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Wax

by Robert Beveridge

The heat of the melted wax
draws the splinters from your hands.
You had been holding the shaft
of the hammer when it slid.
The little knives went deep,
broke off. I dripped
gloves of wax
over your hands
and the splinters rose.

It was what you needed,
you said, and the wax on me
sank in, nestled itself
around my heart, drew out
the thorns.


Robert “Goat” Beveridge makes noise (xterminal.bandcamp.com) and writes poetry in Akron, OH. Recent/upcoming appearances in The Nixes Mate Review, Violet Rising, and The Road Less Travelled, among others.

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Wade’s Apology

by Lori Cramer

Wade said he was sorry for not showing up at my friend Shayna’s birthday party. He swore he’d planned on meeting me there. In fact, he’d even plugged Shayna’s address into his GPS so that he’d know exactly what time he’d have to leave Finnegan’s Pub.

At Finnegan’s, everyone’s eyes were glued to the game on the big screen. The Twins were down 5-3 in the ninth when Wade got up to make his exit, but then Mauer smacked a two-run bomb to tie the game.

“You can’t leave now,” Bruno yelled at Wade from behind the bar. But Wade informed old Bruno that he’d made a promise to his girlfriend–and that he was a man of his word.

Then Angie walked in.

Angie. The one who’d left Wade three years earlier without so much as a Post-it note. The one who’d refused to take any of his calls and eventually even changed her number. The one who’d pretended not to recognize him last fall at the gas station on Route 33.

Imagine his astonishment when she asked him to have a drink with her for old times’ sake! How could he refuse?

So while I was at Shayna’s house, incessantly checking my phone, my so-called boyfriend was having a heart-to-heart chat with his ex-girlfriend about their completely-dysfunctional-and-now-defunct relationship.

To Wade’s surprise, Angie told him that the reason she’d left him wasn’t because she hadn’t loved him enough (as he’d always believed) but because she’d loved him too much (whatever that means). A few beers later, she admitted that leaving him had been the biggest mistake of her life.

And then she kissed him.

(Not that Wade fessed up to the part about the kiss. But how else would that pink lipstick smudge on the corner of his mouth have gotten there? Hard to believe that he hadn’t had enough sense to check a mirror before trying to feed me his half-baked half-truths about The One Who Got Away.)

What Wade did admit was that Angie had invited him to her place. “I didn’t go, of course,” he clarified in a self-righteous tone. Instead, he told Angie about how I was making a better man of him and how he’d never thought he’d be able to trust another woman after what she’d put him through.

When he finally reached the end of his tale, his blue eyes shone with virtue, and I honestly think he was expecting me to tell him how pleased I was that he’d chosen me over The Great Angie.

What he wasn’t expecting, judging by his countenance, was for me to say that, coincidentally, I’d run into my ex as well–so I didn’t have any more time to listen to him drone on about Angie because I was on my way out for some last-minute dinner plans.


Lori Cramer’s short prose has appeared in more than two dozen publications, including Fictive Dream, Riggwelter, Train, Unbroken Journal, and Whale Road Review. Links to her work can be found on her website. Follow her on Twitter: @LCramer29

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Lasting Impression

by Alexis Hunter

Her hand hovered over the door handle. She had saved this room until last. She was unsure if she could bring herself to cross the threshold. The thought occurred that she could leave this room and let the people who bought the house deal with it.

They wouldn’t be assaulted by the memories of sitting cross-legged on the handtied rag-rug, reading to Mamma as they were warmed by the sun streaming through the high windows. They wouldn’t hear an echo of Mamma’s voice or feel the drying clay on her hands as she clasped theirs with joy or consolation.

They also wouldn’t have the memory of opening the door and finding Mamma’s chair overturned. Of Mamma lying across the rug looking as though her colour had drained away into the vivid tufts.

Mamma’s voice gently rebuked her, “Don’t be daft girl, get in that room and do what needs to be done.” She ghosted a smile and opened the door.

The room was as it always had been, save for the unfinished pot on the table and the chair, now righted, sat against the far wall. The lump remained in her throat, she couldn’t deal with the pottery table right now. She chose to pack the rest of the room.

~*~

An hour passed, each piece of craftwork, materials and knick-knacks were now lovingly packed and stored in boxes for the movers to take to the storage facility. The misplaced chair was gone, the colourful rug had been rolled and stored. There was only the table remaining.

Mamma loved to make small pots, pinching and shaping the clay until it was transformed from a formless lump into something beautiful and with purpose. She smiled, Mamma had used the same technique on her, coaxing her into the best version of herself. Mamma said that the clay did most of the work and she only guided it to where it was supposed to be.

She touched the clay with some trepidation. It had dried out, moisture leaching away in the weeks that had passed since Mamma had died, setting the pot into this shape that it would retain forever. One side of the pot was buckled, almost pressed flat into the base. She could picture Mamma sitting here, molding and pushing the clay, and then the stroke had happened. She imagined Mamma being frightened, not sure why she felt so ill, not able to move part of her body. She imagined her fingers crushing this piece of ridiculous clay as she was trying to call out for help or stand.

She wanted to crumple the clay, crack it’s dried out edges so that it became dust. Her hand slipped into the crumpled part of the clay, and her breath was suddenly gone. Her hand fit perfectly into the four distinct grooves there, and it was as if Mamma was in the room with her. The warmth and brightness of the sun was her smile, the clay her gentle hands.

She knew what needed to be done.

With care, she unpacked the desktop kiln and turned it on. While it heated, she made calls to home and to delay the removal company, she needed a few more days here. She loaded the pot with caution into the kiln, ensuring she preserved the most important part, and prepared herself to wait the few days it would take for the pot to set and cool.

~*~

In the days that passed, she slept on the floor of the craft room and talked to the walls as though Mamma was still held within them. She talked about the things that had happened in the months since Mamma died. She spoke about Dad and his new home, how he missed Mamma so much that it was almost as if she had lost two parents. She confessed how she missed her, though they had seen each other less since she moved away. She even spoke about the incident with Aunty Pam sneezing in the pastor’s face at the wake. At the time it had seemed a strange and removed series of events, and now, in this room with the memory of Mamma’s laughter made possible, it became hilarious and caused tears of mirth which felt like a release.

When the pot was finally ready, she wrapped it with care and secreted it in her handbag, packed the remaining items away and then locked the house. She would never return here.

~*~

She drove the few hours to home, but before being able to kiss her husband and children, she had an important stop to make.

There was a raucous game of bingo in the communal hall as she arrived at the care home. She knew her father would not be with the crowd. He wasn’t ready to join in yet, but she was hopeful that he would make some friends to help him fill the lonely hours. Now that he was close by, she could be here often too.

When she opened the door to his suite, he was exactly where she expected him to be, in his favourite armchair, staring out of the window with his sad expression. There was no tv or radio to fill the silence in which he enveloped himself, only the deafening sorrow for his lost half.

“Hey, Dad,”

He turned, “Hi pet. You all finished?” She nodded.

“I brought you something.”

He withdrew a little, “I can’t…”

“Trust me.” She put her handbag on the chair and drew the package from within. She unwrapped the pot, coloured now the warm and faded orange of all terracotta. She had chosen not to glaze it so that the clay would have the perfect texture. She took his hand and slid his fingers into the four grooves where her mother’s fingers were forever imprinted.

Some of the torture slid from his face.


Alexis Hunter is a self-published author of a children’s picture book, Clara’s Search for Magic, from the North East of England. She loves exploring short stories or all genres and talks to her imaginary friends daily. They always reply. Follow her on Twitter: @casnarrative

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The Story of The Creator

by Mackenzie Belcastro

Once upon a time there lived a boy named Jean-Paul. He was a rather short, squat boy. That is, compared to all the others he went to school with in his homeland of Alefia, otherwise known as the land of the fair. His parents never understood why he looked the way he did. And, out of love, they did their best to fix him.

His mother was an especially sweet woman, but she was also living proof that sweetness is not the be-all and end-all when it comes to proper child rearing. One day, she went to the best herbalists in the land and asked if they could please provide her with some potions that would rosy up Jean-Paul’s bleak cheeks, clear his spotted skin, and grow his slits-of-eyes so they could be round and lovely. The herbalists greatly respected Jean Paul’s mother, for she was one of the fairest of the Alefians—and also, notably, married to the most powerful Alefian of all.

She said her thanks and left, returning home to surprise her son. She was very excited, and so was Jean-Paul, at first. He took the potions from his mother and ran to his bathroom. The burbling red was most intriguing and so he opened it first, dabbing it delicately onto his cheeks. It would remain for a full twenty four hours, so said the crystal bottle it came in. The other two bottles promised the same. The peach coloured liquid cleared his skin, and the green one, which had to be applied with a dropper straight into his eyeballs, did, indeed, grow them to be round and lovely.

He looked in the mirror and said, “Now Jean-Paul, they will love you.”

Well, he went to school the next day, and they did not.

“You’re still fat. Even with that stupid makeup on your face,” one said.

“And you’re still short,” another said, looking down at him from great height.

So the next day, Jean-Paul’s mother returned to the herbalists and asked if she could please be provided with two more potions for her son. One that would make him lean, and another that would grow him to great heights, such that he could be even taller than the rest of the rude boys and girls in his grade. Once again, the herbalists obliged, for they wanted to impress the beautiful woman and her powerful husband.

The potions were black and red. The black was to make him lean when poured into a bath and bathed in. The red was to make him tall, when drunk straight from the bottle.

“Tend to these both,” his mother said, “And you still have your potions I gave you the day before, right?”

Jean-Paul nodded and she smiled, pleased.

“Good. Tend to all five.”

So, he went to his bathroom, took a bath in the black potion, drank the red potion, and repeated the process from the previous night with regards to the other three.

Once again, he looked in the mirror and said, “Now Jean-Paul, they will love you.” Only this time he added, “They didn’t today, because you forgot to tend to everything. But now you have. So you are fixed.”

Well, he went to school the next day and still they did not.

“You may be tall, thin, clear-skinned, rosy-cheeked, and doe-eyed now,” one said, “but you still dress like a short, fat boy.”

His clothes, it was true, did not fit him.

So he went home, resolved to get the right clothes to make them love him.

“Oh my, Jean-Paul,” his mother had said when he pointed out he would, indeed, need finely sewn garments in order to be lovable, “I can’t believe I forgot that! Of course. Let me get them for you.”

His sweet mother went to the finest tailors in the land with her son’s new measurements in hand and asked for them to please create him something extra special and luxurious, something that would wow the kids in his class and make them love him. The tailors, like the herbalists, obliged for she herself was so lovely. And they created them extra quickly, too. In a matter of minutes, in fact—so that she could bring them home to Jean-Paul and he may have them for tomorrow.

“Now you shall be perfect,” his mother said to him when she presented him with his new clothes. “But you must make sure you don’t forget: take all the potions and wear these clothes. That’s what you need to do.”

Jean-Paul was very tired now of taking all these potions, and so he told his mother he would do it all in the morning. She nodded, pleased, and kissed him goodnight.

Well, the next morning Jean-Paul was still very tired. He looked at all the potions lined up on his bathroom counter, and then he looked at the many outfits hanging up beautifully now in his armoire—each with at least four pieces to them. He pulled one outfit off the hanger and brought it to his bathroom and then looked at it all again, then back in the mirror.

He didn’t want to do any of it.

So, he yawned and went back to bed for an hour. When he woke up, just in time to go to school, he went to his bathroom quickly, looked in the mirror at his real self and said, “They will have to love me. For this is just how I am.”

Well, when he went to school, they did not.

And so he decided that instead of trying to impress his schoolmates he would move to a place where people accepted him. This he told to a fairy in the garden after school that day.

“That place,” she said, “doesn’t exist.”

“Well then,” he said, “I guess I will have to make it.”

And so began the planning for Adalira.


Mackenzie Belcastro is a writer from Toronto. Her work spans from short fairy tales, to fantasy fiction, to non-fiction memoirs and profiles on contemporary artists. She’s inspired profoundly by Lewis Carroll and Angela Carter. Presently, she’s working on her debut novel. Follow her on Twitter @mack_belcastro

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Kaleidoscope Girl

by Fabrice Poussin

Once more she stands in the face of another soul
the smooth surface of century old looking glass
squinting at fragments of a self once whole.

The pulses in her breast beat inside the thin vessels
hovering timidly in the burning light of summer’s heat
she grasps only shards of her former thoughts.
when, little girl she pondered no such queries.

She may be that forgotten Renaissance girl in the attic
put to canvas by a hopeful lover from a distance
her fair complexion torn by the craquelure
at the jigsaw she has become to suspect so well.

Where does she begin, where are the boundaries
of so many parts in motion as she sits in fearful awe
sharp edges of the giggling teen she once was
cut deep at the dreams of a future she once fathomed.

Even the sorrow of a tear venturing down her lip
seems to break apart thus devoid of source or intent
her pain excruciating must remain hidden in her chest.

She is the kaleidoscope of her many dawns
a universe hoping to come together in a grand home
made of walls seamless of like a marble giant
idea of the child building days of carefree wisdom.


Fabrice Poussin teaches French and English at Shorter University. Author of novels and poetry, his work has appeared in Kestrel, Symposium, The Chimes, and dozens of other magazines. His photography has been published in The Front Porch Review, the San Pedro River Review and more than 350 other publications.