Writer’s Digest Adds 6S to 101 Best!

A Thank You from Robert McEvily

As August comes to a close, and the third complete year of Six Sentences crosses the finish line, it’s time to take a collective bow. As some of you know, Writer’s Digest named 6S as one of the “101 Best Websites for Writers.” At the risk of sounding immodest, it’s pretty obvious why. For the past three years, we’ve amassed an amazing collection of pieces from an equally amazing group of writers – from literally all over the world. It’s my great privilege to edit the site, and my greater privilege to enjoy your words, your thoughts, and your kindness and support. Thank you ALL so very much!

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Robert McEvily is the creator and editor of Six Sentences.

Our “Six of the Week” Nominees!

(August 24 – August 30)

Outlook
Michael D. Brown

Life Support
Tracy Moore

Mind Tricks
Salena Casha

Highway Memorial
Peggy McFarland

When Going Up or Down
Rachel Kuhnle

Sun
Christina Martin

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Congratulations to our six nominees! Vote here for your favorite, and in the “Six of the Week” poll in the right column of the site. The winner (who’ll receive a Custom Print of their Six) will be announced on Monday, 9/7. Good luck at all!

Reality

by Lauren McBride

We used to laugh a lot when the children were little and did funny things, back when we were still young, and the world seemed vast and interesting. Gas was cheap. Your job was secure. And our future together was full of possibilities. Together we watched the news turn grim: 9/11, war, recession, unemployment. Now we worry a lot, and can only wonder what kind of a world will be waiting for our children when they leave home.

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Lauren McBride is a part-time writer, full-time mother and former research assistant in molecular biology. She shares a love of laughter, science and the ocean with her husband and two children. Her work has appeared in the Aurorean, the Drabbler: Issue #14, Mom Writer’s Literary Magazine and online in various Ezines. She was recently chosen first runner-up in Crossed Genres’ flash fiction contest of July 2009 for her story, “Go-Green Grass.”

Blue Dolphin

by Mark Cunningham

She had a blue glass dolphin hanging from her rear-view mirror, so we knew her special sonar could lead us to the nearest Windham Hill CD. The universe may be a collection of non-simultaneous events, but at night every sea is the Black Sea. "The man of tomorrow is of above-average practical intelligence" — the problem is, it’s always today. They tried to convince me that "to quit" meant "to keep going for two more weeks." The airport’s observation deck gave us a great view of the parking lots. The staff said that if anyone had a concern, raise a hand; however, since at that point I had only fins, they wouldn’t call on me.

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Mark Cunningham recently moved from Virginia to central Missouri. Now, instead of being at the mall three times a year, he's there five times a week. (It's the only place to find decent magazines.)

Wilted

by Blake N. Cooper

Stay or go — just stop wasting space in the middle. We're given one shot; what's your point if not to color your time in shades of strength and strokes of pain? Carry on, people, there's nothing to see here, but a man who crept from one broken dream to another, stuck in molded memories of V-signs and wilted flowers. That's your legacy? Fight. Then, fight again.

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Blake N. Cooper blogs at Stagekid and micro-blogs here. He has dreams of someday publishing the next great bildungsroman!

Sun

by Christina Martin

She sits bathed in sunlight for the last time, the warmth of it keeping her from feeling like a ghost. Tomorrow's the day for that, for others to see nothing but a fragment of a girl surrounded by comfort and family and feeling lost all the same. Tomorrow she'll be elsewhere, in a place where numbers and calculations are no longer suffocating in their displacement. Tomorrow she'll have a purpose beyond superficial satisfaction and for once she'll feel challenged. For once, she'll be happy. Tomorrow's the day for that, today's the day for the sun.

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Christina Martin is a poor college student with far too much time on her hands.

Greg's for the Bath

by Mark Rosenblum

We've journeyed to almost every mega do-it-yourself center in a 30 mile radius looking for what my wife calls just the right kitchen and bath fixtures for our remodel. On the way to the last remaining store we've yet to wander into - Builder's World - my wife suddenly spots a small Mom & Pop plumbing store on a side street, however, once inside, I see neither a Mom nor a Pop, only Greg - the young owner who has few actual fixtures to look over, but what he does have on display, he assures us (as do his prices) is high-end merchandise. There's a small display of kitchen faucets that turn on and off without being touched; Greg explains they work with a contemporary, more hygienic sensor that we can't afford - yet (he promises) they'll pay us back a hundred times over in healthy years sans E.coli. There are two air-jetted tubs in the middle of the shop that have blue-green lights encircling their rims - Greg mutters something about Chroma Therapy - explaining to my wife that the tub will sooth and relax not only her body, but her mind. He then moves to the shower section and stands too close to her as he talks about the merits of multiple body spray heads. As I peruse gleaming white toilets with heated seats - and some that squirt water up your ass - I am confident we will never make it to Builder's World.

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Mark Rosenblum - a New York native who now lives in Southern California - misses the taste of real pizza and good deli food. His work has been featured in Mindprints, Tiferet, Thirteen Magazine, Insolent Rudder, AlienSkin Magazine, Boston Literary Magazine, Everyday Fiction, and Six Sentences, Volume 2.

Homecoming

by Katie McCullough

Rosie traced the drooping side of the icing that threatened to dangle and break off, she rescued it from certain death but ultimately killed it in an instant as she slurped it off her finger. She was making fairy cakes with her son just as her mother had done with her and they were piping the vivid colours onto each cake staring intently. Rosie thought of two things; her mother would be delighted at Oliver’s artistic flair that he’d inherited from his father and that she ought to clean up the living room because she hated an untidy house. She kissed Oliver through his thick blonde hair, washed her hands and left him creating patterns as she walked off to make a start on the other decorations. Her mind drifted to memories past: of grazing knees, first teeth, quick fumbles under woollen blankets, cold winds whilst camping, hot whiskey breath, rapeseed bunches, the long walks home and tears all of which sprang from hanging the "Welcome Home" banner. The last pin was pushed and the door opened bringing with it the jumping dog, weather-beaten Gregory wheeling mother in and from the other direction came Oliver covered head to toe in green icing not wanting to miss anything and making us all laugh.

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Katie McCullough is a screenwriter and playwright whose tools of choice are her hands and anything to write with (as well as her mouth to talk to people). She's a graduate of Bournemouth Media School and The Royal Court, London, and has had several readings at the ICA and Theatre Royal, Stratford East. Her website is here.

Highway Memorial

by Peggy McFarland

Rerouted water creates a clear corridor. Commuters speed by, as do others on their way to dentist appointments or grocery stores or spinning classes or wherever. Maybe they notice where the pillowed sky merges with the distant wavering black; or the sunlight glints bouncing off informative green or brown or blue signs; or the lifeless fur breaching the solid white line. Maybe they insulate themselves from exhaust fumes and blurred colors by sniffing jar-candle cut-outs, or listening to Jake & Stinton's Morning ear detritus; or peek at a seat mate's animated gestures; or sip an eleven-syllable beverage that burns fingertips more than it burns the tongue. Maybe, by a sidelong look for an exit confirmation and a facetious hallelujah for the added lanes, they see the remnants. Skeletal trunks with splintered limbs and twig claws, stripped but for a shred of bark, stranded by the swamp, reed skirts camouflaging waterlogged roots, stuck in agony's pose until rot allows them to crumble; traffic fatalities unmarked by devoted white crosses.

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Peggy McFarland's work can be read at Absent Willow Review, FlashShot, and WordSlaw, and upcoming pieces will appear at Long Story Short and Sonar 4 E-Zine. Her full 6S catalog is here.

November 22, 1963

by Christina M. Foster

They’d met the year before on a flight north and home from L.A.; he’d been just polite enough to her parents and he’d made her laugh when he told her she looked like Jackie with her dark hair and her linen sheath and the lap belt, still low and tight across her middle, didn’t pinch quite as much then. She re-arranged herself, settled a little then glanced at him — tall and blond and blue-eyed and not-quite-but-nearly chiseled, folded into the window seat and already miles away — and wondered if all the major events of their life together would somehow involve aircraft and emotional hopscotch. Neither Reno nor the round-cut emerald was the setting she might have chosen, and though she preferred emeralds to diamonds it startled her to realize she could so soon find eyes just as green staring up at her with another grave demand for love. Restless, she turned toward the aisle as the plane rose steadily into the early morning sun then doubled back, westward. Heights like these were dizzying. You were safer on the ground.

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Christina M. Foster currently lives and writes in Memphis, Tennessee. As it turned out, her own eyes are blue.

I Don't Love You Like That

by Paul Condrey

"Come on down here and lay with me," she spoke softly from the floor across the room, a small sliver of light full up with dust and cigarette smoke illuminating the soft features of the most beautiful face that I've seen with the saddest smile cut jagged across it. Machines are busy across the globe twisting in and out of themselves and we lay here entwined on the floor of my apartment, breathing smoke and exhaling fire, holding each other like teens do in the sweaty backseats of trucks and parent bought sports cars, running their slender fingers down spinal cords and across thighs in some quixotic attempt to feel. She always told me that she wouldn't let the world pick here apart in pieces. She had planned for long before I had met her on going out all at once, a light snuffed out by black. The evening was brushed with fog and foreboding when we burned all of our receipts and finished off the pot, flushing the ashes and empty bags down the toilet with just cigarette butts and empty feelings left in the room. Just French inhales and fucking.

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Paul Condrey finds himself residing in and around Orlando, Florida 342 days out of the year.

When Going Up or Down

by Rachel Kuhnle

Don’t let yourself fall asleep on the spiral stairs — the metal stairs that lead up to the ceiling, not seeming to go anywhere. You’ll wake up with rounded diamond shapes on your cheek and you’ll feel like you’d been punched in the jaw. At the time you’ll enjoy the way your body fits the curve of the stairs and the cool metal will feel nice on your skin. You’ll think, hey, it’s better than having my head on the floor, and the elevation from one step to the next will seem comforting. But trust me: you’ll wake with your body coiled like a snake and your muscles will feel heavy and cramped. And while it’s true your vomit will have filtered down to the floor, you’ll eventually be standing right in it.

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Rachel Kuhnle is an English/Theater student living in Saint Paul, Minnesota. She can most often be found sitting alone in her dorm room, reading, and nursing the pangs of unrequited love (and a caffeine addiction).

Paris to Amsterdam

by Colette Martin

It was just the two of us and a bottle of red wine in a first class cabin on a train from Paris to Amsterdam. The wine was Charlotte’s idea after standing in six queues to correct her ticket to Amsterdam. Settling into the cabin with our feet on opposing benches, no one dared to join us as Charlotte poured the wine into the plastic cups she had secured from the porter. She made sure the cups stayed full as she talked about the men she dated, and complained about virtually everyone we had worked with that day. But mostly she talked about herself – how she was treated badly by her manager, how she had almost been fired but given a second chance, how hard it is to be her, how all of her male peers felt threatened by her because she was smarter than them (smarter than most people really) – and as the train was pulling into the station she declared, “In my next life I really want to be less... complicated.” The confessions wouldn’t have been so odd if it weren’t that Charlotte was my boss.

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Colette Martin is a "marketing executive turned writer" who blogs about life in Corporate America here.

Mind Tricks

by Salena Casha

She tucked her feet beneath her skirt, wedging her hands into her armpits. Snow fell down upon her nose, freezing away the feeling in her exposed extremities. Six weeks to date she had sat on the street corner, begging the indifferent passersby for money, food, anything. She was just about to shut her eyes and wait for the ever-elusive sleep to grace her with its presence when the sound of someone saying her name drifted into her ears. She squinted through the falling snow, searching for the whisperer, but the street was empty. They were already gone.

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Salena Casha is a freshman at Middlebury College intent on majoring in English. Her work is set to appear in the September issue of Niteblade Magazine.

Outlook

by Michael D. Brown

Cassandra and Arthur Fulman argued all the time; the problem being Cassie’s projecting her own guilt onto Art, telling him he was always predicting negative and dire outcomes. She did not appreciate his spending entire nights cruising the Internet, stockpiling digital copies of the world’s classic literature, amassing tens of gigabytes of music files, photographs, and scanned sketches when she wanted to sit and have conversation after working all day in the hospital’s administration office. For months after he had suffered his fatal heart attack, she couldn’t turn on the computer at home without some reminder of Art, even after changing his wallpaper, and dumping his file links in an app folder and hiding it in another location. Then, to celebrate the anniversary of his passing, she cleaned house, deleting all the e-texts, erasing massive amounts of digital photos and songs, obliterating every electronic reminder of the former thorn in her side, and finally she began to feel free of his presence in her life. She called up old girlfriends she hadn’t seen in years, and went to lunch with some of them, bought some new clothes in a larger size, and even began eating chocolate again. However, Cassandra was willing to admit to herself something bad was in the wind when she opened her e-mail client at work a week later and read, in Arthur’s handwriting, a note saying, Hey, where's all my stuff - cannot find anything over here.

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Michael D. Brown writes whenever he can, laboring on his magnum opus: Any Day Now.

Dinner Date

by Janet Dale

The pizza seemed wrong, even though he knew it was made by the same expert hands. He ordered a pint of beer; it was in the same glass, poured from the same spout – something was still off. Realizing he wasn’t sitting at the right table, as soon as it became available he got up from the middle of the restaurant and moved to the corner. First bringing over his glass, then his plate, then his pie before sitting down again. The server only nodded, realizing there was little to say in the matter. It was only after he was full and stumbling toward the door that he solved his great mystery – she wasn’t sitting across from him tonight.

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Janet Dale, who blogs here, is ready to begin her final semester as an undergrad at the University of Memphis. She is set to receive her B.A. in English (Creative Writing) in December. Current stresses include M.F.A. applications and finding time for yoga.

The Artist’s Muse

by Nora Nadjarian

You’ll search for me everywhere, and finally when you find me, I’ll know what the word relief looks like. Relief is your face when I enter your studio and land - after I’ve been flying out and up and elsewhere - fully clothed and moonlit. You’ll catch some of that with your eyes, envious of the silver dust on my sandals, and of the little tear on my long dress where the corner of a star ripped it slightly. “It’s been a while,” you’ll say. “This time I’ll paint you. Next time we’ll fly together.”

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Nora Nadjarian is a poet and writer from Cyprus. Her first collection of short stories, Ledra Street, was published in 2006. Her poems and short stories have been included in anthologies and journals internationally, including May Day: Young Literature from the Ten New Member States of the European Union, published by the European Commission. In 2009, her story “And the Seven Dwarves” was a finalist from over 900 submissions in the Binnacle Sixth Annual International Ultra-Short Competition at The University of Maine at Machias (USA).

Six Sixes by Joseph Grant

a 6S Online Magazine



6S

Joseph Grant is one of 6S's favorite sons, and the hits just keep on coming.

Life Support

by Tracy Moore

"Six of the Week" Winner

It’s silent right now except for the clicking of the keys on my laptop as I type this. And his breathing. In and out. In and out. Rhythmic and peaceful. It amazes me how the sound of someone dying can be so beautiful.

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Tracy Moore, who blogs here, writes grants to pay the bills, but dreams of writing fiction. She's slowly working on her first novel (emphasis on slowly), and quickly chasing her one-year-old son. (Someday she'll finish the novel. Someday.)

Home

by Sarah Elizabeth Colona

Here, my family gathers for its first funeral of this generation. Old biddies toddle toward the punch bowl for another ladle of forgetting. Mother’s adolescent great-nieces and nephews surrender to the severity of black lace and quiet games. Other guests crowd halls and doorways — too tense to settle upon worn sofa cushions or stiff, reassuring dining room chairs. The Grand Dame, after all, is not here to serve teacakes with candied violets. She will not descend the staircase to bestow half-meant kisses — though she hangs in the air like a whiff of lily.

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Sarah Elizabeth Colona lives and teaches in her home state of New Jersey. She earned her MFA from George Mason University, where she served as poetry editor for So to Speak. Her poems have appeared in Measure, Six Little Things, The Chimaera, and several other journals, including Cabinet des Fées: Scheherezade’s Bequest. New work is forthcoming in Jabberwocky and The Ampersand Review.

The Things We Miss

by Karl Railton-Woodcock

Now that Dieter has gone off-world I'm the oldest on the team. I'm still as fit and as fast as the others, even Mikka who still has her own body, mostly. God what I'd give for a beer. I can almost feel the kiss of cold glass on my lips. No, you can keep the beer, what I really crave is doing a big window-rattling fart. Maybe it's time I went spectral.

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Karl Railton-Woodcock is still intact in Australia.

Waiting on a Memory

by Rashmi Vaish

The river crept up to her feet and touched her toes, the cool water sending a small shiver up her spine. She breathed in the scent of pine trees in the dusk, taking in as much as she could and let out the air from her mouth in a long, leisurely exhale, a soft vapor warming the insides of her lips. In the 25 years she had spent loving him, she had felt his warmth and known his passion on 15 occasions, each of which were seared into her memory and which she clung to for dear life for they were all she had of him. That, and a smattering of words, scrawled on handy pieces of paper, the last of which had arrived in the mail a year ago in a small white envelop flecked with coffee stains and hurriedly wiped off cigarette ash. She looked up at the geese fleeing south, leaving in their wake another desolate winter to live through and her heart twisted yet again at his silence. She wrapped her stole tighter around herself, walked to her patio, sat back in her wicker armchair and closed her eyes.

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Rashmi Vaish, former newspaper journalist and urban dweller, now lives in rural northern New York state and is currently dabbling in creative writing, photography and horse riding. She recently started updating her two-year-old blog more frequently. Drop by.

You Are My Styx

by Roberto Malandro

The shrieking climbs through my ears without concern. Unsolicited intimacy finds its way onto my thigh in the guise of a poorly written newspaper and a chubby hand; its owner running low on energy and self-control. Hot breath and elbows encourage me to squirm. I suppose the closer you get to hell, the hotter it gets. "The next stop is seven hours of despair and self-loathing... I mean Moorgate." I trek the rest of the way to the office humming Disney show-tunes; the grim death march begins.

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Roberto Malandro spends much of his day crying. He has been educated, at various levels, in media studies and can now comfortably identify the target audience of most films he watches. During the day he works in a terrific office - a supernova of excitement if you will - and spends large portions of his time, as mentioned earlier, crying.

Epitaph

by Rebecca Gaffron

Goodbyes are hard, but I carry part of you with me. We marked each other long ago; left pieces of ourselves we could not reclaim, pieces we did not want, or did not want to face. Curled together against the cold, you whispered your deepest fears into my hair. Your tears still linger on my bare skin, though your words refuse to be remembered clearly. Your hand on my arm offered me a way out. Long ago, before broken bodies and hearts, before breached covenants and lost words, we were friends; you knew my secrets and I knew yours.

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Rebecca Gaffron is a sometimes writer / sometimes procrastinator and hopes she will be forgiven for both. Her stories can be found in a variety of print and online journals and at her virtual home.

Man She Used to Love

by Devora Rogers

The dirty sultan, she has begun to call him. Still, she lets him lick her neck and make love to her. And between their moans he means it. But it is not the same. What she knows lingers. A phone ring could kill them both.

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Devora Rogers writes about new media for a living, blogs about Europe for fun and recently completed her first novel. She lives in Los Angeles.

Two Bodies

by Nicola Henderson

The nurse spoke into the silence: she had beautiful skin, your mum. I noted the tense; my mother already in the past, yet in the present only minutes before. My mind cannot accept this. Can I be on my own with her, I ask, and the nurse and my father fade from the room leaving us - me - alone. When they are gone, I press her body from face to feet, making an impression, forcing memory of her in through the palms of my hands and my fingertips. My body will remember while my mind shatters.

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Nicola Henderson lives in Edinburgh, Scotland. She writes other people's words for a living and is now trying out her own.

Designated Driver

by Brad Rose

She was not thinking about him - absolutely was not. Instead, she was drinking salt-rimmed Margaritas in the sporadic shade provided by a few straggly pepper trees on L.A.’s oldest street, and thinking about Los Angeles — its brilliant, smoggy history — how Olvera street had originally been named "Wine St." Why, she wondered, as she sat at the small table for two in the noontime swelter, was Los Angles called "the city of Angels?" As she studied the zig-zag pattern of the worn red bricks at her feet, she began to feel the creeping buzz of the Tequila. It seemed simultaneously to buoy and to bury her. Rising from the table, she wasn’t worried about driving home, not in the least, because one of the dead — his salt white bones, teeth gleaming in the merciless sunlight — had promised her he would serve as today’s designated driver.

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Brad Rose shares more of his work on the 6S Social Network.

World Weary

by Laurita Miller

Get out there and take a bit out of the world they said as they pushed me out the door. So I went, unprotected, unprepared. I saw beautiful things, wondrous things, things that delighted and enchanted me. I wanted to see more so I looked harder, and I discovered dark things, sinister things – all hiding beneath glitter and polish. I was drawn in, deeper, deeper. Too late I discovered that the world was also taking a bite out of me, and it left a jagged scar.

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Laurita Miller's work can be found in many nooks and crannies. Glitter and polish not included.

Closing Time at the Shop of Dreams

by Mercedes M. Yardley

He said, “I’ll come back tomorrow,” but that wasn’t what he meant at all. He meant, “Why are you so exquisite? Why does my heart twist like this when I look at you? You’re a beautiful creature made out of sweet violets and axe blades. I hear scissors snipping in my ears whenever you speak.” But I’ll come back tomorrow will simply have to do.

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Mercedes M. Yardley writes whimsical horror and wears poisonous flowers in her hair. Swing by her online home.

The Place Within

by Greg Santos

The place within is a shiny new city. There are commuter trains and a network of subways that transport the inhabitants to my thoughts and desires. The women don multi-hued headscarves and the men all wear fedoras. It is a metropolitan hub where all the movers and shakers like to be seen eating Cobb salads. On weekends they gather here to toast each other over and over. I am never invited but I like to hear their champagne flutes clink from the outside.

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Greg Santos is the poetry editor of pax americana. He blogs here.

Wool

by Yukiko Yoshinaga

We read Ordinary People sophomore year, the book by Judith Guest, and somebody once told me I reminded him of Beth - like I thought if I ran off to some somewhere where the buildings are painted pink like lips and the cobblestones are creamy as the inside of an almond, then the sadness and the crying and the pills, the hurt, the Ds and the Fs, the silence, and the medical bills would all just cease to exist. He knew me very well - I was almost tempted by the thought. The day I wrote the Italian exchange program and told them that I'd changed my mind and I wouldn't be accepting the scholarship for personal reasons, I collapsed onto the bed with my arm flung over my face. There was a muffled thud on the coarse carpeted floor and I rolled over, opening my eyes. It was sort of a revelation - drowsy, but nonetheless a revelation; I saw, reflected in the plastic shrink-wrap over a brand new canvas, this shiny little ball of a soul cocooned in skin like itchy wool just staring back at me. My hair is getting longer, I thought to myself, and hugged a pillow; more is yet to come.

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Yukiko Yoshinaga is almost halfway through high school in America.

When I Realised About My Brother

by Matthew Hull

The woman who came to sit opposite my brother and me on the late train was wearing idiotic clothes and bad makeup and had stupid thick wrists. I curled my lips under my teeth to stop from laughing and looked at my brother. He looked at me and then at her and then me again with a half-smile and those giggling eyes he used to sometimes make. The ugly woman opened her mouth and the tangle of hair on her forehead got caught in an updraft of breath and flapped there just like a windsock. I moved my hand to my mouth to stop the laugh bursting from me and turned to my brother and he was still looking at her. His mouth was a crack wide, just enough to slide in a playing card, and the wet tip of his wet tongue poked through and I knew then that even though her fat belly lolled from underneath her shirt and her face was braille-bumped with acne scars and she had a dirty bandage wrapped around her left foot that he would have done it.

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Matthew Hull is aspiring but blogless.

Bottle Rockets

by Gavin McCall

It wasn’t my fault. I only showed him how to drill holes in the bottom and reattach the fuses, then tape barbeque skewers to their sides so they fly straighter – that’s all. I didn’t tell him to bring them to school, or to light them during recess. I especially didn’t tell him to fire them by hand, even though I did it myself, a couple times. I also didn’t tell him to use old ones, ones that sometimes turn into little cardboard-and-gunpowder bombs, and I didn’t tell him that sometimes they blow up instead of shooting across the soccer field, like mine did. But they do, and he did, and now his sister won’t even look at me anymore.

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Gavin McCall was born on a farm on the Big Island of Hawaii, but has spent the majority of his writing career in Honolulu, where he just received his Master’s Degree in creative writing from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. He won the 2008 Sudden Fiction Award, which included publication in Hawaii Review, and his work has been or will be featured in Boston Literary Magazine, Nimble, Lesser Flamingo and Paradigm.

The Last Prince

by Bob Heman

She kissed the last frog. There were no more. The last prince was the same as all the others. He was missing a hand and his face always faced in only one direction. She was not able to decide if he was the one. After a while, it didn't matter.

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Bob Heman's prose poems and other short proses have appeared in numerous publications including Quick Fiction, Paragraph, Sentence, Otoliths, and Tuesday Shorts. Three of his "Information" pieces are included in the new anthology, An Introduction to the Prose Poem, from Firewheel Editions. He lives in Brooklyn.

The Fuel

by Katarzyna Boczon-Dobbie

They gave me some pills because my body refused to move. I get up in the morning - frozen, I take a pill and wait. All the time I stare at the clock ticking slowly. The medication kicks in and gives me some freedom for: cooking, washing, reading, writing, working on the computer, playing with my children, ENJOYING! The clock is running fast, like lightning. My body suddenly stops working, so I sit on the sofa again and start counting endless minutes.

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Katarzyna Boczon-Dobbie, born in Poland, lives in London and has an MA in Oriental Philology. She writes in English and Polish and has been published in several online magazines. This is her first six.

Morning, Again

by Virginia Winters

Morning comes. Through the window I hear the frantic calls of robin babies, bringing their flapping parents, shift-changing to feed the ravenous gaping mouths. Sunshine, slanting across the wall, reflects from the mirror and glances into my wide-open eyes. The pungency of coffee, freshly brewed from just-ground beans, carries up from the shop below, blowing past the fluttering curtain. The cat jumps on the bed, rough-licking my face and tickling my nose with her whiskers. I lie inert, waiting for the attendant to come and lift me into the chair.

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Virginia Winters, who lives in Lindsay, Ontario, Canada, is an active member of the Internet Writers Workshop. Several of her stories have been published online, and one in Confabulation2, an anthology published by Wynterblue Publishing. She blogs about writing and other interests here.

Fata Morgana 2

by Christian Bell

In the Saharan desert, all mouths salted with sand and heat, he films mirages in the vast wasteland of beauty. It’s a documentary filmed by aliens from the Andromeda Galaxy, he says, an inscription for a future plaque, his face framed in metal-rimmed goggles, his eyes hidden behind black hole lenses. In the distance, there are always voices singing in Arabic, reciting tales of paradise, the voices never coming closer. The crew rides along, often seeing the Atlantic Ocean coming into view. But it’s just more endless desert. They look at him - his face reveals nothing, forever looking forward.

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Christian Bell lives near Baltimore, Maryland. His fiction has appeared in JMWW Quarterly, Pindeldyboz, Skive Magazine, Tattoo Highway, Why Vandalism?, flashquake, Wigleaf, and SmokeLong Quarterly. Visit his blog here.

The Pond

by Erin Yarbery

She picked a pebble from the driveway with every intent to toss it into the pond, even though her parents usually scolded for this. She chose the ugliest, mid-sized pebble she could find because she thought it nice to save the prettier stones. She glanced around to make sure no on was watching and then quickly hurled the tiny rock over the fence toward the pond with all the force and power of a 60-pound, 10-year-old girl hoping to hit the bank on the opposite side. It was a test of power and strength to see just how far she could throw it. Nevertheless, when it dipped into the water only midway across she was quite amused and delighted by the amount of ripples it created. Eventually, when the water calmed again, she skipped away content with the disturbance she must have caused among the fish and frogs.

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Erin Yarbery is currently enjoying the possibilities of writing. She can be more closely followed here.

The Horny Insomniac

by Katie McCullough

Henry always found himself the last awake in the house once all the doors were locked, the children put to bed and the windows shut firmly and secure. His groggy dial-up connection would flicker the images (some of which moved jerkily) and because he’d watched them many times over he used to concentrate on the background details like the mismatched furnishings, the reachable towel and the bare tiled floors. Other times he’d make a coffee and transcribe the dialogue from the lurid pop-ups he watched the most and he began to assign the girls names, occupations, hobbies and dislikes. He stopped wearing his "easy-access" pyjamas and even began to wear his glasses so he could see in more definition; the Internet upgrade he debated on for so long made all the difference and he’d watch all the way through to the end amid the grunts and murmurs. He’d even taken to painting screen stills on to canvasses (Henry had been an avid painter in his day you see) and became very attached to them once finished but of course knew they’d have to go in the basement along with the others; Lydia thought it best not to scare the children. Soon the basement became crammed with snapshots of orifices, limbs and liquid appreciation and it soon transpired that the only way he could sleep was in the static company of Susan who loved to bake and surf at the weekend, Leonora who was partial to a gin and tonic but despised her next-door neighbours, Judith (she was his favourite) who was coy but loved to discuss politics and last but not least Gerry who had the smooth skin of a peach and the taste of cherry tobacco.

6S

Katie McCullough is a screenwriter and playwright whose tools of choice are her hands and anything to write with (as well as her mouth to talk to people). She's a graduate of Bournemouth Media School and The Royal Court, London, and has had several readings at the ICA and Theatre Royal, Stratford East. Her website is here.

The Reeling

by Sean Gregson

When Katherine and Lindsey broke into Melks’ house, they did it out of neighbourly concern. The sisters found a house on its knees, ankle deep in filth and emptied out tape reels. In every room, shelves and shelves of cassettes dominated the walls. Katherine took one of the tapes at random and placed it in the player. The spool whirled to life and so did their mother’s voice, her last words played out once again. That night, they sat and listened to the highlights of their lives, and thought more of themselves than the man they’d come to find.

6S

Sean Gregson's play, Donal Fleet: A Confessional, will be performed in September at Hampstead Theater.

First Born

by Mary Cassidy

Darien smiles. Inside, the baby dances, her tiny feet pressed against his fingers. He whispers to her of secret things – things a boy will teach his sister: which stones to skip, which rocks to climb and how to scoop your hands to capture jumping crawlies. She kicks his hand, and the laughter bubbles up inside him. Momma smiles, her joy wide as the sky. He wants to hold it – this moment with momma intent on him; her belly filled with baby.

6S

Mary Cassidy is a sometimes writer living in Vermont with her husband and two children. This is her first six.

Dog Kisses

by Jennifer Haddock

I can’t help enjoying that pink, wet tongue that leaves its slimy path down my face and causes others to shudder and turn away as they think about the toilet you just drank from or the private parts that you just cleaned. I know that you are probably licking off the salt of my skin or replaying your instinctual search for regurgitated food from your mother’s mouth. But my heart tells me that this is love and perhaps even appreciation, as if you somehow know that I snatched you from the death that waited at the end of that gray-green hallway. Although people kisses are nice and much less likely to infect me with some parasite or bacteria, they are also less enthusiastic and certainly less unconditional. So I abandon my face to the warm, viscous love of your dog kisses. Although forgive me for keeping my lips pressed tight together against the images of where your tongue has been, for I am only human.

6S

Jennifer Haddock, whose work is featured in Six Sentences, Volume 1, is a writer, therapist and mother from Baltimore, Maryland.

TMI

by Margaret Bail

I noticed her when she walked into the conference, not because she was pretty (though she wasn’t not pretty), but because she reminded me of a Renaissance painting – round, full and ripe – not at all today’s feminine ideal. She wore an inappropriately revealing white dress, cut low up top and cut short down below, obviously designed for a slimmer form then manufactured and distorted to fit everywoman. When she sat her big breasts bounced and threatened to overflow, while under the table her ample thighs were visible much farther north than I preferred to see, though from my angle the ultimate terminus was still a mystery. I tried to pay attention to the conference. And yet... inexplicably distracted, my eyes were still drawn to that fleshy chasm, rippled legs spread too wide (but not quite Sharon Stone wide). I wondered, both titillated and revolted, how much information the men directly across from her were getting and if it was too much or just enough.

6S

Margaret Bail - writer, grad student, mom - is hiding out in the vast, unending northern plains.

Scarred

by caccy46

On her forearm there was a raised shiny, thick scar like a strip of satin ribbon ending in a point - I wanted to touch it because it looked so smooth. "What's that?" I asked as she pulled my shirt over my head. "Wha's wha, chile?" she answered in her gravelly voice, which often left off the last sound of each word she spoke. I ran my fingers along the long, pink mark, so prominent against her dark brown skin; I watched the scar wrinkle as I slid my fingers down its length. "Oh dat's where ma mean ole daddy cut me wit his huntin knife - he was a mean man when he drinked." Even though I was a young child, I can still remember how those words slashed through my mind trying to imagine what it meant to have a father who would cut his own child.

6S

caccy46's full 6S catalog is here.

The Gopher

by Alicia

My husband is a writer and I work as his assistant, sometimes taking on tasks he would do so that he has extra writing time. My blog's tagline is "Because someone has to take out the garbage." It's a tagline with dual meaning. Although his story has a great plot and vivid characters, this doesn't mean his novel doesn't need editing. Sometimes part of my job is to take out the garbage. Or at least highlight it, so he can.

6S

Alicia blogs here.

Shaving Mirror

by Brad Rose

The end was always at hand, only today, more so. When she finally walked out, he discovered that everything remained the same, nothing changed. Confounded, he waited for a breakthrough, or a breakdown. Neither came. Just the bills piling up, week after week, like layers of earth shoveled into the open grave of someone he almost recognized. That morning, when he cut himself shaving, only the mirror bled.

6S

Brad Rose shares more of his work on the 6S Social Network.

No Place Like Home

by Joseph Badham

I was 21 when they sent me off to war. Two long years I spent sitting in the sand watching bloodstains dry and they sent me home last week. It doesn't feel like I remember. Apparently I don't laugh like I used to. I'm sitting in my father's chair staring at the television, drowning the chatter with a wall of noise. They're sending me back next spring, but I'm not sure I'll last the winter.

6S

Joseph Badham was writing a book until he realized no one was going to read it. Now he's paying the bills doing a job he doesn't like.

So Tired

by Tessa Scoffs

My eyes snap open and I turn to look at the clock. Only 3:19. Hours to go til morning. I quietly slip out of bed to get myself a sleeping pill. I pour myself a tall glass of cold orange juice, leaving none for the morning. I shake a pill from the bottle into my hand and take twenty-seven instead.

6S

Tessa Scoffs blogs here.

Dylan’s Radiator

by Rod Drake

The old radiator in the corner of my Village apartment knows things, has great stories stored in its rusty pipes but refuses to say a word. Bob Dylan lived in this apartment in the 1960s, wrote some of his songs here, jammed electric with the Byrds, argued art and politics with Andy Warhol and Lenny Bruce, smoked dope with the Beatles, probably slept with some sweet-faced groupies and generally "turned on, tuned in and dropped out." And the radiator saw it, hear it all, like a fly on the wall (or in this case, a radiator in the corner). But will the radiator tell me anything, regale me with stories of these psychedelic glory days, about the leader of it all holding court, right here in this apartment? No. The radiator hums and steams in the winter, but it never utters a single word, just stands there silent and knowing.

6S

Rod Drake is hiding out in Las Vegas behind sunglasses, a white jumpsuit and an Elvis wig. (Thank you, thank you, very much.)

Saturday Night

by Janet Dale

We walk together to the front porch, and out of nowhere, she hugs me tight with both arms. I remain frozen, she tells me how it was “the best night.” Turning in toward her — those sparkling blue eyes, for a moment I consider a kiss. But instead, I scurry away to the safety of the car, she pauses to watch me go. I slide the key into the ignition and flash my headlights; she flashes the porch light back at me. Apart, we’re just two confused souls in the dark, but together we're electric.

6S

Janet Dale, who blogs here, is set to graduate from the University of Memphis in December with a B.A. in English (Creative Writing). She is currently researching M.F.A. programs, studying to take the GRE, and reading literary classics.

I Remember Jimmy

by Rebecca Auge

I was three when my mother put Jimmy in the oven. Jimmy and I played together and Jimmy was my friend. Mother said she didn’t think it would hurt him. Jimmy screamed and burned-up... she laughed. I told dad about Jimmy and I cried. Jimmy was my first gingerbread man.

6S

Rebecca Auge writes haiku and short fiction in Northern California.

The Difference Between Love and Text

by Joseph Grant

He asked her to dance but instead she asked for his cell and with a smile he gave her his digits and almost as quickly she disappeared inside the human fog that was the crowded club. Dismayed, he went back to his friends and shrugged and said women don’t want to talk anymore, all they want to do is text when his cell suddenly vibed in his pocket. sure luv2, u buy me a drink lol the text read and he looked at the bar and spotted the shorty he wanted to dance with standing there texting. She was a blonde little hottie, somewhat pudgy but pudgy in all the right places, he thought and like the old song went 18 with a ‘tude, 19 acting kinda snotty acting real rude, but he liked the challenge and bought her drinks until her spoiled sourpuss turned to a buzzed smile. Considering himself lucky, he left with her while she texted her friends she was leaving with him, a guy her friends thought was below her game. Back at his place he was annoyed by how many calls the princess had to take but charmed his way into her pink chonies, anyway and so as he banged her from on top and from behind, he told himself never again, as she texted the entire time.

6S

Joseph Grant is one of 6S's favorite sons, and the hits just keep on coming.

On Openness

by Olivia Dunn

I bought love stamps for the office. I just couldn't stand that brown fucking cracked forever liberty bell any longer. Now we have kings and queens in shades of Easter, eying each other warily: forty four cents of wedding invitation on each invoice for services billed. Staring at them is softening, they sit in a square pile on my neatly organized desk. The office is nearly empty, and I play Band of Horses aloud, unabashedly, singing along to the high keens, the adolescent fervor. I will think about smiling and I will practice prolonged eye contact and I will listen to these songs as many times as I please, because the sound of voice layered upon voice is the loveliest thing I know.

6S

Olivia Dunn blogs here, and writes a weekly column here.

Mirror, Mirror

by Sharon Haywood

Darcy arches her back and strains over one shoulder, and then with a twist, the other. She sighs. As she faces her full-length reflection, she frowns at the flesh that brims over the elasticized band of her new pink and purple bikini bottom. Chin to chest, she pinches the paunch just beneath her bellybutton, scrunching her nose at it. Straightening up and confronting herself again, she tugs at the sides of her top. Palms flat, Darcy smoothes out the folds that wrinkle the pretty princesses, and then darts down the stairs and out the back door to join her sisters in the shallow end.

6S

Sharon Haywood - originally from Toronto - is a writer and editor living in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Much of her writing focuses on promoting a healthy body image at sites such as Adios, Barbie and Any-Body. Check out more of her work - both fiction and non-fiction - at her website.

Night Flight

by Diane Brady

It haunted my sleep, seeing that streamlined beauty on the tarmac, so familiar yet elusive. While the air outside my bedroom vibrated and rumbled with distant thunder, I walked around the airplane I would soon pilot; in dreams, you don’t always know where you’re going, just that you’re headed somewhere and, often, with apprehension. I sat inside the cockpit to study the panel, which at that point seemed unfamiliar and complex even though I had flown this bird for many years. There was someplace I had to be, someplace I was traveling to in a few days, and I sensed I would not fly myself there because something was wrong – very wrong. Although I have never desired to relive my past, I yearned then to move back in time so I could once again fly my little airplane with confidence high above the Earth. Suddenly, the morning sun streams through my window, and I open my eyes; but the air is still electric, as in my dream, the bright sunlight fading quickly as angry clouds move across the tropical landscape; I am caught between two worlds, confused, uncertain, questioning the heavens and the pounding rain, pleading, this time, not to sweep away my soul.

6S

Diane Brady is currently serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Belize, C.A.

The Crimson Wave

by Suzanne Baran

B. the Irishman actor had me over for dinner. He cooks really great fajitas. I write on his typewriter while listening to Lou Rawls on vinyl. I told him I am expecting my period. He asked if women get it around the time of a full moon. “Interesting theory,” I said, “but no.”

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.

Remembered

by Gloria Watts

If I could just remember the time, the day, the when and where we last met. It used to be all so easy, a picture frame set in my head always there, always available whenever wanted. What happened, did it fade, built upon by many favourable memories, until smothered, it lived no more? If I could find it, to see once more your face, that smile; happiness absent for so long would again be mine. Crazy old woman, so long ago, a love lost in time, hidden deep in years passed. A love drowned, and now…at last breath, a dream restored, a love remembered, a love returned.

6S

Gloria Watts is a retired Further Education Lecturer living in the UK. She enjoys writing flash fiction, short stories and poetry; much of her work has been published online. (Always busy, Gloria loves gardening, watercolour painting and her regular yoga sessions.)

Metro Preacher

by Sadie Beauregard

There's a preacher man across the bus aisle with soil rich skin and a worn out Seattle Mariners cap. He gives the mass of his mind's eye, intermingled with tidbits of religious devotion, insights on capital punishment, and brisk marriage ceremonies. With "to have and to hold, to love and to cherish," the preacher man blesses the supposed union of the former governor and the incumbent city councilman, the matrimonial bliss of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr., the marriage of Kristi Yamaguchi and the prophet Solomon. He squeezes a Heineken between his knees while praising the saints: Joan of Arc, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Saint Betty (that of cookies, cakes, and pies). He admits to a tipsy disposition, proclaims to those waiting for the 358 that it was Milton Bradley after all. "The meek shall inherit the Earth," he reminds, and holds up a newspaper to block the sinking sun.

6S

Sadie Beauregard is a writer, reader, and gardener from Seattle. She especially likes to explore the intricacies and power of creative non-fiction.

Homeland Security

by Lisa Simone

She’d gone to watch her friend’s volleyball game, and it was already dark when she walked through her front door and found her mother sitting on the bottom steps, mouth in a thin, grim line, eyes unfocused and too bright. The greeting was the next sign, with technically polite words spoken in a syrupy way that turned her stomach like too much fudge. She looked past her mother, up the stairs, calculating the odds of reaching the sanctuary of her room, while forcing her mouth to form an equally polite and insincere response. She went for it; her attempt instantly thwarted by her mother’s quick reflexes and surprising ability to puff herself up to fill the space between the wall and banister. A hailstorm of hate pelted her, the syrupy voice now acidic, and knowing that retreat was her only option, she turned for the door, hearing the words, “I should have drowned you as a baby,” reverberating in her head as she ran into the night. The next day, she surreptitiously counted her mother’s pills, knowing there would be too many left in the bottle, and then retreated to her room to wait for her father to come home and install the newly promised lock on her door that was supposed to give her a sense of security, but could in no way keep her safe.

6S

Lisa Simone is a full-time mom, wife and teacher who neglects laundry and other household duties to make time to write.

Can You Spell Obitchuary?

by Wallace Taylor

You impressed me with your language skills. Once, I told you how much I love your love of nuance — I called it “trivia” then — and I thanked you for sharing your knowledge of the spoken word, though you corrected that you were "teaching" the "basics" of "communicating." No woman has taken such an interest in my growth, and no one has more encouraged me to recognize the heights to which I must climb. So, having spent these years learning that “you” always comes before “I” and that “me” is almost never right, I am ready to move up to another class. Goodbye. Bitch.

6S

Wallace Taylor is not perfect, and is not a perfect writer, but at least he knows it.

Control Issues

by Peggy McFarland

I had the radio dream again. I'm at the control board and U2 is warbling the last 10 seconds of "Out of Control" and I look at the empty second turntable and panic. The albums are all down the hall in the record room and I didn't pull them ahead of time. I grab a cartridge for an unscheduled commercial to buy sixty seconds but all I find are ten second public service announcements. Song ends, microphone on and my mind blanks. Dead air... until I awake and realize radio is all computerized now and I'm not a DJ and I never run out of things to say.

6S

Peggy McFarland is proud to add the upcoming anthologies by Harbinger*33 and Absent Willow Review to her credits. Her works have appeared or will appear at Long Story Short, Sonar 4 E-Zine, Absent Willow Review, FlashShot, and WordSlaw. Her full 6S catalog is here.

The Last to Go

by Colette Martin

For eighteen years I watched him push himself to be the best. My heart broke as I watched him on stage at age seven, holding back his tears for landing second place in the science fair. I tried not to lose my temper (and failed) when he smashed his french horn because he couldn’t hit the high note, and I tried to be supportive when he insisted that he needed to attend the Valedictorian / Salutatorian dinner at the same time as the state qualifications for track. The choice was entirely his. We arrived in a unique community nestled among the White Mountains, where frisbees and textbooks mix seamlessly with crisp clean air on the big green. And as I made the four-hour drive home alone after safely depositing him, I knew that he was exactly where he should be.

6S

Colette Martin is a "marketing executive turned writer" who blogs about life in Corporate America here.

Cigarettes and Ice Cream

by Katie McCullough

She was rushing to get cigarettes in a panic because she’d forgotten to buy them when she did the weekly shop and needed them so he wouldn’t moan as soon as he got in the door. He was racing to get the ice-cream that his daughter had requested because she was still suffering from a sore throat and he didn’t want her up half the night crying again, last night tested his limits. In slow motion all eyes fixed on the point of impact where the car hit and shards of glass splintered on the pavement causing passersby to cower at the sound and watch the body float through the air. She hadn’t even reached the store when it hit her, she did not want to go back and the urge was so strong she walked faster and faster and clutched her purse close to her chest. He couldn’t decide on strawberry or chocolate and staring into the middle distance he weighed them both in his hands as he caught sight of her over the road walking past. They’d been to school years before, even dated for a while, and he rushed out calling her name but she didn’t hear him and she most definitely wouldn’t recognize him with blood spilling from his mouth as he lay mingling with the ice cream.

6S

Katie McCullough is a screenwriter and playwright whose tools of choice are her hands and anything to write with (as well as her mouth to talk to people). She's a graduate of Bournemouth Media School and The Royal Court, London, and has had several readings at the ICA and Theatre Royal, Stratford East. Her website is here.

Acer Macrophyllum

by Maurine Pfuhl

It turns out the tree was a Big Leaf Maple. You see, we never bothered to identify any of the trees that inhabited our yard, only enjoyed the shade and privacy they afforded us. The tree, like us, was healthy when we arrived here, all of its limbs were intact, and it stood with an air of pride as its furthermost branches reached for the sun. Then, as time went by, Anne got worse, and I suppose I did too, we all did really, and off went the tree's once sturdy limbs. It was several years after the maiming when we noticed the large ominous wet black circle at the base of tree, and realized that we were long past the point of saving. The tree's gone now - cut down to its waterlogged base, and we are left learning to embrace a void filled only with blinding sunlight and our own shadows.

6S

Maurine Pfuhl is never gonna give you up, let you down, run around, or desert you. Her blog is here.

This Used to Be a Funhouse

by Simone Liggins

I stared at the door, willed it to open with her on the other side, but I knew reality too well. I stumbled to the coffee table. I pulled out a baggie and poured, forming two lines. I grabbed a sheet of paper lying next to me and ripped it in half, rolled it and snorted the lines as fast as I could. Life used to be a funhouse, I thought. I curled into a ball on the floor and cried, and as I wondered how I’d missed the fact that the funhouse had shut down long before Meredith’s tires screeched out of the parking lot, I waited for that jolt to kick.

6S

Simone Liggins, in the hopes of becoming a successful novelist, is an English major (Creative Writing) at the University of Memphis.

Daydream

by Anshuman Fotedar

"Would you like to have something, sir?" asked the angel in the blue schoolgirl uniform, and managing to peer through the cloud that covered my senses, I saw Aditi - her beautiful eyes gleaming at me as pearls from the depths of the ocean. It's been so long since I saw you last, I thought, my mouth parched, I knew not why. She was silent; she looked just like she had at the party, with her long lustrous black hair flowing over her shoulders - or did she? No, this was not a school uniform at all - she had gone back to a life of being the panacea for weary travelers and scared little kids (Ah, the romance of it!). "Sir...," she said, now somewhat imploringly, "...perhaps you'd like a sandwich" - huh - I paid for a chicken sandwich and a carton of juice. Perhaps my face was flushed, for I saw airhostess Nidhi give me a tiny little smile as she moved over to the next row of seats.

6S

Anshuman Fotedar is pursuing an undergraduate degree in Mathematics and Computing at the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, and has decided that he should write.

Parts of the Hand

by Kim Tairi

As the bus driver handed me my ticket and change I noticed faded prison tattoos on each hand. Love and hate like fine spider veins barely visible on the base phalanges of each finger. I looked at his face and wondered but he looked through me to his next passenger. Walking to my seat, I reached up adjusted the sleeve of my jumper which covered my own prison etchings. Usually sedated by the routine of the girls home, I was driven by boredom and a longing for freedom so fierce that I let my "room" mate tattoo a picture of Kurt Cobain on my arm. Released into the custody of foster parents two years ago, I picked up work here and there; today, finally I am taking the bus to get Kurt lasered off, knowing that the scars will never heal.

6S

Kim Tairi: librarian by day, masked avenger by night (and dreamer all the time).

Manhattan

by Virginia Winters

I resent the single-mindedness that took me to downtown Manhattan yesterday. I rarely ventured that close to the seats of the powerful, but my need to see him was stronger than my reason. He held the key to the patrimony that would end the ignoble poverty to which fate and circumstances that I had not been able to transcend and which had proved so damaging to my soul had condemned me. Retaining nothing of the kindliness and charity that I believe I should have inherited from my mother, I joined my father’s rapacious nature to my own deep-seated anger. I went to Manhattan to meet my used-to-be lover, my spouse, my banker, who, if I asked nicely would take me back, free me to live again that life of ease and privilege to which he had introduced me. My intentions were good, but I went to Manhattan yesterday, and I shot him.

6S

Virginia Winters lives in Lindsay, Ontario Canada. She is an active member of the Internet Writers Workshop. Several of her stories have been published online; one in Confabulation2, an anthology published by Wynterblue Publishing. She blogs about writing and other interests here.

520-206

by Paige Turner

You had to leave town the day after we met. You called on a pay phone three hundred miles away, you wanted to tell me you missed me. The second time I kissed you I was stepping out of a greyhound; I could hear my heart go "pop" over the engine. I remember the dress I was wearing, flowers wrapped in plastic, and the fragile, hopeful look that went over your face and all the way through me. The last time I woke up with your arms around mine I felt so much love I couldn't move. You were gone an hour later, and the city didn't feel like home anymore.

6S

Paige Turner writes for a living and is infatuated with her pen name.

Dying Habits

by Gavin McCall

A man comes home late at night, his arms full of groceries. He sets the bags on the kitchen table and begins cooking – chicken casserole, chop salad and scalloped potatoes. Even though it’s late, he sings as he cooks. He doesn’t need to be quiet; there is no one to wake in the house and he knows this. When the casserole is done he sits alone at the table set for four. Then he goes to bed, leaving the table set for the people he used to cook for a lifetime ago.

6S

Gavin McCall was born on a farm on the Big Island of Hawaii, but has spent the majority of his writing career in Honolulu, where he just received his Master’s Degree in creative writing from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. He won the 2008 Sudden Fiction Award, which included publication in Hawaii Review, and his work has been or will be featured in Boston Literary Magazine, Nimble, Lesser Flamingo and Paradigm.

Penelope

by J.W. Huff

Penelope sits on a splintered old stool, balancing colours on her knees. She cradles a little boy’s face in her palms, and he wants to be a dog or a demon or Michelangelo the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. His mother jams a hand into her giant purse and says, “I’m not paying more than two dollars for this, you know.” Penelope doesn’t respond. Her stained finger traces a shadow across his soft pink cheek and they both smile. Their illusions are priceless.

6S

J.W. Huff is a Canadian freelance writer. He blogs about pop culture here.

Following My Father’s Tire Tracks

by Brad Bisio

On a rocky dirt road flanked by a scattered hyena pack, I drove a white 1989 Ford Escort with an AM radio, following my unaware father who sped ahead, a cloud of dust in the wake of his black 911 Turbo Porsche. The engine sputtered before running out of gas, so I unstrapped the bike on the roof like I was bailing water from a sinking ship, then raced onward, yelling through cupped hands, “Wait up!” I looked over my shoulder only to lose control on the rutted road, flying off the banana seat and over the handle bars as two opportunistic hyenas pursued, waiting to attack. Forced to leave the mangled bike and my father’s trail, with bloody road-rash face and knees, I sprinted through a tall, golden grass field toward a broken down, rusted-roof shelter, a WELCOME sign above the door. My slouched, rotund maternal grandmother – her white hair pulled into a bun and in the same slippers and floral-patterned housedress that she seemed to always be wearing – answered my pounding knock. I laughed, with relieved desperation, then turned to face my demon past, but the hyenas chasing had changed into gray, feral cats.

6S

Brad Bisio's work has recently appeared in Paradigm, Pequin, and Boston Literary Magazine, and is forthcoming in Word Riot and Gutter Eloquence. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee.

Myrna and Me

by Kenneth Pobo

I always considered her sophisticated. At 80, with Tareytons in a glass top hat, taking each one out as if it were a friend she hadn’t seen in a decade, she smoked with delight and effervescence. In my twenties, pretty much of a dummy, I loved Jesus and Nyquil. She said she had a nervous stomach. I had a nervous life. When she died, the nervous sky parted and she walked onto Heaven’s widest boulevard, tinted hair only slightly less red than a Tennessee sunset.

6S

Kenneth Pobo’s poetry chapbook, Trina and the Sky, won the 2009 Main Street Rag poetry chapbook contest. His fiction appears in: Galleon, Verbsap, Word Riot, Tonopah Review, Fiction at Work, and elsewhere.

Promise Yourself...

by Thirsty Desert

...to be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind. To talk health, happiness, and prosperity to every person you meet. To make all your friends feel that there is something in them. To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true. To think only the best, to work only for the best, and to expect only the best. To live in the faith that the whole world is on your side so long as you are true to the best that is in you.

6S

Thirsty Desert lives in Los Angeles and occasionally contributes affirmations (above) and original writings to the 6S Social Network.

Rejection

by Erin Cole

As always, amber light spilled through the cracked door and I slid inside his office, stealth as a feline, gun heavy and hard in my hands. “Janet,” he said, looking up from a mound of manuscripts I knew would be in the trash by morning, along with an empty box of Chinese food, and all the unanswered sticky notes his secretary had left him for the day. “Hello Daniel,” I replied, swaggering up to his desk with my breasts perked and the gun leveled between his eyes — he was always a good liar and acted surprised. “Wait, let’s talk about this,” he said to me, but I knew he didn’t really want to talk about my book; he just wanted to screw me over like every other dame, tragically discarded, and then, as if on cue, he jumped at me, seizing the gun from my wrist, and threw me against the wall, his hand up my skirt, mouth hot on my neck, each touch a little different than our last encounter, but this time, a knock at the door threw us both off. “Hello Daniel,” his wife Ellen said, whose gun probably had at least one more bullet than mine. “Wait, let’s talk about this,” he replied back, a habitual response by now, and that’s when I realized that Danny was only trouble and that children’s books might be a more suited avenue for my goals.

6S

Erin Cole is a writer striving to capture the magic of life in her novels, short stories, and essays. She lives in Portland and is currently working on her second novel. (This piece originally appeared in the 6S Social Network.)

Solvency

by Mimi Vaquer

Andrei used to sit at the cracked stone bench in the courtyard behind the building and paint in the afternoon sunlight, positioning his canvas between the waltzing shadows of a mimosa tree that played on the cement surfaces. I would stop by my window and make out the tiny dots of color over his shoulder, reading the intent of his focus by the posture of his back, his muscles tensed and the tendons in his neck pushing against the skin. My neighbor, my friend, we sat on the corners of his couch with wine in hand, my mother there too, and toasted the time measured out in memories of each other – six years since he found the words to call America his second home. I don't remember now the taste of the steak, or the invitation that I only gave once, twice, no insistence on my part, not understanding the breach of etiquette I had committed through the judgment of his culture. He walks with his back to me down the cobblestoned street with a detached sashay, unaware of our near encounter, saved from the unnatural attempt at an averted gaze by simple seconds. Last night I sat in the courtyard and placed my glass over a forgotten spill of his paint, blue and yellow surreal through a crystal moon of glass, the claret color of wine staining the whites of my eyes.

6S

Mimi Vaquer writes out of Savannah, GA. She is not yet an expert on anything.

By the Apartment House Pool

by Margaret A. Robinson

Toweling our soaked gray hair, stretching out on twin plastic lounge chairs, we sunbathe after our laps, eyes shut, close as sisters though we’re only friends, and in age, fifteen years apart. Warming and relaxing, after the cold water, I murmur, “My husband will never retire - he’s working himself to death.” With a sigh, Lil says, "And mine’s been in hospice for three weeks, but he won’t give up." We both open our eyes to look past the six-story apartment house, above the green tree tops, at the endless blue sky, stacked with mid-July thunderheads. Lil whispers, “He's getting bedsores, he can't swallow, I just want it over.” Pointing, I say, “A good hard rain’s on the way.”

6S

Margaret A. Robinson can be reached here.

Six Verses Before the Chorus

Six Sixes by Michael D. Brown



6S

Michael D. Brown writes whenever he can, laboring on his magnum opus: Any Day Now.

Changes

by caccy46

She used to have a lot to say, making her well liked by many. She was upbeat, interested and always willing to help out. As time passed and life got in her way, she spoke less and less, no longer in tune with happy thoughts. She became self-absorbed and soundlessly watched friendships fall away like a windless autumn when leaves dropped slowly. She realized as time passed that there were fewer and fewer people in her life. She had fooled herself into thinking them an albatross, not wanting to see the emptiness that surrounded her was a dirge of her own creation.

6S

caccy46's full 6S catalog is here.

Martinis for One

by Janet Dale

Sitting alone at the bar in her favorite little black dress, Ginny Martin was a masterpiece suitable for framing. Men paused, stealing glances as her slender arm reached forward to accept another drink from the bartender. She tilted her head to look down at the simple gold watch encircling her wrist. Her brain began ticking off the reasons Mike would give her for not showing via a hushed telephone conversation later: one of his boys was sick, Marta made him steak for dinner, or the guilt was too much to bear. After two more drinks, she slid off the stool and opened her purse to settle the tab, but the bartender said, “It’s on the house.” After holding up her empty glass for a silent toast, she turned toward the door and went out into the night.

6S

Janet Dale, who blogs here, is set to graduate from the University of Memphis in December with a B.A. in English (Creative Writing). She is currently researching M.F.A. programs, studying to take the GRE, and reading literary classics.

Strawberry Blues

by Margaret Bail

I planted something I thought was a strawberry in a neat row with my other strawberries, but it turns out that this plant was not a strawberry at all but rather some odd mystery plant masquerading as a strawberry. While the rest of the plants in the row dutifully produced appropriate white flowers and luscious, sweet red berries, this plant produced rebellious tiny yellow flowers and only teased me with bud-like baby fruits which never advanced beyond nubbin size, and remained the color of honeydew melon flesh. While still a small baby plant its leaves were tantalizingly similar in shape and size to other strawberries, the perfect disguise. But as it grew it spread like a garden virus stretching tall and wide, abandoning the deception once it was at home. I was torn about what to do with this plant because I had already adopted it into my garden family and it felt wrong somehow to murder it, even though the rest of the strawberries in the same row were obviously irritated by its creeping crowding presence. It stood out like the Wicked Witch of the West in a Rockettes lineup but in the end all I could do was accept it, as any parent does, my own ugly duckling, a special surprise challenging me every day to learn its secret identity.

6S

Margaret Bail - writer, grad student, mom - is hiding out in the vast, unending northern plains.

Yank That Necktie

by Tammy Melody Gomez

I was certain that the necktie would be left behind in the 20th century, but it seems to have snaked its unwelcome way into this one. Pity. Now I have to watch my man insinuate his mood, his soup-slurping protocol via necktie mannerisms. I hate how that thing strangles my saccades, absorbs his fastidious focus. One day I'll yank that necktie off to a quiet closet, unsuspecting. Gonna string it up high, watch it kick and twitch in unfashionable demise.

6S

Tammy Melody Gomez, who blogs here, is a writer, performer, producer, and grassroots educator.

Encounter

by Tom Bolo

The other day I ran into an ex-girlfriend from several years ago. I congratulated her on her pregnancy. I told her how radiant, how fresh, how absolutely glowing and alive she looked! I asked her when the big day was and had she picked any names? She informed me that I was an idiot and left. Whoops!

6S

Tom Bolo looks for answers where the sea meets the sand on the central California coast and occasionally post the results here.

Mating Song

by Kelly Barnhill

Two hours after the first and only time they ever made love, Ro kicked off the sweaty sheets, slid into the cold, downy hairs unfurling over her arms, her long hair flapping at her sides like wings. "Come back," Andrew said, his eyes avoiding the twin smears of blood on either thigh, the knee-shaped bruise just below her hip. "I had a bird that I loved until it died, though mother told me it learned the secret of its latch, and flew away." Andrew wanted to tell her that all mothers lie - or perhaps that love is a lie, or that a lie of love is justified if it results in the ultimate and undeniable truth of skin upon skin against skin, of shirts and socks and skirts molted away and fluttering prettily to the ground - but he thought better of it and said nothing, and noticed instead the way the lamplight fell across her widening arms, the scritch of her toenails against the blue tile floor, the way her body seemed suddenly light and soft as feathers. He closed his eyes and, waiting for her to return, dreamed of blue eggs in fiercely protected nests, of love songs warbled sweetly to the sky, of migration and water and wings. When he woke, his bed was covered with long feathers and foamy down, his skin deeply etched by the talons of a bird: a love poem that he would never read.

6S

Kelly Barnhill's work has appeared in Underground Voices, The Sun, Postscripts, and Polluto, and a first novel - recently purchased by Little, Brown - is set to be released next year.

Homage to Beckett

by Mark Wolfe

Let's. Let's leave. Let's leave it. Let's leave it at. Let's leave it at that. Let's leave it at that then.

6S

Mark Wolfe is a writer who lives in London, Ontario.

Snowdrops in Trafalgar Square

by Maureen Jivani

All around the square, the pilgrims were naked and hurrying towards the sacred fountain. There was a long queue, and they were allowed to dip the fingers of one hand only. There had been talk about rainfall but it was only talk. Nobody believed it, the same way as they hadn’t believed in global warming. When the ice-caps had melted there was water everywhere but soon the planet had dried to a scab, and now rain fell briefly only every few years, and it never snowed, anywhere, although snowdrops had suddenly become available, at a price, from the bag-lady in the square: little blue-pills that would melt on your tongue leaving a cold metallic taste, making you tingle. They were illegal, and potentially fatal, although the authorities had promised faithfully to turn a blind eye.

6S

Maureen Jivani writes poetry and short fiction. She has an Mphil in Writing from The University of Glamorgan and has published online at Nthposition, Qarrtsiluni, and Retort. Her work has appeared in print in many UK literary magazines and journals including The Wolf, The Rialto, and Magma.

The Cycle

by Zoé Carroll

I hear all of the advice I’m being given and it’s good advice, given with genuine concern. I should probably take it, after all, these people have made their own mistakes and are keen that I learn from them. I will probably live to regret the course of action I plan to take; people may well get hurt along the way, not least me. Is it better then to look over your shoulder and say “I shouldn’t have done that” and know that should you have your chance you would counsel the young against it? They will say as I now say, “Ah, but is it not better to regret the things that you have done than the things that you haven’t?” And you will say “Perhaps," knowing that I will, as you did, and they will.

6S

Zoé Carrolle is a happy person who is writing her first novel (very, very slowly).

The Richardson

by Lindsay Kaplan

It was all red and black and smoky, that night, like a film dated by the sun or wine, but I don't know, I don't remember. I drank too much scotch, and I leaned into the counter, drummed my fingers on the bar, and looked at the barkeep with two heavily shadowed brown eyes. And I believe I ordered a scotch and soda with a twist and at one point in the evening discussed that said scotch and soda with a twist is the drink a scotch drinker has when it's warm out, and I must have wrapped my sweater tighter around my shoulders because it wasn't warm at all. And we talked about the rise and fall of the American novel, about meta-fiction, about the uselessness of an MFA and even the relative uselessness of a PhD, to which we all laughed and laughed and some of us drank and drank. Some of us felt forlorn, some of us felt saved; I felt drunk, and lost my balance. Someone picked me up, and my scotch and soda with a twist, and walked me out of the Richardson while someone else paid my tab. That was the first time the PhD and I met, but not the last time we would drink scotch on a sad bar stool on a sad evening.

6S

Lindsay Kaplan drinks scotch and lives in New York. Her work has been featured in McSweeney's Internet Tendency, Down by the Hipster, Mountain Man Dance Moves, and Time Out New York.

Deliverance

by Nada Faris

My wife lay on the hospital bed glowing with the perspiration of labour while I sat next to her. She slid her delicate fingers into my dark hand and looked lovingly into my eyes. “Tell them to bring him to me,” she asked me and I obliged. When I returned to her side, she told me that she wanted to call him “Andrew.” “Why Andrew?” I asked quite perplexed. She mumbled something about the monarchic weight of the name but when they brought in her child, whose skin was as white as snow, I knew why she named him Andrew and not Ahmad as planned.

6S

Nada Faris works full-time at Kuwait University, and is a part-time graduate student in its Master's Program of Comparative Literature. Her morning begins at 4am with a large mug of Turkish coffee and a heavy dose of writing. (She fills her free hours with football training.)