Village Square Logo

S is for Scintillation. 

Their arms and elbows locked as they vied for control.  Major released her grip and dredged her beet-colored nails across his muscled chest.  Zane glanced at the four lines of ripped skin, blood dripped onto the rim of his pants.  He lunged forward, grabbed a clutch of her hair and pulled her close.  His sweaty face was too close.  Wafts of garlic and marsh invaded her nostrils.  Her stomach rolled and she had to swallow the bile as the edges of her vision waned.

“Bitch,” he seethed.  “I don’t know many times we have to go through this.  You know the game.  You befriend them, and then you bring them to me.  End of story.”

“Zane, these ones are too young.  They’re scared.  They don’t want the drugs or the booze.  They cry day and night.  What the hell am I supposed to do with them?  They won’t trust me.”

He loosened his grip and flattened her hair back into place.  His finger followed the trail of blood down to his navel.  He brought the bloodied finger to her lips and applied the macabre lipstick. 

“I don’t give a fuck how you do it.  Knock them unconscious for all I care.  When I say I need two, you bring me two.  When I say I need one with no hair or breasts, you bring me one with no hair and no fucking breasts.  If you can’t get your head around this, Major, then we can conclude our business right here and now.” 

His coal eyes bored into hers.   Conclusion meant death.  Fear curled its metal coil inside her belly.  Zane doesn’t play.  He doesn’t exaggerate, pretend, or concoct.  The end would be painful given that she had just fought back.  Her arms fell limp to her sides.  She looked at the spatter of blood at his feet.

“That’s my girl.  I knew you would see it my way.  Major, now get out there and bring me those girls.  We have an important aficionado who has paid a premium for his delicacy.”

She felt the palm of his hand on her back as he shoved her toward the door.   “Don’t come back until you have what I need.”

“Sure thing, Zane.  Sure thing.”

A is for Annihilation.

Major opened the metal cage door of the elevator and stepped into the apartment lobby.  The scent of wealth and power permeated the space like a high-quality perfume.  A soft white sofa surrounded by dark leather chairs and glass-topped coffee tables welcomed small gatherings.  Soft music from the bar wafted through the lobby.  In her red-bottom spiked boots, Major walked through the revolving glass doors and past the taxi that stood waiting

Outside she slowed even though it was beginning to rain.  The wet would make her hair curl tighter, but she didn’t care.  She slowed her pace even more. 

A couple of blocks down, she swung open the door to the pub and breathed in the familiar smoke and sweat stink as she stepped into the dim room.  When the door closed, darkness soothed everyone once again.  Major nodded to the regulars at the bar.  Billy, the local waterman, sat nursing his standard gin and tonic.  His callused hand raised and then thudded down on the bar.  Major knew he was two sheets to the wind even though it was barely noon.  Tom, the handsome young attorney, sat two seats down from Billy with his shot of whiskey and Budweiser bottle in front of him.  Tom did not acknowledge her, but she knew that he had recently been busted for a DUI.  In the far back corner, Marge was draped over the table fast asleep.  Understanding that she was no different than any of these people, she ordered a double.

L is for Loath.

A few hours later Major stumbled back to her apartment.  When she opened her door, she stepped on an 8” x 14” white envelope.  She tossed it onto her dining table and headed to her bedroom to exchange her leather pants and boots for boxers and a spaghetti strap top.  She grabbed her fleece throw and the envelope and flopped on the sofa. 

Like all the others, a gold sticker embossed with a heron sealed the envelope.  Major sighed as she tore it open and pulled out a set of four photographs.  This time they were girls, too young, with scared eyes and bare shoulders.  This group was pretty with their light brown skin and dark silky hair and she thought they could be sisters.  In the lower right corner of each photo was a number: 15, 17, 14, 12. 

Major shook her head.  Her stomach roiled with nausea, something resembling fear and disgust, but she didn’t know whom she feared and despised most, herself, Zane, or the customers.  Something about the way the girls’ eyes stared at Major from their glossy prints unsettled her.  They appeared in wait to see what Major would do.  She pulled the photos close to her eyes, looking for any distinguishing marks to identify them.  Nothing.  Their skin was smooth and unblemished, as the young often are. 

Major reared back her arm and launched the photographs across the room.  They flitted like tiny airplanes and landed on her coffee table, white sofa, and pink shag carpeting.  Something inside of her moaned.  She leaned her head against the back of the sofa and closed her eyes.  Visions of her parents, laughing in the sunshine and running down the beach, danced into view.  She and her sister ran after them with buckets of water intent on drenching them.  The teal blue waves crawled forward and back upon the shore leaving trails of tiny holes where the sand crabs buried themselves. 

Major opened her eyes when the movie of her childhood faded.  Her stomach knotted.  No matter how hard or how many times she tried, she could not bring forth the remaining memory of that afternoon.  She reached down beside the sofa and pulled up a half-empty bottle of Kors Black.  Raising the bottle, she guzzled the vodka. 

V is for Verisimilitude.

Major awoke to the incessant buzzing of her cell phone beside her ear.  Her head hammered with the bells of a hard night of drinking.  She lifted her head and pulled pink fuzz from her carpet out of her mouth.  Relief, the phone silenced.  She reached for the popcorn bowl beside her and puked the remaining bile from her stomach.  To her horror, she saw that the bowl was encrusted with old vomit. 

The phone buzzed again.  “What, Zane?”

“What do you mean, what?  Where the fuck were you last night?  You were supposed to meet Mateo last night and cruise the spot with the girls.  He said he waited until 2 am, but you didn’t show… Major? What the fuck?”

Major groaned.  “Something came up last night.”

“Bullshit, Major.  You’re hung over, aren’t you?”

“No, man.  I told you, I’m working through my shit.”

Silence pulled back the veil of her deception.   Major focused on the sound of birds chirping outside her kitchen window and leaned on her hand to help her stand up, the phone still on her ear.

Major sighed.  “OK, Zane, OK.  Let’s try this again.”

“Dammit, Major.  When you didn’t show last night, I had Mateo pick up the girls and drop them off at the next drop off point.  You can’t pull this shit.  You were lucky Mateo was there to cover your ass last night.  If he hadn’t been, those girls would have been dead before daybreak.”

“Virtuous, are we?”

“Fuck off, Major, and do your job.”

A is for Absorbed.

Major, with the blur of the previous night behind her, walked through the neon-lit streets of downtown Baltimore.  Establishments extended invitations with names like Big Top and Hustler.  Women with diaphanous clothing and glossy-painted nails attempted to lure in customers.  A woman with bronzed skin approached Major and smiled.  She leaned in close and asked Major if she wanted a date. 

Major returned the smile. “No thanks.”

“Are you sure, baby?  You look like you’ve had a rough night.  I can help you out with that.”

Major shook her head. “Nah, I’m looking for the kiddie stroll.”

“So, that your roll?  What, you a cop or somethin’?”

“Shit, do I look like a cop?”

The woman mugged her up and down then said, “No, I guess you don’t.  You look like shit anyway.  The kiddie stroll is one block down near Wolfe.”

Major slid a twenty-dollar bill into her hand.

The woman tucked the bill between her breasts.  “Thanks, baby.  You want something more substantial, you come on back.”

Along the block-long walk, both men in dark shirts and women in high heels approached her with offers.  Major made eye contact and motioned her head no. No point in making enemies. Once she reached Wolfe Street and rounded the corner, the whole game changed.

Children, perhaps even as young as ten, wore painted faces in garish colors, lips cherry red, eyeshadow dark shades of seaweed and smoke.  A young boy with his hair slicked back approached Major.  He slipped his hand into hers and asked if she wanted to spank him.  Major pulled her hand away a little too forcefully. 

“I’m looking for some fresh girls that came in last night.  I understand they arrived with Mateo.  Do you know of anyone new who came in last night?”

The boy’s dark eyes lowered.  He laid his red Converse on top of the other one and put his hands in his pocket.

“Don’t know anything about no girls,” he said.

“Come on, don’t play with me.”  She showed him the tip of a 50-dollar bill. 

The boy glanced beyond Major to see who was nearby.  He reached for her hand and casually transferred the money from her hand to his. 

“Imagine a world with no evil.  Come with me.”

T is for Tenacious.

The boy led Major down a darkened alley where shadows of movement and whispered groans and grunts filled the air.  If it had not been for the boy pulling Major’s hand hard to the right, she would have missed the door completely.  The door slid open soundlessly into a darkened hall with only the small red pinpoint of light shining from the fire detector.  The boy put his fingers to his lips and drew her into the building.

The air smelled stale with a faint odor of cheap perfume and cigarette smoke.  Drops of perspiration snaked down Major’s forehead.  The noises coming from the rooms seemed odd;  the snap from straps connecting with intended targets,  mechanical noises that sounded like grinding gears and chain links.  Behind one door, Major heard a male sobbing, behind another, clucking noises like a humanoid chicken.  At the end of the hall, the boy took Major’s hand and laid it upon a warm smooth doorknob, then turned and ran back down the hall.

Major took a deep breath and swallowed hard to prevent the bile bubbling in her stomach from traveling toward her mouth.  Her palm was slick on the doorknob.  She wiped the sweat on her jeans, then turned the knob and opened the door slowly to avoid any noise that could betray her.  The room was dark except for the faint blue light cast from a lava lamp.  She stepped into the room and pushed the door closed.  The outline of a snoring lump lay on the sofa.  She stepped across the cushiony shag carpeting and put her ear to another closed door.  Silence.

She opened the door quietly, her heart pounding, and saw four slender figures in a king size bed.  They were covered to their necks and apparently sleeping.  When her eyes adjusted to the low light she realized she was peering into the faces of the girls from the photographs.  Major’s fingers slid down the cheek of the girl closest to the edge.  The girl’s eyelids fluttered open and she exhaled with a start. 

Major put her hands to the girl’s lips.  “Very good,” she whispered

I is for Incessant.

“Shhhhh.. it’s ok.  Shhhhhhh.”

The girl’s panic subsided.  She sat up in bed and looked at Major, then reached up and Major encircled the girl with her arms. 

“Britta, Sasha, Gina, wake up,” Chloe whispered.  Chloe wriggled Britta’s shoulder.  “Come on, wake up.  It’s time to go.”

Britta’s eyes opened.  “Yes!  It’s time.  Wake up, you two.  Wake up!”

The four girls started talking at once.

“Is it time?” Gina asked.

“Where are we going next?” Sasha asked.

“Shhhhh.  Stop it, you’re going to get us caught,” Chloe scolded.

Britta pulled back the covers.  They had been sleeping in their day clothes, ready for the pick-up.   Wordlessly the girls climbed out of bed and slipped on their shoes.  They started for the door, but Major stopped them.

“No, we can’t go that way.  There are too many people up and about tonight.”

She pulled a chair underneath the small bedroom window and slid the glass to the left.  The girls would be able to squeeze out and jump to the alley below.

“Here, go through this window.  When you hit the ground, climb into the dumpster.  Sit there until I come to get you.”

“But why?  Aren’t you coming with us?” Sasha asked.

“I can’t fit through that tiny window.  I’ll go back down the hall and leave through the door,” Major explained.  “You stay in the dumpster until I come to get you.”

“But what if someone catches you?” Britta asked.

“If I’m not there in 10 minutes, run up the block and onto Baltimore Street.  There will be a lot of people walking around; some might try to talk to you.  Laugh like they’re telling you a funny joke, but be careful not to look scared.  Two blocks down there will be a sign for the Savior’s Christian Shelter.  Go there.  Pastor James will know what to do.  Now come on, get up outta there.  We don’t have a lot of time.”

Britta helped the youngest, Gina, up and through the window.  One by one each of the four girls slipped through the opening and down onto the ground.  Major watched below as they climbed into the dumpster.

“OK, I’m going now.  Remember what I said,” Major whispered.

She crept through the blue-cast light and opened the door to the apartment and peered down both sides of the dark hallway.  Nobody.  She closed the door quietly behind her and tiptoed down the hall.   The sounds coming from the rooms seemed louder and more aggressive.  Major quickened her step and when she arrived at the door, she opened it slowly and listened.  Just the night sounds of the city.

She breathed a sigh of relief and turned to close the door. A heavy, strong hand grabbed her shoulder and spun her around.  

“Shit, Mateo,” she spat. “You scared the shit out of me!”

Perspiration dripped down Mateo’s bald head, his breath hot. 

“What’s up, Mateo?  Why are you here?” Major tried to pull away but his grip tightened on her shoulder. “Ow, what the fuck?”

The big man whispered in her ear.  She could smell his body odor and something more sinister, his fear. “Don’t fuck this up, Major.”

“Mateo, calm down.  Your breath smells like shit.  Stop breathing in my face,” Major said, pushing him away.  “I sent them to the shelter.  They’re waiting for us there.”

Mateo leaned in closer again.  “Are you sure?  Are you sure they didn’t run off somewhere?”

“Look, I told them to go straight to the shelter if I wasn’t there to get them.  I assume they’re sitting on the old, ripped couch in the game room.   Don’t be such an asshole.”

O if for Oblique.

At the Christian shelter, James sat across from the four girls and offered them small cups of red Kool-Aid.  The girls slurped down the sugary drink and laid the cups back on the tray.

When they’d finished he pointed to each girl.  “Chloe? Britta? Gina? Sasha?  Did I get your names right?”

They nodded but said nothing.

“Now girls, don’t be afraid.  You’re safe now.  There’s just one thing we need to do before we can get you to a nice safe place,” James crooned.

“Jamie! Glad we’re all here now.”  Zane entered from a back room and clapped his hands.  “How’s it hanging?” Zane slapped James on the back.

“We were just getting to the best part.  Did you bring everything?”

“Oh yeah…” Zane answered.  He took four elongated packets from inside his jacket pocket and handed them to James and backed away.

“Girls?  See these packets?”  He opened one and pulled out a small plastic wand.  He screwed off the cap to reveal a small paper tip.  “Now, you’re going to go into the bathroom, one at a time you know,” James’ laugh revealed a missing front tooth. “You go pee on this stick and then bring it back to me.  You hear?”

The girls nodded.

“Ok, now Chloe, you’re first.” 

One by one the girls went into the small dirty bathroom and sat on the toilet.   Fear caused each girl to struggle to pee, but eventually, they all managed and returned to the grubby couch.

James looked at the four wands.  “Yes, yes.  Now, this is very nice.  He turned each wand to show the girls the small blue cross in the window.  Do you know what this means?”

Chloe nodded, but the other three stared at James.

“It means that you’re all going to have little itty bitty babies!  Now isn’t that a treat?”

The girls held hands.  

“Brilliant, Jamie.  Just brilliant.  Let’s get them dressed and fed before we drop them off to their permanent homes.”

N is for Neutered.

Outside the shelter, SWAT officers surrounded the building.  One of the officers threw a flash bang through the window and the others stormed the door with a battering ram.  Mateo followed the officers into the shelter. 

The old woman ducked under the yellow police tape and put her hand across Major’s shoulder.

“Hey there, Missy-miss.  Found yourself some other lost girls?”

Major hugged the woman.  “Olivia, you old bear, how’s social work treating you?”

Olivia smiled.  “You’d think after forty years in the field, I’d tire of the job.  There’s something in being in the right place at the right time and helping someone get started anew. “

“Well, it looks like we got another set for you.  They’re pretty young this time.”

“And pregnant, like the others?” Olivia asked.

Major nodded.  “Probably.” Olivia stroked Major’s hair.  “You know, Missy-miss,” she whispered, “You took a horrible experience in your life and made it into something really important.  I’m proud of you.  You’re saving other girls, just like you were saved.”

Major batted a tear away.  “Water under the bridge, Olivia.  That was a long time ago. I survived.”

Olivia squeezed Major’s shoulder.  “Indeed you did.”

The End

Author Bio: Teresa is a lifetime member of Writers Village University. Several years ago, she began taking MFA courses in fiction. Her submission is the product of taking MFA 703 Maps of the Imagination. "Salvation" is a short story written in a modular style, which she learned in another MFA course, MFA 700 Narrative Design.

She is a clinical social worker and professor at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. Her publication record consists of approximately fifty academic manuscripts in the areas of mental health and social work in the deaf and hard of hearing population. She has one literary publication in 2009, "Overlooked," that was published in the journal Reflections: Narratives of Professional Helping. She has one literary non-fiction book in press with Deaf Life Press, "Casual Slaughters," a true crime book about two murders that occurred at Gallaudet University.


Yearning - F2k WINNER!

by

Noel



Trish pushed her hair to the side to show off her sparkling diamond earrings. “Alvin just got these for me. I didn’t even have to drop a hint.”

Heather leaned forward for a better look. “Oh Trish, they’re beautiful. And LuAnn, did I see you drive up in a new...

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Flamenco

by

Cedar White

We’re late, of course. Won last-minute tickets to a concert at the Greek, the Gipsy Kings, but now parking is impossible. Ten years of driving in LA and the traffic makes me want to move to, I don’t know, Kansas. Then my date points to a...

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Marbles

by

Brigitte Whiting

 I had plans for that summer and everything changed because of the marbles. But I’m way ahead of myself.

My brothers, Jeff and Mick, hung around Farmer Tom’s place, feeding chickens and riding on the tractor with him, watching while he milked his yellow cow, Bess. I’d...

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Ruler of the House

by

Luann Lewis

We never should have bought this old house.  We sunk all our savings into it plus we took on a mortgage so huge that at this point I would have to pay out money just to get rid of the place.

 

I hate the sounds...

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Abe, the Teenage Hypnotist from Planet Garfunkel

by

Albert Orejuela

You’re hearing a voice, but no one else hears a sound. It’s a deep distant whisper, soft, safe, and inviting: the words of which you can’t yet make out. The harder you listen, the softer it gets; softer and softer, deeper and deeper. The more you listen to it here, ...

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A Night in Fontana

by

TJ Marshall

Brody Carlisle halted his horse on the crest of a shrub-covered hill, slapped his Stetson twice sending dust floating skyward, and after placing it back on his head, coaxed a swallow from his canteen.

To the west, the sun slid behind a scattering of tall pillar-like plateaus. Their...

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Full

by

Luann Lewis

Food. Globes of mashed potatoes glistening with a thin layer of gravy, plump slices of pie gushing with ruby red cherries–food wassensuous. It was sensuous before Abby even knew the meaning of the word.  Sparkling Christmas goodies enticed her as a child. She would sneak from her...

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The Decision

by

Brigitte Whiting

Stan stood on the sand, crumpled by how many people and birds running and sliding into it today. Now, it was getting dark, the last of the purple, streaky clouds turning black against a pale, gray sky.

Go or stay, just two choices.

He reached down...

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Swiftwater

by

Cedar White

10

Amos stood on a thick, muscular knoll on the shoulder of a dark river. He shivered, soaking wet from his silver hair to his leather shoes, and stared, disoriented, at the pines across the river. They seemed to stand with their backs to him. Amos felt...

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Minerva Shield

by

Frank Richards

In July the monsoon rains returned and with them came the little green frogs. Price Aurigena had first seen them in the summer of 1969 when he’d arrived in Korea and now, a year later, they were once again everywhere. Frogs sprang from the ground like exploding popcorn...

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Seinfeld Moment

by

Frank Richards

I have studied martial arts all my life: Karate, Judo, Kenpo Tae Kwon Do, Aikido, and Hsing-I, but as I've gotten older, I pretty much stick to Tai Chi. I used to study Tai Chi at a park in Washington, D.C. called Glen Echo Park. It's an old...

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Wedding Portrait – Life Portrait

by

Glennis Hobbs

July 20, 1942


Escorted by her eldest brother Neil, Annabell walks across the front lawn to meet Bill. her groom. She is dressed in a long gown of pink net overlying pink point d’esprit. A bandeau of artificial roses secures her pink net veil. She also...

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Salvation

by

Teresa Crowe

S is for Scintillation. 

Their arms and elbows locked as they vied for control.  Major released her grip and dredged her beet-colored nails across his muscled chest.  Zane glanced at the four lines of ripped skin, blood dripped onto the rim of his pants.  He lunged forward, grabbed...

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The Explorers

by

Glennis Walker Hobbs

Black, ginger, and tortoiseshell felines zoom through the open screen door onto the deck. Black Nic pauses and surveys his domain from the top of the steps. Kittens race down the ramp and scamper into the backyard. Glory, the tortoiseshell, runs to the maple in the corner, ...

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Beckett – you asked for this

by

Joy Manné

Here am I, on this grey morning, here I am again, entering this day as I entered yesterday and the day before and unless I am spared by death will enter tomorrow and the day after, endlessly growing older with the anxiety that brings, the fear of coming...

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Reconciliation

by

Brigitte Whiting

Mattie opened the front door. "I'll be back in a while, Henry," she said, then stepped onto the porch and clicked the door shut.

It opened behind her and Henry stuck out his head. "Wait, I can come with you."

She shook her head. "I need...

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Road Trip

by

David Snyder

  The eight-year-old 1958 Chevy was purring along through rural Kansas with ease. Don smiled with pride. When it hit 180,000 miles he planned to celebrate with a smoke and an ice-cold Mountain Dew from the cooler.  It was a beautiful late April day with the sunny...

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Why I’m Failing My Innovative Fiction Course

by

Ed Kratz

   

This is from an assignment in the Innovative Fiction Course taught by Karen

I'm just not making it in my innovative fiction course.
What is innovative fiction you might ask? Well, if you have to ask, I'd say you're one of those rubes...

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Dear Don...

by

Ed Kratz

   

The Don, whose real name you do not want to know, ever, has vast experience solving problems. Our organization, Don’t Try to Find Us Press, never advocates violence. We take no responsibility for violent acts committed by those misinterpreting the Don’s recommendations.
Now for...

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Todd’s Miracle

by

Leslie

Todd shivered in the dark, seated cross-legged on the linoleum. Coats and dresses draped gently over his five-year-old shoulders. He flinched as a slit of bright light flashed through the space at the bottom of the door. Seconds later the deep, rolling rumble followed. “Mommy?”

Silence.

“Mommy?” ...

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Mad Hatter Town Planners

by

Margaret Fieland

   

I fell down the rabbit hole straight into the town planning committee meeting. A large basin of Sangria sat in the middle of the scratched wood table in the center of the room, and a keg rested against the back wall. Al, Stan, and Art...

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Dinner at Grandma's

by

Lolla Bryant

You’re at Grandma’s house again for dinner.  As always, the family is gathered together and everybody’s trying to out-talk everybody else.   You ask yourself why you continue to go through this ordeal every week, but you know why; it’s Grandma.  Also, it’s a family tradition that brings you...

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Mommy’s Little Secret

by

Leslie

At age five, Amy told her mother that the thought of swimming scared her. Not surprisingly, her mother poo-pooed the idea, and said that fear showed weakness and stupidity. From then on, Amy said she hated swimming and never admitted any fear to her mother again. I don’t...

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New Age Centre

by

Natalie Knight

I had been in Oz for a few months when I received an emergency call to come back to South Africa. Every émigré who leaves elderly parents dreads this call.

 

But this was worse than death. Our family lawyer called me to attend a meeting...

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"I’ve Been With Willy All Day"

by

Brigitte Whiting

   

The late August sun hung hot in a bare blue sky. Matilda picked up a tattered straw bushel basket and trudged into the garden with it. The rows of beans were dusty green, the corn stalks tall, their leaves edged with yellow. She settled on...

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Of Heroes and Holiness

by

Angela Hess

What does a hero look like?

 

George Bailey is a hero.

 

George Bailey dreamed of traveling the world.

 

George Bailey gave up his dreams to care for his family and community.

 

Rudy left his family...

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A Red Squirrel's Narrative

by

Brigitte Whiting

This past summer and fall upturned me. The birdfeeder, usually so generous, abdicated her job, and I had to scrounge for food during the long wet season. My mother told me it was unusual to have such a rainy August and October. She would know. I was born...

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Talk-Back, Dear Lia, on FnF

by

Joy Manné

This essay is part of a Talk-Back series – I owe that title to Karen. A Talk-Back is my response to a chapter in a WVU textbook, my communication with its author.

This Talk-Back is a response to the exercise in Lia Purpura’s chapter, ‘On Miniatures,’ (Flas...

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Reunion

by

Lina Sophia Rossi

“Why the F--- Do I want to see a F—ing alligator jump up to eat a F—ing chicken hanging on a clothesline?”

 

The last time I hung out with my Uncle Dan is when I dragged him to Gatorland to do something touristic. ...

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A Fear of Broken Things

by

Angela Hess

“Does he look at you?”

 

My cousin’s innocent question triggers a flashing red warning light in my brain. My baby doesn’t look at me. I assumed he was too young still, but my cousin’s baby is only four days older than mine, and they are...

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Wild Roses Growing in the Ditch

by

Louise E. Sawyer


It is a joy to hold a lovely scene, a delightful moment, in memory.
~Marjolein Bastin

Frank was four and I was five and getting ready to start school when Dad and Mom moved us into a new house on Glasgow Avenue—a three-bedroom home that wasn't quite finished—in...

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Hazardous Happenings

by

Albert Orejuela

At some point, everything comes to an apex.  Status quo can only persist for so long before the natural balance of the universe calls for consumption, and then it all comes down to a choice.  That’s it, a lone decision that ultimately leads down a pathway to a higher level...

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Dealing with Rejection

by

Carolann Malley


Sending your writing out into the world can be scary whether you write poetry, fiction, or nonfiction. But, at some point, if you are a serious writer, you will do it. Getting a rejection letter back can be more devastating than asking a girl out as a teenager and...

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Backyard Neighbors

by

Brigitte Whiting


I took an hour to walk outdoors in my yard, first to clip dead honeysuckle branches, pluck dandelions, and then to fill the birdbaths and feeders. And to ponder what to write about one of my backyard neighbors, the gray squirrel, Sciurus Carolineses. Its name is derived from the...

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Betrayal

by

Angela Hess


My four-year-old son has a friend over. I overhear my son’s friend tell my two-year-old daughter, “Gracie, you can’t come in here.” Then my son’s voice: “It’s okay, she can play with us. Here, Gracie,” he says, presumably handing her one of the toys they are playing with. My mama...

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The Weight of Emotions

by

Angela Hess

  I can hear my parents’ raised voices upstairs. They are fighting again. I turn on the sink faucet, letting the sound of the running water drown out their voices. I thrust my hands in the nearly scalding hot water and methodically scrub each dish in the sink...

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An Apology

by

Brigitte Whiting

   I'm sorry that I hadn't thought of how I would take care of a puppy. It had seemed like a good idea, accept the gift of a puppy from acquaintances. She had the coloring of a coyote and was named Brindle for those tawny markings. I'd...

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Baby Precious

by

Louise E. Sawyer

It was Christmas Day 1950 and my sixth birthday. Under the tree was an unusually long, large box with my name on it. I was excited to open it. I couldn’t wait. When I finally did, I was amazed to look upon the most gorgeous doll I’d...

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Downsizing

by

M Clare Paris

 
I think about death quite a bit. Not morbidly, nor do I worry about what happens when one dies. Although I enjoy a spiritual life, I am also philosophical about the end of my life. If there is something else, it will be darned interesting. If there isn’t, ...

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Absent But Present

by

Louise E. Sawyer


My father, Thomas George Sawyer, was absent at my birth and absent the first seven months of my life.

It was Christmas Eve 1944 at the two-story white house on Beechwood Drive-my Grannie’s house in Victoria, the capital city of British Colombia on Vancouver Island. Grannie Price, my...

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Gathering: A Contemplative Essay

by

Brigitte Whiting

I'm always looking for ideas to use in writing: for that prompt at which I first gulp and then slowly retrieve some thread of an idea, for the poem I need for the Monday morning poetry group, for an essay that's due in two days.

I've heeded...

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Seasons in a Wild Turkey Hen's Life

by

Brigitte Whiting

Last spring, a wild turkey hen incubated her eggs for twenty-eight days. When they hatched, she scrambled to keep up with them. Poults to scientific literature. Babies to her. She didn't need to teach them to scratch for bugs—they came with that instinct. Nighttimes during their first four weeks, ...

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Lesson in Subtext

by

Joy Manné and Karen Barr

Roles

Teacher – Karen Barr

Student – Joy Manné

Teacher

WELCOME TO WEEK 8 OF SUBTEXT.

There is no word count, but the challenge is to get all ten types of subtext in as few words as possible. Here they are:

Show don’t...

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Teenage Escape Plan

by

Danielle Dayney

I woke to warm, gooey air smothering me even though the ceiling fan was spinning on high. Dangling lightpulls smacked and banged the glass globe with each rotation of the blades. The base of the fan swayed and groaned, ready to jump from its screws in the drywall any second.

...

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Miracle Baby

by

Harry C. Hobbs

The mother and father watched as the sun rose on a cold morning in February 1945, wondering if their four-month-old son had lived through the night. Could miracles really happen? Perhaps this child they had wanted so badly wanted wasn’t meant to survive. His mother was a month past her...

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Ylva the Úlfr

by

Cynthia Reed

When I flew to California in September, the golden archipelago summer, verdant below and mazarine above, still held sway. Twenty-three days and eleven thousand two hundred and forty miles later, if you’d sat here with me on the back deck this afternoon--you’d know, too--autumn now envelopes Sweden in...

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Boardwalk Stroll – A Prose Poem

by

Glenda Walker-Hobbs (Glennis Hobbs)

My morning stroll leads me to the east end of Flinty’s Boardwalk by Del’s Cairn. A replica of ...

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Adventuring — An Unrhymed Heroic Couplet

by

Brigitte Whiting




I've been where no red squirr'l has gone before,
toheights and depths, despair. Until an opened...

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Ode To A Poem

by

Glenda Walker-Hobbs (Glennis Hobbs)

you start as a blank screen
or a sheet of pristine paper,
words elude me, then
tantalize, taunt...

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The People’s Princess ~An Elegy

by

Louise Sawyer

There was a day never forgotten
When the world, including me, watched from afar
the fairytale wedding of...

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Crystalized Fog ~a Pastoral Poem

by

Gerardine Gail Baugh

Of cold air hitting a warmer ground
Yesterday ended in a rising fog
Or was it the other...

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Elegy for Judy

by

Gerardine Gail Baugh


I try to hear her voice; its sound has faded.
I see her hair, shining dark, brushing her...

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Becoming a Writer ~ Prose Poem

by

Glenda Walker-Hobbs (Glennis Hobbs)

How does a person achieve success as a writer? The answer is fairly simple. One should work in...

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Elegy for Dad

by

Glenda Walker-Hobbs (Glennis Hobbs)

Easter, 1996

that year we began to plan a tea
for Dad's ninetieth birthday,
insteadhe landed...

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Sestina

by

Glenda Walker-Hobbs (Glennis Hobbs)

my passion in life is to write
perhaps I should start with a poem
to rhyme or not...

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To RBW: An Elegy

by

Brigitte Whiting

You've been gone for a long time now,
and I think of you, reminded beneath
the autumn skies...

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Last Cigarette

by

Belinda Moutray

Under the shaky match’s sulfurous flame, the last Marlboro’s tip blazes brightly, dims and flares.

Broken, quivering...

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Writer's Prayer

by

Margaret Fieland

Bless my paper, bless my pen,
bless my keyboard, Lord. And then,
please keep track of all those...

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Unmutable

by

Lina Sophia Rossi

She’s unmutable beauty in life and death.
Endearing spirit, smile warm as sunshine and everlasting.
From birth’s first...

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Spiders Are My Friends

by

Lina Sophia Rossi

From the breeze, I saw the glistening web.
The big, cozy spider stared out at me.
I wonder...

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Serial Killer

by

Lina Sophia Rossi

Hide behind an actor’s mask and prybar;
Some humans are born with souls as dark as night.
Abduct, ...

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Resembled His First Love

by

Lina Sophia Rossi

All victims resembled his x -first love, Stephanie Brooks,
Long middle parted brunettes with small framed feminine good...

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Phrasical Subordination

by

Margaret Fieland

The main clause of the sentence names the thing you mainly do
but it can have subordinates and...

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Passing Through

by

Margaret Fieland

Morning sun shimmers through gray clouds,
etches shadows on cracked sidewalk.
Empty beer cans surround broken fire hydrant.
...

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Library Book Group

by

Brigitte Whiting

I don't believe in Dracula,
don't even know his story,
Count Vlad the Impaler of Romania, circa 1400s...

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If I Set A Clown On My Lawn

by

Gerardine Baugh

I doubt I am noticed, behind trees, that line of pond, in my front yard.
I turn...

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Falling in Love

by

Margaret Fieland

My mother
sank into cold lake water
bit by slow bit,
first up to her ankles,
then her...

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Ever Wonder About Ted Bundy?

by

Lina Sophia Rossi

I wonder how many others are like Ted Bundy.
He bludgeoned his victims so they couldn’t make a...

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Dreamscape

by

Margaret Fieland

Dreams and nightmares roll around,
fantasies I weave at night,
land of dreams I cannot share,
panoramas to...

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Blueberry Jelly

by

Gerardine Gail Baugh

Blueberry jelly
Splattered across the table,
Ingrained in the rug
Flowing patterns spattered on the wall
Sitting in...

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Dandelions

by

Brigitte Whiting


We discussed dandelions in my poetry group. Some grow so tightly their stalkless stems have to be dug up with...

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TAN RENGA and NÎGUIN: : Japanese poetic forms for two or more writers

by

Carol Neillon Malley, Cynthia Reed and Sharon Ammerman

INTRODUCTION
During the recent MFA314 Japanese Poetic Forms class, WVU students had an opportunity to explore six forms...

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Dump The Core!

by

Gerardine Baugh

A Prose Poem

It is just after ten at night. Michael changes the channel so Captain...

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The Guinea Pig’s Obsession

by

Louise E. Sawyer


I watch Joy munching on her cat grass, head down she gobbles without stopping. Down one row and up the...

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Tomcat Under Nine Antennas

by

Gerardine Baugh

I stretch out over the back of the couch, lounging soft, boneless skin, soft fur stretched so far...

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Words Done Gone

by

F. Michael LaRosa


F. Michael LaRosa wrote this piece for MFA376. He tells us, it is a blues song in prose that laments...

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A Dream: Must Have Been Something I Ate

by

Gerardine Baugh

A pickle meets the side of the barn. Ignoring the rats. With arms like tendrils, it sneaks its way...

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Stormy Weather

by

Glenda Walker-Hobbs


Thunder rumbles, stops and starts again when lightning jags across charcoal coloured skies and splitsinto forks. Raindrops dance...

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Frenzy

by

Glenda Walker-Hobbs


Norva hosts an open mic musical fundraiser two days after Christmas so that people who are home for Christmas can...

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Wearing a Coating of Ice

by

Gerardine (Gail) Baugh

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Long Way 'Til Spring

by

Brigitte Whiting

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Late Bloomer

by

Brigitte Whiting

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Kenji Snuggling

by

Gerardine (Gail) Baugh

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Santa Joy

by

Louise Sawyer

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Joy and Neuron

by

Louise Sawyer

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Bullfrog and Black Butterfly Koi

by

Gevera Bert Piedmont

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Animal Paw Prints

by

Gerardine (Gail) Baugh

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Milky Way Bonaire

by

Miranda Mulders

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A Dark Welcome

by

Albert Orejuela

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The Big Rock Candy Mountain

by

RJ Hembree

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Fog in the Adirondacks

by

Albert Orejuela

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Smew

by

RJ Hembree

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Roadside Attractions

by

Gerardine (Gail) Baugh

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Rock Formations at Point Lobos

by

RJ Hembree

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Hot Air in the Hudson Valley

by

Albert Orejuela

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Rock and Roll

by

Gerardine (Gail) Baugh

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Take a Walk on the Wild Side

by

RJ Hembree

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Tracking a Tractor

by

Gerardine (Gail) Baugh

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One More for the Road

by

RJ Hembree

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Bella in High Key

by

Albert Orejuela

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Chickory

by

Gerardine (Gail) Baugh

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Patterns in Nature

by

RJ Hembree

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Blowing Away

by

Albert Orejuela

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Morning Shot Great Blue Heron

by

RJ Hembree

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Close Up

by

RJ Hembree

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Watchful Budha

by

Gevera Bert Piedmont

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