Flamingo Literary Issue One, June 2019 Cover ©Liz Wride Interior Design ©Liz Wride
Flamingo Literary Email: email@example.com WordPress: www.flamingolit.wordpress.com Twitter: @FlamingoLit Instagram: @Flamingoliterary
©Copyright of all individual stories remains with the authors.
The Girl Who Mistook Life For Chaos - Mileva Anastasiadou
This Pig – CB Droege
Mammoth – JD DeHart
Pills – Rickey Rivers Jr.
An Errant Hair – Hannah Madonna
Breakfast With Bigfoot – Cathal Gunning
Man of the House – Dan A. Cardoza
After hatching in March 2019, Flamingo Literary is here! Welcome to Issue One!
Inspired by Lewis Carroll’s classic, Alice in Wonderland, Flamingo Literary is a space for imagination, wonder, and those who think differently, to showcase their take on the world. Above all, we support #safespacelit – and want to promote a positive space for literature and creativity online. Issue One brings you perfectly observed homesickness; washed-up wrestlers; cryptozoology; Aliceinspired-micro fiction; the perils of grey hair; folktale pigs and a child’s-eye view of a distant parent. Exciting changes will be taking place for Issue Two – with Flamingo Literary opening exclusively to #ActuallyAutistic artists and their families. We will accept poetry, creative writing, art (and any other hybrid forms). To all the contributors of Issue One, we say: Welcome to the Flamingo Flock!
Liz Wride Editor-in-Chief, Flamingo Literary Liz Wride has a PhD in English. She writes plays, short fiction and articles. Her short fiction has appeared in Okay Donkey Magazine, Mantle Arts, Milk Candy Review, Turnpike Magazine, Mental PaperCuts and others. In 2015, her short story ‘Potato’ was shortlisted for ELLE UK’s Talent Awards. Follow her on Twitter: @lizwride
Mileva Anastasiadou Mileva Anastasiadou is a neurologist. Her work can be found or is forthcoming in many journals, such as the Molotov Cocktail, Jellyfish Review, Asymmetry fiction, the Sunlight Press (Best Small Fictions 2019 nominee), Ghost Parachute, Gone Lawn, Ellipsis Zine, Queen Mob's Tea House, Bending Genres and others. @happymil_ https://www.facebook.com/milevaanastasiadou/
CB Droege CB Droege is an author and voice actor from the Queen City living in the Millionendorf. Recent publications include work in Nature Futures and Science Fiction Daily. Learn more at cbdroege.com
JD DeHart JD DeHart is a writer and teacher. His most recent collection of poems, A Five-Year Journey, was published last year by Dreaming Big Publications.
Rickey Rivers Jr. Rickey Rivers Jr was born and raised in Alabama. He is a writer and cancer survivor. His stories and poems have appeared in various publications and are forthcoming in Picaroon Poetry, Dodging the Rain, Neon Mariposa (among other publications). Twitter.com/storiesyoumight / https://storiesyoumightlike.wordpress.com/
Hannah Madonna Hannah is a librarian who loves to write and spends most of her free time hiding in the the stacks scribbling down ideas in one of her notebooks. She has one fiction piece forthcoming and other bits of her writing scattered across the internet. She lives in the southern US with her family and her three cats.
Cathal Gunning Cathal Gunning (25) is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of the online literature, poetry, and nonfiction collective 'Cold Coffee Stand' (www.coldcoffeestand.wordpress.com). His poetry has been published in The Rose Magazine, Lonesome October Lit, The Mark Literary Review, Anti-Heroin Chic, and Lagan Online and his fiction has been published (or is forthcoming) in Tales From the Forest, The Honest Ulsterman, The Cabinet of Heed, Speculative 66, The Runt, Snakes of Various Consistency, The Weary Blues, HCE Review, TRAIN, Funicular, The Occulum, Sleaze Magazine, and the collection 'From the Candystore to the Galtymore'. His debut novel 'Innocents' was published by Solstice in 2017. His work has been short-listed for the 2015 Maeve Binchy Travel Award and Hennessy New Irish Writing.
Dan A. Cardoza Dan has a MS Degree in Education from UC, Sacramento, Calif. He is the author of four poetry Chapbooks, and a new book of flash fiction, Second Stories. Recent Credits: Adelaide, Better Than Starbuckâ€™s, Cabinet of Heed, Cleaver, Confluence, Dime Show Review, Ekphrastic Review, Entropy, Esthetic Apostle, Frogmore, Foxglove, Gravel, High Shelf Press, New Flash Fiction Review, Peaking Cat, Rabid Oak, Riggwelter,Rigorous, Spelk, Tulpa, and White Wall Review.
Mileva Anastasiadou Her head’s a mess. Unlike her bed. Or the house. Yet that’s how it begins; first comes your head, then everything collapses. She might be going through an early midlife crisis, she thinks, like other women go though an early menopause. At thirty, it’s still too early for both, yet not too late for messing up. She now sits on the sand, her feet in the waters, gazing out over the calm ocean, a futile attempt to enjoy the view. Only this time, she can’t bear the sight. All she sees ahead, where tranquility once prevailed, is chaos. There must be something she can do. Only she doesn’t feel like moving at all. She wonders what lies underneath. Another unseen world, big fish eating little fish, busy fish hunting lazy fish, or even little fish working overtime, only to be swallowed by an inescapable fate. It could be her mind working overtime, seeing stories in places where only life happens. Could life be mistaken for chaos? It’s just my mind working overtime, she tells the man who stares at her, coming out of the waters. He doesn’t speak. He only nods, uncertain of the correct answer to her statement. He grabs a towel and wipes himself, already forgetting her words. She’s been living in the house alone, ever since she broke up, a year ago. Idleness shared was close to happiness. Yet when he moved out, she felt she had something to do. She just didn’t feel like it. He came back a couple of months later. She was happy at first. That made matters worse. Because later on, she discovered she couldn’t forgive and forget. She didn’t even want to bother. She felt that lazy. Some mistakes are written with a pen, not with a pencil. They cannot be erased. Time cannot go back either. Vindication is a joyful feeling and can be mistaken for happiness. It didn’t take her long to realize that only her ego was satisfied, unlike her heart which still grieved. The connection, that’d taken years to build, was lost forever. She blamed herself for that. She was too lazy to care. Before permanently moving here, she’d called this place the country house. Except it wasn’t in the country at all. You could consider it located in the distant suburbs, but definitely not in the country She’d spent most of her weekends there. She still used that term while referring to it, even after moving in for good. I’m going to the country, she says, when in fact she only heads home. If those days of unstoppable growth went on, that’d make sense. Her grandchildren would live in an urban environment, wondering why on earth this place is named ‘country’. She could hope she’d make a trend. Only those days are over. Even after she moved there, she couldn’t shake that holiday feeling she’d always enjoyed when visiting it only for a few days in the past. She felt relaxed, like never before, as if all ambition escaped her, the moment she filled the closets with her clothes, as if her dreams had preferred to remain in the city, locked inside her old house. Especially after he moved in, the days went by undisturbed and
they slided effortlessly through time, like nothing mattered. The house stole motivation out of them. In the beginning, they were happy, until they went so minimal, they forgot themselves. Minimal thinking, minimal doing. They even forgot each other. It’s now maximum thinking combined with minimal doing. Not a good match. It’s my mind working overtime, instead of me, she thinks. The man lays the towel close to her, at a safe distance and sits on it. She wonders how messed up he may be. He almost mumbles, as not to disturb her busy mind, with a tendency to stutter while talking, catching his breath in the middle of the sentence, despite his soft tone. His moves awkward, his gestures insecure, his hands trembling. On a scale of one to ten he seems an eleven. She’s a twelve. That’s a good match. She misses her old house in the city. She often dreams of it. That’s when you know you’ve grown up, she tells him, when you no longer dream of new houses, or even old houses with new, yet unexplored rooms. You dream of old houses you’ve lived in, imagining you still have access. He claims he often dreams of the house in which he was raised. He seems a bit older than her. He could be going through a midlife crisis. He could explain it to her. It’s the same dream, only in reverse, he says. After a while, you don’t dream of the future, you revisit the past. You long for the past, demanding the return of some glory days, you no longer see in the future. It’s her dreams she left in the old house. When she thought she no longer needed them. Yet now she misses them. She wants them back, yet she’s too lazy to go after them. You possibly need time to invent new dreams, he tells her, bringing his towel a bit closer, dragging his body along. She’s not sure whether that’s a famous pick-up line, yet she enjoys hearing it. Her head’s messed up. She needs time to clean it. She will, when she feels like it. She now dreams she’s in a car, trying to slow down. The brakes don’t work at first. Yet in the dream she’s awake. Or she may be awake dreaming. Whatever. She looks ahead, at the sea. There’s no chaos anymore. She only sees life.
CB Droege The large man stepped from the archway, stable on his feet, despite the shaking ground. “I need to deliver this pig.” he said simply as the walls tumbled down around him. Was he talking to me, or just talking into the air? He looked around as if he wasn’t sure which way to go next. Another great tremor tossed me into the wall of the small, arched structure. A marble block from the bibliotheca, smashed into the ground, just a few feet from the stranger. He glanced at it as one would look over at a buzzing fly. “What?” I asked to his back. The rumbling continued under our feet, though it had subsided back into a soft vibration again. “I need to deliver this pig,” he said again, gently shaking a small rope he held in his left hand. At the other end of the rope, dragging on the ground behind him was a bloodied collar. I supposed it could have been pig-sized. “I think it’s got away.” I said to him. Watching as a distant tower finished a slow crumbling to the ground. He turned then to look at the collar on the ground behind him. “Oh dear!” He said. “Where could it have gotten off to?” He began looking left and right, as if expecting to see the pig in the rubble around him. I had been hiding in this exposed, arched passageway since the rumbling began. It seemed like hours ago, but it was probably less than a half hour at most. This stranger had come from behind me as I was looking out over the ruined city street, trying not to count the bodies in the rubble, trying not to notice the smell of burning flesh in the air, but unable to turn my back on the scene. Now he was crouching next to the chassis of a ruined vehicle, looking under it. “You didn’t have the pig when you went out there.” I told him, not sure how else to respond, and frankly glad of the distraction from the scene. He looked at me for the first time then. He blinked slowly, and considered me for a long uncomfortable moment, then his eyes welled up, and he looked as though he would cry. “It’s probably back that way.” I gestured behind me with my thumb, toward the darkness of the passage. I didn’t know what was back there, but he had come from that way, so it must lead somewhere. His face slacked for a moment, and seemed to brighten a little. Without another word, he started toward me, and passed back into the passageway. I turned and watched as he passed, disappearing quickly into the darkness. I stared after him for a while, until a thunderclap turned my attention back to the cityscape outside. The wind had picked up and the sky was growing dark. Small whirlwinds of
ash and dust from destroyed buildings were whipping up and settling back down along the middle of the road. It was only a few minutes before I heard a snuffling from back in the passage. The stranger was emerging from the darkness, something billowy and colorful following close behind. When he reemerged into the gray light of the day outside the passage, I saw that it was indeed a pig, now back in its collar. It was wearing a colorful, fluffy dress. The dress was torn and frayed in places, and some wounds showed through the damaged fabric. As it looked around, I saw that its face was painted with thick make-up; its skin pale, its eyes dark, and its lips ruby red, though the paint was smudged in places, and mostly inexpertly applied. â€œI need to deliver this pig.â€? He said, and then seemed to decide where he needed to go, and began walking off down the street, mostly steady as the world continued to shake. I considered following, curious at what I might discover if I did. What kind of adventure it might take me on. Another sharp jolt of the ground knocked me off my feet, and I decided against leaving my shelter. I watched the stranger and his pig until they rounded a corner a few blocks away.
JD DeHart In 1999, before the world became even more confusing, the Wooly Mammoth was the greatest professional wrestler in his tiny Alabama town, and his legend even spread to a couple of neighboring towns and then states. No one could defeat him until he found a bad back and his mother called him home to live in her basement and help her watch for rodents on the lawn. There goes one now. These days, he doesn’t even fit through the door, so there’s no point in trying. He used to be a creature of power. The Wooly Mammoth goes by Don (he’s a big fan of Mad Men), and all he does is watch television, eat cheese doodles, and yell at rodents. The energy to throw rocks left him months ago. He often dresses in blue-spangled underpants like what used to be a superhero. A lack of wisdom and a wicked manager proved to be empty vacuums for any real money. One idle week day, because where else do stories begin, Mama Mammoth brought down a freshly licked and stamped letter. It read: Dear Mr. Mammoth (Wooly), You are the greatest! You slammed the Squid in your first match, and I have seen all of your other matches too. What ever happened to you? Can I get an autograph? Lovingly yours, Shelby Well, thought the Mammoth, there are still fans out there. Mama was upstairs making fish sticks while Don thought sadly of what was. Yes, the Mammoth thought, he would write back. These small exchanges lasted for a couple of months until one day Shelby wanted to meet. She was a twenty-something high school dropout living in what she called a queen’s castle, which was really just a rundown home around the corner from some more expensive places in a southern kingdom. Of course, Don could not go see her. He had outgrown any chance of passage or escape. So, she arrived around noon, a car (that nobody else but the author knew was stolen) coming to its final rest outside of the Mammoth home. There would be love, thought Don. They would be married. But when he saw the look on her face, he knew that all hopes of a romance were dashed. It was his disappointment in himself reflected onto another. She was lovely with scraggly hair and freckles mixed with pimples, but he was a worn-down, run-out old prehistorical creature with severe aches and pains. When she looked past him at the poster on the wall, his former glory days ripped at one corner, a glint came back into her eye that had rested there for the drive down. “There’s…” she started to say.
â€œWhat I expectedâ€? is what she probably would have concluded, but Don, who was once the Wooly Mammoth, finished for her. They sat for a few minutes, and then she talked nervously about all the matches she had seen, the ice thawing a little but far too packed over to melt completely.
Rickey Rivers Jr. I took the wrong pills. I have never been this large before. It is frightening to be this way. I know it's only meat and fat and skin and yet this manner of odd and weight eclipses the idea of body. I'm rather freakish. I thought there would be numbing, of this I wanted. Instead I grew. A fantasy for some I assume but this sort of spurt has not been pleasant. I need another pill. I need to return myself adequate. I was happier then. Smaller but content enough to only need the sweetness of numb. I should have looked before I gulped. This is the advice you'd give me. Nevertheless, thanks Alice. You've been a big help, not to offend.
Hannah Madonna I get dressed in something nice and then trudge shoeless into the bathroom to stand in front of my sink, looking up into the mirror on the wall. I see something that gives me pause, and I lean in closer, carefully eyeing the crown of my head. A gray hair. It’s the first one I’ve gotten and a horrible thrill rolls through me. At last, I think, my youth is nearly over. I look up at that hair. I wash my face, scrubbing until the skin is shiny and tight. I brush my teeth and I look up at that hair. Then I apply my make-up. And I look up at that hair. I think I’m going to have to pull it out. I wrap it around my index finger and tug. It stays, and I tug again, harder, pulling until the hair grows tight and painful around my finger and my scalp stings. It won’t come out. I pause, considering scissors, but decide getting them is too much trouble. So I tug again, and this time it gives, but it doesn’t detach from my scalp. Instead it comes out longer. I pull, and another gray length emerges. The hair is now down to my elbow, much longer that the rest of what’s on my head, and I watch the strand catch the light, a silver glint dangling like a single earring. I pull again. As more comes out I feel an awful thrill that pulses through me. I shiver, curling my toes into the plush beige bathmat under my feet. I watch, transfixed, as I grab the hair between my thumb and forefinger and pull it down like a rope - one pull, then grab with my other hand. Then pull, then grab, pull, then grab, until the tip of that long, gray hair touches the floor. I barely pause to notice this, and then I start pulling again, faster, reeling it out like a line. It falls like unwound thread at my feet, a nest of silver that keeps growing and growing as I continue. Minutes pass - five, then ten, then fifteen, and there is still hair spooling out, pinched between my fingers. The silvery mass is bigger now, wider, to my calves, and I keep going until it’s to my knees. I pull faster. It’s racing out of me, growing, a pendulous mountain of wispy strands, unable to support itself, slipping into coils, pooling at my feet. I tug and tug and tug - and I can’t feel it, though I imagine I can, and each tug whisks through the thick black hair around it - and then suddenly I feel resistance. There is a huge pile of hair on the floor, one long continuous length from my scalp to the end curled under the lip of my cabinet. I stop and meet my own eyes in the mirror - wide, pupils blown. I yank on the hair, and pull past whatever was stopping me. I’m immediately nauseated and something deep in the pit of my stomach jumps. I drop my hands, startled, and take a few shallow breaths. Before I can think better of it my hand is back, curled into a fist around the thin strand of hair, and I yank again. That deep, unsettling jump bursts again in my stomach and I feel a rip somewhere inside me. I look down. The big toe on my left foot, nail painted a shiny black, is unravelling.
I watch as more of me starts to disappear. The big toe is halfway gone and my other toes, all in a neat row, start to unravel, too, tallest to shortest, until they are all gone. I go at a furious pace now, grabbing the long gray hair hand over hand and pulling. My left leg starts to disappear, unwinding as I pull out more of that hair. There’s yards and yards of it now, enough to roll into a skein. My right leg follows and soon both legs disappear under the skirt of my dress. I pull until my thighs are gone my hips, all the way up to my navel. I keep pulling. I unravel my stomach, my ribcage, my breasts. I unravel my clavicle and then my shoulders. My clothes have fallen off my body - off of nothing, now that my body is gone - and they lay in a puddle where my feet used to be. I pull until my arms unravel all the way up to the elbow. There’s so little of me left in the mirror now, just my neck and my head and the smooth-wrapped skin of my bony forearms. My hands are trembling now as I tug the hair and my arm unwinds up to the wrist. My neck disappears in one thin line at a time, and then my right hand as the unravelling spirals up each finger to the pink of my nail beds. I am nothing now but left hand and face. The large mass of my hair disappears a strand at a time, each spiral curl disappearing through my scalp and into the void, reappearing as the smooth silver strand still coiling into the giant pile on my bathroom floor. My scalp is pulled apart in one giant circle from the crown of my head outward. Then my chin starts to go and I watch with bated breath as I pull away my face up to the pointed tip of my nose. It’s gone. Then my cheeks. My forehead. Then my left hand unravels and all I am left with are my eyes, deep and bright and black and then I pull, staring, until they too are swallowed up by nothingness and my reflection is gone, just like I am gone, and I stand there not-standing, not-being, nothing but a pile of gray hair, thick and large and wild on the plush beige mat I have stood on hundreds and hundreds of times before.
Cathal Gunning His legs are slivers of light in the hallwayâ€™s gloom, stepping out with alien grace, one sliding ahead of the other, co-conspirators locked in an effortless waltz. He runs slender delicate fingers through his tousled hair, attempting to affect a messy air then giving up, toying with a few threads before forgetting his mission. Bigfoot looks up from the mess hall table, the cryptid filing away remnants of the night before, the scattered detritus of bright green beer bottles, their labels worn and peeling, the ashy remains of half-finished contraband cigarettes crumbling to sooty nothing underfoot. The camp counsellors will be up and milling around soon, infusing the room with the busy nothingness of early twenties activity, but for now itâ€™s just him and Bigfoot. He smiles, a hungover twinkle of a thing, and Bigfoot feels his heart, a football of taut muscle, jump.
Dan A. Cardoza I like to sit in our overstuffed corduroy chair, in front of the family room oversized picture window. It faces our big front yard that goes on forever. I call the gigantic window my pretend big screen TV. It’s wireless, controlled by mind remote. I mostly get the Weather Channel and Nat Geo Wild, but I don’t mind, they are never dull, after all, the weather channel practically changes itself. Sometimes, momma asks, “Cash, don’t you have anything better to do, maybe clean up your room?” I think, really? But I say, “Momma, I’m almost done.” “Done, done with what honey, watching the birds?” I just smile like when I fib and tell her I really like peas because of course, I am the man of the house, and I need to eat healthily and stay strong. She doesn’t need to weave fret into concern, just to thatch her worry nest. So I go along with the kidding and don’t disagree that the vast picture window is mainly for watching the birds, tigers, and bears. My favorites are the crows, and the cumulus cotton, we studied in school, that insist on lumbering along like balloons without strings in front of the house. I name birds, but the sky is too tall, littered far too many clouds. Another reason I look out the window is so momma can’t see if I’m sad, because I worry if daddy will come home. My window view is where I saw him last. I’m brave. I stand on the chair, and jump from a plane, like my toy paratroopers. If momma were to catch me doing this, I’d be sent to the brig. But today I need the risk. Daddy says “Some rules are meant to be broken.” At Christmas, maybe two months ago, I made a promise to daddy in front of our snowman, “I won’t cry when you are away. I will stay strong.” That’s when I became the man of the house. After dinner, momma tells us, “Daddy is doing well, but says he’s flying a lot for his job, business meeting and such.” Missy doesn’t understand English and refuses to speak. She just wants to lie there, and drink momma’s milk. Like Missy, I smile big for momma. “Lately I laugh less at jokes that are funny. It’s just that daddy’s gone and it doesn’t seem fair.” Anyway, like Ms. Laura, my second-grade teacher says, “Laughter is best when shared.” I try my best to mow the lawn, but it’s the enemy, my battlefield. I am not even as tall as daddy’s Weed-Whacker. The fishing string wraps around my ankles, and my hands still blister from squeezing the grass clippers, even though daddy sharpened the blades like swords. I’m doing the best that I can, with homework and all, but honestly, I’m not perfect. Sometimes when momma asks, “Cash, will you take out the trash?” then as fast as I can, I run to the kitchen and position a chair, then leap on the empty tomato cans, and sticky wrappers, like a ninja, without leaving one single carbon footprint. It’s Saturday, after my chores. I’m not supposed to, but when I stand, I can see more on TV. Today with the side windows open, I can feel the wind breathe in and out. It’s super windy, so it plays a harmonica melody through the screens. When I listen carefully, I can hear branches caw like rusty hinges. They seem to share secrets when they chatter and crackle. As the wind picks up, it seems to buff the crows shiny like onyx. Magically, they turn into a necklace of worry beads on the long branches of the sycamore trees. Then in a gust, they fly, pepper the sky.
It’s still winter, although, in early March, I can “feel a change in my bones.” Maybe there is a front moving in, I’ll check on my Weather Channel. From where I position myself, if I look hard, I can see the long gravel path that winds through all that green grass. “Mom, here comes the mail,” I shout. Every time it is delivered, momma shares a bounce in her step unless there is not a funny card or long letter. My friends say we are old fashioned, their parent’s text and Emoji. Daddy is silent on social media. Mom says, “Honey, thank you”, after looking at bills, and pizza coupons, deflated she lowers her eyes. “Cash, don’t you have anything better to do?” As the sun begins it’s down, I worry. I don’t see a cloud in the sky, but it is terribly dark. I wouldn’t be surprised if they return after dinner, or maybe when I am sound asleep. I wouldn’t be surprised to wake with rainy cats and dogs. When I lose the last wrestling match with my sheets, my inside voice says, “We miss you, daddy, without you, our family is not complete.” Then by choice, we dream in different lands. The days seem to crawl toward September. Summer is mostly gone. But it’s a special day; after all, Missy has stopped nursing and wants to learn English. And September is when daddy is going to come home for good. Near the mailbox, something catches my eye. I know mother already read her daily supply of bills. So, I stand tall on my chair, and stretch. I see them almost marching along. My heart is beating like a battle drum. As they get closer, I realize it’s not daddy or his friend. They’re in daddy’s dress uniform though. They don’t look up. “Momma, come quick?” “Maybe its good news, maybe daddy is coming home sooner than planned?” Momma quickly approaches my big screen TV with excitement, then crooks her neck for the cheerful news. I smile up at her, but she won’t look down at my eyes. It’s then she seems confused, and repeats, she says, “No, no, no, please no.”
Twitter: @FlamingoLit Submit: Flamingoliterary@gmail.com