Table of Contents Letter from the Editor...........................................................
Best of Breed..........................................................................
Ashes to Ashes....................................................................... 10 Death Becomes Us................................................................. 12 Holding Onto......................................................................... 14
_________ ÂŠ 2018 Buckshot Magazine. All Rights Reserved. Printed in Canada First Edition www.buckshotmagazine.com 2
Dear Reader, As Spring draws near, two worlds meet again. One struggles to linger; the other yearns to break free. The five pieces collected here explore this divide. Some are seedlings, green beneath the snow-melt. Others stand wizened and bare, lonely on the hills. All have been carefully hand-picked for you to enjoy. We start with Rewind by Sarah Beaudette, a non-stop fever dream of conspiracy and flashback that ties duty with helplessness, action with resignation, and reality on itself. Next comes Best of Breed, where writer Holly Schofield hijacks a prank gone wrong to deliver a self-referential meditation on the importance of family, spirit, and teenage rebellion. Human prose and sisterly know-how bring this far-out story close to heart. Ashes to Ashes, by Tom Jolly, explores the fleeting nature of our time on Earth -- and our desire for escape -- through an innocuous night out between friends. Death Becomes Us, a poem by David Lohrey, weaves personal history with systemic critique. In various styles, times, contexts, and lives, Lohrey delves into recurrent tragedy. A modern manifesto. In our final story, Holding Onto, writer Willem Myra has created something truly unique. Within these pages, the old meets the new, the new the old, and in the turn of the season, the cycle repeats. As Winter recedes, Iâ€™d like to invite you to take one long look back -and then flip the page. Enjoy,
Anthony Tan Editor-in-Chief
Rewind _____ Sarah Beaudette In the freeze frame, a confetti of glass hangs suspended above the pavement. A few shards still dangle from the coffee shop window. Midflight, some flash October sunlight, while others smear the faces of the people outside. I rewind to make the shards zoom toward the window. I send the vivid sprays of blood back into the bodies. Play, rewind, pause, twelve times before I can sleep. *** Usually they send me to places like Germany or France, anywhere the tension is high. Today’s assignment is in the states, in my hometown of Dearborn, in fact. My bosses must think America is ready. After I’m done today, they’ll use the evening news to start a war. Through the window, the coffee shop’s plump with the Sunday morning crowd. I know this place--I took my daughter here once. She begged for one of the Christmas cookie cookbooks at the register, but I didn’t have any money back then. These events are fairly simple. Most of the work is done for me; they pick a neighborhood. On the day of, I get out of the van in full burqa and lead the drugged prisoner through the shiny glass door. I have no idea who the prisoners are. Could be Gitmo, could be liberal internet trolls whose spouses have just reported them missing. Whoever they are, they’re loaded with enough C-4 to make a new crater in the moon. I deposit them in the center of the Sunday morning chaos. The stunned patrons always look like children, mouths hanging open over their lattes and muffins and mochas. Sometimes they scream, but no one’s quick enough. I hit the detonator on my way out. We’re good. Our engineers are experts in C-4-to-floorspace ratios. The driver and I are the only ones who leave in one piece. In the following days, shocked locals are interviewed for the news. They mention the two people seen entering the coffee shop, and because of the burqa, they assume I never left. *** Last night I woke gasping in a wash of blue light. I’d left the clip reel on again. My finger automatically went for the pause button, but I was too late. I hit pause at exactly the wrong moment and leapt from one nightmare into another. In the edge of the frame, a dark-haired girl with a Hello Kitty backpack stands outside the coffee shop. Her head is craned back like she’s sky gazing. Except her head isn’t craned, it’s in the process 4
of coming off. In this moment, the red smile in the five-year-old’s neck is only just beginning to widen. Her head is bent a scant few degrees too far. I rewind, then vomit warm beer in a neon gush courtesy of my dinnertime bag of Cheetos. *** It’s usually when I’m back in the van and changing out of the burqa that I hear the payment ding on my phone. I leave the hijab in the van, and the driver drops me at a mall where I buy every new cookbook I can find. My house is full of precarious stacks of them, but I’m so used to avoiding them that they’ve never fallen. I don’t know the driver. I don’t know who pays me. A guy named Ryan sends instructions to the burners. Ryan is my only human contact these days. Of course, Ryan is not his name. *** It’s a crisp fall morning in Dearborn. My driver pulls up across from the coffee shop and we stop to wait for the van with the prisoner. You’d think they’d worry about reports of two white vans just before the explosion, but this is America. We’ve already decided what we believe. A couple blurry shots of the vans will show up on a conspiracy website, and that’s about it. *** My ex-husband has our daughter. They set me up with a plausible history of drug and alcohol abuse. Okay, so they didn’t need to fake the alcohol part. They made everything legit, even sent us through the courts. They didn’t tell me about that part or I would never have taken the job, but what did I expect? People who do what I do aren’t allowed family. My husband thinks the CIA kicked me out after one too many benders. He thinks he’s saving our daughter from a trainwreck, and he’s right for the wrong reasons. She’s twelve years old now. If things had gone differently she’d be asking me about boys. *** This time, the driver gets out and walks around to my side. The sliding door groans and then I’m squinting into the sun. I should have understood as soon as he opened his door... No. I should have understood when they gave me an assignment in Dearborn. They’ll already be finalizing the record of my radicalization… I should have known. As soon as they decided to start a war in the U.S., the bombing here would be scrutinized closely. I became a liability this morning, but I’ve been a loose end for a long time. As the driver ducks into the van, I wish I could see his face under the mask, have onelast pretense of human connection. Instead, he comes closer. I open the dress and raise my arms so he can strap me up. Fucking crater in the moon. ***
The clips on my screen weren’t my own assignments, of course, but random Youtube compilations of real suicide bombings in Istanbul, Kabul, Damascus--places that don’t need false flags. When you get down to Hello Kitty backpacks, there’s really no difference, is there? *** I walk unaided into the coffee shop. So steamy and warm, so boisterous. Nine children. I shut my eyes so I don’t have to watch the panic dawn on the faces of the mothers, the uncles, the grandparents. I haven’t cried in years. Instead, I think about my daughter. Any second now, someone will hit Play.
__________ Sarah Beaudette is a nomad currently living in Mexico. Her short fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Word Riot, NewMyths.com, and Necessary Fiction among other publications. She spends most of her time deciphering foreign subway maps, mispronouncing bakery orders, and missing the Pacific Northwest. Find her online at theluxpats.com 6
Best of Breed _____ Holly Schofield So, the reason we’re freezing our asses off in the snow out here, Gordie, is a few weeks ago I decide to write this phone app to mark the routes where the neighborhood dogs usually get walked. Predictive shit, you get me? If that old dude Hendricks over on Ravenswood Avenue is walking his Saint Bernard at ten a.m. on a Saturday, and that Winterton Court lady with the funny hat is walking her terrier at ten-thirty heading south from the greenway, then how can you avoid both of them but still run a solid five kay? It’s like one of those school math problems I always suck at: if Train A is going forty miles per hour and Train B is heading right for it, yada yada yada, get what I’m saying? So what I do is I sit on so many street corners timing the dogwalkers that the cops start staring at me each time they drive by, even though they usually ignore teenage girls. And I cut so many classes that my marks get even worse. But high school is tough, Gordie. You think you’re stressing in junior high now, you don’t know nothing. Then, what I do next, I try real hard to build the app. The coding wasn’t the pain in the butt I thought it would be, but the stupid way online articles explain stuff was. Two ways to write “phi”, who knew? It was a major mess so I finally asked Mr. Copeland to help out. Like, who else was I going to ask? Our jerk of a big sister? Anyway, Crapland’s a pretty cool math teacher once he doesn’t have to teach the curriculum. So I work on the app at every lunch hour for a solid month then I just about break the guts of my phone testing it. I know, right? I used to be so chill. But, for you, Gordie, the only little brother I got, nothing’s too much trouble. Your massive amounts of snot, your itchy eyeballs, sneezing forty-seven times in a row--dog allergies really suck and yours are the worst. Doctors need to make better meds, eh – what else are we paying ‘em for? And my birthday present to you should be pretty special. All I got when I turned thirteen was our dumb sister tripping me when I left the kitchen. Pancakes and syrup everywhere. Dad just laughed and told Dinah to cut it out. You were probably too young to remember. Anyhow, eventually, the app works pretty good. At least, for most of Willowbrook anyway, even though it’s pretty shit for any other suburb. So Crapland says put it in the science competition. I don’t got time for that shit so I post it on a free app download site, the kind with a rating system, you know? And it does pretty good. Gets a three-star rating, mostly ‘cause Rachel and Julio upvote it for me. Now I’m super stoked. I wanted to go big, raise the rating, get me one of those spots on the home page. So I do it. I really do it. I use Dad’s laptop when he brings it home two weeks ago. He leaves it open on the sofa, all signed in and everything, and goes to take a shower, all angry-faced like usual. He’s as bad at being city comptroller as he is at parenting. 7
I don’t do everything I could. I mean, I have some standards. I just grab all the data from the dog license department. Then I morph this Bayesian predictor algorithm I found--I’ll show you the deets later--and it says what people probably walk which dogs when, and I expand my app to cover the whole city. People really are pretty predictable, like Dinah jamming snowballs down the back of your jacket yesterday after that snowstorm. Damn cold on your neck--I know that sensation real well. And the new app is totally insane. Five stars! And pretty awesome comments too. No one ever complimented me like that before. Dinah, with all her school geek awards plastered above her bed, and you with all your cross-country running trophies: you guys get all the attention. Like Dad said when he dumped my report card in the recycling bin, I’m the idiot in the family. No, Gordie, clearly Dad is right. ‘Cause last weekend, a bunch of us were hanging in the backyard, doing toasted marshmallow shots in the firepit and I may have said a bit too much a bit too loud to Rachel after a few morsels of Bailey-filled goodness. I mean, the app’s so dope it shows the probable location of two thousand dogs at any time of day to a seventy-five percent accuracy, by breed and possibility of allergic reaction. I had to boast. Trouble was, I didn’t know Dinah was sitting in our old treefort typing up handwritten school notes--who does that?--and she hears me spouting off and laughs like a stoned hyena. So, yeah, I was stupid. Yesterday, see, Dinah takes one of the gunked-up marshmallow sticks and shoves it at me just as I’m coming out of the bathroom. I know, right? She’s been such an asshole since she started applying for colleges. She screamed at me last week when I fetched the mail before she’d got home. And there weren’t even any letters for her. She goes, gimme the dog dbase, or I’ll tell Dad where you got it. And I’ll put dog hair in Gordie’s bed again. So I push the stick aside and go, no way. She’s like, sisters should stick together, stick, get it? And then she pokes me with it so hard, it makes a hole in my new tee. I go, get lost, me and Gordie aren’t going to put up with your crap anymore. And she frowns and goes, all I need is some decent cash and I’m out of here anyway. The dbase is worth a stupid amount of coin, dumbass. I go, what? And she goes, you’re so dumb. The database can find the rich jerks that own expensive dogs. We go steal the pets from their yards. Then ransom ‘em back. Easy money. I say, what, those rich people don’t got any security systems? 8
Dinah makes a fist the size of my sneaker and just gently touches my chin. Her breath stinks like rotten Cheetos. Real quick I say, but I can hack the security company systems and turn ‘em off, no probs. Just leave Gordie alone. And don’t tell Dad. She says, you shitting me? I can think of a million reasons her plan sucks but she’s poking my boob with the stick again so I shake my head, no, no, no…and she buys it. Funny how school hasn’t taught her stuff she needs to know. I’ll teach you real life skills, little bro, don’t you worry. Anyhow, she puts down the stick, gives me a real hard look, and goes, huh, I bet you can hack ‘em, you’re smarter than your ugly face looks…Only time she ever complimented me, eh. So, yeah, Gordie, we’re crouching in these bushes way over here at the far end of Woodstone Lane so we can watch our asshole older sister do her very first dognapping. See that brick house with vines all over it? And here comes Dinah down the sidewalk, thinking she’s got swag. I’ll admit now, though, I hacked something else. Not the security company. And not really hacking. Just Dad’s computer, again. I got into the city employee personnel files and did a real good merge of the high priced dog breeds with the cops’ home addresses. Guess what? The Police Chief has a Bernese Mountain Dog. Worth two effing grand. Hey, no choking on your snot now, you want the Chief to hear us? There goes Dinah now, hopping the Chief’s fence, sneaking through the snow to the back patio. Hope she steps in dog shit. And, listen to that--some big dog is barking its ass off back there, all right. Cover your ears...any second now...there go the security alarms! And... wait for it, sirens! Do you think we should...? Naw, you’re right, she deserves it. I wonder, though, can she still get into college with a police record? Duh, yeah, I deleted everything off of everywhere and Dad will never know. But I kept the original app for you. It covers just about everywhere you go for your runs. Yeah, you’re welcome, Gordie. That’s what big sisters are for. Too bad I never had a proper one. Happy Birthday, little bro. __________ Holly Schofield travels through time at the rate of one second per second, oscillating between the alternate realities of city and country life. Her stories have appeared in Analog, Lightspeed, Escape Pod and many other publications throughout the world. Find her at hollyschofield.wordpress.com 9
Ashes to Ashes _____ Tom Jolly The drive out to the foothills had been worth it. Below them, the city lay blanketed in fog; above, the Milky Way painted the night sky in a bright, broad swath. Suddenly, an orange streak bloomed into existence – then faded. The two men lowered their binoculars. “Did you see it?” Howard whispered. Robert nodded. “That was really bright. Didn’t hardly need the binoculars,” he said loudly. All crickets within hearing distance fell silent. “It’s hard to imagine someone would pay five grand just to launch their ashes into orbit… I mean, they’re dead, right?” Without waiting for an answer, he rambled on. “And it’s just a bunch of dead body cells burned once already. Not like they’re sending their soul to heaven or something, or that they’re going to enjoy the ride – and they don’t even get to see it. Just doesn’t make any sense.” He paused to take a noisy sip from a steaming thermos cup. “So, this guy was a friend of yours?” “Yeah, very close.” Howard spoke softly. “He planned ahead with his ashes… started young, thinking about it. Saved fingernail clippings and hair, then added baby teeth to the lot. When he had his tonsils removed, he talked the doctor into letting him have them for an imaginary science project… that was before doctors started calling everything a biohazard. When he cut himself building a balsa model plane, he added a bit of blood to the lot. Even a tumor he had removed—he had to bribe a doctor to get that back—became part of the bounty that, eventually, became part of his ashes.” Robert made a retching sound. “Like a witch’s brew,” he said. “Your friend was nuts. I’ll bet his family was pretty pissed off, him throwing away all that money on a space burial.” “Throwing away? It’s the only chance he ever had to – to go to space. He’d dreamt of it ever since he was a child. You know, walking on the moon, exploring Mars… but at his age… well, this was his only chance.” Howard turned to gaze at the stars. “He paid for a package deal with the burial company. For an extra twenty-five grand, he got a moon burial package and a deep space package. They don’t send the whole body, you know. Most of it stays here on dear old Earth, they just send a few grams of ashes taken from the total.” “I’m surprised his descendants didn’t call a lawyer. What a freaking waste of money.” Howard laughed. “That’s what he figured would happen, too. Once he was dead, his money-grubbing kids would cancel the whole show. But he planned for that.” “Yeah?” 10
“Like you said, it’s just a bunch of dead cells. It’s irrelevant whether the host is alive or not. He arranged it so he could see it all, know that his intent had been executed and observe the bright pyre of reentry himself – he just burned to ash what he’d already gathered and called it part of his corpse, the corpse-to-be… a premeditated, partial death.” Robert gaped. “And you knew – you know this guy?” Howard sighed and shook his head. “It’s me, you idiot. It’s me.”
__________ Tom Jolly is a retired astronautical/electrical engineer who now spends his time writing SF and fantasy, designing board games (such as Wiz-War, and Manhattan Project: Energy Empire), and creating obnoxious puzzles. He lives with his wife Penny in the oak-studded foothills of Santa Maria, California. Visit Tom’s website at www.silcom.com/~tomjolly/tomjolly2.htm 11
Death Becomes Us _____ David Lohrey How many canes can one observe without finally exploding? He walks with a cane and smells like a mouse. He has food caked on his shirt. There are stains on his cuffs. He smells of urine and old socks. His wife attacks him; she berates him. The old man will die of emphysema. My mother promised to leave him. “Why would you go to his funeral?” She didn’t want a priest or a minister, she wanted show girls and fireworks, a real display. She wanted to humiliate him through his brother, Don. She ended up disgracing herself. She’s glad he’s dead. Glad he’s gone. “Hallelujah. He’s a goner”, she yelled. He asked not be resuscitated, but she forgot. He wanted to die in peace, why not? She was asked but was silent. The paramedics smashed out his teeth and jammed a pipe down his throat. He lived for days. He kept a lock on the door of the den. He ran in there when my mother was irate. She’d slap him in the face. She’d kick him. She’s a drunk. She gulps a few glasses of white wine and wants to tell her story. It’s a story of abandonment, an empty nest. We flew away. She refused to get his meds. She’d tell him to get them himself. He couldn’t walk. He couldn’t drive. She was too busy. He was deaf but she accused him of faking. It is true that when we talked about money, his hearing came back. Suddenly, his hearing was perfect. When I mentioned money, he heard the figures. He smiled when he got a bargain. Money talks. When she complained, the batteries “died.” He couldn’t make them work. He turned them off. He grew tired of listening. Sixty-one years. That voice. The rage. The badgering. The nagging. She wanted him to wipe the shit off the toilet seat. “You clean it!” Unhappiness is intolerable. When does it turn to hate? Why does it turn to hate? She drank white wine from a tumbler. She called her cousin in Kingston and said she hoped he’d soon die. He was 67 but looked 80. She wanted some love before she died. She wanted some male attention.
“I thought we were going out for dinner. I’ve been waiting.” “You’re drunk. I can’t go out with you now.” She could barely stand and stank. She’d been drinking all day. The drink made her hate. The booze brought out the rage, the loathing. She was ready to die to make a statement. Oh, it boiled over, like a chemical reaction. Like quick lime and water. She overflowed with self–hatred. It was volcanic. My arrival lit the fuse. The hatred couldn’t be contained. She belonged to the IRA. She was ready to die for a cause. He sat on the floor in front of the heater giving instructions, making judgements. The body goes. He was cold. When she said she had a friend who offered to go down on her, I took my cue. It was time. Every confession, a taunt, an effort to humiliate, if not herself, then me. Old age invites humiliation but being disgusting is a choice. It’s a fashion statement; it’s a great way to get back at a snotty son, prove to him he’s wrong. He doesn’t come from a good family and there is not a goddamned thing he can do about it. The little shit. She’ll show him. He wants people to think well of him. She’ll expose him as a fake. She’ll show everyone his family is trash. He thinks he’s so refined with his fancy degrees. She’ll get everyone to see him for what he really is, the son of Catskill Mountain trailer trash, ignoramuses, the children of potato farmers, depression-era desperados, the kind of people who prostitute their daughters to New York businessmen with hard-ons. They were sent to the City to join typing pools, spending ½ their time in the pool and ½ on their knees. That’s the so-called middle-class from which he descends, little clones of Clarice, that lost girl with nightmares of bleating sheep. Yes, one hides behind one’s shined shoes, one learns to talk fancy. College is America’s finishing school where we learn to get along. One learns to eat brie and drink white wine when what we crave is draft beer and a basket of pretzels. We learn to wear slippers and don silk jackets. This is how some people live, sure, but there are many more who’d prefer to loll about the house watching TV, half-naked, looking more like an Italian immigrant on his stoop, a stud in a wife-beater. The veneer of respectability is thin, we see it now; it’s out in the open. We got it with the Clintons, we see it in Trump. It is easier to hate than to see ourselves. The money doesn’t disguise who we are. Only the Kennedys had enough to hide their smell. How much perfume can one wear? JFK knew what he wanted from the WH typing pool; Jackie called them the White House dogs. It all comes out. Bill Clinton left the back door open. The Arkansas state troopers procured the typists. This is what made a man of Hillary. Women learn to adapt. It’s the men who don’t understand.
__________ David Lohrey grew up in Memphis. His poetry can be found in Otoliths, Sentinel Literary Quarterly, Easy Street and New London Writers. In addition, recent poems have been anthologized by the University of Alabama (Dewpoint), Illinois State University (Obsidian) and Michigan State University (The Offbeat). He teaches in Tokyo. 13
Holding Onto _____ Willem Myra 1. His surroundings are blurred. Inverno watches the Girl scratch her nose in her sleep, the cover coming up to her ear. Exhausted, he jumps off the bed and makes his way to the living room. Legs aching. Body feeling heavy, feeling elsewhere. Inverno drags himself under the see-through table from where he loved to observe the Man prepare the food and the Girl stare at the noisy box. He can’t remember what he ate today. Salivating, he lays down his head and dreams himself to death. 2. Marco finds him in the morning. Whispers, Oh, buddy, while covering his mouth. The need to wake up Gio and tell her what happened weighs on him but he thinks better of it. He grabs Inverno’s favorite brush, squats by the poodle’s body, and brushes the white coat with gentle strokes. Marco weeps silently while doing so. 3. Gio doesn’t shed a tear. Doesn’t verbalize her pain either. Always been the kind to suffer on the inside, like her mother. Still in pajamas, Gio sits next to Inverno and hugs him. She refuses to get up for the rest of the day, shaking her head when her father tells her that she has to eat something, anything, until eventually the man gives up and lets her be. 4. The following day they aren’t ready for goodbyes but they know they have to bury the body before nature starts disrupting their memories with images of fleshly decadence. While Gio rests the poodle inside a cardboard shoebox, Marco digs up a fifty-by-fifty centimeters hole in the backyard. It’s Wednesday. The neighbors awoke at dawn and went downtown to pretend that their jobs still matter, so around there’s nobody to pry. When all the prayers are said and the bitter smiles and sighs sent Inverno’s way, Marco lowers the makeshift coffin into the ground and covers it with dirt. 5. The next two days are a xerox copy of one another -- Gio, pacing about absentmindedly and mute, refusing to touch any food. She doesn’t find solace in watching her favorite TV show or reading any of her novels anymore. She’s a tiny, apathetic zombie now. Marco calls her best friend Maria and tries to organize a sleepover in an attempt to distract her. She’ll bounce back, Maria’s mother says when Marco shares his concerns. We’ve lost a rabbit too. It takes a while before stuff’s back to normal. Marco believes otherwise. Inverno was almost eleven when he died, only one year Gio’s junior. The girl has had him all her life. To lose a chunk of your reality all of a sudden, and right as puberty knocks at your door nonetheless? This here, Marco tells himself, could define her forever. 6. Gio doesn’t speak but her eyes widen up at the sight of the paper. A phone number is handwritten on it. Just this once, Marco tells her.
Color returns to Gio’s cheeks as she picks up the phone. She uses the landline for the call. Nobody answers, which means she didn’t mess it up. Instead, the too, too, too gives way to three short beeps, followed by silence. Gio waits for her father to nod, then hangs up. 7. He can’t decide if he’s a caring father or a cruel owner. He can’t decide if the first justifies the second. 8. In the morning, they find a box in the hallway by the entrance. A one-story roofless dollhouse containing a replica of their living room. The bookshelves, the sofa, the Moroccan poufs, the glass table, the decorative pinecones, the TV -- everything is there, identical and functional, only smaller. Resting by the side of the table, Inverno, coin-sized and lively, starts barking as soon as he notices Gio’s eye lay on him. You’re back! Look, Dad, Inverno is back! A festive atmosphere spreads everywhere and Marco can’t keep himself from smiling as the miniature poodle, now on Gio’s palm, jumps up and down trying to lick what to him must appear like a ginormous face. 9. They have many names for It. The Mailman of Yesteryear. The Toymaker. The Bite-sized Architect. The God of Second Chance. It’s said to inhabit the phone wires, to vacation by the lingering losses of one’s heart. Unseen. Unspoken. Is It real, the question on everybody’s lips, or are we imaginary? 10. The goofy explanations as to why things are the way they are. Laughter. The sound of her feet running around the house. Tiny pawns like needles on glass. The TV being always on. Audacious barks. More laughter. Things are back the way they used to be. 11. As days race by, however, the status quo chances once again. 12. The dimension of her grief materialized and alienated from her body, Gio starts neglecting Inverno. His size robbed her of the joy of playing together. He can’t run after her anymore, nor can she hug him to her chest or use his belly as a pillow. The poodle necessitates too many precausions 15
now; he’s so small a book left upright might fall and squash him dead. Gio is less and less keen on taking him out of his own miniature living room. He’s regressed to being a toy, and like with all toys, his novelty wears off fast. 13. Once inseparable, now the poodle only rarely sees Gio. He spends his days inside the dollhouse on Gio’s bedside table, walking in circles and wailing his tail and looking up, to where the girl’s familiar face, hopefully, will appear again. Any time now, he tells himself. 14. Any time now... 15. Eventually, as Inverno fades into oblivion, Marco discovers himself merciful enough to put the poodle to sleep. This time he doesn’t weep. 16. On Sunday afternoons Marco drives to the edge of the city. Here, a plastic wall reaches for the sunless, cloudless sky. The wall extends on all four sides, caging the entire city in. They stand here, eighty-seven men and women, staring skyward and waiting for a big puffy face to peek over the wall and acknowledge them. It’s been more than a decade since they last saw a glimpse of somebody up there, by the giant lampshade. Will today be different? Will whoever conjured them as grief dolls have mercy and tell them if their fate has been accomplished, if this matryoshka existence of theirs is really living?
__________ Myra’s work has appeared in Geometry, The Airgonaut, tenderness, yea, and elsewhere. He was not nominated for the Pushcart Prize, which is criminal, he knows. Find him at willemmyra.wordpress.com 16
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Our second issue features 5 original works of genre-defying, non-conventional flash fiction and poetry. Enjoy.