Seven!

by Alexander Olson

I knew you’d come crawling back, bloodied, scabbed, torn skin peeling away from your fingernails. You’re a horror victim in reverse; instead of being dragged away, nails digging grooves into hardwood, you’re clawing your way back, leaving gashes in everything like some lovelorn Wolverine.

I cut you out of my life for a reason. You were so clingy, always grabbing, groping, gripping. Moving things without being told. Flipping light switches, locking doors, snapping your fingers together in rhythm to keep count… one-two, one-two. Once, you reached down and began pulling leg hairs out of me, because you saw an uneven number. I can’t wear shorts.

You taped over all the electrical outlets because you read about lightning sending sparks out of them.

Even when I started cutting with that cheap saw with the loose blade, you couldn’t stop. Counting cuts, begging me to make sure it was an even number. Seven cuts to remove a hand was unbearable, eight or ten perfectly okay.

I stopped at seven and broke it off, yet you crawl towards me across dirty linoleum, fingers twitching and writhing like those facehugger aliens. I can’t fight you off, but listen:

Seven is a prime number.


Alexander Olson is from Port Huron, MI. He writes horror and sci-fi about poor people trying to pay the bills. His first novel, “Erosion” is due out this spring. You can find more of his writing on squidthroatonline.com

Morning Devotion

by Nicole DeVincentis

When he woke in the morning, he ran his hands through his wavy blonde hair and turned toward the sleeping figure lying next to him. His clear blue eyes settled on her face, as the morning light caressed her cheek, finding the red in her dark hair. He shifted closer, curling on his left side, not wishing to wake her just yet.

Her hair was strewn across the pillow, and her face was turned toward him. One hand rested beside her head, and the other was lying lightly on her slender stomach. He rearranged the blankets, covering her up, and then settled back against his pillow. He exhaled gently and her thick, black lashes fluttered, though she remained asleep. Her white tank top contrasted sharply against her tanned skin, and her breathing was deep and even. One thought ran through his head, repeatedly: how lucky he was to wake up to her each morning.

He leaned forward to place a kiss on her nose, and felt her stir. As he leaned away, he noticed the smile on her face, and she opened her eyes. Her doe-like, brown eyes stared back at him in adoration. He held her gaze for a few seconds, before saying, “Good Morning.” He reached forward to tuck a strand of hair that had settled on her cheek, back behind her ear.

She stretched slowly against the pillow, “Is it morning already?” she asked, squinting into the sunlight playing across the sheets.

He smiled broadly, “Yes, it is.” He covered the hand that was placed over her stomach with his own. “Back to reality.”

“Reality?” she laughed. “Is this a dream?” She said, turning on her side and facing him. She curled her fingers with his and closed her eyes, relaxing to the feel of his thumb stroking her hand.

“If it is, I don’t ever want to wake up.” She kept her eyes closed, but a smile curved her lips upward. Her fingers squeezed his lightly in a loving gesture.

She lay listening to the sound of his gentle breathing, lulling her back to sleep. He was content to stay exactly as he was, admiring each of her features. She must have felt his eyes on her, because suddenly, she smiled. “Stop staring,” she said, keeping her eyes closed.

His hand moved to play with her long hair, running his fingers through the even strands. She snuggled closer, nestling her head against his shoulder and letting her hand rest on his bare chest. He rested his cheek on the top of her head and continued playing with her hair. It was a while before he spoke and when he did, it was almost too quiet for her to hear. “How did I get so lucky?”

Her eyes flicked open, and she inclined her head to look directly at him, stating in a sober tone. “I’m the lucky one.”

His face was mere inches from hers and he shook his head, “You’re perfect.” She started to say something, but he put a finger to her lips. “I love everything about you.”

She squinted her eyes at him. “Everything?” she asked, slightly teasing. But what he said next made her heart race, reminding her why she had fallen in love with him.

He brought her hand to his lips and kissed each of her fingers, ticking off the reasons for his devotion.

“You are the most precious thing in my life,” he said, with a kiss to her forefinger. “I love the way your eyes shine when you smile.” A kiss to her middle finger. “I love the sound of your laugh, and the way you snuggle with our children before bed.” Another two kisses.
At this point, he looked up from her fingers to see her staring intently at him. He released her hand and moved to hover over her. She lay back against the pillow while he looked down at her, resting his weight on his forearm.

“I love hearing you sing in the shower,” he kissed her forehead, and then added, “even when you’re off-key.” He said, laughing lightly. She playfully smacked his arm, laughing along with him. He pulled her close, and rolled them so that he was lying back on the bed, with her chest flush against his. Her hair fell like a dark curtain over her shoulder, tickling his bare arm.

He smiled and cupped her cheek, so that he could look directly into her eyes. “I love the way you look at me. The smile that stretches across your face every morning, when you open your eyes. I love the way you love our children. I love how you take care of us, and how gentle you are with my heart.”

Her lips parted and her eyes began to tear. His thumb stroked her cheek, “As yours is mine, my heart belongs to you and it always will.”

Tears started slipping down her cheeks, “I never imagined someone could love me like you do.”

“I do.” He curled his hand behind her head and brought her forehead to rest against his. “And if you let me, I will spend the rest of forever proving it to you.”

She lowered her lips to meet his, and kissed him sweetly, then nuzzled her head into the crook of his neck. Placing her palm against his chest, she felt his heartbeat and sighed contently. She was very aware of her own heartbeat, and how it had slightly accelerated when they kissed, and now, had settled to a steady pace, beating in rhythm with his.


Nicole DeVincentis is an aspiring editor and hopes to work in the publication industry soon. Reading and writing are her passions, among nature walks, workouts, music, and martial arts. Currently, her genres are fiction and fan fiction, but she’s also dabbled in poetry a bit, and continues to spread her wings.

The Surf Club

by Jennifer Irwin

The listing described the apartment as a railroad track layout which I found out meant; I had to walk through my roommate’s bedroom to get to the bathroom. It was a fourth-floor walk-up, but the Upper East Side was where we wanted to be—safe and swanky.

Mads and I had planned on rooming together after graduation. She touted a trust fund, and my bank account had sixty-seven dollars left after I paid the deposit. She contributed more rent to get the proper bedroom. My mattress laid on the floor in the dining area. I bought a folding screen at a swap meet for a makeshift wall.

I landed a job in the creative department of an ad agency making sixteen grand a year and worked weekends as a coat checker at an upscale restaurant called Sam’s Café owned by a supermodel turned actress who never came around. Her name gave the place panache and patrons came because they thought they might lay eyes on her. Mads got hired by a faux jewelry company called Monet as a sales rep. She’d bring home bags of jewels for me to forage through.

“Take whatever you want,” she said, while I dragged my hands through the chains.

“Hey,” I said. “It’s Monday, free spaghetti at The Stumble Inn. Feel like checking it out?”

“Yes,” Mads said, kicking off her sensible pumps.

“That’s a cute dress,” I said while clipping chunky earrings onto my lobes.

“You can borrow anytime.” Mads turned for me to unzip. Her back was white and doughy. “Want to go to the Surf Club Saturday? They have a guest list only event, and I got us on the list.”

“For sure but I’ll have to meet you after I get off of coat check duty.”

“Dammit. I hate that you have a job on the weekends. It ruins everything.” She stomped her foot for effect.

“I get out at ten; nothing happens in New York before then. Wait for me; we don’t want to be the first ones anyway.”

“Good plan,” Mads said. She changed into dark pants, and a striped blouse then eased a red, grosgrain ribbon hairband onto her head.

I felt underdressed in my faded jeans and converse sneakers. On the way out the door, I threw on my brother’s letter jacket which I stole without asking. It made me feel like I might have been popular in high school.

Since Mads parents paid her rent, she spent her earnings on maintaining her platinum hair, manicures, new clothes, and taking cabs whenever she woke up late for work. Mornings were hectic for me because my hair was wiry and wild which required a bit more time. Mads could get ready in a flash and always appeared pulled together. The only way to tell she was stressed was light beading of sweat that formed on the bridge of her nose.

As the neater person, I took on the role of the cleaning lady. Mads covered the sink in specks of eyeshadow, blush, and tons of blonde hair. The toilet often had remnants of either barf or shit up under the rim so I invested in rubber gloves to tackle that matter. Rumors had been going around school that Mads was bulimic and with the suspicious specs, I was beginning to believe they might be legit.

We rarely competed for male attention. If a guy was attracted to her, more times than not, he wouldn’t look twice at me. Mads was generous with lending stuff but once she asked me for the shirt off my back while I was walking out the door to work. Part of me figured it irritated her that her clothes fit me more loosely. But, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t master the ethereal, helpless aura she exuded which guys seemed to love.

The bar was brimming with preppies wearing alligator shirts and faded khakis. I was adept at pretending to fit in but my last name, a solid giveaway that I wasn’t in the blueblood tribe. It screamed Italian with every imaginable vowel in the alphabet.

We found an open spot at the outer edge of the dimly lit bar. Mads had a twitch that crept up around guys. Her upper lip lifted on the right and made her smile crooked.

“Isn’t it your turn to buy?” Mads said, looking me up and down. She was a cheap one and damn that bugged me.

“Probably,” I said. Halfway to the bar, I remembered I’d bought the last beers on Saturday. I wedged between two people, leaned against the sticky, shellacked wood and attempted to command the bartender’s attention.

“How’s it going?” A dark-eyed guy with puffy lips and short black hair was on the barstool next to me. “Don’t I know you?” he asked.

“You do now,” I said. “I’m Alexandra; my friends call me Lexy.”

“Sexy, Lexy,” he said and laughed. “I’m Jamie.”

“Never heard that one before.” I turned toward the bartender and begged with my eyes.

“I’ll buy,” Jamie said. “I was a tool to say that.”

“Really?” I asked with too much enthusiasm. “Two Amstel Lights.” I swept my hand toward Mads who was chatting up a buff blonde.” My roommate is over there.”

“I’ll buy if you promise to come back after you give your friend her beer.” His smile nearly blinded me. I dragged my tongue over my teeth and prayed there weren’t any remnants of the popcorn I’d eaten at work. Jamie raised his arm and the bartender bee-lined. “Two Amstel Lights,” he said. “Put it on my tab.”

“Be right back.” I sashayed figuring he was checking out my ass. “Here,” I said handing the bottle over.

“Lexy, do you remember Ryan from the Hamptons this summer?” She loved playing the ‘do you know’ game. “Well, this is his cousin, Mike.”

“Cool,” I said. “Nice to meet you.” I shook his hand. I’d learned the hard way she freaked if you so much as smiled at a guy she was working over. “I’ll be at the bar if you need me.”

As I passed the red checkered, free pasta table, my stomach rumbled. I piled a plate with noodles with two garlic bread pieces teetering on the edge. As I eased onto the barstool, the bread bounced to the floor.

“Whoops,” I said. My face heated.

“I’ll grab more,” he said. “I was going to eat anyway.” He stood and turned. “I love a girl who can eat.”

Jamie returned with two plates. One for his pasta and one piled with bread.

“Are you from the city?” I asked, another beer miraculously appeared in front of me.

“I’m from Columbus,” he said. “Ohio.” He chewed with his mouth closed which I liked. His arm brushed against mine, and my stomach tingled. “I’m in a training program at Merrill Lynch.” He swept a napkin over his lips. “It’s a great opportunity but a real grind.”

After we finished eating, I glanced at my watch.

“I’m going to head home,” I said.

“Me too. Wall Street beckons early.” He smiled. An awkward moment dangled in the air.

“Can I get your number?” he asked as he signed the charge slip. I jotted my digits on a napkin which he slipped it in his pocket. We edged away from the bar and I headed toward Mads while he engaged in a few bro hugs and back slaps on his way out. “I’ll meet you at home,” I said in passing so not to give her a chance to beg. As I walked the few blocks home, a sense of hope tingled through my body.

The next morning, I tugged my underpants out from my butt cheek as I hovered over the coffee maker waiting for it to brew.

“Morning.”

I swung around. A guy approached from the bedroom. The exact guy Mads had been talking to at the bar. I yanked my shirt over my crotch and pressed against the edge of the Formica.

“Mike,” he said. “We met last night.” He started opening cabinets until he found a mug. “Is it brewed yet? I gotta roll.”

“Hey.” Miss ethereal floated in wearing a white satin negligée. I’d never seen anyone wear such fancy sleeping garments until I met Mads. As if there wasn’t a man lurking in our kitchen, she pulled a mug from the cabinet and poured herself some coffee. Mike wrapped his arm around her shoulder.

“Fun night,” he said. “Thanks for having me.” He took a swig of black coffee, dumped the rest in the sink and strolled out the door.

“What the hell?” I said with my mouth agape.

“That’s what happens when you leave me alone in a bar,” she said as though it was my fault. “He had the biggest sausage. I’m so sore.”


A native New Yorker and captivating storyteller with a flair for embellishment, Jennifer Irwin currently resides in Los Angeles with two cats, a dog, and her boyfriend. After earning her BA in Cinema from Denison University, she worked in advertising and marketing raised three boys, and ultimately became a certified Pilates instructor. While she has written screenplays and short stories since her college days, A Dress the Color of the Sky is her first novel.

The Promise

by Ariel Brinkley

One last sketch.
One last time.
It was a promise he’d made a thousand times but one he could never keep.

Charcoal dug beneath his fingernails, bits and pieces of it tumbling down from his artwork onto the steering wheel. Nightfall was upon them, the sun completely lost behind thick branches lining the clearing.

“I need light.” He flicked the headlights on, illuminating the area in a harsh white light. It created a halo effect around her golden locks, producing dark shadows behind her while highlighting her curvy figure. “No complaining now,” he smiled, dragging the charcoal along the length of the drawing’s hair. “I’m almost finished.”

His muse didn’t seem to mind. Instead she laid there in silence. No complaining, not even a blink of an eye. She was the perfect model, always had been. Which was why his car was littered with sketches of her, images drawn on 3×3 brightly colored sticky notes focusing on what he liked most about her. Like her eyes. Mouth. Even her unruly hair. He liked it all. The mere thought of her made his heart race.

With the finishing touches behind him, he collected each colorful masterpiece and brought it to her still body. Releasing them above her, each image tricked down mapping out the one sided journey they shared together. He knelt beside her, caressing her loose curls. “I promise.” He planted a kiss to her cold lips, her head rolling to an unnatural angle. She stared at him with bright blue eyes, dull and lifeless yet reflecting her fearful last moments.

Intrigued, he returned to her with his art supplies, sketching the look in her eyes. “One last sketch. One last time.” He whispered. So enveloped in his work, he paid no attention to the approaching flashing lights, to the sound of officer’s shoes splashing in the forest’s mud, secretly surrounding him with loaded guns. “I promise.”


Ariel Brinkley is a creator of many things and lover of everything creepy and cute. In her spare time, she enjoys writing novels, blogging, creating short films, and expanding her photography skills. Her hobbies include YouTubing, watching anime, playing video games, drawing wannabe anime characters, identifying voice actors, and consulting her friends through the art of comedic psychology.

Garage Flowers

by Helen Chambers

“Make a choice. Me or her.” So he left me, the bastard.

I couldn’t stand up straight for days, I was winded. Pains in my chest, my lungs wouldn’t work.

The next weekend he turned up with snapped stems in a plastic wrap for me, said it was all they had. I was sore: red-eyed and sleepless, but he looked fresh as a daisy. He watched while I tried to arrange them into something pretty, and he smiled, but he was all twitchy. He couldn’t sit still. I followed him outside and leaned against the tree trunk while he carefully cut each and every bloom in the garden, all my summer bulbs, not a thing left behind. He asked for ribbon and tissue paper and made them up into a massive bouquet. I laughed, thinking it was mine.

He told me we could be the best of friends but took it to her. The stench of my hatred overwhelmed me and I changed the locks.

A year later, he phoned me. Said he was lonely and missed me. I didn’t say, but I missed him too. We met for coffee, but when he said, ’I usually sit over there,’ I knew it was with her.

In the winter he tried again. We sipped the liquid warmth of mulled wine. Outside it snowed, and he slid his arm round my shoulders, fluid and smooth. ‘Stay,’ I murmured.


Helen Chambers previously won the Hysteria Flash Fiction prize and The Felixstowe Short Story prize, and has been shortlisted in a number of competitions. She has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Essex and blogs occasionally at wivenhoewriters.blogspot.co.uk