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Six by Six

Issue 3

Dénouement   by Nicola Henderson  Find what you were looking for, darling? She's standing in the doorway, arms crossed, looking down at me dispassionately as I crouch on our bedroom floor, her private diary and its secrets open in my lap. Caught in the act, I am struck dumb with guilt, rigid with shame. Then I catch a glint of triumph in her eyes, mockery in her indolent pose as she leans there against the frame, and the guilt flashes to rage in an instant. Anger sears through all the months of pain and confusion; it brings me an awful clarity. She's been waiting for this moment for as long as I've been trying to avoid it.

Schoolboy in Distress by Daniel Williams We’re nineteen, sitting against our dorm reading English assignments. The red brick, autumn leaves, Connecticut chill and ledge pumpkins circle us in. Her hair falls abundantly over her hooded sweatshirt, and mine over eyes. “The thing I love about Joyce and his short story ‘The Dead,’” she tells me, looking up from her book, “is he describes people of forty as ‘young man’ or ‘young woman,’ making it perfectly clear that age is a subjective indicator of vitality. I picture his characters having faces as fresh as ours when we wake up together after a night of steady rainfall.” She traces my entire life backwards with just one glance and, to reassure me all the notions I have of becoming an ‘adult male’ are false and arbitrary, offers a challenge even Eliot would blush at: “I dare you, my love, to reread James and the Giant Peach.”

Zig Zag by Timothy Gager Jerry tries to be funny, saying, “I think Charlie Brown should kick Lucy in the head when she pulls the ball away; either that or they start making out.” “Ewww, but they’re both eight years old,” Sandra says, biting her lip, tying off her smile. Jerry won’t focus on her faults, her pinned eyes, her slurred speech, the bruises on her arms. “If you think I’m funny now,” he says, “what about the weekend?” This time her smile is bright, as if someone replaced the forty watt bulb in her mouth with a floodlight that’s shining on his uniquely patterned pullover shirt. “I'm sorry, I’m doing stuff,” she says.

Authorial Warfare by Pam Murphy The urge to scribble overwhelms me once I hold the pen between my fingers. Before contact, an unnamed nervous man—arms outstretched, unblinking eyes focused, approaches a red door anticipating revelation, but dreading the nothing he expects—distracts me from the faded oak floors that need mopping so that I have no other choice but to sit down and write. My mind dumps its burden quickly into a tight-lipped vault, burying the man alive just as the threshold of breakthrough threatens to make public the private. So I write my name fourteen different ways, trying to perfect the signature that will claim my masterpiece. And I remember the four loads of laundry that need washing. As I separate the whites from the colors, I hear the knob of the red door turning.

Match Point by Colette Martin The ball spiraled to the far right corner as Leon jumped into action. The small box of a room closed in on him quickly. Thoughts flew threw his mind in rapid sequence – lift that foot – ditch the racquet – brace for impact. He plunged forward as the ball bounced off the floor. Leon felt his knee hit the floor, then his shoulder, and finally his forehead. Six hours and six stitches later he remained convinced that he would have returned the shot, had he not tripped over his own feet.

My Birthday at the Abattoir by Brian Le Lay I'm going to invite an anaconda to my birthday party at the abattoir, and not as a pushcart weekend performer, nor a fake-ass hobbyist flaunting his loose-lipped ventriloquy from a Salvation Army suitcase, but as a "friend from out of town." Then I will break down crying and introduce the anaconda as my ne’er-do-well twin brother from Colorado. He will eat everyone and I will yell at him. He will cry and we will eat Jell-o under the gallows while doing Bill Cosby impressions -rope nooses swaying in the empty calm. I will only miss some of you. What's for dinner?

Nicola Henderson lives in Edinburgh, Scotland and is trying to make more time to write. Daniel Williams is enjoying his time left in Binghamton. Timothy Gager is the author of seven books of fiction and poetry. Pam Murphy works, runs, and writes in Woodland, Alabama. Colette Martin is a “marketing executive turned writer.” Brian Le Lay is going to name his teddy bear Tupac. He is also going to kill himself and blame it on John Mayer for hyperventilating into the microphone and calling it a song. In his spare time he gives Charles Manson guitar lessons.

Six by Six, Issue 3  
Six by Six, Issue 3  

Six stories, six authors.