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.

Breaking Ground

by Tianna Grosch

Flower buds poke gentle heads above ground to seek the sun’s stretching fingers. She throws her own fingers high above her head, reaching as far as she can until her shoulders pop and crack. Throwing her head back, her hair falls over her back like a cascading waterfall, rippling.

She breathes fresh air smelling of final frost and sets to work breaking ground, the teeth of her shovel biting deep into the dirt. She digs until her palms blister against the wooden handle, until they are scraped and stinging.

The hole is as big around as a fire pit, perfect for roasting marshmallows or summoning demons. She empties a box of kindling into the pit. She rummages inside another box until her fingers touch something soft. A stuffed animal, big beady eyes and stitched fake fur gazing up at her.

She throws it in the hole and pulls out a box of matches. She strikes one match, the smell of sulfur lingering in the air as she tosses the little flame into the pile and watches the fire expand, hungrily devouring its fuel.

The box contains old love letters – scraps of paper confessing undying devotions. It contains dried roses, hung upon a wall and forgotten. The box contains secrets and things better forgotten. A strip of cloth, a bit of lace. A leather-bound journal with its spine cracked and cover faded.

All of it belongs to the fire. Its flames lick and smile. She watches it burn and her lips curl. Tendrils of smoke caress her, tracing across her hips, playing with strands of hair, circling her eyes. She becomes clean, unburdened by what once held her down.

The fire crackles until it has finished its feast.

She will return under the cover of darkness. She will take off her shoes and walk through the pit, to feel what her past secrets have become. In the dead of night, a chorus of springtime frogs and crickets will serenade her as she dances in the ashes.


Tianna Grosch lives in the woodlands of PA, works as Assistant Editor at Times Publishing Newspapers in Bucks County, and received her MFA at Arcadia University this past May. Her work has previously appeared in New Pop Lit, The Odyssey and Loco Mag, and is forthcoming in Ellipsis Zine and Paragon Journal. Follow her on Twitter: @tiannag92

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

The End

by Laura Pearson

After dozens of false alarms, it was time. I sat with her head in my lap, stroking her ears the way she’d always liked. You didn’t say anything, and I knew your heart was breaking. She’d been with us from the start. Our second date, we walked past an animal shelter and you said you’d always wanted a dog, and we went inside. You took her home that afternoon. Two weeks later, I moved in.

‘I’ll drive,’ you said, a hairline crack in your deep voice. I lifted her, and noted how much lighter she felt. As if she was empty inside. We took her bed from the kitchen and laid it in the back seat, trying to make this last journey the best it could be.

You carried her in, and we were shown to a room where we could say goodbye. It was bright white, clinical, but there were human touches. A vase of fresh flowers, pale green cushions. I knew you were going to break down before you did, and I knew, too, that I would not. That my crying would be done later, in private. We held her, and your tears fell on the fur of her neck, and I knew I’d always remember that.

Afterwards, we went home, and it wasn’t the same place we’d left. We both knew it was over. I said I’d go to my mum’s, and you nodded, your face still wet with tears. I packed some things in a bag, said I’d come back for the rest. At the door, I turned. I said thank you. I meant for the way you’d loved me, and her. You put your arms around me and almost lifted me off the ground. And in that hug, all the love we’d squandered.


Laura Pearson lives in Leicestershire, where she blogs (www.breastcancerandbaby.com), writes novels and flash fiction, and runs around after two small humans. Her first novel will be published in 2018 by Ipso Books.

Auld Lang Syne

by Derek Hamilton

I’ve seen this exact same party in stupid teen movies. The dining room’s primary function has been transformed to accommodate for beer pong. The kitchen counter is littered with dozens of bottles containing various types of alcohol. The front door is at the end of a long narrow hallway directly in front of me. I wish I could walk out that door right now. Annie wants me to be here, or at least she keeps making it seem like she does.

“What’s wrong?” she asks.

I think about how I could be spending New Year’s Eve anywhere else with my actual friends instead of in this shitty house with these idiots pretending to be adults. I lie and tell Annie that nothing is wrong, because I know that’s all she wants to hear. I can tell she doesn’t believe me. She nervously tucks her hair behind her ears, leans in, and kisses my cheek. She forces a smile and flutters off to join in the next round of shots at the kitchen counter.

It’s at this point that the host of the party, Lauren, stumbles into the bedroom door to my left. She’s so drunk that she can’t walk in her stupid four-inch heels. This is her house though, so I don’t know why she doesn’t just take the heels off. I have no idea.

She attempts to sit on the end of the bed, but slides off in a lurch. The enormous purple comforter clings to the bed frame, partly suspending her like a makeshift hammock. She calls to me, still holding onto her drink somehow, and asks me to help her up.

I really don’t want to be in a bedroom with an inebriated girl unsupervised. I look over my shoulder and can’t see Annie anywhere. She must have stepped outside for a smoke or gone to the bathroom.

Lauren grumbles incoherently as I grab her outstretched hands. She shakes her head like a toddler, waiving me toward her, signaling that she wants me to lean over to pick her up.

I can’t believe this shit.

Two or three girls gather in the doorway to raise a commotion about me putting the moves on Lauren. Fucking morons.

Annie appears in the doorway now, from wherever she was.

“GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY ROOM!” Lauren screams as she pushes me out the door and into the crowd gathering in the living room. Annie pulls me into the kitchen as everyone else’s attention quickly shifts to the TV to watch the ball drop.

“What was going on in there?” Annie asks.
“I was just trying to help her. She’s drunk as shit.” I explain.
“You don’t have to lie. It’s okay, you can tell me.”
“Nothing was going on, I swear. Why don’t you believe me?”
“Look,” she cups her hands and holds my face gently, “it’s totally fine if something happened,” she assures me, “I’ve been in those kinds of situations too, so I get it.” She giggles expectantly, hoping that I’ll join her in the laugh.

“What does that mean?” I ask sharply.
“I’m just saying, that’s how I’m sure I want to be with you,” she tries to convince me. “Just because I was with other guys doesn’t mean…” She continues on from there, but I already stopped listening.

Everyone in the living room counts down from ten. The crystal sphere descends upon Manhattan.

I reluctantly look into Annie’s eyes and see fear. I recognize it. It’s the same fear that consumed me two months ago when she told me that she didn’t want to be with me. It’s the same fear that tore me apart every night.

Annie’s slender fingers graze my cheek. I remember when I used to find peace from her touch. Now, it’s like the pores on my skin are electrified at every point of contact with her. Each charge sparks back to a memory from the break-up:

The gossip I would hear from people at school. Her late-night, drunken calls that would make me worry so much I couldn’t sleep. That hollow feeling in my stomach that wouldn’t go away until I heard her voice again.

And that’s when it happens. That’s when I realize – I don’t love her anymore.

I walk past Annie and head toward the front door. Our shoulders brush, but she stands her ground. I continue to pass by as she reaches her hand across my chest, her last attempt to stop me. I push her hand away.

She strings together a combination of obscenities and hurls them at me, but I don’t respond. I open the door as everyone in the living room cheers, welcoming the New Year.

I step on the lawn and the cold air hits me in the chest. Snow falls slowly, accumulating on the frozen lawns. I can still hear the muffled cheers from the living room, contrasted by the silence of the winter night.

There are dozens of cars lined up on the front yard, and that’s when I remember – Annie drove me here. I think it’s safe to say she won’t be giving me a ride home.

She’ll probably stay here all night. She’ll probably try to drink away the pain. She’ll probably fuck somebody she hardly knows. She’ll probably call me tomorrow and expect me to forgive her.

It wouldn’t be anything new because it’s all happened before, but it doesn’t matter now.

I bury my hands in my pockets and tilt my head up to the navy-blue sky, watching the gray clouds gather in front of the moon. I figure it’s about a five-mile walk home from here, but that won’t be so bad. Actually, it’s a good thing. New Year’s Eve is typically the night that most alcohol related automobile accidents take place.

Ah, who the fuck am I kidding? I wish I’d driven separately.


Derek Hamilton is a writer, musician, voiceover talent, and self-proclaimed nerd from Northeast Ohio. He’s a Columbia College Chicago alumni, a published poet, and currently works as a streaming media producer. You can find more of his work at derekhamiltonedits.com