April Flash Fiction: Audrey Hepburn by Joseph Reich

 

Audrey Hepburn
Joseph Reich

women are noble getting their outfits ready the night before

my wife with her audrey hepburn striped turtleneck

and cords draped over the hamper

for her lovely and holy job as a substitute teacher in the elementary school

for all those half-crazed delinquents and everyone knows her in the neighborhood

nobody knows me…

and i’d be lucky just to make it through a night of nightmares

having to fight back like a drunken bukowski against all the freakin’ phantoms

using tourette’s to my full advantage

as even the devils try to creep in there

like hitchcock’s infamous portly silhouette pushing me up against the passengers

and that very well-groomed, thin asian man with his

cattle prod to prove that i am the ultimate stranger

(when i went to social work school to get my masters

i had a full pile of dirty clothes and what i thought clean clothes

on the floor and would sniff each one before i headed to yeshiva.

there was a body punching bag hanging from the ceiling my fiancee

and present day wife would bump into before she relieved herself

practically every evening, and so cute would ritualistically throw jabs

at it expressing how it drove her crazy and what was it doing there)

women are so noble and will get their clothes ready the night before

like audrey hepburn’s striped turtleneck and cords draped over the hamper.

Joseph Reich is a social worker who lives with his wife and twelve year old son in the high-up mountains of Vermont. He has been published in a wide variety of eclectic literary journals both here and abroad, been nominated seven times for The Pushcart Prize, and his books in poetry and cultural studies include, “A Different Sort Of Distance” (Skive Magazine Press) “If I Told You To Jump Off The Brooklyn Bridge” (Flutter Press), “Pain Diary: Working Methadone & The Life & Times Of The Man Sawed In Half” (Brick Road Poetry Press), among others. 

March Flash Fiction: Ghost by Robert Penick

Ghost
Robert Penick

I open the windows, the patio doors, put the tortoise in the empty bathtub, run water for the mountain of dishes. The first teeth of fall are snapping: Cold rain, the wind an angry postcard from a distant hurricane. The house needs a good airing. We lived in these three rooms together, and your perfume and cooking and resentments hang in every fabric, from the shower curtain to the drapes to the pillows on our bed. My bed. Our previous bed. I cut up strawberries, put them in the bathtub. Your tortoise begins to eat, does not seem to miss you, and this somehow pleases me.

It’s been four months now, a blur of self-distraction and marking time. One week gone, then two, then a month. An entire summer missed due to grief and regret. A season lost in internet memes and Russian novels from the public library. Laying on the floor with the tortoise, waiting for her to blink.

The dishes are washed, then reassembled as a tower in the drainer. Laundry is sorted, floors are swept. A gallon of tea is made and I put my feet on the desk, look out the window at the neighbor’s yard. You could tell me what kind of tree sits between the houses, I think. I had never wondered before.

There are things we can only learn about in a vacuum. Mortality is one, divorce is another. Both involve being painfully alone and appreciating every new moment for its uniqueness. Grief is never boring. There is satisfaction in every small task: The laundry, the lawn, curing a sink full of dirty dishes. Getting up, I wipe the silverware clean, then shut it away. The perfection of a thing finished.

Robert Penick’s work has appeared in over 100 different literary journals, including The Hudson Review, North American Review, and The California Quarterly. He lives in Louisville, KY, USA, with his free-range box turtle, Sheldon, and edits Ristau, a tiny literary annual. More of his writing can be found at www.theartofmercy.net

February Flash Fiction: City Seas by Bryce Beal

City Seas
Bryce Beal

 

Fear snakes off the mother’s soaked skin, nipping her daughter to tears. She ignores the pouring rain like she ignored the stuffy reporter on TV. After all, the warnings didn’t matter, right? Floods aren’t dangerous.

The floor devolves into a puddle of debris as a million things shatter. She sits under the archway, exposed as ever. Her husband’s gone, he might never return. Kissing her daughter’s head and praying isn’t enough. Someone needs to hold her as the water rises, rises.

Years pass. Months. Days. Minutes. The rain becomes a deceitful drumbeat.

Standing’s impossible on shaky legs so she sits. Around her, soggy newspapers catch cigarette butts like fishing nets. There’s too much noise—waves swooshing where they shouldn’t be, moving the entire world.

Strength returns, she dumps her guts into the sea. Then she wades into the living room. Her eyes adjust to the destruction, and after slicing her foot, she’s walking on a red carpet. No cameras, though. No spotlight. No TV but still a remote, so she clicks the button, hoping the stuffy reporter returns.

Hoping her husband returns.

Hoping her daughter returns.

 

Bryce Beal is a 20 year old author hailing from Baltimore, MD.