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A deep sigh came just as Jason was pulling off the highway onto Route 11. He was close and could feel his back tingling as if his whole spine had suddenly fallen asleep. This happened every time he headed into a small town, no matter the location. His hometown had tainted similar places through memories of loneliness, frustration, and expected yet undeserved sympathy. Due to his small-town avoidance syndrome, Jason had missed housewarmings, weddings, and most family gatherings over the years. But this felt like a worthy sacrifice to maintain a comfortable distance from his childhood. Anxiety was an easy excuse to turn around, but he knew this time must be different. It was unavoidable.

The car’s backseat was filled with clothing & books to the point where most surrounding vehicles had been rendered invisible during the long drive north. Jason never noticed. He rarely checked his blind spots even on a good day. Water bottles were strewn across the floor in front of the passenger seat, along with a half-drunk, now spoiled fruit smoothie from earlier in the week. Burger King bags had joined this pile during his four-hour drive when Jason told himself there were no other options, but in reality, he simply couldn’t contain a craving for chicken fries.

The twenty-four-hour name-brand gas station swiftly came and went as Jason lit a cigarette for the final stretch, a Pavlovian response that kicked in once the Mobil was in his currently imperceptible rear-view. This cigarette would ordinarily last exactly until the third and final stoplight.

He slowed down as he approached the ominous sign he hadn’t seen in almost a decade: ‘Welcome to Warwick: No war, all wicks.’ The awful, outdated slogan induced a heavy, smoke-filled, somber exhale. 

The first stoplight. Just over the town line, and unnecessary for about twenty years now. In his youth, this would barely generate a speed reduction, but right now he appreciated the pause. Overpowering his instincts, Jason finally continued after the third light turned green for a third time. He passed the first house on his left and still found something shocking about the fact that this farm still functioned, with a tractor parked in the distance beyond the chicken coop right over the fence, a few yards off the road. He hadn’t seen cows or horses in years. Jason stared for a moment before realizing he was no longer used to the extreme smell that came along with their presence. Forgetting the cigarette in his hand, he quickly rolled the windows up, accidentally bathing himself with smoke, then put them back down just as fast.

The second light and first sign of human life. Another car passed on its way out of town. The fellow driver woke Jason out of his daze as he glanced down and had a moment of panic, remembering the empty gas light came on twenty minutes ago. He flicked the cigarette out, knowing the last gas station for miles was about to come up on his left. As he pulled in, there were no longer any signs of life.

This was a far cry from the station Jason passed right off the highway. It was more of a shed than anything, with multiple warped boards on every side desperately in need of a paint job, even with the half-hearted white streaks that were clearly a recent addition. He wondered if the gas station even took credit cards yet. And if it did, could it be trusted? Any chance they knew what cyber-security was out here? 

Jason got out of his car and started debating if it was self-serve when he was startled by a voice from behind the shed. 

“No gas!”

The raspy voice grew angrier, yelling “Closed!”

Standing at the clearly functional pump, Jason glanced at his watch, helplessly looked around knowing there were no other options and said: “It’s only 5:20.”

Noticing the barely legible wooden sign propped up by dripping paint cans, Jason’s recent experience made him wonder how a gas station could get any business being open nine-to-five. Then he remembered that filling up your tank was one of many mundane activities that functioned as planned family outings around here, and could hear the older generation of men who prided themselves on avoiding the dreaded ‘city-schedule.’

A woman emerged from the shed, and with a look of recognition said “I’ve got 4:59” in a soft voice.

She appeared to be in her seventies, a beautiful plump woman standing no more than five feet tall and wearing a flowery blue dress that could have been in rotation since the seventies. The current look on her face showed a lifetime’s worth of taking charge, undeterred by the deferential expectations of her youth. This was confirmed as her presumed husband hurriedly came around the corner. To see a tall man in a plaid shirt and ripped overalls cower to this woman’s hushed tone put a smile on Jason’s face. Especially this far upstate.

The husband and wife discussed something quietly before he came over to the pump.

“Cash only” he mumbled, clearly feeling demeaned as his wife watched closely. The man waited to see if Jason could comply with this restriction or would just leave them alone.

Jason opened his car and scrounged together seven dollars, figuring that would be enough to get him back to the highway and twenty-first-century commerce. He pulled his head out of the car and waved her over. “Seven dollars of regular?”

The woman in charge said, “Of course, honey” without moving a muscle. Her husband slowly dragged his feet, kicking up the dry, dusty parking lot in the process.

As he put the handle away, the man started to walk away before locking eyes with his superior and stopping dead in his tracks. He turned to give a halfhearted, “thanks for your business – please come back again,” then scurried away. Defeated.

Jason returned the thanks as he got back in his car. The woman waved stiffly, projecting an appreciation her husband had failed to even fake.

Once back on the road, the cause of the two pointless stoplights became visible. The remaining solid brown bricks were covered in an occasional streak of soot, two sides broken up by a collapsed roof in the center that had turned a once enormous building into two nearly disconnected large ones. The remaining grids of windows that faced the road contained alternately shattered or stained panes of glass, covered in smoke and/or the yellow grime of time.  

Even when Jason still lived here, no one spoke of the fire, despite remaining surrounded by remnants of their lost industry. Nothing had changed. If there was no money to replace the welcome sign, then there was certainly no way to rebuild or repurpose the old candle factory that made this a vibrant town for the first couple years of Jason’s youth.

Oddly enough, the burnt façade reminded Jason of the city and the various renovated buildings that now contained overpriced lofts.

Five miles later after a seeming eternity of driving to Jason, the enormous, nearly empty lots of land that each belonged to a single resident gave way to the center of Warwick. Route 11 turned into Main Street for about one mile. The current businesses were always a curiosity, as the revolving storefronts on the ‘outskirts’ of Main street reflected passion projects of friends the landlord currently owed a favor to. A knitting store. A very specific fish-themed jewelry maker. A gallery showcasing a decent artist that would likely remain unappreciated. These were the original Etsy shops.

What looked like a large white farmhouse in the middle of the street had a large black and white sign proclaiming ‘diner’ sitting on the front porch. The single restaurant in Warwick served just about everything and had been a constant since Jason was born, just passing through different hands as the years demanded. Randy’s had once been Ethel’s had once been Daniel’s had once been Tom’s. But this place never went out of business – the head cook just changed as others passed away, retired, or moved away. Those who passed away or retired were memorialized in a gallery on the wall.

Jason pulled over across from Randy’s to take another pause. He could not believe how far he had made it. Into Warwick. Where he had not stepped foot or rolled rubber for nine years. The memories came rushing back, and he was surprised how many of them were pleasant. Daniel always knew Jason’s favorite type of omelet – bacon & sausage, no cheese – and Becky the waitress was his first crush when he was ten. That gallery with the large street-facing window housing a large blue and yellow modernist portrait had replaced the hobby shop’s hanging model airplanes and stacks of board games. Jason had bought his first home soldering kit there and smirked thinking of the time he opened the back of the radio and tore it apart, assuming he could put it back together. It took three years and he had paid for it dearly, but the still-functioning radio now sat among the most prized possessions in his trunk. The one reminder of his childhood that had survived several small apartments.

The third and final stoplight was in view, intimidatingly awaiting his approach. Glancing over at the moderately expensive bottle of wine he bought based on Gina’s recommendation, Jason saw another excuse to further delay his arrival. He knew a three dollar six-pack of Shins would be more appreciated. Even though he couldn’t drink it anymore, remembering a favorite drink, even one he could never forget, would be a better gift than wine that would simply sit on the counter until the tag was re-written and the bottle re-gifted. Jason turned the ignition off and got out of his car. A short walk towards the general store, supermarket, pharmacy, and coffee shop seemed like the best idea.  

A loud bell attached to the door rang out as Jason walked into the hybrid store. The two high school girls behind the counter immediately looked over and silenced themselves. The stock boy never broke his momentum, continuing to fill the cooler with Shins. Jason noticed no one was wearing headphones, neither girl had a phone in her hands, and the radio – real radio, not streaming – was eerily playing Benny Goodman over the speakers. Based on this scene alone it appeared the town had kept even the children from technology and Jason couldn’t decide if that was enviable or terrifying. As he walked over to the cooler, one of the girls spoke up.

“Are you Jason Catamount?” she inquired. The other girl looked at her friend annoyed as they both stared waiting for an answer.

Yes.” Jason stated harshly, still moving but keeping an eye towards the counter.

The cashier cautiously continued, “So I guess you’re back for…,” trailing off as her friend lightly backhanded her arm behind the counter.

After a brief quizzical glance, Jason returned to his mission immediately tripping over the stock boy in the process. This boy – truly a boy of no more than fourteen – fell onto his side into the fetal position that comes from being knocked over while crouching into the bottom shelf of a cooler. As he looked down, a flash came into Jason’s mind of himself laying helpless on his bedroom floor. Frazzled, Jason instinctively leaned down and reached his hand out to help the boy up.

 ‘Oh God I’m so sorry,’ seemed a little too strong of a reaction, and Jason wasn’t sure if he would offend anyone using ‘God’ like that. Would a simple ‘I’m sorry’ sound too stiff and unapologetic? Maybe ‘my bad.’ Did kids still say that? Did kids in this town ever say that? He did. Just ‘I’m so sorry’ would be fine. Yes. A simple apology with a simple modifier. 

As Jason returned to reality, he had already helped the boy to his feet. The kid was now standing and apologizing to Jason. Silent assistance must have felt weirder than saying any of the phrases he had debated. Suddenly and rudely he blurted out, “Can I have a six-pack of Shins?”

The boy reached back into the cooler. As he handed over the beer, Jason recognized the guilt with a hint of fear on this kid’s face, especially while handing him some beers. There was an unmistakable symmetry between the two of them in that moment, both equally eager to blame themselves for any hint of disruption.

Jason now had the beer in his hand and figured it was best to leave this interaction as it was, having learned long ago that talking too much was far worse than walking away when given the choice.

Once the six-pack was dropped on the counter, the second cashier rang up the purchase on the heavy-keyed register, while her initially inquisitive friend grabbed a bag.

“No bag,” Jason stated with a forced smile and friendlier tone, immediately wondering if the young girl felt the rejected offer was due to annoyance with her questioning him after he walked in. Trying to get out of his head, Jason reached for his wallet and then started worrying if this place also took cash only.

The anxiety was getting worse the closer Jason got to his destination and the more he talked with others. He knew he would not be able to have any meaningful conversation today, but he still had no choice other than continuing his journey.

Slowly handing the cashier his card, he assumed he would have to walk out of the store empty-handed. Seemingly noticing that Jason was uncomfortable, the girl worriedly said, “We have a ten dollar minimum,” replacing one concern with another as his eyes saw $4.89 on the register then started scouring the store for any item worth more than $5.11.

She quickly added, “Don’t worry about it,” as the cashier’s friend returned the favor and hit her on the arm lightly, causing guilt to successfully reach the fourth and final person standing in this small shop.

Jason grabbed his card and headed towards the door, suddenly worried by the pattern of sympathy these girls and the woman at the gas station had shown him.

“Mr. Catamount!” He heard behind him. Jason paused without turning around, hoping there would not be any more questions.

“You forgot your beer.”

Jason silently grabbed the beer and scurried out of the store, briskly heading back to his car. He opened the door, slammed it shut and threw the six-pack next to the wine bottle among the garbage populating his passenger seat, knocking more water bottles onto the floor.

The flashbacks continued. Jason was once again sitting in his car, on Main Street in Warwick, having a minor panic attack. At least it was minor for now. He stopped. He breathed. He said to himself it would only be an hour or two before he left.

He audibly counted, “One… two… three…”

The longer Jason panicked, the longer he would be in town. This realization pushed him to start the car and place it into drive. He sat there for a moment with his foot on the brake. Still breathing heavily but slowing himself down… slowly.

A horn blared as Jason almost hit someone while pulling back into traffic. Looking before he pulled out is one of the few safe driving techniques he typically practiced, but he couldn’t think of anything but forcing himself to move forward right now.

The near accident negated all the calming breathing practices Jason’s doctor had taught him, but he pulled right into the road anyways after the other car fully passed by. He caught himself speeding towards it and suddenly hitting the brakes. Almost immediately, the car was crawling at about five miles per hour. Then he slammed the brakes again, bringing the car to a hard stop. Luckily, he was kind of close to the red light. But this wasn’t why he stopped.

The Bar had crept into view. A perfect encapsulation of everything he hated about this town. Full of lonely and frustrated drunks looking for undeserved sympathy. And it had the worst name ever. The Bar. Reflecting the laziness of Warwick even when it was thriving. In just two words. No one wanted to think, they just wanted to be told what to put where on the factory line. Then they wanted to go drink a beer at The Bar. This mindset never left, and it was what Jason hated most about his hometown. Uninspired and afraid of change.

The left blinker flashed, urging Jason to turn onto Catamount Road. At this point, his father was less than a hundred yards away. He just wasn’t sure if it was at The Bar or at his house.

Jason sat at the light as it turned green, then yellow, then red, then green, then yellow, then red. He counted five of these cycles as another ineffective attempt at meditation, trying everything to not look at The Bar or the Catamount Road sign.

Jason was lonely, frustrated, uninspired, and often drunk. Complaining constantly, craving sympathy at every turn. Afraid of leaving his beloved city, afraid of change, and now sitting in his car terrified of facing his father.

About a hundred yards away, Jason’s mother sat by herself, calmly thinking of how she would tell her son his father had died. Looking at the clock, she was not surprised he was almost three hours late but still remained hopeful.

Another horn blared behind Jason. He glanced up at the mirror and saw nothing but himself.

Bio: McCord Chapman has been using his passion for storytelling for his marketing day job for years, but has started writing fiction regularly in the past year. As an avid cinephile and critic, he has always loved bringing characters to life and watching or reading about them. Every aspect of the craft fascinates him as a perfect mix of creativity and structure. McCord joined WVU in December and is working towards his fiction MBA. He will keep writing fiction while leveraging his love of story in day to day life.


The Impostor

by

Mick Clark

I was amazed by how many people were stuffed inside my uncle Henry’s corpse.

My aunt clung to me for the first time in her life, bird-bone brittle and ashen pale, while the mourners breathed crowds of ghosts into the icy morning air.

The coffin swayed...

Read more: The Impostor

 

 

 

21 Days of Lockdown

by

Donna Abraham Tijo

Day 1:
When Coronavirus Comes Calling
A five-year-old declares, 'I wish to always have my favourite pancake in my world.'

Day 2:
An E-mail of Hope
He sent the e-mail to the school reserving seats for his daughter for the fall session. It’s in the new city they...

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Sugar Daddy Dreams

by

Enza Vynn-Cara

Burnt toast, avocado, honey, two poached eggs laced with turmeric and garlic, and a new vitamin concoction that makes my stomach churn, and still, I guzzle half of it down with gusto, as if it’s our first Godfather Cocktail at Carlo’s Bar.

Why, you ask?

Because...

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The Visitor

by

Brigitte Whiting

Madeleine saw the visitor in her Sunday school class, a man her age, maybe fortyish —she considered herself a youthful fifty —with a deep dimple in the middle of his chin. He wore no wedding ring. He introduced himself as having just moved to Cannington, and was the...

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Chickens

by

Brigitte Whiting

First, there was dust everywhere, but now, far worse, there were chickens everywhere. They were pecking through the yard, leaving puffs of dust. They were roosting in the pine trees. And they clucked from morning to night. The five roosters vied for which was loudest and shrillest. Amanda...

Read more: Chickens

 

 

 

Desiree

by

Joe Cappello

I buried him in the backyard one night after a rainstorm. The soil I removed from the hole was thick and sticky and clung stubbornly to the surface of my shovel.

I connected the hose to the backyard spigot and used it to clean off the shovel. Then...

Read more: Desiree

 

 

 

The Anointing of Mary Ballard

by

Joe Cappello

The young lady entered the laboratory with her eyes cast down reverently, as though entering a church. When she reached the gurney, she pulled a chair close to it and placed the things she was carrying on a nearby table. She removed the sheet covering the body and...

Read more: The Anointing of Mary Ballard

 

 

 

Beginning at the End

by

Joe Cappello

I am in a meeting at our England location in a typical rectangular conference room walled off from the real world of work taking place outside. Suddenly, I am a spirit floating above my colleagues, as though I had died only seconds earlier and am waiting to be...

Read more: Beginning at the End

 

 

 

Hope Held My Heart

by

Chel Talleyrand

We were isolated that summer from the rest of the world. The excessive rains had pounded the fields into mosquito-infested pools, destroying our harvests of corn and beans. We heard it was worse in the cities. As food supplies depleted, guns decided distribution. Friends and families banded together...

Read more: Hope Held My Heart

 

 

 

My Carousal of Life

by

Chel Talleyrand

As a little girl, I had this recurring dream that would cause me to wake up in a cold sweat. A grand celebration was going on in a great hall, where my mother and father sat on gold thrones at the end of the room overseeing their subjects...

Read more: My Carousal of Life

 

 

 

The Tattoo

by

Donna Abraham Tijo

Red Bull is engraving the Eye of God on your chest. “It’s a private tattoo over my soul and conscience,” you murmur. “I’m an atheist, bro,” you continue, thinking of the Chotta Bheem rakhi on your wrist eons back in time. I will be brave like Bheem someday, ...

Read more: The Tattoo

 

 

 

Booklovers’ Paradise

by

Donna Abraham Tijo


‘I am a writer, but I wish I could write like that,’ said Durga, seated at the head of the rustic green, rectangular table. There were nineteen women on the sides, who turned to look. Then, some picked up their beverages and sipped them. In the background, a...

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My Car, My Friend

by

Leona Pence

Tony Spencer applied the first coat of wax to his prized possession, a 1973 Pontiac Grand Prix. Oh, sure, it had flaws, like a smashed door and a dragging muffler, but the interior was a beaut. It had bright-red bucket seats with a gleaming silver gear mount between...

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Brother Bastion

by

Linda Murray

The rain that had pelted the high mountain jungle all morning stopped abruptly, and the sun gradually dissolved the lingering clouds. Insects hummed again, birds burst forth in joyous song and flowers lifted their dripping heads, spreading their petals wide to receive the sun’s bright blessing. The People, ...

Read more: Brother Bastion

 

 

 

Standard Police Report

by

Frank Richards

Standard Police Report - Inventory of Possessions - Portbou, Catalonia, Republic of Spain

27 Sep. 1940

Location: Hotel De Francia


Noted contents of subject’s hotel room as follows:


- a large steamer trunk containing books in various foreign languages, for example, Les Fleurs du mal, ...

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Starburst

by

Brigitte Whiting

We sat, you and I, alongside the lake, watching the sky spread above us in an immense starburst, the Milky Way threaded through its center, seeming to beckon us to follow it.

"A reverse inkblot," you said.

I thought, no, no, nothing as mundane as that, but all...

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There Are No More Pets in My House

by

Enza Vynn-Cara

 

There is death in my house.

“It's gone to a better place,” she says. "Now flush it down the toilet and wash your hands. Breakfast is ready."

Like that, she cans Juju, our goldfish. She did the same with Didi, Ma’s parrot, ...

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Revenge of the Fishy

by

Leona Pence & Tom Whitehead

 

 

 

Tom Whitehead: (In the deep husky Marlboro movie guys voice) HEEEEEEEEEEEER FISHY, FISHY, FISHY!

It was an early Saturday morning. He thought it was just another day of fishing, then all of a sudden out of nowhere he...

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Temp-Tation

by

Leona Pence

 

 

David Porter watched his wife and two sons as they played on the monkey bars at the park. He smiled in contentment as peals of laughter rang out. Two short weeks ago, he’d been in danger of losing his family.

...

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Free Range Souls

by

Enza Vynn-Cara

Samael and Malachi, two brothers working for different bosses, sit on the fence dangling their booted feet each on their side of the divide. One pair of boots is caked in white droppings; the other scrubbed clean. It’s like a dare. Trespassing? Not quite. ...

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Einaudi

by

Luann Lewis



An elderly woman shuffled up the sidewalk and took a seat on the bench across the way from me. I watched her slow steps and noticed her feet stuck in matted slippers and her swollen discolored ankles. Breathing a sigh of relief, I felt grateful...

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Campfire

by

Brigitte Whiting


We sat around a campfire in the backyard that evening, our parents and us four kids, aged four to fifteen. Dan, the oldest at nineteen, was in the Army serving somewhere that Mother didn't want to tell us. "You don't need to worry," she said. "I'll...

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Jack and the Beanstalk

by

Alberto Rodriguez Orejuela

The global wealth distribution has been heavily off balance, the scales of capitalism have plunged so far into disproportion they will fall before they will be fair again.  Jack and his widowed mother have economically crammed a century of mourning into an egregious year but failed...

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Lost and Found

by

Brigitte Whiting

Smelled: a gamey odor downstairs in the basement. Searched for its source but couldn’t find it.

Found: one dead mouse with reddish-brown legs and a white underbelly in the basement bathroom. A deer mouse. Picked it up with tongs, took it outdoors, and tossed...

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One Hundred Yards

by

McCord Chapman

 

 

A deep sigh came just as Jason was pulling off the highway onto Route 11. He was close and could feel his back tingling as if his whole spine had suddenly fallen asleep. This happened every time he headed into a small town, no...

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Cocoa and Biscuits

by

Penny Camp

Saturday mornings were special occasions at our house when we were growing up. My friends begged to spend the night so they could be part of the Saturday morning ritual.

Mom would take out her green plastic bowl and splash in a little water, a little cocoa powder, ...

Read more: Cocoa and Biscuits

 

 

 

Livin’ the Dream

by

Holly Miller

When I was a child, my mom and Aunt Leona would pack us six kids into our blue Chevy Belair and drive to a local mobile home dealer (they were known as trailers back then). We would walk through the new homes, just for something to do. How...

Read more: Livin’ the Dream

 

 

 

Fall in Maine

by

Brigitte Whiting

Autumn is falling in Maine, harder this year than I remember over the last few falls. We've had two nights of close to freezing temperatures, not enough to ice over the birdfeeders or kill any of my plants yet, but cold enough to turn the furnace on. My...

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Best Laid Plans

by

Penny Devlin

Every year shortly before spring, the Gurney’s Seed & Nursery Co. catalog shows up on my doorstep. The cover is plastered with a WARNING label in big black letters informing me that if I don’t order now, this will be my last catalog. It also has coupons: $100...

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One January Morning

by

Brigitte Whiting

Mornings, I like to have a Kindle eBook open on the dining room table so I can read and look out into the backyard to see what might be happening. 

I live in a raised ranch with an attached two-car garage. My deck, which is off the kitchen...

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The Ruins and the Writing Technique of Negative Space

by

Sarah Yasin

A book club I’m part of recently discussed The Ruinsby Scott Smith. It’s not a book I would have finished reading based on the first 50 pages, but sticking with it afforded me insight into what a narrative voice can do. The story is about a group...

Read more: The Ruins and the Writing Technique of Negative Space

 

 

 

A River of Words

by

Penny Devlin

Go to work every day. Do your job. Do it well. Always learning, getting better every day. Soaking in the letters that become words, that lead to success.

Meetings, instructions, to-do lists, directions — the words start to drown like a river of brown muddy water rushing through...

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Canada, Marty, and The Exorcist

by

Jen Lowry

On our homeschool adventure today, we dreamed aloud of the places we would travel to if we could. My kids and I agree: Ireland and Scotland are our top two places to visit. We played music from Spotify and sang aloud to the merry tunes of the Irish.

...

Read more: Canada, Marty, and The Exorcist

 

 

 

Monarch Butterflies

by

Brigitte Whiting

I had no idea what milkweed looked like because I'd never seen it, but I'd always wanted it to grow in my yard so I could see the monarch butterflies.


For the longest time, I've hoped the patch of wonderfully fragrant plants with pale purple flowers growing...

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A Monarch Chrysalis

by

Brigitte Whiting

The monarch caterpillar couldn't decide where to turn itself into a chrysalis. He wandered across my front stoop so many times I was afraid I'd step on it so I stopped using the front door. One time, he'd be crawling up a post of the front railing. Another...

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Truth

by

Angela Hess

I am twisted, bent, and deformed on every side. Everyone trying to use me to serve their own purposes, to justify their own beliefs and actions. Their eyes constantly sliding away from my pure, unaltered form, too brilliant and painful to behold without their chosen filters to dim...

Read more: Truth

 

 

 

The Goldfinch

by

Brigitte Whiting

On a Monday afternoon, I carried a bucket of water outdoors to refill the birdbath. A male goldfinch jumped down from the bath’s rim, and hopped away as quickly as he could to creep beneath a nearby spruce branch. I thought how odd he was...

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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...

Read more: Of Heroes and Holiness

 

 

 

My Desk

by

Luann Lewis

Another rejection letter and I feel like a loser. Yeah, I know, I’m not trying to make a living doing this. I even claim to be “writing for myself.” Butwe all want validation and, let’s face it, us writers want readers. So here I sit, ...

Read more: My Desk

 

 

 

My Mobile Space

by

Janet Harvey

 

In June, I will expect to find my special place in Townsville, Queensland. Last year it was in Darwin, Northern Territory, and today my place is in Hobart, Tasmania.

 

 

We live in a truck, a 2004 Isuzu 350NPR turbo automatic...

Read more: My Mobile Space

 

 

 

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...

Read more: A Red Squirrel's Narrative

 

 

 

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...

Read more: Talk-Back, Dear Lia, on FnF

 

 

 

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. ...

Read more: Reunion

 

 

 

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...

Read more: A Fear of Broken Things

 

 

 

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...

Read more: Wild Roses Growing in the Ditch

 

 

 

Hazardous Happenings

by

Alberto Rodriguez 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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With Emily on the Death Carriage

by

Nitin Mishra

After a hard day of labor
As I was hurrying my way back home.
A black Carriage stopped...

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2020 Time of Haiku

by

Gerardine Gail Esterday

DNA's protein coat-
Stripped me of maskless days, now
I eat popcorn alone


Are you kidding me!
No...

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The Nature of Time

by

Sitharaam Jayakumar

Time flows from infinity to infinity,
with no beginning or end in sight,
unlike men and women who...

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Some Heart-felt Emotions about My Motherland

by

Sitharaam Jayakumar

Oh! My motherland, my heart and soul,
as I watch dark clouds hover in your skies,
my eyes...

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A Dream, A Fantasy, Flying into The Unknown

by

Sitharaam Jayakumar

I am once again a youth in my teens,
dreaming of flying high up into the clouds.
I...

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Missing Miss Pickle

by

Glenda Walker-Hobbs

I miss the way
you sat on your stool
by the kitchen window,
meowing goodbye when I left,
...

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Surprised by Joy

by

Glenda Walker-Hobbs

I stare outside my window
as snowflakes swirl,
cover my garden
with another white blanket

my Vancouver Island...

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Definition of a Poem

by

Glenda Walker-Hobbs

A poem is a spark sprung to life.
A poem is a magic inspiration.
A poem is a...

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Lessons from History

by

Glenda Walker-Hobbs

reading about the 1918 Spanish flu
shows mistakes made by history:
parades, train trips, troopships,
overcrowded hospitals
pandemics...

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I Go Picking Seashells

by

Sitharaam Jayakumar

I look at the deep blue sea,
stretching endlessly before me,
as I sit on the sands, alone, ...

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Moments of Silence

by

Glenda Walker-Hobbs

sometimes social isolation  
is a requirement
to write a poem
 
in times of self-quarantine,
loneliness hovers...

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The Lockdown Cyber Trip

by

Louise E. Sawyer

I.  New York City

Around the world, we few gals hunkered down
around our computers, tablets, and phones,
...

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On the Farm

by

Maryann (Max) Maxson

Greene’s’ farmhouse
took on smells of hay and silage
cow and sheep scents brought in
on men’s overalls and
...

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The Estate

by

KG Newman

One day after I die I’ll have a shiny dedication plate nailed to a bench
along a trail...

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Thankful

by

Samantha Vincent

I can taste you in my coffee,
So I no longer drink it black.
I can feel your...

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Our Neighbourhood Playground

by

Louise E. Sawyer

We neighbourhood children gravitate
in the late afternoon to the large empty lot
at the corner of Scotia...

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Immediate Action Required

by

KG Newman

It’s 100 seconds to midnight
with nuclear arms re-normalized and
climate change addressed by fine speeches,
while on...

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About It

by

KG Newman

For years I tried to remember the moment
as less heartbreaking, somehow —
the day a dad realizes...

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American Refugees

by

KG Newman

At the foreign arboretum
we zigzag among species
which may or may not
be poisonous to our love
...

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Monday/Wednesday/Friday And Every Other Weekend

by

KG Newman

Half the week you live a very full life. The other half you pretend not to care, swallow...

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Sadness

by

Michael Scanlon

Oh, what I'd give for a peaceful soul;
my mind at rest I'd want no more,
content amid...

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First Impressions – Walter

by

Glenda Walker-Hobbs

today I meet Walter
for the first time

I know my brother-in-law
only through pictures,
from his mother’s...

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Abandoned House

by

Glenda Walker-Hobbs

lichen covered, grey
boards, paint free,
the old house sits
surrounded by poplar trees,
and overgrown grass

doors, ...

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Good Intentions

by

Glenda Walker-Hobbs

I sat down to do my work today,
but a visitor came calling
and distracted me

I meant...

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How to Define a Cat

by

Glenda Walker-Hobbs

(with input from Farley, Yanni, Glory and Blake)

A cat is a stylist who licks your locks.
A cat is...

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I Am Old Now

by

Chel Talleyrand

I am old now.
I drag myself to greet my day now filled with the fog of medicines...

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The Wind Excites Me

by

Chel Talleyrand

The wind excites me.
It speaks of adventures
I dare not journey.

It visits me
to speak to...

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listen to the wind words

by

Maryann (Max) Maxson

we learned to lie
in the garden
behind the mask
discarded innocence
aware now of space between

bride...

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Commandment VIII Hiawatha/Geronimo/Sitting Bull

by

Maryann (Max) Maxson

I will be the people’s tears

I cry for justice
freedom
respect denied

I cry for lies
told...

Read more: Commandment VIII Hiawatha/Geronimo/Sitting Bull

 

 

 

Submontane Home

by

Maryann (Max) Maxson

I followed the familiar trail
through maple and pine
along old logging ruts
crossing Plank Road at the...

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Awake

by

Maryann (Max) Maxson

the day I under

stood

the birds echoing chirps to the squirrels
chittering to the trees and to...

Read more: Awake

 

 

 

Think

by

Gerardine Gail Baugh

You cannot take someone else's land,
because you stripped and overpopulated your own.

You cannot spew poison in...

Read more: Think

 

 

 

Reflections

by

Paula Parker

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Jack

by

Gerardine Gail Esterday

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Hollister

by

Alberto Rodriguez Orejuela

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Evelyn

by

Gerardine Gail Esterday

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Curiosity

by

Alberto Rodriguez Orejuela

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Rebecca

by

Gerardine Gail Esterday

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Hazel

by

Alberto Rodriguez Orejuela

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Working Hands

by

Paula Parker

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Maya

by

Alberto Rodriguez Orejuela

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The Birds in the Flower

by

Alberto Rodriguez Orejuela

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Pst... Hey

by

Alberto Rodriguez Orejuela

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The World in Her Hands

by

Alberto Rodriguez Orejuela

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Oak

by

Craig Gettman

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Flower

by

Craig Gettman

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Berries

by

Craig Gettman

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Winding Road

by

Craig Gettman

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Sunset - April 2020

by

Craig Gettman

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Portrait of Her

by

Vincenzina Caratozzolo

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Beach at Dusk

by

Vincenzina Caratozzolo

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Lonesome Horses

by

Vincenzina Caratozzolo

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Get Out the Penitentiary

by

Alberto Rodriguez Orejuela

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Tulips or Three?

by

Alberto Rodriguez Orejuela

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Rock and Roll

by

Alberto Rodriguez Orejuela

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Garden of Hearts

by

Alberto Rodriguez Orejuela

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Evil Eye-pad

by

Alberto Rodriguez Orejuela

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