unique in how it penetrates your soul and deadens your spirit. Uncompromising is its destructive path, leaving your mind riddled with holes, laden with debris, scarred like dragging dead weight through sand. Some bullets are so destructive they leave spaces where you'll never tread again. Barbs gouge wounds that spew their waste, the never-ending stench of which rots the place it has stolen. And in the sand, the pattern hardens and cements the anguish into the soles of your feet. Grief eventually will consume all that's in its path, gulping savagely as it robs you and finishes you off with a loud, stinking belch.

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caccy46, whose full catalog is here, is a mother of two who's been married for 32 years.

i've got the power

by Scott Noe

one saturday a few years ago, i went to work to wrap up some loose ends that were due the following monday. the only other person in the building was someone from the mailroom who was trying to make a copy of something but couldn't get the copier to work, so she asked me for help. upon remembering the first rule of tech support, i asked her if the machine was on, and she said yes. then i asked her if she had just turned it on, and explained that sometimes it takes a while to warm up before it will do anything. she said it was on when she got there, and i realized that this situation required my getting up to check on it myself. we went to the copy machine to try to diagnose the problem and i immediately remedied the situation by reaching behind the machine and turning it on.

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Scott Noe, author of lost cause, is rich in Vitamin C and Potassium.

Roommates

by Crorey Lawton

Cattywompus - there was simply no other way to describe the scene atop the counter. David smiled to himself as he sipped his morning coffee, waiting on his roommate John to come through the door. The door burst open, and John flung himself into the scene to play his unknowing part in the daily ritual, pouring himself a cup of coffee as words tumbled out of his mouth. "Have you looked at the weather 'cause it looks like it might rain and we need to make sure the truck tires are all checked since all of our off-road driving might have punctured a hole, and hey, have we got breakfast started?" John's hands moved relentlessly across the counter, unconsciously straightening, aligning, and centering each container that had been studiously disarrayed moments earlier, and all the while his voice continued a to-do list of things that had occurred to him during the night. David allowed himself another smile and another sip of coffee before wading in for the day.

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Crorey Lawton, author of Hooked, builds levees and digs mounds. You can read a journal of his project in Guatemala here.

Assault Leftover

by Louise Yeiser

I hesitated, feeling the sky and the hill and the street — so huge, so endless and so wrong that I couldn’t catch my breath. A pain sliced my chest, left side, and doubled me over. Slowly I backtracked to the door, opened it and let myself back in, sinking to the floor to rest until I could breathe again. Maybe it’s a little too soon, I thought, willing myself not to cry. I can try again tomorrow. In my mind, I had already crawled back into my best friend’s bathrobe and was curled in a corner, on her couch.

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Louise Yeiser, whose full catalog is here, is a freelance writer, living, working and breathing in Sewickley, Pennsylvania. She always offers Sneak Peeks.

The Lights are On…

by Daddy's Boy

You know why I don't visit? You're never freakin' home! You know why I don't speak to You? You never answer back. All You want is blind trust and I am too suspicious. God, I hate You!

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Daddy's Boy is the very fake name of a very real, if bitchy, believer.

How to Disappear

by Grace Andreacchi

Move to a city where you know no one, and where you have never been before. Change your name to something unmemorable and banal. When letters come for you, scrawl the word deceased across the envelopes and drop them in the nearest post-box. Disconnect the telephone. Remove all mirrors from the house. Turn your face to the wall.

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Grace Andreacchi, whose full catalog is here, was born in New York in 1954, but has lived on the far side of the great ocean for many years - sometimes in Paris, sometimes Berlin, and nowadays in London. Works include the novels Give My Heart Ease (Permanent Press 1989), which received the New American Writing Award, Music for Glass Orchestra (Serpent’s Tail 1993), and the play Vegetable Medley (Soho Repertory Theater, New York and Boston Center for the Arts, Boston, Massachusetts). Her short stories and poetry appear both online and in print journals, including Carolina Quarterly, Calapooya Collage, Eclectica, Poetry Midwest, Sein und Werden, Smith Magazine, From East to West, and Scarecrow. Additional work can be viewed on her website.

Cartwheel Days

by Z.W.

Everyone has those days. Cartwheel Days. When you feel like skipping down the deserted halls of the school during class and doing a cartwheel. Just lifting up your feet and going head over heels down a flight of stairs. For a moment you feel like changing the world, like healing all the wounds of others, like making it all better. But then you realize no amount of cartwheels can heal some.

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Z.W., author of Turbulence, often has Cartwheel Days, though she cannot successfully do a single cartwheel. Z.W. heals her own wounds with lies and chocolate.

Pop to the Shops

by Samantha Entwistle

Irene stood in the checkout by aisle three and looked around in disbelief, unable to quite grasp how it had happened. In retrospect, it had started brewing when she left the house, some days, most days these days, it was wiser to stay at home; a supermarket trip was far too ambitious but the cat needed feeding and Derek was whining about there never being any food in the house when he came home. Then there was the incident in the car park, the woman had been so rude, so unnecessary, so what if it took Irene fifteen attempts to get into the parking space, the concentration required to avoid damaging the other cars around her was draining enough without other women shouting obscenities at her. She idly moved the trolley off the woman’s crumpled body as the manager’s voice came over the tannoy; she really shouldn’t have tried to push in. "Carnage in aisle three, cleanup crew report immediately. Customers are advised to take additional care when passing."

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Samantha Entwistle, author of Fairytale Endings, recommends shopping online.

Slice of Heaven

by Dot Hearn

Billy Jo reached into his brown paper lunch sack and pulled out the expected unidentifiable sandwich in a pleated baggie. He sat down on the metal beam, dangling his legs over the edge, and balanced the sandwich on his left knee. He peered into the mouth of the bag to see what else Doris had managed to scrape together: a too purple Red Delicious apple, a bag of Granny Goose potato chips, a can of Select cola, and a pair of her godawful oatmeal raisin cookies. Billy Jo removed the soda and dropped the sack between the beams, where it would join the unwanted remains of previous lunches and piles of construction debris. With the first bite of sandwich his gaze moved from the cars and cabs and buses below to the sumptuous feast in his hand: braunschweiger with stone ground mustard, red onion, and butter lettuce winked back at him. Without looking he knew Doris had found the ten dollar bill hidden in the lining of his wallet and with the second bite, he didn’t care.

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Dot Hearn is a practitioner and teacher of writing, theater, and sign language interpreting. Her passions are creativity of all kinds, which is why she also dabbles in paint and pottery and collage and crayon. She is exploring the intersections of various art forms and the processes of writing on her blog, The Writing Vein. She will soon be launching the expanded version in a full fledged website of the same name.

Because of Winn-Dixie

by Suzanne Baran

Please do not even think about renting this film. Dog films are overrated and this one - though I haven't seen it and have no desire to see it - is driving me nuts based on the title alone. Because of Winn-Dixie, I have had HTML errors on the website I work for. Because of Winn-Dixie, I would rather have an enema. Because of Winn-Dixie, I am tired and long for drugs. Because of Winn-Dixie, I am happy I own a cat.

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Suzanne Baran, a former financial journalist, is a content writer / programmer for Yahoo’s front page. She reviews music & films for The Big Takeover, and is the author of Ring of Death.

lost cause

by Scott Noe

as we sat there that night of eighth grade, feverishly creating agitprop for a cause we deemed as worthy as any, my friend and i had no idea of the looming implications of our actions. the next day between classes, we hung up our makeshift posters in the stairwells at opposite ends of the school and awaited an inevitable response. a few hours later, we heard the voice of the principal himself blaring over the intercom about vandalism and destruction of school property. there was a threat of suspension if the guilty persons were ever discovered. my friend and i reconvened at one of the crime scenes after class and noticed that our posters - the love labors of our previous night's political endeavor - had been removed. thus, within twenty-four hours of its inception, the smurf liberation front had met its demise.

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Scott Noe is recommended by four out of five dentists.

Heat

by Juliana Perry

She looked at him as she walked past and noticed his posture, his stony façade. She wondered what it would take to break that down and peel away the layers of his self to uncover the waiting man within. She wanted to touch his hair, his knee, his wrist, and reached out in her mind trying to find the moment that would not seem intrusive or demanding. She did demand though, and knew it would be a problem. Stealing glances like candy from a baby, she coveted the stolen images of him as if handling a fine framed photo. Sitting with mere feet between them it felt like the room was too hot, and this was what it would break down to - heat and two bodies untouched.

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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. She is the author of Lovers and Dreamers.

Accidentally on Purpose

by Oceana Setaysha

At the time the offer had been innocent enough. Just one grilled cheese sandwich when it was raining outside to make you feel better. As you sat, drowning in obscene amounts of homework, you didn't even think of the consequences of your answer, saying only "yes" and dreaming of the warmth of a grilled cheese sandwich sitting happily in your tummy. Later, as you deposited the contents of your stomach and everything you had ever eaten down the toilet, you considered your situation and made a promise that you would never accept a grilled cheese sandwich with "no strings attached" again. When your strength returned you went to seek the creator of that grilled cheese sandwich for closure... and revenge. They said it was an accident but you still wondered.

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Oceana Setaysha, author of The Day My Best Friend Died, is a 16 year old girl living with her family at the top of Australia. She considers herself a writer, a poet, an artist, and a musician. (People keep telling her to be more realistic.) Her website is here.

To Write or Not to Write

by Madam Z

I want to write, or at least, I want to want to write, or maybe I just want to have written. Yeah, that would be great - I have written a best-selling novel; I am rich and famous; people stop me on the street, begging me to autograph their newly purchased copy of my book, and the extra ones they bought for their mothers and friends. Of course, I could get through life quite nicely without ever penning another word; just continue to live my fame-free existence, undistinguished until I’m extinguished. But I won’t give myself permission to stop trying to try; I will keep on poking at the sealed box of potential stories until I wrench one out. Maybe it will be like a freeze-dried dinner, a box of old K-rations from some soldier’s backpack, stored in the attic; I’ll open it up, add some tears, and it will spring to life, before my eyes. I will, I will, I want to, I need to; I can do it... or not.

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Madam Z, whose full catalog is here, loves six and isn't afraid to admit it. Do yourself a favor and check out her blog.

Cornered

by Thom Gabrukiewicz

There is lonely and there is alone; one is a choice, the other a condition. She flows through life like a seasonal stream. And hides behind voluminous, neutral-colored clothing and mousy hair that hangs like drapes. She speaks when spoken to, eats in corners from crumpled brown bags, reads dog-eared paperbacks in uncomfortable sitting positions. He says a quiet hello at 12:20 p.m., Monday through Friday. Today, the note he slides across the breakroom's slate-gray Formica tabletop scares her immensely.

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Thom Gabrukiewicz, author of Two for the Road, likes the trade life of a working journalist very much, but sometimes sits on his couch late at night and has one-sided discussions about his body of fiction with talk show hosts like Letterman, Leno and O'Brien. His Writer's Sketchbook can be found here.

A Baker's Dozen

by Matthew Savoca

I did not expect the woman to be naked. That was a nice surprise. Later on there were more naked women. A dozen all at once. A baker's dozen in total. I shifted in my chair.

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Matthew Savoca tailors his wardrobe to blend in with shadows and sidewalks.

The Left Shoe

by David Oates

The left shoe was not enough. When the three boys had capsized their canoe he saw it from way back in the line and it happened too fast to register, suddenly there were waterproof packs and orange helmets bobbing crazily past haystacks and shooting through quick-cupped forewaters and foaming rocks out into the calm, one helmet, two helmets... He couldn't bear to ring the doorbell. He stood frozen. How could you say the only thing they ever found was that left tennis shoe, beached a hundred yards downstream? And that it was in this brand-new canvas Scout bag, here, with the shiny round insignia, because the bag that belonged to him was wherever he was, with him and that other shoe.

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David Oates teaches the Wild Writers Seminar in Portland, Oregon. His books of nonfiction and poetry about topics urbane and natural are visible here.

If I Had the Time

by Joseph Grant

As Neil drove his Beemer down the empty rode leading back to his inescapable past, an old Bangles song, Dover Beach, sparked on his Sirius radio and the first line came flowing in like a warm, soothing wave of memory reaching a long forgotten rocky shore, "If I had the time, I would run away with you." It was a finely crafted pop song, the kind people just didn't make any more, and this buried jewel stayed that way in his collective consciousness until now and it totally drew him back to his first year of college and he remembered how it had always attracted him with its opening of jangly, Byrds-like guitar chords, the stunning, siren-like harmonies and of course, the singer, the one with the alluring eyes, whom he and every other red-blooded American male had a crush on back then and he recalled Pamela, his girlfriend at the time, his first ex-wife presently, dressing at first like Madonna and then, Cyndi Lauper and then for him, as that Bangle girl. Neil's father-in-law, Charles Smith now lay dead, but in life had been a brilliant lawyer whom he greatly respected and had gotten him his start in the law firm, someone he hunted with, drank with and took place of the father he had never known, but was one with whom he had since fallen out of touch with, as a result of his discordant divorce from Pamela ten years before and he had regretted the loss of his ex-father-in-law sometimes more so than that of his moody ex-wife ever since. Coming back for his father-in-law's funeral was difficult but he felt he owed the guy, as the guy was a prince among a den of thieves and if it wasn't for him and to collect some long overdue belongings, Neil knew he would never have found himself driving his Beemer back this way ever again. Pulling into his old driveway reminded him of how once there had been many things he had meant to do with his life but was sidetracked by the constant realities that intervened; whether it was his academia and degree, his marriage and first born, the many hours he put in until he made junior partner that also ended up costing him that marriage weighted against the dusky corridors where memories of his playing in a band, hanging out with his eclectic, actor friends and dreaming of living and writing in Paris were not distantly behind, but on the bright road ahead of him and it raised a long, forgotten smile to his face. After the lovely celebration of the old man's life, while everyone was back in the house, Neil wandered into his ex-garage with a generous buzz, found his old ex-Rickenbacker, sat down next to his ex-car, reflected back and dusted off an ex-dream for awhile as he hit the opening paisley chords and started to sing a familiar song that took on a whole new meaning: "If I Had the Time."

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Joseph Grant, whose full catalog is here, is the first featured author in our "Six Sixes" series.

Oversteer

by J.H. Batson

Veering onto the highway, late for work, I imagine the cars behind me careening through traffic and colliding in a shimmering glory of twisted metal. Drivers would plunge into a spiritual oblivion as their blood drenches the street, forever staining the cement and filling the broken crevices with their forgotten life. With the crooked gas pedal of my car pressed to the floor, my engine roars and from its bowels comes a speed that slices through the fighting wind. Faster, I think. Miss the exit, forget work – you don't need it. Your blood will no longer mingle and decay with the dust of tiresome labor, nor will your spirit be broken by the cemented authority of your superiors.

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J.H. Batson is a high school student seeking confirmation of his literary merit.

Six Sixes by Stephanie Wright

an Online Magazine from Six Sentences



Stephanie Wright is now our second featured author with a collection of six original six-sentence pieces. To view the magazine, 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. To view a “full screen” version, once inside, just click the diagonal arrows above the document (located to the left of the little envelope). Enjoy!

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Six Sentences provides more Vitamin C than six full glasses of orange juice.

Things Unspoken

by Kevin Michaels

There’s something about the way he touches me every time that makes my heart skip a beat and pushes the air from my throat. I shiver under his hot breath while he whispers softly and pulls himself closer, letting his fingers glide along the curves of my skin. Later he will say what he thinks makes the hurt disappear and tell me again how everything will be all right if I give him not only my body but my trust as well. But when he’s done nothing that is said really matters that much. No matter how hard he tries explaining it in simple terms he thinks I can understand, I know that words don’t have the power to make you feel better – actions and intent cause pain and nothing changes that or takes away what is left. I think about his words sometimes at night once he’s left my room, and wonder what he says to my mother when he slips back in their bed after leaving mine.

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Kevin Michaels, whose full catalog is here, is the author of two upcoming novels (BOUNCE and STILL BLACK REMAINS). He's everything New Jersey - attitude, edginess - and has some scars that can't be covered by tattoos.

Prime Time

by Zach Plague

Dusk. The sun dropping below the horizon of her window ledge. A record spinning in lazy loops, tracing out soft trumpets. Lying on the bed, in old pajamas, the reruns and favorites would come. Beer bottles casting sepia shadows on the sidewalk, her brother laughing, running her fingers through her lover's beard as they sat on lawn chairs around a slow-motion bonfire, her wedding on an Icelandic cliff with her train rising in the wind like a plume of smoke, the atmosphere of caves or car graveyards or drained pools or the roofs of very tall buildings. Memories, or dreams.

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Zach Plague is a writer and designer living in Chicago, Illinois. He has a really bad memory. His novel "boring boring boring boring boring boring boring" (featherproof books) is due out in August 2008.

The Railway Children

by Rob Marshall

The trains don’t stop here anymore. Old, now silent engines, rusting railways sidings, buddleia spouting from station walls and birches shouldering through the sleepers. I can still see the suicide tangled under steel wheels and what haunts me most are his yellow socks, bleeding sunlight into the void. Under smoky skies, in the way silence enters an empty room, death stole a son, brother and lover. The trains don’t stop here anymore, but we’re all commuters, traveling along windswept platforms, looking to draw lines under the terminals in our minds. I wouldn’t choose to die in yellow socks.

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Rob Marshall, author of Dream Maker, is the 18th pale descendant of England’s first trainspotter.

Hooked

by Crorey Lawton

The brightly colored diamonds and squares danced in the afternoon sky. Families clustered to watch the graceful lines extending up towards the kites, as children of all sizes struggled against the breeze. Tiny arm muscles strained against attached strings, and miniature legs churned at full speed, quickly gaining distance from each kite. The field teemed with children; the sky flashed with the gathering of dozens of kites. Then came the moment of tension, and there was an inevitable snap as one of the kites released its prey and flew skyward. Catch and release - throwing back another child that was too small to keep.

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Crorey Lawton, author of Disillusionment, builds levees and digs mounds. You can read a journal of his project in Guatemala here.

Waiting

by Lynn Johnson

The woman with the silver hair is sitting in the café alone at a table with four chairs. She is reading a paperback book and her shaking hand holds it tightly as if she is afraid it might fall, whilst her fingers linger at the edge of the page, waiting to turn slowly to the next. As she reads, her lips move as if she is chewing something, or reading the words to herself. She waits alone, looking at no one. Then she hears me throw my heavy bag onto the table next to her and she moves one of the chairs closer and she smiles at me and says she hopes I have enough room - I say I have plenty of room thank you because there are only two of us. The smile leaves her face and she continues to sit, reading her book, surrounded by empty chairs.

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Lynn Johnson has been living in Scotland for nearly three years and has finally found the time to write.

The Bitter End

by Subway Philosophy

The toilet smelled like fresh bile and mildew and her ex-lover, which was fine by her, she thought, as she wretched again. He was totally worthless. He cheated on her twice. He was a total schmuck, and anyway, she could give two fucking shits about him anymore. She hugged the porcelain, gently leaning her toes on the tiles and resting her head on the cold seat. She missed him.

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Subway Philosophy doesn't really consider herself a writer; she scribbles in her notebook when she's got the time. Originally from the Hudson Valley, she currently lives in Manhattan where she recently left her job at a large publishing house to work for a popular magazine. You may see her on the 6 or the E. She's the one hunched over a moleskin, wearing oversized headphones. (If you see red hair and smell liquor, that's her. Feel free to offer a warm meal or a nice afternoon gimlet.)

The Breakup

by Daniel S. Irwin

Chad took Sheila's screaming obscenities at him over the phone upon her return from a month long visit to Saskatoon to take care of her sick mother as a subtle hint that their relationship was over. He had been looking forward to her getting back and now finds that she's become overly temperamental or just plain crazy. Ain't no way he needed to be hooked up with some psycho nut case. Chad, getting rid of everything of hers that he had at his place, removed the note Sheila had taped onto the door of his fridge before she left town... the note with her mother's phone number and... what's that scribbled on there? Feed the cat? The funny smell in Sheila's apartment should go away in a few weeks.

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Daniel S. Irwin, author of Temple Most Holy and a 1980 "Write-In" Presidential Candidate, 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. ("Daniel S. Irwin," the name itself, is enough said in some circles, and totally baffling in others.)

Hangover

by Joseph Grant

My head feels like pounded dog shit; how the hell much did I have to drink last night, I groan to myself as I roll over and see the remnants of what had probably been a good idea at the time, snoring her not so attractive as she had been last night ass awake with a boozy smile. Don’t you good morning me, honey, I hear myself saying as I sit up and feel the room vortex around me in an almost out-of-body experience and she gets up and staggers to the bathroom with a “Fuck you, you asshole!” my next door neighbor’s next door neighbors could probably hear. Funny, do you always go to bed with assholes, I hear myself screaming and collapse in nausea onto the bed, disturbingly reaching for the last of the tequila that caused this aching head and a hangover that should be one day be behind glass to be wondered and awed at and studied at the Smithsonian. She’s probably a nice girl, give her a chance, my wounded ego says as she storms out of the bathroom and slams the apartment door behind her, never to return. I will never drink again, I promise. Until next time.

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Joseph Grant, whose full catalog is here, is the first featured author in our "Six Sixes" series.

Knowing Better

by Patricia J. Hale

It's my fault. If I hadn't been working late and I'd disciplined him more, he wouldn't have done it. He does drop things, but I could have stopped it. Shane was only six years old! I should have been there. If I had been, he wouldn't have knocked over his father's beer bottle and his father wouldn't have accidentally beaten him to death.

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Patricia J. Hale, author of To Die For, 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).

Pitch and Rust

by T.C.W. Stray

When I woke up it was dark. I stretched, soaking up the warmth of my comfortable bed, and spared an arm from my nest of blankets to flick the curtains blocking the window above my bed to one side. The stars were covered by thick clouds and the moon was absent entirely. Cold radiated from the glass, chilling my flesh. I pressed my hand to the smooth pane and waited. Outside, a shadowy figure echoed my gesture with a palm twice the size of mine, fingers half again as long, and skin the color of rust.

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T.C.W. Stray spends most of the day sleeping and most of the night working. Everything left over is spent writing and reading and daydreaming to excess. If one could get rich from such antics, T.C.W. Stray would put the Monopoly Man to shame.

Two for the Road

by Thom Gabrukiewicz

My dad takes me to work sometimes. He’s a traveling salesman and often takes the double-lane blacktop backroads since he says they’re more honest. I’m 9 and every so often he lets me drive his big silver panel truck with its sliding doors, brushed metal floor and gear shift as long as my own leg. When you’re the driver, you get to control the conversation and the radio. Dad prefers country and likes to dish about mom, while I like talk radio and politics. When it’s my turn to drive, dad likes to slide his door open and make airplane wings out of his cupped hand and outstretched arm.

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Thom Gabrukiewicz is a journalist by education and trade, but he's hoping to someday become a writer with a big W. His Writer's Sketchbook can be found here.


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Nathalie Boisard-Beudin, author of To the Woman I Once Loved, is French but currently lives in Rome, Italy. Most of her writing is done in English, her second – and working – language. She works as in-house lawyer for the European Space Agency and has published micro-stories in the multi national anthology Wonderful World of Worders.

Texas: A Love Story

by Ryan Ridge

She went looking for love. Got lost. Ended up in Texas. Afterwards: law school. Later, she became a public defender in Dallas and saved two innocent men from the electric chair. If that’s not love, what is?

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Ryan Ridge is an English instructor and MFA student at the University of California, Irvine. His work has appeared in 5_Trope and Salt Hill.

4 AM... 0-400... 4 o’clock

by Darcy Rasmussen

She has kicked me awake for the nth time tonight, but this time she has the look that says I’m not going back to sleep. We gaze up at the dark ceiling together, she babbling about her day or her dreams; I desperately wishing for the escape of sleep, knowing that instinct will not allow it. I sing to calm her, sounding like an old Victrola as I run out of energy at the end of each phrase - she babbles on. There is a change that lets me know she’s ready, that she can be persuaded to resume her rest. Her body relaxes, her breathing deepens, she is an angel next to me. 5 AM... 0-500... 5 o’clock.

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Darcy Rasmussen is.

Plateosaurus's Birthday

by B.K. McDonald

Feeling heady from the bottle of Burgundy I drank with dinner, I was playing silly games with my first born this evening. We were pretending to be dinosaurs, and today was Plateosaurus's birthday. "Blow out the candles," I said to the late Triassic creature... "Bfffpth." "Did you make a wish?" "Yes, I wished for a real, live puppy dog," replied the plateosaurid prosauropod dinosaur. I marveled over a creature that could wish for something 200 million years into the future.

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B.K. McDonald, a writer and urban designer, is a lover of food, wine and word. He's been published in various journals, has a book coming out this Fall, and is currently living in America's Heartland, along America's River, drowning in a sea of corn, suffocating amidst an air of mediocrity. He is the author of The Shoemaker.

A Guy Named Chris

by Sheri Short

I once knew a guy named Chris. He liked to wear white jeans and relished in the music of Tracy Chapman and Jane Siberry. He used to tell me that I was pretty and smart, no matter what I saw in the mirror. He used to make me a sweet, snowball-shaped cake with puffy clouds of coconut flakes on my birthday. Then one day he left me and my heart disappeared into the trenches, without the hope of rescue. Years later, covered with guilt and regret, my heart deserted the dark but still longed for the days of puffy, white cakes and the guy named Chris.

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Sheri Short works in the fast-paced, volatile and always dysfunctional fashion industry. However, she would rather spend all her time writing the next Pulitzer Prize winning novel.

Ring of Death

by Suzanne Baran

At 7:45am on Sunday, the phone rings. "Suzanne, it's Maria, I have bad news. Elaine's son Brian died suddenly of a heart attack; he was 34, you know." Elaine is a dear friend, the sister-in-law of my aunt. She's made me dinners, listened to my pain, made me laugh harder and louder than I have in years. Maria hands Elaine the phone and says, "How will I bury my son, how; I can't do it."

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Suzanne Baran, a former financial journalist, is a content writer / programmer for Yahoo’s front page. She reviews music & films for The Big Takeover, and is the author of Eating Love.

Mirage

by Joseph Grant

Walter laughed to himself as he thought of the stupid, white-trash trucker he had cut off a few miles back who thought he owned the road as he drove through the Mojave, a flash from workers were blasting ore in the shadowy mountains caught his attention, their bright orange burst of dynamite and C4 repulsing into columns of gray smoke that rose like Indian spirits into the cloudless desert sky. From years of being in construction management, Walter knew that the rocks being blasted were being taken over to Ludlow or Barstow for milling and grounding and as much as he drove this desolate area on his way to Havasu or Vegas, it didn’t change, only the years, the people and the makes of cars changed; out here time did not make as much an impact as it did in the cities and as a result, the Mojave was the last vestige of fools, dreamers, criminals and the western promise gone mad. It would be a hell of a thing to break down out here, thought Walter, but not like the old days where all one had to pray for was a wayward hauler or a highway patrol on his way home and the answer to that prayer would be for them to be neighborly enough to stop, but people weren’t like that anymore; Walter knew. Walter’s wife, Camille, slept blissfully beside him as he drove on, thoughts of their reaching Lake Havasu in record time where they summered preoccupied his road-weary mind. He smiled at the memory of taking out their pontoon boat last year, drinking spiced rum as he piloted the vessel and floating in the cool yellow-tinged river water once they docked and how free from his aching arthritis he felt drifting there and how when he submerged his balding pinkish pate, the boats zooming by on the surface sounded like electric saws beneath the water. His mind on other, more agreeable things, he did not see the chunk of truck tire splayed on the road or the jagged steel of the wrapped steel wire of the radial tire that would soon flatten two of his own cheap tires or in his anger see the psychotic trucker he had cut off miles back now coming towards him as he struggled arthritically with the lug nuts; nonetheless, there had been strange disappearances in the Mojave that summer, this one yet another unexplained rear-view mirror mirage.

6S

Joseph Grant, whose full catalog is here, is the first featured author in our "Six Sixes" series.

The Wrong Side of the Door

by Cherry Homer

I’m standing on the wrong side of a door that won’t open. If I could reach through it, I would be able to touch the shoulder of the person I want to be. As it is, I’m trapped here. Between your dreams and mine. Why must I always tread the paths you’ve chosen? I’ve a mind of my own, but the power to use it leaked away, along with my control, the night you kissed me and told me beautiful lies.

6S

Cherry Homer lives in the UK. She's a member of Critters Bar, a forum for writers to post, read, and critique short stories.

Grape Arbor

by Doug Mathewson

My grandfather didn’t speak much English but we got along. We would sit in the grape arbors shade. He would say "now we smoke." From the pocket of his huge pants came a can of Bugler tobacco. He would roll two cigarettes and we would smoke in silence, just enjoying being together. I was nine.

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Doug Mathewson, author of Lingo, lives on the Connecticut shoreline and writes very short fiction that occasionally turns into essays or poetry. His current project is "True Stories From Imaginary Lives." He has been published online by PenPricks, Micro-Fiction, Creative Soup, and Tuesday Shorts. His poetry will appear in the March issue of eMuse-zine. Lately he seems fascinated with writing stories that are six sentences in length. More of his work is available at his blog.

Talking to the Wall

by Ellen Kornetsky

“You know I’ll always love you, Andrew,” Helen begins gently, her voice barely audible, “but I want more... I need to live-” she continues, reaching out. Hesitating, Helen drops her hand; then, emboldened, she carries on: “Fuss and bother, Andrew, I’m getting married and you will just have to deal with it!” Helen matches Andrew’s penetrating gaze, so cool... silent... unwavering. Spinning smartly on her heel, she strides from the room, spine straight, head high. Does the glint in Andrew’s eye mean he approves, or is it just a reflection of the morning sun? Andrew keeps his secrets, and soon the portrait of Helen’s dead husband loses its prominent place on the bedroom wall.

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Ellen Kornetsky is an honest-to-God Maine native, not one of those wannabes from away. She writes because she can't help it.

Checkout

by Melissa Mann

I polish the soles of my best shoes on the entrance mat, then, leaning on my stick, try to see if she’s still on the five items or less till. With shoppers trolleying past me on either side like recurring dreams, I shuffle towards the fruit and veg aisle, legs having a grumble; this is the third time I’ve been here today. I make it as far as the melons, shelves and shelves of them – dimpled galia, pert cantaloupes, smooth-skinned honeydews – pornography to a widowed old man like me. Clutching a bag of loose apples I don’t need and concussed with longing, I head towards her, Ruby, my life’s work, for what else is there for a man just south of 90 who’s losing the thread of his life story? I drink her in, big brown breasts bursting through her blouse onto the scales where she’s put my apples, braids swinging, beads clacking, almost saying something, almost speaking to me. Then, like an exotic bird with a human voice she asks me for £3.85, to which I reply, “Most expensive fruit in the whole of England, my dear Ruby, but worth every penny!”

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Melissa Mann, author of Stick, is a writer and the founder & managing editor of the litzine "Beat the Dust." Her stories and poems have been featured in many online and print publications, so it's only a matter of time before the Pigeon Fanciers' Gazette finally succumbs and accepts a piece from her. For more free radical writing from the Bradford 1, go to the holding cell of your nearest police station, or, failing that, go here.

Soprano

by Caroline Roper

Some folks think we're fools for buying tickets to see a woman sing above the range of human hearing. When she sings, we can feel the vibrations of her voice in our chests as her face stretches and sweats. We know she is singing. Those who mock us buy tickets to hear notes that they can know, evaluate, praise, criticize, and compare. But we prefer not to know so much. We hold faith that the woman's voice is perfect, unprecedented, and supreme.

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Caroline Roper is a high school senior who likes to longboard, dance at parties, dance in her house, dance outside, and write.

Man at Bus Stop

by Kevin Paul Miller

Justin was an extra in his own life. He concluded this himself, after long and careful consideration. Each action was merely reaction. Every line he spoke was a brief reply. If something really interesting was happening, he would make an appearance then quickly retreat, leaving the stage to the principal players. He did not dwell on the meaning of his life, or what death might bring, but sometimes wondered if his name would appear in the end credits of his life story.

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Kevin Paul Miller edits the online poetry journal First Thought. He writes short fiction, verse, haiku and related forms.

Visitors

by Lisa Miller

It's 2 a.m. It's always 2 a.m. when my night stalkers appear. They make my feet cold with fear and my head burn with anxiety. The clock always says 2 a.m. when my pounding heart wakes me up as it tries to claw its way out of my chest. Why can't they appear at 5 or 6 or 7 a.m., when I'm awake and rational and know life is not as bad as it seems when they whisper what if, what if, what if in my head? No, they only appear when it's dark and silent and endless night.

6S

Lisa Miller is Currently Dreaming.

MegaBytes

by Quin Browne

Life in cyberspace, there are things you'll deny. Create an ID. Tell some lies. Find a new "love." Have sex if you please. In MegaByte size.

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Quin Browne, whose full catalog is here, lives in New York City. She likes it there.

Open Letter to All You Sixers

by Erik Leif Nelson

Stop with the semicolons. The ellipses. The dashes. You are the people who sneak sixteen items into express lanes; you give exact change to cashiers, no matter how long you must dig in your purse - you are not fooling anyone. Short... sharp... sweet... a suggestive slap from the girl you wish to seduce: that's the sex in the six. Or at least how it should be.

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Erik Leif Nelson, author of Blue to Renew the Chosen Few, has just completed his first novel, "Safe Until She Looked Down," and needs an agent. (You can read the first three chapters here). He has two degrees from the UW-Madison (which he doesn't use). He prefers Jameson, Export A's, Harley's, and blondes. Most of his heroes are dead.

Through a Shot Glass

by Ethan Hawke

We were leaving, but decided on one more for the road. We downed our shots in sync. I kept my glass at eye level and started looking through it. Everyone close got further away. I liked it. No one asked why I did it, which was good, because I hate explaining myself.

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Ethan Hawke is an actor, director, and writer. His novels include The Hottest State and Ash Wednesday.

Lingo

by Doug Mathewson

Since they both grew up in Europe, speaking English was exotic and new. What I found they had in common was a fascination with American idioms. Their word choices were often odd. The Polish engineer was astonished at the phrase where were you when the shit hit the fan? I explained to the Czech graphic designer that I wrote a story about this for the Village Voice. She exclaimed in response, “What pluck!”

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Doug Mathewson, author of Fiction Class, lives on the Connecticut shoreline and writes very short fiction that occasionally turns into essays or poetry. His current project is "True Stories From Imaginary Lives." He has been published online by PenPricks, Micro-Fiction, Creative Soup, and Tuesday Shorts. His poetry will appear in the March issue of eMuse-zine. Lately he seems fascinated with writing stories that are six sentences in length. More of his work is available at his blog.

Lovers and Dreamers

by Juliana Perry

Is it the wine talking or perhaps the late hour? Probably more like a combination of the two, as well as the mud wrap followed by the gluttonous feast. Sitting on the ground in your dressing room and leaning my head back onto the couch, my wine forgotten on the makeup table; those green tinted hands with strong fingers flex in my tangled hair and tug enough to extend my chubby neck. My mind wanders and I am transplanted to another place we've both been before, the theater two nights ago, critics in the wing and those damn chickens. I gaze up into your deep liquid eyes and hold tight to the memory of how you handled the crowd, protected my honor so that the show could go on. Ever so quietly you begin to sing our song close to my ear, as I feel your tongue tickle my ear, the words someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection, the lovers, the dreamers, and me.

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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. She is the author of Quiet Please.

My Favorite World

by Gienah

It’s a world with streaming windshields and dripping leaves. The sky is a soft, gray dove that cries its heart out on silver strings. Children delight in the sidewalk watercolors. The grouchy makeup-faces flee, lest their perfect masks begin to run and smear. This world is weeping diamonds, this world is laughing chimes, this world is bleeding blue and green and crystal joy. This world is concealed in the instant when Justin blinks.

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Gienah, author of Picnic with My Lover, is fascinated with people's eyes and the way they constantly change color in the light. This makes her extremely disappointed with her own eyes, which remain an opaque sort of blackish-brown all the time.

Still Worth It

by Too Young

I sit up in bed, in a panic, grasping pillows, throwing them out of the way to see the clock. It's after one in the morning, and you're still "out" with your friends. I try desperately to let you have your space because that fight was the same fight we've been having for the past two years, and I feel guilty every time I bring it up. These are the nights I'm asking myself if in ten years, if it's still like this, will it still be worth it? One more glance at the clock and I realize you're probably not going to be home for a while (if at all tonight). I look at that picture of us you put up the day we moved in and wish that you were here so I could tell you I was sorry for ever bringing it up.

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Too Young is an aspiring business woman, slowly rising to the top and learning what the business world is all about. She’s been writing since she can remember, and hopes to one day make known (to more than just family) her secret passion for the art.

Look to the Sea

by Ian Stewart

Look out at the sea, so dark, so stormy as the wind attacks it, fell wind that it is, and disturbs the still waters - still waters so pure, so clear, so naïve to the world. Fell wind brings dust, dust to pollute the naïveté the still waters possess, to drown them in the fierce mutterings and melancholy words that only the gale can sing, shriek in its fierce voice, high upon the sky's pathways. The waves that scar the surface, rising and falling, over and over, oscillating through the calm, disrupting and returning peace, over and over. And the rocks, rocks that grow from underneath, puncturing the surface, bringing trouble, obstacles to the waves progress, impeding. Yet still the waves split around such obstacles and form again upon the other side, as if they were never touched. The waves cannot be stopped, even with all impedance put in front of them.

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Ian Stewart is a teenage artist and writer who masquerades as a high school student. His guitar and piano are constant companions (though he doesn't play them particularly well).

How to Write Flash Fiction

by Thom Starke

Let’s be clear: if you want to write flash fiction, excellent flash fiction, you have to follow these directions to the letter – you can’t deviate from, alter, or “put your own spin” on what I’m about to tell you. Just want to be clear from the outset. Okay, here we go. If you want to write flash fiction, excellent flash fiction, you have to get your lazy ass out of your room or apartment or house, get (or purchase) black socks and shoes and a trench coat and a fedora, put them on (just those items – nothing else), hit the streets, find a victim, then expose yourself – completely expose yourself. Feel the thrill, or the embarrassment, or whatever it is you feel, and really feel it, really let it wash over you and soak you to the bone, and remember that feeling, memorize it, be able to feel it again and again and again, just as strongly as the first time. Then write about it, and keep it short.

6S

Thom Starke is impressed with this place, especially with Bob Jacobs, Joseph Grant, and Quin Browne.

It's Apparently Endless

by Simon A. Smith

When I called my mom to tell her that I had been fired from my job, her response was to read me a story from a book she'd fallen in love with. The one she picked was a testimonial about a former prostitute who had changed her life through positive thinking. It was not a short story but she read the whole thing, and when she had finished and the prostitute had made her transformation from a street walker to a wedding planner, she told me that that was what I needed to do now, "think only good thoughts and imagine yourself succeeding in a business that better suits your spiritual self." I couldn't see any harm in being optimistic so over the next week, every time I sent out a resume, I pictured myself as a veterinarian, all dressed up in blue scrubs with a stethoscope around my neck, bandaging a fragile cat's paw, which had always been my dream job. On the eighth day, I take a walk through Oz Park and on the way out I find a wounded bird on the ground with bloody feathers but still breathing. And as I bend down to examine the heartbeat, I wonder if this is it, if this is what she (or they or it) would count as a triumph.

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Simon A. Smith lives and writes in Chicago. He is the Editor of the literary magazine Bruiser Review. His fiction has appeared in Storyglossia, Look-Look Magazine, The Columbia Chronicle, Dogzplot, The Banana King and others. He is currently working on a novel titled "Escape From Dreamland" that will hopefully be finished by the end of 2008. (If you're a publisher or an agent, send him an email!)

An Immoderate Upbringing

by Laura Harrison

When I was about seven my father found an egg-coddler in the china hutch, and we all had coddled eggs for breakfast for weeks. My younger sister was very excited about the coddled eggs, and, as it turned out, eggs in general, so after the coddled ones, we had them baked or poached. It lasted a few months, I believe, and then it was over. My father and sister say they don't remember this at all and want to know why I make these things up. My mother would probably like me to mention that she had no part in this, and that's true. She's not much for these familial trends; she sticks with what she likes and doesn't let go no matter how far she has to drive for a can of butter beans.

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Laura Harrison isn't sure if a short bio can describe her better than this story does.

Discipline

by Chris Conroy

I drank too much again last night. It's safe to say another friend was lost because of this. I can't remember exactly how things unfolded but judging from the dried blood on the knuckles of my right hand and my swollen left eye, I'd say it was quite a show. A few more nights like that and I'll be completely alone. Friends and family will soon stop calling me. Then I'll be able to get some fucking work done.

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Chris Conroy, author of X, writes after breakfast and before lunch.

Hüzün

by Grace Andreacchi

It was just a few days after Christmas and I was alone in Istanbul. The city was freezing cold, wrapped in a soft blue haze compounded of auto exhaust, spent fuel, the dense black smoke that spirals from the ancient ferries crossing the Bosphorus, and the small bonfires burning in the streets. Men stood huddled around these fires, mostly young men, though a few were older, and some of them wore red Santa hats. At night I lay in bed and listened to the melancholy call of the ships sounding their horns as they passed through the Golden Horn. Early in the morning, and at twilight, these mingle their voices with the long, drawn-out, heartrending cries of the muezzin. If you did not know these were calls to prayer you would surely take them for the wails of some abandoned lover.

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Grace Andreacchi, author of Machine for Love, was born in New York in 1954, but has lived on the far side of the great ocean for many years - sometimes in Paris, sometimes Berlin, and nowadays in London. Works include the novels Give My Heart Ease (Permanent Press 1989), which received the New American Writing Award, and Music for Glass Orchestra (Serpent’s Tail 1993), the play Vegetable Medley (Soho Repertory Theater, New York and Boston Center for the Arts, Boston, Massachusetts), as well as numerous short stories and collections of poetry. Additional work can be viewed on her website.

Pee Song

by Tommy Hall

Do you ever feel like someone is always watching you? The creepy feeling of eyes always fixed on you? Gives you that kind of feeling that keeps you from peeing when you're in the mens room and you end up having to sing your "pee song" to get you going? Yeah, I never get that feeling. That would be insane if I did. If you get that feeling you may want to get some real help, 'cause it sounds like you have a serious problem.

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Tommy Hall lives in a small town. He has to sneak-watch Family Guy because his wife thinks it's porn. He's a youth pastor, and enjoys a good beer once in awhile.

Spring

by Regina McGrew

Winter is the longest season. It drains the land, kills the passions, destroys the spirit. Its coldness creeps into our bones like death into a sick man's bones. We wither under its terrible weight as it casts its terrible spells. When we think we can bear no more, the winter brings even colder temperatures, and then snow, sleet, and rain. We wait patiently, solemnly, near-frozen for the beauty and warmth that is our spring.

6S

Regina McGrew has a thing for Asian men and men of darker complexions. She blogs here.

Live Dangerously

by Harry B. Sanderford

Holding a popsicle to the testicle I injured on my bicycle, Nurse Brandi says it's possible I also broke my clavicle. I boast I nearly made it but I think she's unimpressed, dare-devil and imbecile's the same to her I guess. I launched even higher than I'd really thought I would and once I cleared the fence it was lookin' pretty good. I sailed across the drainage ditch and touched down awful pretty, but when my back wheel got the wobbles I chaired the tumbleweed committee. My thumb got pretty twisted, I skinned my knees and tore my pants. Nurse Brandi's got me on the mend but I fear I'll soon have ants.

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Harry B. Sanderford, whose full catalog is here, is a Central Florida surfing cowboy who'd sooner spin yarns than mend fences.

The Funny Papers

by Tom Conally

Dont'cha just love reading the comic strips in the daily paper (we called them “the funny papers” when I was just a wee lad)? Even now at retirement age, I read them and most often as not enjoy them, but sometimes they just make me mad! Those smug artists can draw interesting figures but my gosh, they are using lines, puns and jokes that I actually invented years ago. How dare them use my material in their little petty comic strips, but then I think how could they have stolen my material when I really didn't write it down? It would make a sorry case in court (I would have to use small claims court as no lawyer in his right mind would take on such a silly case) when I said “Your Honor, I really did think this up years ago but did not have the gumption to write it down.” I guess I'll just keep on reading and thinking I coulda, shoulda, woulda been right there on the funny pages and remind myself: if it's worth thinking, it's worth writing down.

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Tom Conally, author of Like Life, has a picture gallery.

Eating Love

by Suzanne Baran

He was alone, sought a girl with brown eyes and a light touch. But then she fell for his heart which no one touched much. Too cerebral, she pined for emotive love but he found her and put his aorta on a plate with capers. It wasn't enough to satiate her growing appetite. Dinner's over and now her stomach's full, but her loins are empty. Expectations can spoil a good meal, a pure heart, and a relationship.

6S

Suzanne Baran, a former financial journalist, is a content writer / programmer for Yahoo’s front page. She reviews music & films for The Big Takeover, and is the author of My Grandfather the Butcher.

Launched Love

by Renee DeCarlo

In silent declaration her heart opened wide as she accepted the proposal of his love. Impatient to inaugurate, they eagerly gathered their abstract lives into a joint account of allegiance. Shopping for sheets she felt his love surrounding her every breath and smiled secretly. He wondered how he would tell his possessive dear mother there was a new woman in his life and she would have to let him go. Previously untouched their love bloomed in a beautiful bouquet of flaming fire inextinguishable in its thirst. As night lighted the evening moon her love found the key to his weary heart and set him free as an eagle flutters skyward.

6S

Renee DeCarlo explores other worlds through pen and thought. She blogs here.

Oasis

by Quin Browne

It is a ritual - her pliant body's white skin eager to absorb the red pain from his hand. He had thought it a game, not noticing when it slid into something more, something different, something she needed. Absorbed by the intensity of her reactions, he willingly went into that place, feeling his arm vibrate as his hand met her flesh, her moans falling around them. Afterwards, she lies with her head on his stomach, while their breathing slows, her tears dry. Now is when they talk and laugh, when they revert to that which is seen as "normal," what is acceptable to others. Later, she will yank on her jeans, sucking in her breath as they press against the reminder of when, for a short time, she is free of the meltdown of emotions that constitute her internal world... and she gives thanks he is clueless to her duplicity.

6S

Quin Browne, whose full catalog is here, lives in New York City. She likes it there.

Picnic with My Lover

by Gienah

"Don't be so uptight, the Victorians did this all the time," I told him, and though I wasn't looking at him, I knew he was cringing. The idea of munching potato salad while sitting six feet directly over someone's worm-holed remains must've horrified him, but I delighted in the concept. "It's so peaceful, no one will bother us here, and besides," I said with a smirk, “I wouldn't want the dead to be lonely." His silence told me he was still upset with me. I told him for the hundredth time, "I had to put you in here, it was the only way I’d ever get to spend time with you!" His engraved name stared at me accusingly, and all the tearful "I love you"s in the world wouldn't bring him back to forgive me.

6S

Gienah is rather obsessed with her boyfriend, and has often worried that he will never have time for her unless he's pushing up a lovely bunch of daisies. Still, she wouldn't really want to put him in the boneyard... yet.

Ordinary Day

by Sheri Reed

If you walked through our front door right now, even though I know you never would, because you don't live here or even in this town and that would be kinda rude, you would see me hunched over in a ball with my forehead against the mattress. I would feel guilty and weird enough to explain that I like how it feels when all the blood rushes into my skull. The pressure seems to take off the pressure, you know, like meditation, like no pain no gain, like if you think your head hurts now, then come here and I'll give you something to really cry about. You would also see the laundry basket full of clean clothes, him cooking dinner for me — just a quick salad, don't worry — and the two of them playing and screaming and running room to room looking for me. The clock reads 5 o'clock, and you probably already want to go home. Or maybe you don't see anything out of the ordinary at all and decide to stay for a little bit of salad, which is really more than I could ever ask for in a situation that only exists in my head, which is still spinning even though it is pressed firmly against this mattress.

6S

Sheri Reed lives and writes in Northern California. She blogs at happinest and takes pictures of pretty things every day.

Nickles

by Mercury

If I had a nickel for every time he hurt her at a January dance, I would have five cents. I would use this five cents to buy a stamp, which I would put on a letter filled with hate and foul language, and then send the whole kit and caboodle to him. If I had a nickel for every time he hurt her this year, I would be able to send these letters for a year. If I had a nickel for every time he hurt her at all, I could go out and buy a computer. Not only would I then be able to send him hate letters without buying stamps, I would also be able to sign him up for all the spam I can find, thus sending his computer to a firey hell of virusdom. As it happens, no one has offered to give me a nickel for any of these things, I so am settling for calling him up and swearing at him for hours on end, then putting it on my parents' phone bill.

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Mercury, author of Cold Hands, knows this isn't even a fraction of what he deserves, but as she is short on funds, it'll have to do.

Temple Most Holy

by Daniel S. Irwin

In far away, mysterious India, there is a holy temple filled with sacred monkeys. The caretaker said that the monkeys are the reincarnation of the dead and those monkeys with the souls of your relatives will seek you out. Sounds like hooey but if that's true, then it was probably Uncle George, the thief, that scurried off into the trees with my camera when, dang it, crazy Aunt Doris, playing coy, suddenly bit the heck outta my finger. Yeah, and that sorry-ass Cousin Bill was his usual obnoxious self splattering me with his shit and dancing around shaking his weezer at everybody. The afterlife sure hasn't changed these characters. I always thought they were a buncha damn monkeys.

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Daniel S. Irwin, author of My Man Stormy and a 1980 "Write-In" Presidential Candidate, 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.

HHI

by George

Hilton Head was a blast! The five hour car ride with Irene and Gena filled with incessant chatter about nothing of any interest to anyone; the condescending comments about my beliefs and faith, and the repeat on the return home, are some of my best memories! Dining in Harbor Town on glorious shrimp while Gena weighed-in with raised eyebrow as the waiter brought me another - and o’ so necessary - glass of wine was spectacular! Tour of Homes was grand; beautifully crafted homes on the golf course filled with fake ivy, woven baskets packed with everything from painted wooden lemons to recent copies of Southern Living, and the Laura Ashley prints looked like something, well, out of Southern Living! Meeting Chip was so exciting; gracious southern gentleman, attorney no doubt, and part-time golfer, with the Ralph Lauren sport sock tan line to prove it, was clearly enamored with your looks and charm. But watching you and your mother circle him like two vultures while contemplating your cougar-like ambushes, and witnessing the delivery of your phone number, and later taking his calls in our home, was the cherry on the ice cream I never wanted!

6S

George is writing to relieve the pressure in her head, because the Advil isn’t working, and a gun is out of the question.

6 Cool Benefits of the 6S Newsletter

by Robert McEvily

It’s totally free. It offers original sixes not available on the site. It puts you in touch with likeminded writers and artists. It gives you exclusive news about contests, prizes, giveaways, videos, and podcasts. It will motivate you to stick to your writing plans and get stuff done. It feels like great sex (seriously – it does)!

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Robert McEvily is the creator and editor of Six Sentences. If you don’t believe him about the great sex, see for yourself – join now! Just enter your email address in the box on the upper right of the site and click 6S!

Pica

by Emily Cull

On Monday, James came to eat the house. He started in the kitchen, naturally, chipping off chunks of the porcelain counter and slipping the smooth, white shards into his mouth. After washing the crumbled tiles off his palate with a few hungry gulps of the cold metal faucet, he proceeded into the living room, tearing off strips of the cracked leather couch and chewing on them like beef jerky. I watched as he delicately carved slices out of the oil painting that hung over the mantel and placed them on his tongue like a fine, aged cheese. Foot stools and tasseled rugs and wallpaper poured down James's throat like water until the moment that he encountered a small, brass bolt, an item that he simply couldn't stomach. James felt his small intestine roll over and everything came up again, exploding into a pile of sawdust and carpet fibers and runny paint where the floor used to be.

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Emily Cull is 18 and lives in South Carolina. She is obsessed with Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Machine for Love

by Grace Andreacchi

In his flat in East Berlin the furniture was all of dark blue leather, the sun came in through stained glass and made red and yellow diamonds on the polished wooden floor. There were books that no one had ever read, and indeterminate glass objects, and shiny black machines for listening and watching. "They ought to make a machine for love," I said. "A machine that would love you, and always do whatever you want it to." "What would it look like?" he said. Like you, it would look like you.

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Grace Andreacchi, author of Berlin Moment, was born in New York in 1954, but has lived on the far side of the great ocean for many years - sometimes in Paris, sometimes Berlin, and nowadays in London. Works include the novels Give My Heart Ease (Permanent Press 1989), which received the New American Writing Award, and Music for Glass Orchestra (Serpent’s Tail 1993), the play Vegetable Medley (Soho Repertory Theater, New York and Boston Center for the Arts, Boston, Massachusetts), as well as numerous short stories and collections of poetry. Additional work can be viewed on her website.

A Kiss Before Dying

by Joseph Grant

Most people visited New York City to sightsee, take in Times Square, a Broadway show, go to the Opera or Ballet, see the Empire State Building, pay their respects at Ground Zero shop along Fifth Avenue or maybe have a pretzel off the street; locals knew that outside the Garden were the best to be found in the City, the touristy ones at Rockefeller Center you could break diamonds with, but Agatha was not in Midtown the to do any of these things. Agatha, long depressed in her life, work and relationships, she decided death to be her vocation as she had been sleep-deprived for weeks and chose New York City as her place to die. She had read that a growing trend among major world cities was to visit them to commit suicide and to a life-long follower of someone else’s tune, Agatha thought Manhattan made perfect sense, in the City that never sleeps that she would find her eternal rest. On her last night in the most expensive and fashionable room she could find in the city, she had a lobster dinner, a bottle of Cristal by Louis Roederer and a pedestrian tiramisu for dessert. She would top this off with a drink at the bar, before topping herself, she reasoned, might as well go out in style, she smiled as she finished her dessert and then made her way towards the zinc bar. As Agatha sipped her cosmopolitan, she never expected the man of her waking dreams to suddenly sit down next to her, smile charmingly and ironically say: “Hi, I’m Blake, what are you doing for the rest of your life?”

6S

Joseph Grant, whose full catalog is here, is the first featured author in our "Six Sixes" series.

Fiction Class

by Doug Mathewson

"Write what you know," she said. City still refuses to honor native son. Local author does not get huge advance... again. Twenty-two quarters will do laundry, but not if you buy cat food first. Returnable can and bottles are not recognized by lending institutions as an "income source." My head hurts, I know too much.

6S

Doug Mathewson, author of Fox Tales, lives on the Connecticut shoreline and writes very short fiction that occasionally turns into essays or poetry. His current project is "True Stories From Imaginary Lives." He has been published online by PenPricks, Micro-Fiction, Creative Soup, and Tuesday Shorts. His poetry will appear in the March issue of eMuse-zine. Lately he seems fascinated with writing stories that are six sentences in length. More of his work is available at his blog.

All That Remains

by Stephen Book

Though embattled with age — its autumn leaves blown away, its gnarled coat threadbare and frayed with a thousand empty branches — the Oak stands in the backyard like a seasoned and faithful companion. In 1968, Dad planted it the month I was born, marking time even though the tree was already seven years old. During the summer of 1977, my best pal Charlie and I, along with a half dozen of our friends, ran from my dad toward the tree, screaming as we found safety at the "base." 1978 came, and Dad built a fort upon the branches of the tree; and then we climbed inside, with only our sleeping bags and a couple of Daisy pellet guns, to see the world as Davy Crockett might have seen it, gritting our teeth as Santa Anna unleashed his brutal force upon the never-say-die men of the Alamo. Four years later, I discovered that Dad had seen me and Sandy Kirshman (something I thought was my own little secret) when I found the place in the trunk where he carved: JD & SK, First Kiss, 1984. Dad is gone now; but at least I still have the old tree, and with it all that remains.

6S

Stephen Book is a CPA, working in corporate America while carving out any time he can to build a writing career. He currently lives in Texas.

My Obsession with Tricia Helfer

by Joe Popper

First, hello, thanks for reading (I appreciate it), and let me say – in the hopes of avoiding a barrage of “you suck” comments – that I am not married, am not currently seeing anyone, so (I personally feel that) what I’m about to confess is in no way deceptive or disgusting. Second, full disclosure: I am writing this anonymously for obvious reasons; my name is not Joe Popper, my real name is Forrest Tannenbaum (which is a secret, so don’t tell anyone). Third, my rationale: I believe confession is good for the soul, but I also believe random confessions, especially to the wrong recipients, are just plain weird and annoying, so in confessing this (with “this” being defined as “my obsession with Tricia Helfer”), I wanted to do it in an appropriate place, and since Ms. Helfer is an actress who portrays a cyborg named “Number Six” on Battlestar Galactica, I did a Google search on the number six, and found this very site, Six Sentences, and thought, that’s absolutely perfect! Then, while searching further, I became insanely jealous when I found this picture and this picture. Those goddamn lucky bastards! Yes, okay, I admit it: I masturbated to the pictures anyway, but those two fucking dorks really wrecked the overall vibe.

6S

Joe Popper's fake real name is Forrest Tannenbaum. He is genuinely obsessed with Tricia Helfer.

The Dance

by Peggy McFarland

Two steps forward, one step back. It’s the dance pattern that rules life. Try taking that giant step to break out of the rut, and you find you’ve tripped and landed on your face, clawing to get back on track. Regain the motion, set the pace, at least it’s progress, or so they tell you. Two steps forward, one step back. It would be easier if they added a snappy soundtrack.

6S

Peggy McFarland, whose full catalog is here, still dances, still bartends, and still writes sentences six at a time.

Sister-In-Law

by Jeff Baker

She doesn't have an original bone in her body. Since day one, my sister-in-law has become a blood-sucking, life-bleeding draw on all things good and kind. Is there a statute of limitations on how long we paste the friendly family face, when we can finally shed its iron mask and breathe deeply enough to shatter the hard edges of our frozen smiling lips? I resemble the Joker in Batman, now my face has twisted into a horrible sneer; it's been too long like this. She has crossed the line this one last time and there is no going back, my mask has one long and ugly crack, my sad and angry face is showing through. If only she had invited my children to her daughter's birthday party.

6S

Jeff Baker is an alias for a writer who is discovering the release of secretly writing about family.

Untouchable

by caccy46

Although we are separated by no more than a few feet, we may as well have steel bars dividing the room. I hear her occasional deep sigh, sometimes coupled with a tiny sound ladened with sadness. I am silenced and frightened by the weight of her emotions. I tried once to speak to her, and could tell before I finished my sentence that it would be met with anger and dismissal. I know it's all she is capable of showing, so damaged is she by her self-disgust. My little girl, the love of my life, lays helplessly close to me, and I remain hopelessly impotent.

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caccy46, whose full catalog is here, is a mother of two who's been married for 32 years.

My Grandfather the Butcher

by Suzanne Baran

My grandfather wasn't afraid to dirty his hands in the dirtiest ways. His fingers always gripped some weapon: rifles and machetes during his WWII tour, knives and cleavers at his store, and a stick at home. Even his hand was a weapon. His voice chopped, mashed, and dissected the people he loved. If he delivered praise, one loving word would slice through the scars of preceding ones. My mother endured past pain but clings to current acclaim as an addict clutches a crack pipe.

6S

Suzanne Baran, a former financial journalist, is a content writer / programmer for Yahoo’s front page. She reviews music & films for The Big Takeover, and is the author of The Illustrator.

Shortcoming

by Bobby Dimitrova

I’m not ready to be a father he told me the other night as we laid in the dark stillness of our bedroom, and I, being a foolish, naïve girl, I dreamed about a love house somewhere in California with round corners and wooden floors and big windows and a huge library and enough space for all of my red high-heel shoes in the closet. I expected him to get excited when I asked What if... but he only became more tired after being the perfect IT guy for another day in the London City, riding the Tube and reading the free papers on the way home to a suburb of Victorian houses and circular intersections. My body tells me that soon it’ll be time for me to conceive – something that he couldn’t or wouldn’t understand – and if I get pregnant now I will not hesitate for a moment; I told him that, and he did the math and he pointed out how EXPENSIVE it’ll be, how HARD it’ll be, how EARLY it’ll be. Not the usual pillow talk I thought and I cried, then I argued and finally agreed: we’ll wait because we love each other and we have a plan. He wished me goodnight and asked me if I’m all right. Nevermind, my dear I answered, I don’t care; I’m really bad in exact sciences anyways.

6S

Bobby Dimitrova, 26, was born in Bulgaria and currently lives and studies in London. She loves cats, sweets, and her boyfriend, and is dreaming of being married and making writing her career. Click here for a peek into her life.

Afternoon Delight

by N. Franklin June

Roger sat in the sun and rested after eating a hearty lunch. The summer day had enticed him to venture out into the field. Suddenly, Darlene came into view. She had seen Roger and was curious as to what he was doing in the field today. Roger moved closer to her and did a little dance. After mating, as with most mantid couples, Darlene spun around and ate Roger.

6S

N. Franklin June is the pseudonym of a researcher.

Life in the Cell

by G.M. Hakim

It's dark in here, so very dark and cold, and the rank stench begins to overwhelm me. My eleven brethren sit quietly in peace in their pits, but they are not at the front of the line; they do not see what I see each time the wicked light shines down. Although we are shackled, I feel exposed, threatened, as if I could be taken at any time. First darkness, and the smell of spoiling milk: why doesn't he remove that, the torturing wretch, rather than leave us to suffocate in its stench? Then the glare of blinding light; is it time, is it us? The hand of justice reaches in, the roof that binds us lifts, the warmth of the hand surrounds me, and then a splitting pain in my head, being ripped in half, I'm sliding, sliding, and I hit hard, my flesh searing in hot oil, and my life slips away, as I've become... scrambled.

6S

G.M. Hakim, author of Nature's David, is a middle school English, Journalism, and Drama teacher who is starting to find time to write again. Inspired by Six Sentences, he started two blogs in 2008: Five Word Monologues and If A, Then B.

The Snow Angels

by Katie Galvin

As we drove up the highway to our destination the sky was cloudy and looked like it was about to drop a lot of snow anytime, which was fine by us because that's why we went to Colorado. The kids were excited because they only get to experience this powdery stuff once a year; we live in the sunshine state and sweat most of the time, so a week in the cold, blustery weather is a welcome experience. We were driving along a highway and went through a tunnel and when we came out on the other side of the mountain we saw a spectacular site; fluffy, beautiful snow was falling fast all around us, blanketing the earth in a radiant burst of snowflakes. The road was quickly becoming impassible and we had about two more hours to drive to the ski resort; it was slow going, but exciting to see the kids laughing and talking about what they would do in all this snow. I asked my guardian angel to keep us safe until we got to the resort because not only was the weather bad, we were on a road in the middle of nowhere, had no cell phone service, no sign of human life, and most importantly, no restrooms anywhere. Our car gently negotiated the twists and turns of the road through the soft snow and got us to our resort to begin our vacation; I thanked my angel for getting us there and then I turned to look at the kids and they were already playing in the snow making their own snow angels.

6S

Katie Galvin is a mom of four, a former elementary school teacher, and is currently trying to get a children's book published. She lives in Florida.

Blank White Pages

by Adam J. Whitlatch

If you ask any writer (any at all, take your pick) what the worst part of his craft is, he may pause and consider this for a moment before responding. This is because there are so many obstacles in a writer’s day-to-day life. There’s the ever-lingering doubt that his work is up to par; does my family believe in me or are they just humoring me until I give up and decide to go back to work at my old day job? Rejection letters... now there’s something every writer has to deal with – some on a daily basis – and no matter how many times you hear about Stephen King or J.K. Rowling’s slew of rejection letters before they struck it big you just can’t help but ask yourself, “Is my writing really that fucking terrible?” Then of course there are those days when a new literary magazine comes in the mail and you open it to find that your brilliant masterpiece that you spent weeks polishing and revising – the envy of all your coffee house frequenting writer friends - was passed up in favor of some poorly edited, half-baked piece of drivel entitled “My Boyfriend is an Alien” that was probably pounded out in five minutes by the fiction editor’s thirteen-year-old autistic nephew. All of these drain on a writer’s sanity of course, but nothing - and I mean nothing - enrages authors more than a goddamned blinking cursor on a blank white page.

6S

Adam J. Whitlatch would like to dedicate this piece to his good friend Joseph Grant. Adam is the author of numerous short stories, the novel “The Blood Raven: Retribution," and the novels-in-progress “E.R.A. – Earth Realm Army” and “The Weller: Tales of the Wastelands." (Adam's complete works on 6S can be found here.)