20210623

Compulsion

by Brad Rose

Last night, I flicked all the lights off and on, as I watched my Three Mile Island lava lamp erupt under lightning. Now, I’m counting the rungs on my step ladder. Someday, I’m going to tally all my favorite sentences, but until then, what do you suppose are the odds of an asteroid strike? Last week, as I was counting the red cars on my way to work and the blue cars on my way home, I lost track of how often I blinked. I want to stop, but I can’t. Of course, it’s not every day you get to set the record straight.

6S

Brad Rose's website is here.

20210622

First World

by Linda Sanchez

By the time a human started typing in the chat box, I was spent and bordering on contrite; Amazon’s chatbot had borne the brunt of my rage. The order, placed just before bed, promised by 8am, had arrived sans the one thing I needed for my breakfast. I didn’t confess this to the bot, but everything else in the order – the frozen mango chunks, purple onions, and canned corn – had been padding to get to the free delivery minimum. The human typist offered me a replacement to be delivered, at the earliest, the next day by 8am. I baulked and created a little more rage, then dropped it immediately, embarrassed. We negotiated terms, and in the morning, at 7:46, I stepped onto my front porch in slippers to retrieve the brown paper bag – inside were four green bananas.

6S

Linda Sanchez is fascinated by the ways in which environment shapes us, and by our capacity to grow and change. Linda is a returned Peace Corps Volunteer, recipient of an Eisenhower Fellowship, and graduate of the Four Corners Writing Project in Gallup, New Mexico. She is driven to share the stories of her life - some of which you will find at Tales from Wildflower Haven. She lives in Northern MA with her husband and two beloved dogs, more often than not in a state of bliss.

20210621

Garden Chair

by Devin Myles

I remember sitting in that old garden chair with the sun on my face as I stared up at the clouds; imagining I was among them, looking down on a spinning world. Wherever it stopped, that’s where I got off, for the world was my room; the galaxy, my garden; the universe, the path through the fields to the river, where other universes extended over the bridge; I wandered them all and marvelled. Later, I sat on that green metal seat and watched my children play; but never for long. A chase, a push, a bounce; kicking the ball; catching the ball; throwing the ball, retrieving the ball. Only then might I return to finish my cooling cup of tea. Now, if my pillows are plumped and my head leans just right, I can still see that old garden chair and I remember when I sat and dreamed; where I caught my breath from smiles and playful exertion.

6S

Devin Myles is an imaginary figure who set up a website for his short stories during a pandemic and started tweeting doodles from here.

20210620

The Sum of Its Parts

by Jim Shaffer

Joel was known as the half-good kid, half-good at math, half-good with the girls, half-good with words, half-good with a gun. That's why when Terry made fun of Joel, and Joel shot Terry, he only winged him. Some in the town said Terry was all-bad, but that's possibly a half-truth, half-believed by others who suspected Terry was only half-bad. But one thing all could agree on, having been shot by the half-good kid, Terry was more than half-pissed off. Joel half-kicked himself for only winging Terry, and being only half-good at anything, made a half-assed attempt at hiding out in the Half-Priced Warehouse. Discounting the fact Terry already knew where a half-good kid like Joel would hide out, what most occupied his mind was not only revenge for the shooting, but also the importance of cementing once and for all in the minds of the townspeople his reputation as the all-bad kid, a preoccupation that fatally blinded him to the fact that a half-good kid only missed the kill zone half the time.

6S

Jim Shaffer - though he's been given to unregulated flights of fancy - writes the occasional crime fiction story, such as his novella, Back to the World. Several of his stories appear online at Close to the Bone under his proper name, James, and in various anthologies; the latest, inspired by the songs of Pink Floyd, Coming Through in Waves. He lives in the southeast of England.

20210619

Communion

by Carolyn R. Russell

A seagull tiptoes towards me with short, tentative steps, her tracks a sandy geometry of renounced solitude. I throw her a few potato chips, but the creature doesn’t move; her red-rimmed eyes stare into my own. I understand… my puny reparations are laughable. The gull’s face is suddenly illuminated; the plump dishwater clouds have parted and scattered. The beach is transformed, an ambered postcard, every rock and stem and wave redefined by an alchemy of salt and sunlight. An ordinary miracle, sufficient unto this day.

6S

Carolyn R. Russell is the author of “In the Fullness of Time,” a dystopian thriller published by Vine Leaves Press in 2020. Her humorous YA mystery, “Same As It Never Was,” was released in 2018 by Big Table. “The Films of Joel and Ethan Coen,” her volume of film criticism, was published by McFarland & Company in 2001. Her poetry, essays, and short stories have been featured in numerous publications, including The Boston Globe, Flash Fiction Magazine, Club Plum Literary Journal, Ekphrastic Review, Reflex Press, and Dime Show Review. She holds an M.A. in Film Studies from Chapman University, and has taught on the college, high school, and middle school levels. Carolyn lives on and writes from Boston’s North Shore. More on her website.

20210618

Stain

by Jacqueline Schaalje

A greenish stain of unknown origin was spreading in the bedsheets in the third and last Guestroom number 003. This was no means our first problem since we bought our abandoned church in the charming village of Schuns in Friesland, the Netherlands. There was no swimming pool, so we dug one in the choir. The villagers wouldn't talk to us, not since we declined drinking coffee with the street constructors, the package deliverers and the mailpersons, the neighbors, the antique organ researcher, the tiler, the carpenter and the gardener, though we did drink coffee with the interior designer, the length of our talk necessitated it. So what do you do before you can accept guests to your converted church again? You lock up all your doors, look for clues in front of you and behind you, and try to ignore the dark voice in your head whispering all kinds of things you didn't hear since childhood.

6S

Jacqueline Schaalje has published short fiction and poetry in the Massachusetts Review, Talking Writing, Frontier Poetry, Grist, among others. Her stories and poems were finalists for the Epiphany Prize, in the Live Canon and New Guard Competitions. She has received scholarships at the Southampton Writers Conference and International Women's Writing Guild. She is a member of the Israel Association for Writers in English. She earned her MA in English from the University of Amsterdam.