Friday, 10 May 2019

March 2019

Good News, Bad News by Bernie Hanvey - 26 Votes
If it was up to me, I would be anywhere else but this waiting room.
I visit my Doctor as little as humanly possible, in fact, last Monday was the first time I’ve been here in ages. He told me to go to the hospital and take the tests. He said he’d call me back when the results were in. I got the call an hour ago from the practice nurse. She said the Doctor could see me as soon as I arrived. The news is not good. It’s twins and my husband has been in prison for two years.

The Waste by Rachel Crawford - 48 Votes
I did know myself once. I am sure of it.
I knew all of the things I wanted to taste.
Slowly, barely noticeably, I gave up pathetic little pieces of myself. Whole forgotten chunks.
What is left I do not recognise.
I have filled up on empty calories of ideas.
I did know myself once. She was strong and naïve and she wanted the world.
I gave her a small island, eroding at the shores.
I must remember calmer seas.
I must be kinder.
I must try harder.
I must know myself, this stranger on foreign soil.
She must win.

Things Get Loose At Night by Inguna Broze - 22 Votes
At night things get loose and live their own life. They talk to each other.
“How innocent he looks!” The bookshelf hissed with scorn looking down at the sleeping man.
The shelf was stacked, no, not with books but erotic videos.
“Sleeps like a baby!” the computer lamented. “A dreadful stuff! It intoxicates me. I`m never really sober these days.” It gave a deep sigh.
“He deserves a punishment. When S. stays next time, shake violently, so that this disgusting stuff falls down on the floor. With a good bang. We`ll help,” the bedside table encouraged.
Things happen at night...

Perspective by Alexandra Pedro - 51 Votes
My favourite part of this blue and green planet is what these humanoids call the Mediterranean Sea. Although I’ve visited it countless times since, I’ll never forget when it was nothing but a mile-deep desert. The idea of turning it into a swimming pool was one of my best. All it took was a few earthquakes and the natural dam gave way. The ocean poured its salty water into it and, one year later, no clue remained of the arid area it once was. It’s now a thriving island-dotted pond and I’ll keep it that way for a few years.

Old Couples Look Alike I Quip by Karen Walker - 60 Votes
An old man leads an old woman into the office.
Matching blue coats, shuffling in sloppy boots, wild white hair. Funny oldsters. Such wit. We smirk.
He inches her forward. She picks her way among things visible only to her.
Choking, the man says to another clerk “My Glenda is going into a nursing home tomorrow. We need to send certain mail there.”
The woman startles. Who’s called her name? Who? Her husband sees her distress, buries his. He kisses his wife on the forehead, smoothes her hair, takes her hand. She finds his eyes and smiles to be home.

The Fire by Arthur KC Chan - 44 Votes
The blaze was closing in. Smoke permeated the room. Dazed and coughing, she retreated to the window, leaned out on the fourth floor. In her arms, her baby cried.
“Drop the baby down. I’ll get it.” A man in the street shouted.
The infant came unexpectedly. The father vanished before it was born. The helpless girl was too young to understand her destiny. Depression grew. Life was ruined.
“Get rid of it,” a voice in her head repeated.
The moment the mother let go the baby, she realized it was her everything. She passed out before it reached the ground.

Wrong Place, Wrong Time by Patrick Hanford - 69 Votes
I'm sitting in a bar, sipping a beer, wondering if she's going with me tonight. The door bangs open, a man with a gun.
“You bitch,” he yells.
The barrel is pointed at me, not her.
I waken with a bright light in my face.
“Turn it off,” I say.
A gloved hand holds a blade, it glimmers from the light above. He shoves it in the side of my chest.
“Wish you could feel this, you bastard.”
“I can, asshole.” I mumble.
“A quick twist should do it.”
The nurse behind him asks, “Doctor, ready for the chest tube?”

The Shirt by Ella Andersson - 38 Votes
Steam from her morning cup of coffee climbed up the window, yet she did her best to look through it. Sultry sun beams shone down and bounced onto the garden. Small birds perched on the tree at various heights, all singing at different pitches; which beautifully morphed into a single sweet song.  The washing line grasped a shirt.
His shirt- not hers.
She wondered how pathetic it’d be if she rang for him to come get it. Come get his favourite shirt.
But for him to get it- he’d have to come back.
Everything would require him to come back.

I'm Not Really Listening by Georgina Downes - 29 Votes
Heard any rumours about me and that girl, you asked. They’re not true ― there’s only you. Only me? I said. We’re neighbours in a small village and we hardly even speak. Discuss.  She’s just a friend, you said. Okay. Whatever. I believe you because I know we’re special; fated to be together once we figure out how that works. Then I saw her getting out of your car. She was walking on air. It took my breath away. Now I’m sick in an empty playground in the dark, pushing our baby on the swing because I can’t go home. 

Naomi's Four-Stage Plan to Get Out of This World  by K.J. Watson - 48 Votes
In sum, the critics said: "Naomi, get out of the world of comedy. You're unfunny." I sulked. Then I devised a four-stage plan.
A clinic transferred my brain into a body that matched Heidi, my best friend. Heidi was due to go to the moon station as a physicist.
Heidi disappeared (I'd rather not talk about this).
I travelled to the moon in Heidi's place, as Heidi.
At the moon station meet-and-greet, I declared, "Stuff physics. Let's open a comedy store, starring me."
The moon scientists were desperate for comedy, good or bad.
They loved me.

Magic by Monica Dickson - 47 Votes
Roger toddles in without knocking. Daddy’s face is pink above the water. The hair on his arms looks dark and oily, like it’s been combed.
Eyes closed, Daddy says, “Why aren’t you in bed?”
Roger twists the dummy in his mouth. “I’ve got a magic trick,” he squelches.
Daddy shifts but his eyes stay closed. Roger pulls out the dummy, wipes it on his pyjamas and swings a soft, plump arm above his head.
“Look” he says, waggling and pointing at the rubber teat, the colour of amber.
“The slobber’s gone!”
But Daddy can’t hear him from under the water.

There Are Days... by Chiara Picchi - 19 Votes
There are days were everything is too much. Days where I’m glued to the sink, washing my hands under scalding water without being able to stop. Days were obsessions assault me, bring me to my knees, leave me a quivering, sobbing mess. Days where I don’t know why you stay, why you wrap your hands around me and kiss my head and tell me that everything is okay, that compulsions don’t change a thing and exposure is the only way out of this hellhole. I don’t know why you stay, but I’m glad you do. I’d be lost without you.

The Storm in My Head by Judith Bristow - 69 Votes
It’s me, Jane...are you there?  If you are, I know you must be fed up but I need to know you’re there for me, especially in these times when I can't be there for myself.  I get these storms, you see, more so after Bill left with that Tracy! It feels like they’re so big they could eat me all up and I get to feeling so small and I can’t get out...all I can do is wait but the waiting feels longer every time, and I don’t know if you’ll be able to get to me...before I’m all gone.

A Bike Was More Than a Bike by Pam Martin - 54 Votes
A bike was more than a bike. It was time, power, control, friendship. Freedom. Being part of the gang, that cloud of freewheeling kids. It meant from here to there in no time. Flying home, no hands, down the boulevard, you were alone in the universe, slowing only at stop signs, the holy wind kissing the hair off your face. A bike meandered down the dusty road, surrounded by the smell of summer close enough to touch. Dripping fudgesicle in one hand, you steered with the other. The sun warmed like favourite clothing. Your bike was you were your bike.

He called me again, I think its love! by Louise Garvey - 20 Votes
I knew that I shouldn’t do it but there’d been a change in her lately and being the mother of a 16 year old girl curiosity had gotten the better of me and I had to know that she was okay.
It was in the draw next to her bed, wrapped in a pillowcase, covered in girly sequins – her diary.
And there it was ‘He called me again yesterday, I think its love!’ Who was he? Where did she meet him? How old was he? Now the worrying would really begin! She was growing up, I had to accept it.

Chemo  by Jane Langan - 61 Votes
Like tiny fish hooks on my skin, licking, licking.
I know, you’re hungry, I’ll get up in a minute, just one more minute.
Let’s wait for the nausea to pass. Purrs vibrate through my chest, or lack of it.
OK enough, get off me. Get down, I can’t right now, my head burns.
Head back, eyes closed, galaxies explode in the blackness, too bright, I open them again.
I love you, but please stop licking me, the brine from my eyes encouraging him more.
My hands go to my head. Handfuls of hair free fall to my shoulders.

The Silence by Barbara McHallam - 39 Votes
​‘What’s that, sir?’ the conscript asked as a streak of green light hit the ground.
‘I don’t know.’ The sergeant muttered as he peered through the dense woodland. ‘But I don’t like it.’
The squad of soldiers were fidgety. Uneasy. There was utter silence. The owls were hushed. Foxes and badgers stopped barking.
With shaking hands, the soldiers took aim at the shimmering light creeping, slithering towards them.
‘Sir. Sir. There’s something moving,’ the corporal called. ‘Serg, should we fire? Serg?’
The bright light vanished into the night sky. Nothing remained in the forest except the trees and the silence.

Out of Time by Kathleen Shore - 62 Votes
I looked up the word ‘palliative’ after they told me; ‘the provision of relief from the symptoms of a disease but without effecting a cure’.  For fucks sake!  I have cancer and palliative care is apparently all they can offer.  I suppose I just assumed that at some point, one of the treatments would work and everything would go back to normal.  Thirty-seven-year-old people don’t die from cancer, do they?  That logic is probably the reason I haven’t told anyone about my diagnosis; the now rebranded palliative one.  Maybe they won’t notice until it’s too late to cause an argument. 

The Cave by Lee Loftin - 72 Votes
A wide-set man stood at the mouth of the cave as Jason Gardener stood behind a rock. “Jason! We’re all going to leave this world someday… So let me at least have a nibble of your flesh! Your mother ought to have taught you basic manners... You’re being quite inconsiderate, keeping those bodily nutrients all for yourself.” “I’m inconsiderate! You’ve gone and disturbed all the bats with that racket. And your mother ought to have taught you to be more respectful of one’s bodily autonomy!” in feeling he had won this argument, Jason promptly slipped on a rock and died.

​A Lesson in Thought  by Callum Daniel - 75 Votes
It was a cool afternoon, a slight breeze whistling through my blond hair as I walked towards home. I breathed a sigh of relief and relaxed, school was out! As I approached the local corner shop, my heart skipped a beat. I rubbed my eyes in shock, not believing what I could see. MY grandma was walking home with the neighbourhood gang. The gang infamous for multiple stabbings and muggings. Even worse they held her shopping and she allowed it. I followed them home until they arrived and asked what was going on. They said it was out of respect.

Freda Allsop's Cat by Brian Webster - 96 Votes
Taking my usual evening walk up Colliery Lane I was thinking about Freda’s missing cat when as I passed the old mine I heard a ‘mewing’ sound.
The mine is where years ago an unfortunate accident tragically claimed the souls of five miners and their bodies were never recovered.
 Looking down a recently exposed hole I saw the cat struggling to get out and knelt down to grab hold.
Suddenly a bleached white skeleton hand reached out of the slurry and pulled the writhing cat slowly down.
I’ve not mentioned it to Freda but now I walk in another direction.

Journeys  by Mark Marsden - 310 Votes
Why do weirdos and drunks insist on sitting next to me on the train? I note a near empty carriage as he plonks himself down. He smells of cigarettes and BO. He’s talking to me, oblivious that my noncommittal grunts and active concentration on my book are hints for him to shut up. He’s telling me about the job he hates, how his wife left him and the ingratitude of his kids. I start to feel pity and anger in equal measure, no doubt it’s all his fault but I know he’s only human.
Journeys with my dad are stressful.

Ahead of the Mark by Freyja Torn - 166 Votes
What's the deal with your new head?
Nothing. No big deal. It's just my new one.
Right... but where's the old one?
Next to the compost heap, eyes staring at the spaniel, right before he chewed them out.
Didn't that kind of hurt?
Nah, already had my sights on the mark 2. Plus, my deposit was down.
What's it like having your eye-balls licked?
Not bad. You know that feeling, when a migraine is waiting in the wings? Like a smudgy, sand-paper-y, brain exfoliation.
Sounds awful.
What did you go for?
The mark 3.
Nice. Who took yours?
The cat.

Nursery Visit by James Ph. Kotsybar - 205 Votes
The orchids were up on benches.  Though taken down for her to see and smell, she quickly got bored with the docent’s tour
and dove under the benches to explore.
She found a “dragon” in a shaft of light, relaxed until she reached for him.  Then, he magically vanished behind the plastic pots stored there.
Mom called, and she bolted for the door.
Dad apologized, “She’s too young to appreciate what she sees here.”
He didn’t notice she discovered gemstones leading to the car,
and, as her parents left with purchased blooms, she clasped rock treasures from the graveled drive.

Eveline's Ashes by Simon Petherick - 248 Votes
He placed the urn containing Eveline's ashes on the coffee table they used to sit at to watch TV together.
Looking at this makeshift memorial to their relationship, he recalled the uneasiness he had felt at first about not fulfilling his side of the bargain. She had been so sure, so insistent.
But it was her illness, not his. Why couldn't she have seen that? Just because he signed that stupid pact, it didn't mean he had to see it through.
Now for the very first time, he was in charge, and he felt intrepid, glorious.
'Goodbye, Mother,' he said.

Watercolours Bleeding by MJ Christie - 298 Votes
Paint me a picture, she said.
Of what?
Of you.
Swirls of colour spreading on canvas. Light touches the places where her tears fall. Maybe we can piece this thing together. This ethereal thing that comes between us as if a knife through skin. Piercing, bloody and torn – us. Can this thing ever be repaired? I want to believe it can. This thing pokes and prods and makes fun. Of me. Of you. Of our life together. Once a fine thing but now a thing outdated. Old. Ephemeral. A temporary moment blown away in the heat of passion. Watercolours bleeding.

Collision Course by Laura Buckley - 245 Votes
Initially she thinks nothing of it: in her peripheral vision, another figure on a collision course. She shifts direction, turns her head, “I’m going this way,” but the other person doesn’t follow her cues. When she has to stop, or else walk into this stranger, she finally looks up. She is toe to toe with a man. Face blank. Eyes unblinking. He says nothing, but his posture radiates hostility, and for a potent moment she is afraid. She breaks the stalemate, steps around him. As she walks away, she can hear the sneer in his voice. “Yeah. I thought so.”

The Gift by Keith Davison - 194 Votes
​“It’s Blonde on Blonde, digitally remastered,” Lucy emphasised, passing me the vinyl album. “To replace the one I cracked.”
“That was Blood on the Tracks.”
“It was only a little crack!”
“Finding your Martha and the Muffins album in the sleeve for Blood on the Tracks was more traumatic than coming home to find you’d cleared out all your belongings.”
Lucy looked momentarily perplexed. “I’m sorry- I should have spoken to you face to face.”
“I appreciate the thought, even if you got your Dylan mixed up,” I replied, motioning towards her gift.
She smiled. “Occasionally, I make a mistake.”

The Struggling Author by Andrew Troth - 177 Votes
The chair creaked as he leaned back and stretched.
With a loud sigh he stared at the screen, the words seeming to float in front of his eyes.
His back ached. He hit the ‘save’ button, just to be doubly sure - he never quite trusted that auto-save feature - and got up to stretch.
“How’s it going love?” came his wife’s voice from the doorway. “I’ve brought you a nice cuppa tea and a few biscuits.”
“What!! I told you - I need complete solitude to write.”  He grabbed the poisoned tea and slammed the door in her face.

Late by T.H. Cranfield - 160 Votes
“You’ll kill yourself with all this work!”
With his ex-wife’s last words echoing through his head, Michael repeated his agenda, each item synchronised to a gear shift as he accelerated: new proposal to the marketing director by twelve; media launch at two; potential client meet at four; overdue car service at five; pick up sales portfolio at seven.  The list, like some sort of regenerating monster, could never be vanquished and he was already behind.
The red light was an afterthought, much like the brakes he had put off changing for months.  He died as he lived; he never stopped.

Celestial Equator by Dean Gessie - 101 Votes
He was building an imaginary wall around the circumference of the world.
“Crazy, old man!” I said. “Your bricks don’t exist!”
He peered over his unreal wall and provoked me with a riddle: “These bricks are words!”
“If each brick is a word,” I laughed, “your language is transparent!”
Suddenly, his face shone power and glory and I was struck dumb. Wherever he reached through the perimeter of the wall, he found my hand.
I decided to help with his diplomacy. I mixed mortar, replenished his bucket and hauled it close. I and others were needed for the heavy lifting.

Madness Marches On by Frances Tate - 173 Votes
Spring’s sprung. Leapfrogged over Winter’s final week. Energetic breezes blow daffodil trumpets, deafen hyacinths and anemones. Strips naked early cherry trees, scatters petals. Pale pink snow drifts. Sticks to the bonnets and windscreens of passing cars. Moves, not melts, beneath sashaying wipers. The trees are stirring. Dry twigs, dipped in life, unfurl, green and renewed. Power up industrious leaves, the eternal photosynthesis reactor. Prepare for another year. The re-assuring cycle repeats. Forgives. Below endless plastic cartwheels. Strident blue. Logo-emblazed. Single use… Bushes snare it; excavate themselves from beneath it, ask- ‘this yours? Something’s got to change. You’ve got to change.’

Green Seas  by Abbie Adey - 120 Votes
He always promised they’d buy a beachfront property overlooking the sea; one similar to the one her father had when she’d stay with him on the weekends.
Kevin, never really having grown accustomed to the idea of leaving their apartment on the outskirts of his hometown, always promised that one day he’d take her.
Though standing here now with his wife in his hands, all he could do was be jealous of the paradise she would marvel without him.
“Welcome home.” He whispered to her for the last time, watching her as she sailed off into the setting sun alone.

Rocks in the Water by Laura Geall - 97 Votes
I hug my best friend so tightly I imagine his eyes bulging out of his head, cartoon-like, as it rests on my shaking shoulder. When life was going well and I was wave-jumping on the water's surface, he was lying in the sand at the bottom, waiting for now, for when I would eventually sink.
My acquaintances are the other fish, swimming and not stopping; my friends are the seaweed floating close by, on hand if I need them; but he’s my rock, my support, waiting at the bottom, because he can't move from me even if he wanted to.

Murder in the Dark by Kathryn Ratzko - 306 Votes
The pansies had massed in the flowerbed near the back door. It had been an invasion, a take-over; they had staked their claim on the territory and had left no room for anything else. They were feral. Their smudged, black ninja eyes stared at us as we sat huddled in the kitchen, drinking hot, sweet tea and looking at pictures of petunias, begonias and lobelia in catalogues we kept hidden under the table. We waited until dark, then took a spade and crept upon them. We held a torch, a simple light; I could not bear to see their faces.
What Miss Austen Left Out by Lindsay Bamfield - 203
‘If another teenager calls me feisty in her essay, I’ll scream. What kind of word is that?’
‘It means–’ piped up Mary.
‘I know what it means. They’re so unoriginal,’ replied Elizabeth.
‘Better than being ‘virtuous and pleasant,’ said Jane.
‘They call me bookish and pedantic,’ said Mary.
‘They have a point,’ said Jane.
‘Let’s write a blog saying it like it is.’
‘Wickham writes one. Claiming he’s a nice guy. As if.’
‘People’ll think we’re trolls. No-one’s going to believe Charlie and I hooked up long before he came to Netherfield, are they? Mama squashed that rumour stone dead.’

Malaika by Nathan Abeta - 117 Votes
"just wanna say, no matter what you decide to do from here: I really feel happy every second we spend together. I love you." What read on Malaika's phone's screen as the sheriff ordered that corpses be taken away.
Certainly the most horrendous accident ever witnessed by Billy in all twenty two years of being sheriff of Darensville. Sweet Jesus! Why destroy something that beautiful? he thought, hovering about the young girl's remains.
Meanwhile on the other side of town, an anxious Michael was praying to any God listening for Malaika to acknowledge his text and talk to him again.

The Cat Article  by Helena Pruss - 86 Votes
"Did you read it already?" I finally asked.
"Read what?" She looked at me.
"Well, the thing I sent you?."
"Oh, that," she dozed off, then proceeded, "you mean the '10 Funniest Cat Photos In The World'?"
"Yes... well, did you?"
"I did."
"Quite funny, don't you think?"
"I liked the one with the black cat the most."
"Did you like it?"
"I suppose."
"What do you m-"
"Goodbye," she cut me off abruptly.
"Are you leaving?"
"I am."
"Oh, okay. You sure?"
"Yes, uh... good day!"
I am actually glad she left, she lied to me.

Hit and Run by Emma Kirkby - 60 Votes
I’ve worked out within the last few minutes that I hate the smell of tarmac. Burning tarmac, to be precise. I choke on ragged breath, chemicals working their way down my throat and clinging to my lungs, coating them with an irreversible black sheen. I concentrate on forcing down my urge to gag. It’s easier to focus on my spinning head than to think about what’s just happened.
He’d darted out in front of me like a bullet. I’d hesitated before braking, no more than a split second. That’s how quick he was moving.
Now he’s not moving at all.

Every Breath You Take by Caprice Darnell - 109 Votes
I don't know why I bothered. I knew she wouldn't like it. It's so stupid to have even believed she'd appreciate the gesture. That's the difference between herself and me - I quite obviously care more than she does! I just mean who doesn't like having their feet tickled or hearing sweet nothings whispered into their ear?! I notice every detail. Every crevice of her body. She doesn't even notice me lying under her bed. If she paid a bit more attention, she would notice when I slip out during the night, just when the shadows are changing - to embrace her!

The Hero by Victoria Syrett - 156 Votes
He sat on the wooden step, the uniform weighed down by the rain and the mud. With a sigh he took off his helmet and brushed the back of his hand over his forehead.
He reached into his pocket and pulled out a letter from his fiancé. With delicate fingers he pulled the little black and white photo out of his new born son.
“Grenade, Grenade!” The words echoed around the trench, reverberating through his heart when he saw it at his feet, he jumped onto it; his eyed still glued to the picture of his son and whispered “William”. 

Cold Cut Ridge by Sally Hewitt - 196 Votes
Five weeks since he’s seen her. Five weeks of trailing, snaring, shooting, skinning, gutting. Five weeks of days filled with drag, nights unslept thinking about, longing for her.
Folks are saying she left three days ago. Pa was right, all any woman’s good for is bedding.
He pulls a cloth bag from his pocket, tips a ring into his hand. Lifting his head, he launches it into the creek, sees fading sunlight kiss its diamond, his hopes his, trust in her goodbye.
Upstream, slipped while gathering Alaska Violets to pretty his welcome home she lays alone in shade, face down.

Goodbye Veronica by Ed Hinde - 201 Votes
Embarrassing, you coming home early. The misuse of your Rabbit was bad enough but sorry for wearing your best dress. Usually, I wear the old red one. Your reaction was understandable but crockery is expensive, remember.
My new flat is small and cold. You’ll think that suitable punishment, no doubt. It could be a metaphor for our marriage. A peck on the cheek is all you could give, but only in public.
I’m not asking to come back but to say I have found Gerald. He’s wonderful, loving and warm. All that you are not. Your Rabbit is enclosed, unwashed.

Scarecrow by Jannice Scott - 290 Votes
I spied the sparkly thing and it peered back at me, glinting in the dazzling sunlight.  It was a shard of glass splintering light like a beacon of hope. Hay in my arms fluttered in the breeze as I watched the point of light glow white; then it exploded into red and gold fingers and ignited the dry grass.   I had never seen anything so beautiful and shivered with delight all the way to the top of my old hat.  I realised all too late, when the light started to lick at my old boots, that I was a gonner.

Baby by Andy Mannion - 173 Votes
I awoke alone, my mouth empty and dry. An initial feeling of inner peace quickly shattered by the sudden realisation that baby was missing. In the darkness my fumbled search proved fruitless and finally panic ensued. I began to cry uncontrollably , tears streaming down my anguished face.
Suddenly through the bars I sensed a familiar presence making sounds that I did not yet fully understand but found consoling, before reuniting me with baby and disappearing back into the night. Comforted with its’ safe return I soon drifted back to sleep. It's true I do sleep better with my dummy.

Life Underwater by Jacob Spivey - 130 Votes
I saw Winston at the bar the other day. He told me he had finally moved out of his studio apartment. I asked where he had moved. He told me he had found a nice place underwater. I couldn’t understand why. Winston told me that the commute was hell, but he had to move because his mother lived underwater and she wasn’t doing too well. Winston wanted to be there while she still had her memory and was still herself. I can understand how somebody can wish to treasure what time. I can understand why a man would live underwater.

A Memory by Nuthara Karunarathna - 127 Votes
A figure in a hooded coat reaches for me. He is dark and fills my view. He grabs me. I do not feel the pain. I am not afraid.
Somewhere, a woman is screaming.
Footsteps. A hand grabs the hooded figure and throws him. He hits the wall with a crack that echoes everywhere and makes me shiver.
The woman is still screaming. Hands cradle me and rock me back and forth.
My father strokes my hair. “You’re safe now.”
But I am looking at the hooded man lying dead near the wall, and my father’s touch makes me afraid.

Jeans by Joe Turner - 197 Votes
Seventy-five. Not my age, not even the year, but the price of a pair of jeans!
‘Can I help you, sir?’ Some kid asks; wet milk on his top lip.
‘Yeah, you can sell me these for half the price.’
‘They’re already reduced, sir. They’re on sale.’
'Sail? Boat?
She loved the water. The waves lulled her when medicine would not. Vitamin D and fresh air, the doctor prescribed. We watched the sunset from the shore. She fell asleep on my shoulder.
I’ve worn these jeans all my life. “Them jeans is your genes,” Patty would say. Used to say.

Drowning in Milk by Sophie Sheldon - 97 Votes
The grains of cereal moved, clambering over each other, I suppose in an attempt to save themselves.
It was every Rice Krispy for himself in that bowl. I wondered why they didn’t just climb out using the spoon.
As I lifted the spoon, I fell straight into the bowl.
Falling, falling, then splash.
I kicked my legs and gasped loudly as my head emerged from the bodies and milk. There was dead Rice Krispies as far as I could see, and I felt awful for squashing the ones around me but like I said, it was every man for himself.

Time  by Joe Luther - 196 Votes
‘I think it’s spitting, Chris’.
‘Right you are,’ he says, unfurling an enormous green umbrella, which easily covers Dad’s wheelchair.
Cathy joins me on the bench. ‘I hope Dad’s enjoying himself,’ I say, pulling up the hood on my parka.
‘I think they both are,’ Cathy says. ‘We had a young chap with a guitar last week, and some of them were up and singing, clapping. Lovely, actually.’
Cathy chatters away. Chris reels in a small fish and holds it up for Dad to see.
Before long, matron is shuffling along the path towards us.
‘Time’s up,’ Cathy says, standing.

Being Human by Kristofor Hellmeister - 95 Votes
The boy—sitting alone. Loud tears cascaded down crimson cheeks. His head was buried behind arms, but he couldn’t hide pain. The teacher sat.
“What’s wrong?”
“What’s wrong?”
The teacher wasn’t dissuaded. He remained—waited. If the student explained his agonies, he’d be teased. The teacher wasn’t deterred. The teacher smiled encouragingly. 
“What’s wrong? You can share,” he promised.
“Yes. I’m listening.”
Kids sniggered—mocked.
“Ignore them.”
The teacher waited. The boy sniffled loudly.
“My parents.”
“What about them?”
“They’re divorcing. They don’t love each other anymore.”
“I’m sorry.”
“I don’t know if they’ll love me.”
The teacher hurt, too. 

The Lake by Laura Holmes - 172 Votes
The sun was fading, its warm glow and dull shade began to disappear behind the white, fluffy powder. The large points of the mountains began to draw an eerie shadow over the frozen forest. Each tree trembles in the breeze, beginning to draw its leaves against its trunk, to seek comfort and protection from the oncoming storm. The clouds began to darken; the forest was silent. Branches overlooked the crisp, frosty lake; all the creatures were burrowed away in the undiscovered heart of the forest. Tear drops of water trickled from the branches; yet to freeze in the low temperatures.

Into the Unknown by Farina Fazeli - 160 Votes
Finally reaching the peak, I breathed a sigh of relief. My hair danced gracefully; whereas my coat swished violently in the wind. Hauling myself up, I surveyed the glorious view. Clouds of mist swirled elegantly; creating eccentric patterns. Peaks of rocks just barely surfaced above the mist. Just barely. Underneath the layers and layers of endless mist, hid a Kingdom. A Kingdom so great- it's name was feared among many people. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. Then I fell. Falling into the endless abyss little did I know of the dangers ahead. Little did I know.....

Moving On by Sarah Waldron - 178 Votes
The leaves crunched under her feet as she walked. She knew she would have to turn back soon, she’d been walking for hours and it was beginning to get light.
They’d notice that she was missing soon. They’d find out what she’d done.
She had to make her choice now, keep going and chase the sunrise or turn back and face the truth. It was too late to turn the clock back, her fate was sealed.
Walk on she must lest she be haunted by the vision of the face of her heartbeat as he discovered her cold, lifeless body.

The Avalanche and the Goat by Samanatha McNeice - 106 Votes
I was eating an apple when who should approach but a man and his goat. “You shouldn’t be here,” he said and growled on by. I looked past him and spotted the large amount of snow. The mountain top had lost its white mop as it slid down the nape of its neck. The man walked towards the avalanche, the snowy impasse. Soon the man looked small, a matter of perspective, and distance. The snow engulfed him. I should probably move, I should have moved earlier. It may already be too late. Oh, the faint bleat of the man’s goat.

They Did This by Sofiah Shakeel - 205 Votes
His veins looked like those sweets you get, you know the fizzy, acidic, powdered kind, guaranteed to give you the rush of sugar you crave. Except in this case the water has caused his face to balloon up, so he looked out of proportion. His face normally looked serene, but the hours spent in the ocean has changed his body to resemble of those horror films with unrealistic looking monsters. Then there was the tattoo he was never supposed to have gotten, it’s the first thing I saw and the one thing I couldn’t forget. Our Secret will die here.

Shoes by Donna Thomson - 179 Votes
It was his shoes.
The heels worn angular at either side.
The mark of a heavy foot, an unaligned balance.
The leather creases above the toes, worn in, a good pair of shoes.
Re-heeled twice, they don’t make them like this anymore he would say.
The paths they had walked, taken their owner to, I imagined the many places the shoes had been & had seen.
They looked comfortable & familiar, broken in.
He would sit & polish them & buff them black after the day had ended, ready for the next again morning.
They lay empty now.  The shoes.

Trying to Please Mother by Jan McCarthy - 46 Votes
Boyfriend Gary's shaven pate gave Mother the shivers. "It's like half a bottom," she said, "Only shiny, like it wants to be noticed more than a buttock should." Always attempting to defer to Mother, I asked out the swimming-pool attendant. His wavy, auburn locks, tied back in a ponytail, promised to caress his shoulder-blades and when I reached up for our first kiss I set them free, ran my fingers through their fragrant undulations and, when he pulled me close, took a strand in my mouth, experimentally. It shouldn't have tasted so delicious. Fortunately I still have Gary's phone number.

A Jealous Statue  by Alexis Morrell - 124 Votes
Water runs down my face as though it’s in a marathon sprint, and I am the track. I am a cold edifice, my body hewn from concrete and riddled with old cracks. I stand bedaubed in a mixture of tears and rain and you pass me by. You part the sidewalk seas beneath your feet as you trot so gracefully. Though you surely have pores and crevices marring your body as proof of your perpetual motion, I cannot see them. I stand beneath my liquid veil and yearn to move. My feet are stone, so I stay; a jealous statue.

Acid Test by Wally Smith - 165 Votes
Blue or red? He had to decide quickly. He checked his watch. Time was running out. Beads of sweat appeared on his brow; his heart pounded and he felt his breathing become ragged. It was vital he stay calm. He had to choose. But what if he chose the wrong one? The consequences were too awful to contemplate. He had been in this situation before and each time it had never got any easier. He nervously wiped his hands on his trousers. ‘Blue!’ Yes, it had to be the blue one.
‘That’s what I thought too, darling. Now, which handbag?’

Beam Me Up by Jess Wilder - 125 Votes
He’s sitting two tables away, holding his head in his hands.
I’m always studying people in the café and trying to read between the lines of their lives.
But this guy, he's different somehow... Is he crying? I have to talk to him…
“Excuse me,”
He sniffs, “Yes?”
“Are you OK?”
“No.” His head rocks from side to side. “I’ve lost my dog…” He doesn’t look up at me.
“I see. Well, when did you last see it?”
He is silent for a few moments before he stands.
Something falls.
I look down and stare at the white stick.

Uncertain Vision by Ana Purwitasari - 88 Votes
She has been waiting for the beloved one, a woman called Allice. Ten years passed quickly. Now, they are different. No feeling towards each other. Neither love, nor hate. She is lying on the bed. Staring at the trees covered with snow fully. Alone. She recalls all of the moments with Allice, who grew up too fast and leave her. The halicon days stopped by their home. Today, everything is flipped. She no longer is a mother worsty. Relying on her own feet.
Midnight comes. She is staring at Allice, a baby girl. Her imagination about uncertain future ends completely.

A Bush by Martin Chomba - 101
My boys and I are as usual, talking about our fantasies as we stroll through the woods just like our mothers had warned us. A quick ruffling in the bushes has everyone’s skin painted in nothing but goose bumps. I closely walk up to the bush and just as am about to pick up a stick; a green, red-haired cat with horns appears. Everyone runs screaming while the monster renders me dumb-founded. My legs start shaking as sweat trickles down my forehead. The creature jumps on my head and I quickly wake up to the reality of a licking dog.

Cryptic Clue  by Steven Barrett - 87 Votes
He loved crosswords.
He would try and complete them during his breaks at work. It relieved the
boredom. It helped him focus, too.
Just one answer to go. He checked his watch. Could he finish it in time?
Suddenly, he solved the final clue and wrote it in.
He had an appointment to keep. Before the completion of every job, he'd tell
the person that he was, 'A. Mathin - a man of my word', and then present his business card.
It read: A Hitman. The answer to his clue.
Then, with great precision, he'd take out his gun and shoot.

Being Late by Patricia Fastoso - 98 Votes
I know I am late. I always am. Hence, I daily almost run the few blocks that separate my home from work. And I daily see the woman with the red apron in her corner balcony on the first floor. Every day the same relaxing scene of her sweeping her small balcony. The same rhythmical movement of her torso and shoulders: left to right, left to right. The broom is shifting some invisible dust to the street. Today, I stop to observe. What difference would it make to me or to her? She does not know about my being late.

Forget by Lily Verdana - 123 Votes
A young man knocks on an old house door, the beige paint peeling off. At the entrance sits a rusty
mailbox, overflowing with letters both old and new.
Shuffling steps. The door opens and there stands an elderly woman, cane in hand.
She waves weakly, cane shaking slightly. “Oh? It’s not often I get visitors.”
The man greets her. “How have you been, mother?”
She blinks at him. Empty blue eyes gaze at him, then drift towards the cloudless sky.
“I’ve been well.” A pause as she adjusts her glasses then smiles toothlessly.
“It’s always nice to see new faces.”

Long Lost Lover by Madison Paul - 112 Votes
I pulled my knees up to my chest trying to breathe through the hole in my heart. The burning hot water pounded down on top of my cold naked body, still not loud enough to drown out my thoughts. I’ve tried so many times to come up with the words, to come up with a way to make heartbreak sound less brutal, but for once the words failed me. In the end I could not make anything beautiful out of it, in the end it was exactly what it had always been, a love that turned into a hopeless tragedy.

Last Day of June  by Molly Nash - 98 Votes
June’s canvas rests upon her worn easel, palette and brush loitering aside while her husband stares longingly at her self portrait, and lets tears cascade from his eyes.  Scenes play on a loop in Carl’s mind; daggers tear into his morose soul, ripping him apart from within.
Cruelly, he was sent back to that fateful day, supposedly of happiness, prosperity, hope.
Unaffected, they say love is proven in the letting go, yet Carl couldn’t bring himself to, never, not her.
Like the anchorage of time itself, she was his... everything.
 Alas, that day was the very last day of June.

9AM-5PM 7PM-12AM  by Bas van der Lee - 74 Votes
The alarm, the light. The buzz, the fight.
A rush through a daze of awareness before you finally make it.
The next bit is a flash, a spick of light.
You get back home and see what is left for you.
Finally you sit down behind the piano and play until late that same evening.
At the stretch, of what feels like forever, you stand up. Walk towards the kitchen.
35 minutes have past.
And at that point you wonder:
How can it ever be that 35 is equal to, or grater as, 480?
Let’s find out, you tell yourself.

Current Times by Liam Summers - 79 Votes
The masses spread across the land like rusted steel sheets and rotten woodwork drifted a shore from the bow of a coastal shipwreck.
Cascading wide with torn welds and cracked emergency lights barely blinking on the tidal waves.
Evaporated ocean waters slowly solidify around the propellers of culture, leaving nothing but the corrosion and bitterness of salt...
But yet, somehow, still managing to glisten like tiny diamonds at the heart of stars, reflecting the highest of exulted desert suns.
There's a toxic smell of burning hope and dense diesel fumes that breach the mornings air... This is the current times.

Target  by Lynn Gale - 89 Votes
From his high vantage point, he watched and waited, bag by his side.
Five years of suffering the constant bullying and humiliation.
“New directive “ they enthused “young blood to improve sales”.
Promoted after six months, he had given twenty years.
Summoned into his swish new office,  “Letting you go” he  said
“not achieving required targets”.
No job, behind on payments, house repossessed, his wife left.
Resentment growing, he unzipped the bag, taking out the hunting rifle, the cause of his woes exited the building opposite, adjusting the sight, he took aim.
One target he was determined not to miss.

The Month Gran got hooked on The Wire by Rachel McHale - 69 Votes
I wouldn’t have thought foul-mouthed drug dealers would be Gran’s thing, but as the credits roll on the finale, she’s looks as gutted as if Blue Ribbons got discontinued.
‘Afternoon tea at Betty’s will cheer you up,’ I shout (hearing aids are, apparently, too fiddly).
A waitress wearing a 1920s lacy cap leads us past ladies who shop at Waitrose and the dusted and polished kind of tourists whose hotels have bathroom phones. Daintily eating doll-sized sandwiches and tastefully-pastel macarons, they chat using library voices.
Gran whisper booms over her menu: ‘what do you think these other motherfuckers are ordering?’

Splinter by Jade Black - 85 Votes
I picked my way through the rubble under the blue sky. It was as idyllic as any day in Damascus could be. I crouched by the stream in the shade and started to fill the cracked bucket. I watched miserably as the dirt swirled in the water. It was then I heard the whistle. The whistle of a bomb. It was so close. I had a vain hope that I was far away enough to escape and wise enough to know that running would make no difference.
I remember the day of my death perfectly. It’s as clear as dawn.

Sinking into Betrayal by Kira Lowery - 287 Votes
The metaphorical blade sinks into your back as it happens. Or perhaps it’s a literal gun aimed at the base of your skull.
A strangled sob escapes your throat and your heart hits the floor with a sickening thud. Sickening. Sick.
Nausea roils in your throat. The unwavering, impenetrable trust you felt. Penetrated.
You reach out for the metaphorical support of the person who broke your trust and your hand falls through. You reach out for them to steady you and they step back, a serpent’s smile on their face.
You sink further down into the darkest depths of betrayal.

Objectivism by Anna Egorova - 52 Votes
I like being an object. It calms me down. It makes me relaxed. Nothing depends on me anymore.
‘Look at her lips again! And nose! What about her nose?’
Minutes are like little waves. They come and go. But  I am a cliff and  a shore.
I am just the object of everyone's attention.
‘No, no it won’ t do. The light. You should use it!’
‘ok, I see.’
Light or shadow I am where I am and I don't move while students are drawing a model at their art class. Linguistically speaking I am the object of this sentence.

Humans Are Not Allowed by Izaque Galdino da Silva - 70 Votes
 “I’m sorry sir, but as you can see humans are not allowed.”
“What? And these people?”
“They are hardly characterized as humans.”
“They look human to me.”
“The correct terminology is Resemblers, used by Dr. Ishikawa in the year 3002 after developing the first sentient artificial intelligence, Laura.”
“3002? I was in my house a moment ago ... in 2019. I don’t understand. How did I get here?”
She had lost interest in him. The line to the nightclub stretched down the alley, while people who were not people lined up to enter a nightclub were humans are not allowed.

Morning Performance by Laura Tapper - 84 Votes
Silver gleams, polished to reflective perfection, as your cloth caresses each tube and pipe.  Valves are released with perfect timing, the pitch and timbre of every note enhancing your symphony. You know your instrument intimately and the years of practice show. Studied nonchalance creates the illusion of improvisation, but this is a complex composition.
The crescendo of steam brings the piece to its climax.  After a coda of low notes and some tinkling of percussion, you re-tune for your next performance.  An image remains etched in the foam –  an ephemeral echo of your artistry. Barista, I think I love you.

Die After Live by Chirayu Writer - 27 Votes
Roy left his friend’s party returned to an apartment near the cemetery,  He stumbled into the house and heard the sound of a door closing.
He tried to switch on the lights. Sounds came from everywhere, shouting at Roy to leave.
Roy didn’t believe it. Then he got angry, “Do whatever you want, I’m staying!”
A dark shadow appeared. It was a girl, Three days before she was badly hurt in an accident. She died,  Roy didn’t help, so she looked at him sadly, Roy knew he had to make amends and she didn't leave her body for entire life.

Iniquity  by Akinbowale Olore - 15 Votes
Iniquity simply means injustice. Other synonyms include wickedness and unfairness. It is a sin.
The society has passed through the process of “evolutionary refinement” but this crime still persists. It manifests itself in form of murder, persecution, extortion, nepotism and many other inhuman acts.
The world is inequitable. Inequality breeds iniquity even within the committee of nations. Some nations are well-blessed. The well-blessed become economically powerful, turning economic power to political advantage over the less-blessed, poor nations.
Apparently, all religions abhor it but some hypocritically practice infamy and persecution. It’s paradoxical that religiousity fuels iniquity. It’s part of the world.

I Don't Have a Tail by Polly-Anna Thorne - 18 Votes
I wear a beautiful face. I am incredibly offended by these depictions of me. I have no horns… anymore. And I certainly do not have a tail. Never have. EVER.
The girl next to me is staring fascinated at the painting of definitely-not-me, while her friend tries desperately not to stare at the physical me. They would be easy prey. I wink at the staring one and they blush to the roots of their hair at having been caught. Their begging to move on is ignored by their friend and they are forced to stand, uncomfortably waiting. Ha. Too easy.

Monochrome by Eliza Smullea - 19 Votes
I am a painting. Guests are surprised – yellow, annoyed – red, energized – green, dreamy – blue. But they lose interest.
I wait until they’re out of my house. Then I let my body vomit those colours. I lose that version of myself that makes a canvas stand out in a gallery. When you looked at me.
I wake up seeing your green eyes turning monochrome. I run in the garden and rip some leaves and cut your eyes to bring that colour back to life. I cannot stand seeing you, my home, turning monochrome. Guests won’t come again.

Vanity by Rachael Olumuyiwa - 21 Votes
She heard it all, narcissistic, self-absorbed, vain.
She loved to make herself look good. Slapping on this bronze-coloured eyeshadow, and that matte red lipstick; hours a day she would dedicate for her ‘aesthetic’. She heard it all, and disregarded it all. Really, it was almost as if people were desperate for her to remain bare-faced. She never would, for her bare face was sunken, grey and the embodiment of one’s childhood nightmares. For they would damn her to the deepest pits of hell upon seeing this creature.
Yes, she heard it all, but narcissistic, self-absorbed and vain she would remain.

True Freedom  by Andrei Thutat Ungur - 20 Votes
45 years ago, our freedom was forcefully inflicted on us. We were young. We thought we were free. Some say we were stupid. Bullshit. The victims shouldn’t bear the guilt. The pain was enough.
Today, they finally caught the man who raped and killed us. Ironic: searching for potential relatives through a DNA website. They rejoice like it would make a difference.
The living want consolation. Comfort. They need the illusion of choice and safety. They would even give up the illusion of choice for a stronger illusion of safety. The dead want nothing. The dead are free. We’re free.

Vanitas  by Yyna Smith - 24 Votes
You were three when you loved bubbles.
Iridescent, you loathed to pop them.
Your face was reflected in the fragile outline, as it does now; exactly a century older, and your
grandchild skips around your room, blowing bubbles.
One drifts near a painting that you like. You carry this fulfilment with your departure, you muse.
Except you will not, and the skull gazes back at you. You are but a mortal shell, and only now do you
see the worth of the wealth you sought pleasure in.
The bubble pops.
You wish it did not.
Vanitas, he whispers, you gone.

A Decision Well Made? by Leticia Aranyi - 26 Votes
“Wealth,” she lifts her left hand. “Love,” she lifts her right hand. “Choose”.
And so, he did.
Now he sits at a table for two. It’s his fourth first date of the week and the twenty-first of the month but surely, it’s never too late to find the one.
He wishes that his decision seven years ago was the most difficult he ever made but that would be a lie. It was easier than choosing which tie to wear to this date. You see it didn’t feel like a sacrifice to him Why should it, he can have both, right?