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.


When We Decided To Leave It

by Stefanie Freele

We had to bundle all: every single fitted sheet, every tousle, every dish, every book, every item of importance and not. We piled atop the very car that got us there to begin with. We tied with twine and rope and duct tape and shoelaces until our life was a sagging, leaning mound larger than the car itself, like too-big frosting on a teensy cupcake, bound to slide and go over. Which is what happened as we began chugging up the onramp after getting gas. A tearing pillowcase with pointed edges of picture frames slid over the passenger windshield and with that, creeping slowly down toward the wipers, like a drift of heavy jagged snow, we pulled over a curb and stopped near an elm tree, planning to re-tie and maybe reshuffle. And so it began to rain.


Stefanie Freele is the author of two short story collections, Feeding Strays( Lost Horse Press) and Surrounded by Water (Press 53) which includes the winning story of the Glimmer Train Fiction Award. Stefanie's published and forthcoming work can be found in Witness, Sou'wester, Mid-American Review, Western Humanities Review, Quarterly West, Chattahoochee Review, The Florida Review, American Literary Review, Night Train, and Wigleaf.


While Sleeping Beauty Slept

by Linda Lowe

The eggs boiled dry, the coffee too. The pipes froze soon after the heat went, but the walls took years to crumble. No one was awake to pick up the phone, or to answer the door, or to pay the bills. The mailman wondered what happened, the paper boy went off to school. The ants burrowed away to livelier houses, the roaches flourished as roaches will, and the rats gnawed their way to the curb. While the briar hedge guarding the castle grew deeper and stronger each year, a fairy tale sky, ablaze with stars, made light of it all.


Linda Lowe's stories and poems have appeared in Misfit Magazine, BOMBFIRE, A Story in 100 Words, Beatnik Cowboy, and others.

No Excuse

by Tom Shanahan

What's very interesting to me is that when you're raised with a violent abusive alcoholic you are the one who covers for him. If everyone knew your father was a drunk you would be humiliated. What is even more astounding is that when you hide it, all the fuckups you had as a teenager are your fault because you wouldn't reveal that your father was an abusive violent drunk. That would just bring you more shame. So not only are you a fuckup, but you fucked up all because of your own worthlessness. There is no context to your fuckupedness.


Tom Shanahan is a retired lawyer and community college professor from Columbus, Ohio.


Night Driving

by Elizabeth Hyde

He shouldn’t have been allowed to drive that long stretch of highway alone, surrounded by nothing but an empty darkness; they shouldn’t have let it happen. He turned up the radio until the sound of it blotted out his own breathing, until the music almost hurt him. The speakers shook and he sang out loud, and it felt as if, for a moment, there was nothing between him and the vacant night, as if this sound was all there was. He shouted and yelled with a manic sort of misery. Because suddenly there was something glorious about the ache inside him that wouldn’t go away. And he turned up the music even louder and closed his eyes, his foot poised to slam the accelerator all the way to the floor, just to feel himself shoot forward into nothing with nothing and no one to hold him back.


Elizabeth Hyde writes all sorts of things, but she has a particular fondness for the sad and the strange. She keeps forgetting she has a diploma for an English degree under her bed.


I Wake Up a Caveman

by Guy Biederman

I wake up a caveman, something of an artist, a painter of a certain age. I paint in the morning. I paint in the afternoon. I discover the contour of the rock wall gives dimension to my bison – the one my brothers killed, vying for your affection, hoping to impress with their skill. But they only have eyes for your parts, lusty beasts that they are, while I crave just a glance from you, a glimpse my way. I paint with charcoal, knowing you’ll never know this pulse of mine beats faster when you are in my eye, at peace, my hands black, dusty, and alive, hungry for the bison they could not catch, would not kill.


Guy Biederman's work has appeared in many journals including great weather for MEDIA, MacQueen’s Quinterly, Riddled with Arrows, and Flashback Fiction. His sixth collection, Translated From The Original, one-inch-punch fiction will be published by Nomadic Press in 2022. He lives on a dock with his wife and walks the planks daily.



by Glen F. Green

I woke up on a cot in my office, slipped on my boots, walked down the street through the preamble of a blizzard, and was heartened to find the diner open. I drank plenty of hot black coffee along with Elvis’ Favorite (peanut butter and banana between two slices of sugar-dusted French toast with bacon on the side) served by a forty-something Pinky Tuscadero. I told her she really looked a lot like her and she tossed her red hair and said she knew. In between her wiping down tables and hustling out orders, we exchanged the highlights of the low points of our respective divorces. The jukebox played Lionel Richie’s “Hello” as we said goodbye. It is only for the surreal within the ordinary that I live.


Glen F. Green is a social worker from Worcester, Mass. He's had a short piece published in the Lowell Pearl. He tries to keep words trickling here.


The Drunk and the Magician

by Nan Wigington

Magic, she thought, as her one little one grew into 2 tall glasses, her slugs and swigs, nips and sips filled the vats of her nights and mornings, the limes and cherries and twists became breakfast and lunch, forget dinner. The prestidigitation grew annoying when her daughter's picture disappeared, one minute gilt framed on the mantel, the next a puff of smoke against the bricks, as if she had never had a daughter, never changed a diaper, bandaged a knee, fought about boys, slapped a face, answered a 2 a.m. phone call, cried at a wedding, held a grandchild. It was creepy when her husband vanished, there on the living room couch, eyes shut, mouth open, then not, not behind the curtains, the bookcase, the bed, the refrigerator either. The su-su-su of his breath over his teeth was replaced by sigh-pop of ice expanding, melting in her drink. What happened to the dog was mean, now a yellow mass at the end of a red leash, an amoeba of trot and play, next nothing but blue collar and jangling tags – FRED, IF FOUND, CALL 303-760-2913. The day the walls evaporated, she wanted to grab a gun, kill someone, shout STOP, POLICE, but her fingers faded on the trigger, her voice flew out of her hat like a dove.


Nan Wigington works as a paraprofessional in a Denver K-2 autism center. Her flash fiction has appeared in The Ekphrastic Review, Best Small Fictions 2019, and Idle Ink.


by Mikki Aronoff

“Place could use a touch of feminizing,” she offers, arm sweeping a too-wide arc. Hasn’t my aunt just heard me say how proud I am of my studio apartment, my very first, how long I saved to rent it? She dashes outside despite the drizzle, doubles back with a fistful of stale butts, Kools, from the overflowing ashtray in her old Buick. “Won’t take a minute, find me some tape,” she delegates as she rips apart the filters, fluffs the golden nicotine-tinged fibers and attaches them to the hem of the cracked plastic curtains that hang over my kitchen sink. My guts bubble as she steps back, surveys the effect and turns to me beaming like a beacon. That night, I remove the Crown of Thorns from the windowsill, stick a votive in its place, light a match, leave for work.


Mikki Aronoff, a writer based in New Mexico, has work published in Flash Boulevard, New World Writing, MacQueen’s Quinterly, ThimbleLit, The Phare, The Ekphrastic Review, The Fortnightly Review, Feral, and elsewhere. Her stories and poems have received Pushcart and Best Microfiction nominations.


Inside Dad's Fedora

by Robert Hirschfield

He'd get lost inside his fedora. I'd crawl inside it looking for him. Father's used to live in cramped spaces like apples behind glass squares in the Automat. We thought they worked too hard. I'd go looking for dad inside the same fedora even after he retired. I'd hear his ghosted ears listening to the close harmony of The Mamas and The Papas on the Mike Douglas Show.


Robert Hirschfield's work appears in Salamander, Parabola, Ink Sweat and Tears, Noon, European Judaism, Tricycle and other publications.



by Harry Leeds

The interpreter says after the stroke she’s had to get creative to sign with only one hand. The most scared he’s ever felt is interpreting in jail. After a convict confessed to a gruesome murder he never again went in a room alone. Problem is there’s nobody to tell if something goes wrong. Still, deaf people get picked on in prison, even if they deserve to be there. But interpreting a murder is something else because you are the first person to describe it out loud.


Harry Leeds completed his MFA at the University of Florida, lived in Eastern Europe and is now a registered nurse. He's published in FENCE, The Black Warrior Review, and a notable in Best American Essays. He edits MumberMag magazine, is a journalist, a nurse, and received a McKnight grant to spend towards publicity of this novel. Check out MumberMag, Harry on Twitter, and his website.


Gut Instinct, North Tower

by Annie Bien

You took a breath, jumped. Eyes closed. I would have. Praying to fly. Feet skyward so your landing wouldn’t be anticipated, gathering speed, fire, smoke, raining glass, perfect autumn day. That blue sky, sirens, silence.


Annie Bien has written two poetry collections and published flash fiction in print and online. She is a flash fiction winner and finalist of the London Independent Story Prize, 2020, and a Pushcart Nominee. She is an English translator of Tibetan Buddhist SÅ«tras for 84000.


Unblocking My Crown Chakra on the Bathroom Floor

by Ashley McCurry

After my divorce, I chopped off my hair with dull sewing scissors. My bathroom floor was coated in dark strands infused with our earliest memories: campfire smoke (I tried but didn’t enjoy it), burned pizza (I finally learned how to cook), and stale air from cheap hotel rooms (why couldn’t we have splurged on a nice place?). Those fallen clumps once held the scent of perfume, 60 dollar department store aphrodisiac when things began to feel “off,” as if a conscientiously sprayed mist of neurotoxins might resurrect those erotic feelings long interred. That pile of overly-straightened hair bled with red dye (you liked redheads), but the sink was filled with small pieces of breakage for months because they let the bleach process for too long at the salon. It carried the pungent burden of beer and nachos from the bowling alley, where at our friend’s 30th birthday party, you stood outside in the rain, on the phone with another woman. Ten years later, you glanced at me from across a restaurant, hair resting along my shoulders, supporting a violet crown and soaking up fresh memories and experiences without you.


Ashley McCurry is a speech-language pathologist, MFA student, and short fiction writer living in the Southeastern United States. Perhaps more importantly, she is a rescue dog mom, cosplayer, and lover of short stories and musical theater. Her work has been published in Bright Flash Literary Review and is forthcoming in Flash Fiction Magazine.


Love Music

by Gay Degani

He tells me my naked back is a harp and flutters his fingers across my scales. I listen for the waterfall, that rolling splash of notes, but only hear the lick of flame. Is it heating flesh that scents the air as he glitters my neck with tiny nips? A libretto of sorts, an elegy, a rap? The grass is orange, the rocks are blue, the sky tends toward Mardi Gras. Brass horns, marimbas, snare drums, cowbells, and rhapsody.


Gay Degani has received nominations and honors for her work including Pushcart consideration and Best Small Fictions. She won the 11th Annual Glass Woman Prize. She's published a full-length collection, Rattle of Want, (Pure Slush Press, 2015) and a suspense novel, What Came Before (Truth Serum Press, 2016). She occasionally blogs at Words in Place.


This Island Home

by Oz Hardwick

Tunnels open up beneath every conversation, leading to specific points in the shared past: the twin towers swallowing themselves in dust, or twisted metal in a Paris subway. It’s always trauma, but if you remember your keys and turn instead through the smaller doors, you may find yourself on an endless beach, thigh deep in warm sea, with a lover’s hands light on your waist. There’s a sailboat in the distance and a man on the cliff edge who could be waving or flying, and a stoppered bottle bobs in the surf. When you look inside you find dried seeds and hummingbird bones, a baby’s first teeth and a note written in lemon juice. It tells you it’s time to go back and face those shared traumata, to lay flowers and sign books of condolences; that it’s time to weigh your own losses against the things that last. You lock the door behind you and rejoin the conversation, the print of a hand still warm – or cold – beneath your ribs.


Oz Hardwick is Professor of Creative Writing at Leeds Trinity University (UK), author of all kinds of stuff, and inveterate somnambulist and psychogeographer (sometimes simultaneously).

Dangerous Excavation

by Meg Pokrass

A middle-aged psychiatrist wants to unearth the actual woman from a deep hole in which she lives. How lovely and strange you are, he tries not to say to her, while she is lounging on the sofa in his office. He stares out the window, looking for one bright red bird. Wonders aloud, "Who, then, is the real Minnie Parkinson? And why the hell does she wear such terrible purple glasses?" He wonders these things, in his securely married way.


Meg Pokrass is the author of eight flash fiction collections. She is the Founding and Managing Editor of Best Microfiction.