Private Nature

by Rebecca Harvey

We hear the clang of machinery and look out across the field. The workers have begun to erect the fence around the trees. I didn’t want to go for a picnic in the wood until I was told I couldn’t. You tell me you feel the same way. Closing the woods to construct a wildlife reserve seems absurd. You say that they can’t see the woods for the trees, but they can see the entry fees they’ll charge.


Rebecca Harvey has had prose published in numerous publications, including The Phare, Superlative, and Stroud Short Stories. She has won the London Independent Story Prize for flash fiction. Stop by her website.


Decanter Gig

by Meg Pokrass

Her job was being paid to follow an elderly widow around her own house. The client had a depressed waxy smile, one that seemed stuck on her face since she lost her husband in the flood. There were the heavy sighs of the toilet and they floated around her ears. She would stand there, just outside the door while the woman allowed all of her sadness to dribble out. The sound was like something you'd find in nature. "Shhh," the old woman would say, "I'm letting go of him again."


Meg Pokrass teaches short form writing workshops and is the Founder and Managing Editor of Best Microfiction. Join her newsletter for inspiration and scheduled writing prompts.


When I quit my toxic job to find something better

by Fiona H Evans

I rode my bicycle through the forest and camped under the stars. I came home and started projects I’d put off for years. I visited galleries and I made picnic lunches. But as the months passed, and nothing better came along, relaxation morphed into lethargy and depression loomed. You saved me. “Try writing,” you said, and you loved my every word.


Fiona H Evans is a new writer. She lives in Perth, Western Australia, on Noongar Boodja with her dog, cat and two old chooks. You can find her on Twitter.


by Raisa Mursalin

The pain had come on sharply, seizing me for days. I had already accepted my new life, bent over at the waist, meeting people in the stomach, when they prodded inside me. Two surgeries later and a third on the way I was destined to see the other side. Don’t ask God for blessings only in times of trouble, my grandmother preached in the ICU. I spoke to God in the blinking red smoke detector, confused I asked, did she want me to live or die? My mother sobbed, and I fled from the light.


Raisa Mursalin is has a BA in Human Development and is currently editing her first of many novels.


I hear the blues a callin', tossed salad and scrambled egg sandwich

by Lucas Di Quinzio

Ingredients: White bread – wheat flour, water, maize starch, yeast, wheat gluten, iodised salt, I see you, chatty old lady with shopping bags, please don't sit next to me. I can see you trying to start a conversation with the bus driver, who really has no time for it, please don't sit next to me and start talking. I really wish my phone wasn't a piece of crap that only charges half the time. Egg (33%), lettuce (10%), I know I sound like a dick but today was seniors discount day at the store and well, sometimes they're very kind, but sometimes they try to cram in their whole life story including the deaths of their loved ones in a twelve item transaction, and today an elderly customer assumed I was Jewish and not only asked why I wasn't working in the bank but if I had got a nose job because 'I don't have the nose of one of them. Free-range egg mayonnaise (9%) – canola oil, egg vinegar, acidity regulator (330), just let me read the contents of this empty sandwich packet in peace, I can do my own inane chatter – what even is acidity regulator anyway? Oh, hi, yes it is cold today, I didn't know the cold could affect arthritis of the knees, it is surprising that happened to your late husband, too…


Lucas Di Quinzio is a writer from Melbourne, Australia. His writing career has bounced in various different directions over the years. He has co-founded a literary journal that lasted three issues, had a parody picture book published, been an on and off games writer and covered the so-bad-it's-good movie beat. His words can currently be seen in Aniko Press, Superjump Magazine and the German Wikipedia page for the 2010 no-budget Ugandan action film Who Killed Captain Alex?



by Karen Crawford

She remembers how the grounds were damp with mourning angels. How her Sunday heels sank deeper with every step. How she clenched his ring until her nails bled half-moons into her palm. How his was a death by a thousand midnight promises. How she crossed herself, tossed those thousand promises into the freshly dug earth and topped it off with fistfuls of dirt. How it was the dirt on her hands that stopped the bleeding.


Karen Crawford lives in the City of Angels, where she exorcises demons one word at a time. Her work appears in Anti-Heroin Chic, Rejection Letters, Potato Soup Journal, A Thin Slice of Anxiety, Unfortunately Literary Magazine among others. You can find her on Twitter.


The Dollhouse

by E.M. Foster

Daisy wondered why none of her friends hadn't come to visit in years. She once thought about remodeling in case that helped—the hot pink kitchen appliances had always been gaudy, the banana yellow floor clashing with the purple wallpaper. But the idea died like childhood whims when she realized her body and soul weren’t what they used to be. It was a hard, bitter truth, like the plastic candies in her purse, and Daisy refused to swallow. Instead, Daisy lay in the dust by the front door, limbs splayed awkwardly, waiting for the battery-powered doorbell ring. From her angle, she could see her space suit drooping off a hanger in the closet, and she wondered which existential crisis it had come from.


Emma Foster is a graduate student, fiction writer, and poet from Florida. Her work has appeared in Aurora Journal, Sledgehammer Lit, The Drabble, and is forthcoming in Sour Cherry Magazine. You can read more here.

A Member of the Pantropical Chinaberry Family

by Sheila E. Murphy

The duo chose mahogany to panel their home for its ability to resist wood rot. Their matching straight-backed chairs proved durable as well. The couple fingered Gibson manufactured banjo necks made of the same wood, played sparkling sequences resembling Roy Clark’s. They arranged to locate a mahogany canoe fashioned by fire without the use of iron tools. Friends observed their faces darken over time toward the reddish brown of timber. The couple rejected a discovery in the Philippines that mahogany acidified the soil, spawning a movement that urged no new planting.


Sheila E. Murphy is the recipient of the Gertrude Stein Award for her book Letters to Unfinished J. (Green Integer Press, 2003). Murphy's book titled Reporting Live from You Know Where (2018) won the Hay(na)Ku Poetry Book Prize Competition from Meritage Press (U.S.A.) and xPress(ed) (Finland). In 2020, Luna Bisonte Prods released Golden Milk. Broken Sleep Books brought out the book As If To Tempt the Diatonic Marvel from the Ivory (2018). Initially educated in instrumental and vocal music, Murphy is associated with music in poetry. She earns her living as a management consultant and researcher and holds a PhD degree. She has lived in Phoenix throughout her adult life.


by Asher Bomse

I’d freed myself from the grips of narcissism. Again. It’d been worse this time though. I had trusted someone who stabbed me in the back. I left it all behind for good though. I hoped so anyway.


Asher Bomse is a trans individual roaming through life looking for the next adventure.


Like Clockwork

by Tim Frank

Every Monday at school, Farooq would run my cotton briefs up the flagpole for everyone to salute. Tuesdays he sent photoshopped memes to my class of me and my maths teacher, Miss Davenport, wrestling in leotards and bicycle helmets. Wednesdays he locked me in the chapel and forced me to French kiss the Virgin Mary. Thursdays he hid bloodied knives in my locker, goldfish in my sports bag and eggs in my pencil case. Fridays he strapped firecrackers to my waist, then set me alight by the school lake where sixth formers hid and smoked speed from hollowed-out apples. Weekends I rested, recuperated, and plotted my revenge — because Farooq was nothing if not predictable, and soon enough I’d make him mine.


Tim Frank's short stories have been published in Bourbon Penn, Eunoia Review, The Metaworker, Brilliant Flash Fiction, Menacing Hedge, Maudlin House and elsewhere. He is the associate fiction editor for Able Muse Literary Journal.

Dear Mother

by Marzia Rahman

When you are no longer here, I found slices of history and a few features in your room. I never knew you had a bird. I think about you all the time: how you lost yourself bit by bit, a little every day until one day there was nothing left of you! It hurts so much; it keeps hurting even when I am happy and smiling and not worrying. I sit on your bed, though the bedcovers have been washed and ironed, your smell lingers. And I let myself utter the words: I miss you mother, but it sounds redundant now; and I can’t remember whether regret is a verb or a noun.


Marzia Rahman is a Bangladeshi writer and translator. Her flashes have appeared in 101 Words, Postcard Shorts, Five of the Fifth, The Voices Project, Fewerthan500.com, WordCity Literary Journal, Red Fern Review, Dribble Drabble Review, Paragraph Planet, Six Sentences, Academy of the Heart and Mind, Potato Soup Journal, Borderless Journal, The Antonym, Flash Fiction Festival Four and Writing Places Anthology UK. Her novella-in-flash If Dreams had wings and Houses were built on clouds was longlisted in the Bath Novella in Flash Award Competition in 2022. She is also a painter.


He Said, She Said

by Jackie Jensen

"Just one more try," she said. Uh-uh, I'm sick of waiting for you to do something – anything – right, he said. "But I know I can get at least one arrow in the target," she said. Fat chance. You're so useless you couldn't hit the broad side of that barn behind me, he said. "What a tragic accident," the police officer said.


Jackie Jensen has been writing for most of her 77 years and expects the world to come knocking any day now.



by Cheryl Snell

Just before Dad died he sent me to the lab for blood work. I felt fine, so I was annoyed – two days before Christmas and my shopping wasn’t even finished! I don’t know why he arbitrarily had to pick tonight, I complained in the car, partly to break the silence between my brother and me. “It wasn’t arbitrary,” he snapped. “Dad marked it on his calendar a while ago.” We turned into the parking space marked with his name, never imagining we’d turn back years later to find exactly where the future had been cordoned off, our father’s name mounted on a plaque, rising into the air.


Cheryl Snell has recent stories in Potato Soup Review, New World Writing, Entropy Squared, Five Minute Lit and Dorothy Parker's Ashes. Her books include novels and poetry and she is at work on a collection of micros.


Palm Springs

by Mathieu Cailler

It's a chilly 49-degree desert night. Tom Petty blasts in the car cabin with the windows down and the heater and the heated seats up high. 9.6 miles to go, but the Chrysler has more than 2/3 of a tank left. And this open road pulls and beckons with its smooth asphalt and glowing green lights. And it's tempting to blast by home, hit repeat on the stereo. Drive and drive until the gas-gauge needle spoons the E.


Mathieu Cailler is the author of six books. His short stories, poems, and essays have appeared in numerous national and international publications, most notably in The Saturday Evening Post and the Los Angeles Times. He is the recipient of a Shakespeare Award, a Short Story America Prize, and a New England Book Festival Award. Heaven and Other Zip Codes, his debut novel and most recently published book, has been hailed “a postmodern masterpiece” by Midwest Book Review and was named the winner of the 2021 Los Angeles Book Festival. For more information, please visit his website or find him on social media.



by Sandra Anfang

Seamus grabbed his sweatshirt and headed for the barn on Chileno Valley Road. It was his birthday, a day he shared with the Perseid Meteor Shower. Climbing into the bed of the Mazda, arms wrapped tight around his chest, he tried different angles to find the best one, neck muscles already gnawing at him. Why had he broken things off with Meredith just before his fiftieth? A brilliant meteor sliced the sky, killing this line of thought. Dead stars punch holes in the sky, he said out loud to no one, just as his empty stomach growled loudly.


Sandra Anfang is a poet, teacher, and editor. Her poems have appeared in Rattle, The New Verse News, The MacGuffin, Spillway, and numerous other journals. Her books include Looking Glass Heart (Finishing Line Press 2016), Road Worrier: Poems of the Inner and Outer Landscape (FLP 2018), and Xylem Highway (Main Street Rag, 2019). She hosts Rivertown Poets and teaches poetry to children. When she’s not writing, she hides out in the hills of Sonoma County, California. More here.


Child in You

by Aruni Wijesinghe

Don’t cut your hair. Let it hang in a heavy fringe over your eyes. Let the sun bleach gold onto your head, lay a light halo over you. Let me once again believe in a child bathed in sunlight. Before life capped you, bound your dreams. Before you bowed your head to the world.


Aruni Wijesinghe is a project manager, ESL teacher, occasional sous chef and erstwhile belly dance instructor. She holds a BA in English, an AA in dance, and a certification in TESOL. A Pushcart Prize-nominated poet, her work has been published in journals and anthologies both nationally and internationally. Her first solo poetry collection, 2 Revere Place, is available now with Moon Tide Press. She lives a quiet life in Orange County, California with her husband Jeff and their cats Jack and Josie. You can follow her writing here and on Instagram.


All Dogs

by Jeffrey Landon

Late that night, while Dana slept, Hank watched a black-and-white movie about flying saucers abducting all the dogs of America. It was a stupid movie, but he liked the one scene where one by one, all those dogs filled the sky until all you could see from the ground was dog. They didn’t bark or wag their tales. They wriggled through chimneys. People gathered on front lawns in bathrobes and pajamas or nearly naked to wave goodbye to their animals. “Good boy,” they said, “good girl,” and then everything got quiet and all the people walked inside alone.


Jeffrey Landon lives in Richmond, Virginia. His stories have been published in Crazyhorse, Smokelong, Another Chicago Magazine, Wigleaf, Phoebe, Quick Fiction, and the flash fiction collections Emily Avenue and Truck Dance.


The Aftermath

by Tiffany Elliott

I am stone today. By necessity or circumstance or because I saw a crocus on our walk. I remember in chunks, then forget. I brake myself, the pulse slows around me, all the rhythms broken and confused. On my leg, purple veins flower where my balled fist bashed my thigh. I pick at them like petals, every one he loved me not.


Tiffany Elliott, a mental health professional and teacher for over a decade, received her MFA from New Mexico State University in 2020, where she was awarded the Mercedes De Los Jacob’s Thesis Prize and the Sutherland McManus Prize for Literary Criticism. Her writing explores the mythologies we experience, those we create for ourselves, issues of abuse and trauma, and how people can remake themselves. Her work has appeared in Spectrum, Riggwelter, Atherton Review, isacoustic, Inlandia, MUSE, Pacific Review, and others.



by Asher Bomse

It’s just not working. I thought I could make it work somehow. It’s just not, though. So I'm leaving for my next adventure. If we stay friends, that’s fine. I'm going on with my life either way.


Asher Bomse is a Trans individual roaming through life. A wanderer and adventurer wanting to make a difference in life.


Who Am I?

by Barry Basden

For the past several weeks now, I have had to reassure her almost daily. She thumbs ahead in our appointment calendar and worries that she won't be able to cope, certain she will be alone. Yesterday's wine time was particularly stressful. Turns out she'd forgotten that we are married, thought I was just a good friend she's known and liked for a long time. When I described our wedding and honeymoon, finally convincing her that we are indeed husband and wife until death do us part, she cried, relieved that she wasn't going to be abandoned to fend for herself. Then she asked if we have children.


Barry Basden lives in the Texas hill country with his wife and Bean, their little rescue terrier.


Birds of Prey

by Mehreen Ahmed

I didn't see it coming. That the great ospreys of the wetlands were after us. I was just basking in the sun, regurgitating with my offspring in our knitted nest. Ospreys said they were taking us under their wings. That we never had to worry about food ever again. Days went by, I realized they took our flying away.


Mehreen Ahmed is an Australian novelist born in Bangladesh. Her historical fiction, The Pacifist, is a Drunken Druid's Editor's Choice and an Amazon Audible bestseller.


by Cheryl Snell

Wind lashed debris into city streets like a trash man avenging the worst day of his life. Air bulged with sound, sirens spun blue to red while the injured stacked up in ERs. Against the televised litany of projected highs and lows, excitement spiked like fever. We had nothing to lose. We called the storm out, heckled it, shot the wind with paint-balls, tried to make it show its face. It burgled our house of words instead, hurled a tree through the window and blew out the lights, leaving us small and blind, mouths open, each moment a windsock of breath spilling out.


Cheryl Snell's books include poetry and fiction. Her recent micros have appeared in The Ilanot Review, The Cafe Irreal, The Drabble, Bright Flash Literary, and others.


Dad Shadows

by Meg Pokrass

But how could we not see even one potential dad on this highway? We drove slowly, taking turns at the wheel, stopping only when hunger like a mother asked us to sit down and eat. And sometimes there were large masculine shadows following us into convenience stores to buy HoHos or Tandytakes or Butterscotch Twinkles, the sustenance of life! We were getting bigger in order to feel small again. One of them could have been our dad, we said. Any one of them could have done it, it would have been so easy.


Meg Pokrass teaches short form writing workshops and is the Founder and Managing Editor of Best Microfiction. Join her newsletter for inspiration and scheduled writing prompts.


Riding Freedom

by David Chek Ling Ngo

Seeing how friends could go anywhere they wanted without having any problems or worries, like the BMX boys of ET, fascinated me as a boy. One afternoon, after a few falls, I succeeded in riding the Reilly gifted by grandfather. And this power was a turning point. Studying abroad in Dublin, I rode to school on Marlborough Rd through the leafy Herbert Park under a canopy of trees which turn colourful in autumn, riding with a chilly winter rain along the quiet flowing River Dodder. At college, I used a different route where there are rosy-brick houses of Georgian architecture, the well-manicured gardens of St Stephen's Green and some of the busiest junctions in the city, using for errands on weekends, hanging over the handle grocery or laundry bags while walking down the market street with the bike at one side. Today was my first bike ride in 25 years to get back my freedom.


David Chek Ling Ngo lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where he works as a professor at a Scottish university branch campus. His short stories, memoirs and poems have appeared in A Story In 100 Words, Friday Flash Fiction, Five Minutes, Shot Glass Journal, Cold Moon Journal, Failed Haiku, Drifting Sands Haibun, Tricycle (Haiku Challenge Winners for February 2022), One Sentence Poems, and Ribbons.


Happy Hour

by Sarah Tollok

This is the hour I get to try to shake something loose. Wedged between rides to basketball practices, work, and maybe some sleep, this is the only hour I get. Will the cocktail of coffee, a blank page, and maybe a writing prompt from some stranger on twitter help me make something wonderful, or something brutal, or at least something? I’m both the bartender and the desperate lady perched on the barstool. I promise I’ll drink whatever is poured. Please, this one happy hour is the only hour I get.


Sarah Tollok is a writer and an elementary-school instructional aide living in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Her work can be found in Intangible Magazine, Second Chance Lit, Sledgehammer Lit, Orange Blush Zine, and ZiN Daily. One of Sarah's stories will be featured in Improbable Press's upcoming anthology, Dark Cheer: Cryptids Emerging, Green Edition.



by Kent Oswald

"Why can’t I be a witch?" Because boys can’t be witches. "Says who?" Everybody knows. "I don’t know." Then everybody else, as if that settled things, which it obviously did not.


Kent Oswald instructs and learns at CUNY.


Possible Consensual Validation

by Sheila E. Murphy

Burgess the burgher seemed an intended individual whose family raised peacocks and dispersed them to scattered towns otherwise deemed light on color. The mayors of such burgs secretly perceived the need to reciprocate even as they questioned what this lofty family was trying to achieve by this brash gift. But what gift in return would match the spread of feathers that exceeded their pale weight with color and flash? For Burgess himself, a self-proclaimed critical thinker, there were some observable facts related to the proliferation of peacocks around the countryside. The denizens of such places began to change the colors of their clothing to chime with illustrious purple green and brown-toned array of feathers spread like an imagination. Was this pertinent to the motive of the family of Burgess who reflexively gave these birds away?


Sheila E. Murphy wrote this piece with gratitude to Henry Stack Sullivan.



by Eli S. Evans

It was as though he wasn’t even there. The girls looked right through him – and the boys, well they only noticed him when they needed something to snigger at. Even the teachers seemed not to see him when he raised his hand in class to answer one of those questions he always did know the answer to, like how to spell “tuft” like the tuft of fur on a bobcat’s ear as opposed to “tough” like a tough piece of beef jerky, or what distinguishes a taiga forest from a temperate one, or who was Georgia O’Keeffe. Fed up, one day during lunch he went into the bathroom and tried to hang himself with a yo-yo string. A yo-yo string! We sure did know better than to forget about old whatshisname again after that.


Eli S. Evans has been littering the internet with his work since 2001. A chapbook with Analog Submission Press (A Partial List of Things I Thought Might Kill Me Before I Started Taking a Daily Dose of Benzodiazepines) was published in August 2020 and a small book of small stories, Obscure & Irregular, is available from Moon Rabbit Books & Ephemera and other online retail behemoths.


Loss of choice

by Amber Bryan-Noppe

I was young, naive, and vulnerable when he entered my life. I was swept away with the idea of love and wonder. My inner thoughts screamed at me to get away from him, but I did not have a justifiable reason to escape. I ignored the red flags. He took away my choice and left me feeling powerless, dirty, and alone. It wasn't until years later that I truly understood what I was put through.


Amber Bryan-Noppe lives in Ontario, Canada.



by Susan Holcomb

"Taste the rainbow," my best friend said, and so I tried to lick the windowpane. We were five and dressed like witches. We did not understand metaphor, that the rainbows in our Halloween candy weren't like the rainbows in the sky. The glass was cold. My breath against it made a little cloud. No matter how much I licked, the colors on the glass would not fade.


Susan Holcomb holds an MFA in writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts and studied for a PhD in physics at Cornell. Her writing has been or will soon be published in the Southern Indiana Review, The Boston Globe, Crab Creek Review, and elsewhere. She lives in Los Angeles.


Best Friend

by Tim Frank

You stole my beloved wah-wah pedal, my vinyl Smith’s collection, my well-thumbed Kerouac books. You even pinched my mother’s blouse. I gate-crashed your gig in a Camden dive bar - the smell of watered-down beer, the strobe lighting and that inimitable wah-wah sound licking against the sweaty walls. Your new girlfriend was dancing like a flailing octopus stage-side, wearing the woven bracelet I’d given to her on Valentine’s Day last year. She was once mine, too. Have her, I’m storming the stage to get my wah-wah pedal back.


Tim Frank's short stories have been published in Bourbon Penn, Eunoia Review, The Metaworker, Brilliant Flash Fiction, Menacing Hedge, Maudlin House and elsewhere. He is the associate fiction editor for Able Muse Literary Journal.