Monthly Archives: June 2015

A Telegram

By William Morris

 

THE PAINTINGS HERE ARE UNBEARABLY BEAUTIFUL STOP ESPECIALLY ONE CALLED FOREST AND SUN BY MAX ERNST STOP THE SUN IS SO STRIKING BUT NOT WHAT YOU EXPECT STOP THE FOREST OVERWHELMS STOP IT IS SUBLIME STOP MAKES ME THINK OF HOW I FELT LAST JUNE STOP SEEING YOUR FACE IN THE DAPPLING LIGHT STOP DO YOU REMEMBER THAT MORNING STOP YOU WERE BEAUTIFUL AND I CRIED STOP MY HEART SWELLS STOP THAT’S NOT IT EXACTLY STOP THE FEELINGS ARE TOO GREAT STOP TO BE CONTAINED INSIDE ME STOP SO LIKE THE FOREST ENCOMPASSES THE SUN STOP MY FEELINGS OVERPOWER ME STOP WISH YOU WERE HERE TO SEE IT STOP

                                            

William Morris is an MFA candidate at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. His work has been published or is forthcoming online at Crab Fat Literary Magazine and Fiction Southeast. He is the recipient of the 2015 Besse Patterson Gephardt Award for Fiction. William lives in St. Louis, where he devotes his time to cats, coffee, and creative writing.

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Community Service

By Jason Walker

 

Near our hiding spot, a pine exploded from the pipe bomb one of us had strapped to it. We made a little campfire, talked Kierkegaard. January had fought hard to stay cold, no matter how many trees we blew up. At any rate, we had improved the community; instead of chopping up all of the wood for ourselves, we’d given everyone the warmth they needed. This required sacrifice, sure, but it was worth every scar.

We stomped out the campfire when we heard the sirens in the distance. Not that it mattered; we always assumed they’d catch us one day, our thin bodies sprawled out in a deserted farmhouse, our hats hanging on an old coat rack, or maybe we’d be half-dead in a ditch, waiting for the dogs. But we knew for certain that the town, chock-full of goody-goods and staggering geezers, would never enjoy another strawberry festival, another football game, another fundraiser – and this is all that mattered. They should’ve thanked us, but they only gave us scars.

When summer came around, we ran through the woods, the sirens growing louder and louder then fading into the static of the cicadas. We carved our names into the looming trees, so that the forest, and those who searched it, would remember us. But then again, they wouldn’t forget anytime soon.

 

Jason Walker lives in Birmingham, Alabama. His short-shorts have appeared online in Monkeybicycle, The Cafe Irreal, and others. His poems have appeared in Measure, Cellpoems, and elsewhere.

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Pregnancy Scare: A How-To

By Mollie Swayne

 

1. Have sex. Introduce an element of reasonable uncertainty: martini, birth control dropped down the drain, your own memory.

2. Have dreams. There are fish in your shampoo, freckles on your palms and the bottoms of your feet, plants growing from the black crust on the floor of your oven. Things are not where they should be.

3. Look at your calendar. Consult an astrolabe, the tidal charts. Realize that, while you were not paying close attention, time has been passing. Feel your mind grow murky with inexactness. You know the end but not the beginning. You are not sure how long ago it was, but you feel it was too long.

4. Become aware of your body, your core especially. Does it feel like a church bell? A waterslide? A sun-warmed satellite dish? Are you retreating within your own Schwarzschild radius? Compare groans and gurgles. Take careful notes. 

4a. (Optional) Perform statistical stylometrics on the words in your notes to see what your subconscious knows. For example, it is widely accepted that frequent use of the word “cornmeal” is a sure sign you’re pregnant with a musical savant. Context reveals what instrument.

5. Wait. There could be nothing wrong. Maintain a nonchalant exterior. Remain as talkative as ever when with friends. If anything related to children is mentioned, let your eyes gloss over while looking at the wine list.

6. Wait more. Become an expert statistician. Dwell on percentages, timelines, diagrams. Vacillate between comfort in the mystery of your wayward body and fear of nature’s determination. Finally convince yourself you have nothing to worry about. Watch a movie where everyone dies and go to sleep easily that night.

7. Wake up bloodless and again uncertain. Go to the bathroom every twenty minutes throughout the day, each time because you think your period has started. Become so confused you accidentally pee your pants. Tell your boss you’re sick and leave early. Stay slightly bowlegged until safely home. Decide your concern has become actionable alarm.

8a. (Optional) Consult with partner. Try not to read too much into their reaction.

8b. (Optional) Conceal from partner. Depending on degree of intimacy, stop returning calls or continue grimacing at them over dinner. 

9. Go to a store where the clerks won’t recognize you. Buy ten other things with your pregnancy test.

10. Get pee on your hands as you try not to wave the test around in the toilet bowl. 

11. Clean out your refrigerator. Forget you only have to wait two minutes. For half an hour, get lost in expired soy sauce, questionable cheese, and taking out the trash. Feel lighter, cleansed. Then remember why you started in the first place.

12a. Stare at your results. Laugh at yourself and how anxious you were! You knew you couldn’t be pregnant, but you wanted to get proof and stop worrying all the same. Drop the test in the trash can and continue life exactly as before.

12b. Stare at your results. Feel the curvature of the earth.

 

Mollie Swayne has worn many hats (e.g., call center minion, janitor, ESL teacher), but this is the first time she can claim that of published flash fiction writer. She is a graduate of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

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