You Have The Things I Want

by Maria A. Arana

I could easily take them from you
change who I am
make you disappear
call you a liar when you see me in your car
sleeping with your husband
picking the kids up from school

You have the things I want

I could easily hide in your basement
file the blocks until they are thin as paper
tip my hat when you come down
wait until you tire of me
bury you with the things in your caskets
cover them with cloths

You have what I want
I could easily take them from you
I could easily hide in your basement
be free
you would thank me after the diagnosis
…if you last that long


Maria A. Arana is a teacher, writer, and poet. She has published poetry in various journals such as Spectrum, vox poetica, and Altadena Poetry Review. You can find her on her website and Twitter @m_a_Arana

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

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.

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

Strangers

by Aria Starling

“A minute at the bottom of a staircase can change your life forever.”

Molly Baker, twenty-nine years old, single, no children, made that comment to her best friend Jill Katz somewhere around Christmas last year.

One afternoon, Molly shopped for holiday gifts with Jill, twenty-eight, married, one child. Molly had quit her job on Madison Avenue to teach high school English and whistled as they walked.

They took a wrong turn on 71st Street and passed a handsome stranger in a suit and tie who sat on the bottom steps of a townhouse. He yelled something into his cell phone about the price of gold.

They stared at each other until he said: “Nice hat.”

Molly smiled politely and stopped, praying for a hopeless romantic and not another creep.

He remained seated and tugged on the hem of her red winter coat.

“Sam Wolfe,” he said.

“Molly Baker.”

She relaxed and told Jill to go on ahead and meet up with her husband Andre and their son Jake.

She returned to Sam and listened.

Thirty-two, single, no children, a former poet turned hedge fund manager. Unhappy with his job, but he liked the tons of money and his new Mercedes and the beach house he rented with his buddies from college every summer in the Hamptons.

At one point while they were talking, she realized an hour had passed as he told her all about himself.

“I should be going.”

“Alright,” he said.

She shook his hand and he laughed and took her in his arms and kissed her so passionately in the dark outside the townhouse she heard violins and a choir singing Hallelujah.

Christmas time, a year later.

Sam’s parents wanted to finally meet Molly before their vacation in Greece. She bought a new dress and heels for the visit to their penthouse apartment on Park Avenue. After a stressful day at the office on Wall Street or what he called slithering in a bowl of pythons, Sam tossed on a pair of jeans and a T-Shirt.

Sam’s father, a corporate lawyer in a suit and tie, opened the door, holding a half-empty tumbler of scotch. He sneered as he examined Sam from head to toe.

Sam glanced at Molly and scowled as if she was the one who told him to wear a T-shirt.

Uh-oh, she thought, as she crossed into the grand living room filled with porcelain and oil paintings. This night is not going to end well.

Dinner of small talk and silence from Sam. His mother, her hair coiled elegantly on the back of her neck, asked Molly if she’d like some of her famous pumpkin pie.

Before Molly could open her mouth, Sam snorted. “Are you kidding me?”

Molly paused and cleared her throat. “I can speak for myself, honey.”

He glared at her and smoked cigars with his father on the terrace while his mother took Molly into the kitchen and asked if marriage and children were in the air. Molly smiled.

Later that night, Sam watched the news in the living room on his 110-inch Ultra HD TV and begrudgingly ate his mother’s famous pumpkin pie.

“What’s wrong, babe?”

“Nothing.” He stared at the TV screen. His voice was calm but his eyes screamed I COULD KILL YOU and his furious look made her body go limp.

“What did I do wrong?”

He looked at her from head to toe and sneered, “How dare you disrespect me in front of my father?”

Hot butter poured over her skin as he enumerated everything wrong with her. Salt and pepper danced in her eyes. Twine wrapped around her soul and her heart roasted on a rack at 450 degrees.

Exhausted, she said, “Please, let’s stop fighting. Come to bed with me.”

“No, thank you.” He massaged his fork in his hand like a weapon.

“Why are you so angry?”

“I’m not angry!” He threw the pumpkin pie across the room.

The plate hit the wall and shattered like a shotgun shell. Explosion of crust and orange chunks of pie landed on the 110-inch TV, on her hair, on her new dress and heels. The thing slithered along the wall like a heart burst wide open.

Molly looked at him in disbelief as if meeting Sam Wolfe for the first time.

She put on her sneakers, grabbed her coat, and headed for the front door.

Sam blocked her way. “Where are you going?”

“I’m leaving.”

When he wouldn’t budge, a rage shot from her belly through her entire body.

She glared up at his six-foot-frame. “I said: I’M LEAVING!”

She pushed past him and threw open the door. Past the elevator, down six flights, past the doorman, into the street. Fresh winter air on her face.

She ran and heard him yell from a window above her.

“Molly, come back! I’m sorry!”

“Fine! I don’t need you!”

“I need you, Molly, let’s work it out!”

“Don’t you ever come back here!”

She ran in the direction of Central Park as his words echoed in the wind. “I need you! I hate you!”

She ran all the way across the park, weeping and whispering never again, never again, never again. She finally arrived at 86th Street on the West Side where she wiped her tears and considered going back home to her parents in Pittsburgh. Or moving in with her younger sisters, both married with children.

Somewhere Judy Garland sang Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas as she passed a handsome stranger who sat quietly strumming his guitar at the bottom steps of a brownstone.

They stared at each other a moment before he stood and smiled gently: “Hello.”

Molly sighed. “Hello.”


Aria Starling is a writer who lives with a menagerie of family and friends and cats and dogs in New York City and Los Angeles. She’s currently editing her novel and keeps a virtual home at (WIP.) You can also follow her on Twitter