Dog Days Of Summer 2010 - Not from Here Are You?

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Dog Days of Summer 2010 Not From Here Are You?

Edited By Michael J. Solender –1Photography by Kristin Fouquet

Editor’s Note: Summer is of course a relative term depending on which side of the equator you reside on. In the northern hemisphere, June 21, 2010 marked the first day of summer and September 23, 2010 signifies the first day of fall. In the southern U.S where I reside folks start complaining about the heat in May and continue well into October, with the 101 days between May 25th and September 6th being unofficially known as the “Dog Days of Summer.” Why Dog Days? Because in the brutal humid heat of the south, even our four legged friends don’t want to be left outside. What better diversion for Flashers than to write about it. And write they did. The gauntlet was thrown down as writers were asked to submit flash fiction pieces of exactly 101 words in length and containing the words “summer” and “heat.” The collection that follows represents the best of those efforts accompanied by the magnificent photography of Kristin Fouquet Enjoy with all my best wishes for a comfortable autumn. Michael J. Solender


Table of Contents




Sam Adamson Katheryn Womack Carrie Clevenger Jeanette Cheezum Grey Johnson Lily Mulholland Jan O’Hara Karen Schindler Jimmy Callaway Laurita Miller Suzzane Conboy-Hill R.S. Bohn Paige von Liber Tracie Baldock Robert Crisman Cathy Olliffe David Barber Tomara Armstrong Leah Petersen Kristin Fouquet Jen Schneider Thom Gabrukiewicz Tony Noland Victoria Sheridan Ken West Sean Monaghan

The Pit of Hades*** Jack Julius Summer Vacation* Diana Takes a Chance on Erotica Shimmer Shift** Leg of Lamb Soon* Amplitude Modulation** Respite from the Heat* Rory’s Tie Bottle Rocket** Zip Zilch Nada EPP a Disease… The High Cost of Wisdom* Straw Fields Skin Deep* A Good Day to Drown* Last Vacation** Night Chores* Pensacola* Late* A Season of Remembrance Vacation* Subway Man** Morning News**

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Eric Beetner Trevor Mcpherson Tysa Goodrich Aleathia Drehmer Paul Phillips Maria Kelly Angel Zapata Zelda Martin Richard Godwin Elliott Cox Ian Ayris Jodi MacArthur Erin Cole Chris Hugh Lee Hughes Joanie Rich Danielle La Paglia Eric J. Krause Laura Eno Dorothee Lang Lily Childs Jason Beymer Linda Simoni-Wastila Denise Covey Abha Iyengar Coraline J. Thompson Bill Floyd John Wiswell Lynn Alexander Jay Thurston Broadie J. Thornton J.M. Strother Jille Korsok Kim Urig P.J. Kaiser

Don’t Think Too Hard About It** Culling the Herd** Taragon* The Philosophy of Heat** Hearts Grow Fonder** Old Man Opens a Can of Whoopass The Memory Jar** It’s Not Just the Heat.. Flesh Feast The Hot Key Summertime Musings* Solstice** Cover Her** Quitting the Game Weather or Not* Sold Out Wicked Sun* Bowl o’ Red* A Witches Cauldron** Antelope Summer Cold Heart* Woe, Mirror Drip** Dancing Upon the Mts. Like Black Rain* A Long Awaited God** Forgotten Memories Landfall Imminent* To Each Her Own Triceratops** Glue, and Becoming a Skeptic** Driving the Nova* Cast Lots* Ice Water** Under the Waves** The Dog’s Day* Ditz Alert 4

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Harry B. Sanderford Chris Allinotte Dr. Ajay Karol Clive Martyn Matthew C. Funk Pat Washington Jim Bronyaur Alan Davidson Peggy McFarland Sal Buttaci Yogita Tripathi Rasagya Kabra Vince Allen Kemari Howell Karishma Kambo Margaret Whittle Bolton Carley Sugar Wendy Staley Rachel Blackbirdsong

Seasons Change Shred the Bowl, Save the World High Street Beggar In the Monastery The Killer** Sweet Heat* Heat Wave* Escaping the Heat Breakdown Long Summer’s Regret* The Summer Everything Changed The Crucible* Wind Turbines on the Interstate The Wanton Fruit-Sucker** The Unfamiliar* Ouster* Sweltering Mind Games Bliss* Outcasts*

*** Grand Prize Winner ** Special Jury Award *Honorable Mention

ŠAll stories Copyright their authors 2010.


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***The Pit of Hades by Sam Adamson 'It's hotter n' Hell in here!' Vinnie dabbed ample jowls with his handkerchief. 'That's because this IS Hell. And anyway, I like the heat; helps with my rheumatism.' Vinnie paled, squinting nervously through sulphurous clouds for the source of the voice. This can't be happening, Vinnie thought, Gotta be a dream. I'm in the hot tub having a beer, chilling after another blistering summer day. 'Yes, this IS happening. No, you're NOT dreaming, and no, you're NOT still in the hot tub. Any more questions?' Vinnie clutched at his chest. 'Don't get any ideas. You did that already, that's why you're here.'


Jack By Katheryn Womack I left Cleveland with seventeen inches of snow and -32 wind-chill factor, to arrive in Thailand, which, in January, was hotter than our hottest days in summer. I had read all about Thailand; I even practiced beginning Thai on tapes, but nowhere in all my research did they mention the dogs –wild dogs –everywhere! As I stepped off the bus, fear froze me in the intense heat when a dirty brown and white dog ran at me. “He’s fine.” Everyone said. “He won’t hurt you.” Then, Jack, as we called him, gently licked my hand and escorted me to my room.

Julius By Carrie Clevenger In this month of Julius Caesar, (otherwise known as July) cars dissolve into metallic shimmers and wavering headlamps like melting plastic. The sun demands penance from the postman in his navy-blue shorts, hands full of the day's mail. The cable technician shimmies up a pole, wishing trees grew taller. Children chip at their parents' resolve to conserve water to drag out the sprinkler for some relief. Kitty mews at the back porch, addicted to the ease of breathing indoors. In summer it is greasy slick; a gestation of heavy heat and absolute slavery to the gentle hum of the godsend air-conditioning. 7

*Summer Vacation By Jeanette Cheezum The blades on the overhead fan stirred the stifling heat of the summer air. Tomorrow at nine AM they would leave for the airport. By eleven-thirty the entire family had arrived in their turquoise shirts. After hugs for the adults and smooches for the children they would board the jet. Laughter echoed in the gangway for five to ten minutes before the last one was settled. With bags stowed, all were safely buckled in. The whisper of things to do when they landed passed from seat to seat. Now the family relaxed upon take off and at one-thirty the plane exploded.


Diana Takes a Chance on Erotica By Grey Johnson In a wretched writer’s slump, Diana modified her reading fodder to include The Mammoth Book of International Erotica, after a soft beckoning from a misty photograph on the cover, showing a woman’s back and tenderly tilted head in profile. At home, happily discovering that Elfriede Jelinek, a Nobel Prize winner had contributed, she decided to heat a cup of tea. Diana settled, opened the book, and enjoyed feeling some unusual anticipation. She began to read, and found the story to be either the worst story, or the worst translation of a story, that she ever encountered in all her summer reading. ** **Shimmer Shift by Lily Mulholland Tarmac pulls at his shoes like a sucking chest wound. He trudges on, wading through molasses. She is there behind him; he can feel her urging him on. A waterhole materialises ahead, shimmering in the heat. He is no longer thirsty but knows at a cellular level he needs water. It’s all gone. She made him take the last precious drops. He would need them under the summer bleached sky. Go, get help. Sit tight, he says. The outback sun exsiccates the life from him. If he can reach the water they will be all right. It glimmers, glints. It shifts.


LEG OF LAMB by Jan O'Hara The unit clerk drops the phone when she spots me. “Thank God. She’s in four.” As if I’d need directions. I follow the sounds of chaos; find Laura panting, hair awry like a Manga character. The nurses melt out the door – ice before the summer heat. I right a kidney basin, the toppled IV pole; sit on the woven blanket which masks the offending limb. “Well?” Her mouth twists. “I can’t choose.” Who could blame her? Amputation for a potential few months? A crap bargain any way it’s sliced. Her eyes blaze sudden relief and she strangles my hand. "You decide.” ** *Soon by Karen Schindler Face down, the sand underneath the thin blanket molds itself to my curves, summer heat reaching down into my bones to melt away the stored up rust of the long cruel winter. I sink into the loving arms of mother earth, waves lapping at my feet, the tide pulling, pulling, urging me into the cool water, but not yet, this heat is much too good to quench, so hot, so meltingly hot it seems a sacrilege to damp the blaze the sun has sparked in my soul. Soon I will acquiesce, or burst to flames, but not yet, god, not yet. 10

**Amplitude Modulation By Jimmy Callaway Roger peeled off a long strip of electrical tape and began securing the M-80 to the speaker. “I am a conservative!” the radio yelled, “I believe in this country!” “I know you do,” Roger whispered back, his chocolate skin melting under the summer sun. The noon heat pressed down like unfulfilled promises. The Fourth was still young, but Roger was starting the festivities early. The radio screamed, “My fellow Americans, we must fight these...these bleedinghearts and rabble-rousers! The liberals and their non-patriotism! We must take our freedoms back! Our country back!” “You can have it.” Roger sighed and lit the fuse. ** *Respite from the Heat By Laurita Miller After eight long years he’d been released to the searing heat of summer, a punishment in itself. Inside the old church it was cold and damp. He let the cool air settle on his skin and then started to dig. He could feel the eyes of the plaster saints watching as he worked. He’d done a lot of things to get this money. Ten thousand dollars. It wasn’t much, but it was a start. He opened the box marked for the poor and put the cash inside. It didn’t matter to him anymore. All he wanted was respite from the heat. 11

Rory’s Tie by Suzzane Conboy-Hill He’s with that bitch! I’ll crucify him! ‘RORY!’ I’m yelling and hopping, hopping and yelling, trying to get one leg in and the other out of different pants. Then I’m charging down the road to Alice’s house, spitting venomous invective in pounding synchrony. I hammer on the door. Lights. Alice. She looks alcohol-bleary. ‘Where’s Precious?’ ‘What? In the summer house, why?’ ‘Because she’s bloody on heat again, that’s why! And my Rory’s diced with death chasing her sodding hormones halfway across the sodding town!’ Alice’s fug is slowly penetrated by a ghastly realisation. It isn’t on its own. MONGROLS! Oh God!


**Bottle Rocket by R.S. Bohn The fire started with a bottle rocket, whistling across dry grass. Henry was still looking up at the bean trees, waiting for the pop and smoke above the tops of dinner plate-sized leaves. I remember the rocket jerking for twenty feet before piercing a clump of brown weeds, sparking, flaring, the smell of its carbon venom carried on the hot wind. Everyone says they remember Henry, looking down finally, screaming, but I don’t remember anything else from that summer. Just the rush of heat, the orange flames, the open O of his mouth. The thud of the bottle at my feet.


Zip Zilch Nada by Paige von Liber The tiny seedlings that I nurtured had grown and long gone were their blossoms in my summer garden, replaced not by veggies but by bugs. I hate those stupid four legged eating machines, taking the food right out of my watering mouth. Using insecticides seems to defeat the purpose of going organic, besides you can’t use it when the heat is this high. So instead I pick them off one at a time smashing them between my fleshy fingers. Everything will be alright as long as they don’t start after my precious tomatoes. Damn it, they ate them down to nothing. ** EPP a Disease Meaning No Sunshine For Me! by Traci Baldock Glorious summer sunshine, perfect tanning heat Most would see this a magical, seasonal treat But Sarah is allergic to invisible sunshine rays It can severely blister her skin for days Exposure to the light, leaves her scared Staying inside during water fights, must be very hard No picnics by the river or holidays on the beach The rays will effect, wherever it can reach Damage to her digestion is also common It could affect her nervous system, leaving her solemn Avoiding the sun for her entire life comes at a price No fun in the sun with friends, just isn’t nice.


*THE HIGH COST OF WISDOM By Robert Crisman Billy took acid one deeply fried summer and mailed his clothes to Lima, Peru. He also went into a 7-11, holding his dick like he hoped the store guy would think it was heat, like an Uzi or something, you know? The guy took one look, laughed like hell, and pulled out a .38 special with notches, which made Billy flee for the trees. The cops fished him out of the trees two days later. Stashed up in the hoosegow and sadder—much sadder—but wiser, Billy swore he’d stay with the weed from now on. Assuming he ever made bail... ** Straw Fields By Cathy Olliffe Hot wind blows straggly hair out of Grandma’s shiny face as she pilots the 1963 New Yorker through a straw field. Orlene sits beside her, gripping the holy-shit bar with pudgy hands. Straw brushes the undercarriage in a hiss so loud there’s no room for talk. Iced tea sloshes in honey tins as Grandma rushes drinks out to farmhands baling straw in the summer heat. This is how Orlene remembers her grandmother. If asked, Grandma Henry would be hard-pressed to even remember this day. While alive, our lives are our own. In death, we are but a mosaic of others’ memories.


*Skin Deep. by David Barber Sweat dripped from my brow onto the newspaper, the droplet landing directly on her face, soaking into the pulp. The moisture darkened her features, but her smile was still as beautiful as ever. The headline read, ‘A Summer Slaughter’, but it wasn’t. It had happened in the spring, but it had taken the police until now to find her. The murder, together with the heat of the summer, had caused unrest within the villagers. They’d held meetings in the church hall with the police, threatening to hang the killer if they caught him. They wouldn’t though. I’d already seen to that.


*A Good Day to Drown by Tomara Armstrong Rumors drew Joey and his friends to the community pool. With faces pressed to the fence, they waited to get out of the summer heat and into the cool water. They watched as eight beautiful lifeguards walked in slow motion toward the Olympic-sized pool. Their bare feet kissing the concrete as the wind brushed long hair from their tanned shoulders. They each dove into the pool and began to swim laps. “Wait for it,” Billy squeezed in beside Joey. One by one, each beauty lifted from the water, chilled and perky. “It’s a good day to drown,” Billy said. Joey nodded. ** **Last Vacation By Leah Petersen The heat drained her spirit like the drag of a current, pulling her down, down. The summer air thick as the sand beneath her fingers where she lay on the strand. One sunbather among thousands. She stood and walked to the water. The waves crashed over squealing children and boys surfing foam to the shore. She walked, and walked, and they paid no attention. No one ever did. The water was warm, and the taste of salt was strong as the water began to engulf her. Drowning looks nothing like you’d expect. She went down silently. And they paid no attention. 17

*Night Chores By Kristin Fouquet It’s still dark, but there’s housework. Rolling off her sweat drenched sheet, she lights the hurricane lamp. Even at this hour, the heat is oppressive. Dishes: Perspiration pours down her face, joining the sink water. Floors: Dirt’s swept, flying out of the French doors. Laundry: Dresses, bras, and panties float, bubble bathing in the claw foot tub, before they’re rinsed, wrung, and hung to dry. Opening the ice chest, she grabs a cube for her mouth and a cool, crisp sheet for wrapping around her nude body. Asleep, she dreams of employment, electricity, and the end of summer in New Orleans. ** *Pensacola by Jen Schneider Each grain of white sand recalls a moment spent here. There was the first summer with her young family, when they saw the sunset over the pier and the pure emerald water of the Gulf. Last summer, their daughter and grandson picnicked along the shore, building sandcastles, and searching for seashells to document their week on the breathtaking beach. Now, for the last time, she brings her husband and feels the heat on her face as she sees the iridescent film on the now murky waters, leaving his ashes to mingle with the remains of a place they once called heaven.


*Late By Thom Gabrukiewicz The word hung in his head, stayed on the lips, a bitter bile. Summer sweat trickled down his neck, his back. The word reverberated in his ears. Over pizza - she’d let him pick the toppings - and a cold bottle of Chardonnay (which she mysteriously declined), she’d said it. “I’m late.” (And in saying so bit her lower lip until it turned pale white.) Confused, he said something about the pizza delivery. “Late, Donny. I’m pregnant.” A coolness spread within him despite the evening’s cloying heat; he’d (luckily) declined to ask her if it was his. He downed the wine, went for the door. “I need air.” ** A Season of Remembrance by Tony Noland At first, Don and Karen and the grandkids had gone to some lengths to keep him entertained. He loved them for it, but after a while, they accepted that what he wanted to do was just rest and think about the old days, when he and Alice had been so young and poor and happy. Out on the deck, dozing in the summer sun in one of Don’s Cornell sweatshirts, with one of those new fleece throws wrapped around his feet, dark navy blue soaking up all that heat. Like that electric blanket Alice bought for their third anniversary. So warm... 19

*Vacation by Victoria Sheridan “It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity.” He hated that saying. He was on the bed, naked, her sweat still visible on his body; leaning over she kissed his belly. “It’ll be cooler at the beach than here in the city.” “I know,” he murmured. “When does your wife leave?” He listened to the traffic outside the open window. “Friday afternoon. She and the kids will be there for the rest of the summer.” “How nice,” she sighed, letting her mouth travel down his treasure trail. He smiled as she made contact, thinking how much he would enjoy his summer vacation. ** **Subway Man by Ken West Under the city in the dark subway he walked slowly along the tracks. Blue lights on the tunnel walls guided him. They’d find him eventually, but for now he was free. A rumble from an approaching train warned him to duck into an alcove. Soon, subway cars screeched by, passengers looking out windows. Another train came from the opposite direction. Coast clear, he continued to walk, careful of the live rail. Despite rats, he loved the cool subway. He’d been here for weeks. Soon they’d find him and send him away. But for now, he was safe from the summer heat.


**Morning News by Sean Monaghan Jade stumbles from the tangled sheets. She feels slimmer this season, for some reason, perhaps their sudden shift to the Texas edge where sun glimmers across the Mexican horizon, or perhaps just from smarter eating. Hank still lies in a heap, asleep, feet over the bed end, his snuffles a murmur from a lingering summer cold taking months to shake. He stirs and rolls. "Jade," he says. "Look," she holds up the blue test cross. He slides from the bed, slips his grip around her waist, draws her in to kiss her lips, tastes her tender heat, brushes her slender belly.


**Don’t Think Too Hard About It by Eric Beetner Sweat dripping into my mouth reminded me of childhood summers. The sting of sweat in my eyes reminded me what I was doing now that I’m grown up. “Damn. This heat. I can’t take it.” “Stop being a pussy.” In a coat closet with Diane and a gun – his gun – in my sweat-slick hand made me reconsider our whole relationship. No man, even her husband, deserved to be shot with his own gun. “Do you love me?” I asked. “Shut up. Focus. He’s coming.” I guess there’s no going back now. She’ll be good to me again, once it’s done. Right? ** *Tarragon By Tysa Goodrich He stood in the translucent shadow of the ancient Oak, watching her gather her skirt around her thighs. She waded into the stream barefoot, and sank deeper. Inside himself he could sense how much the cool water soothed her. He was waiting for her to sense him, when the heat of her body melded with the summer blurring of two different worlds. She had seen him once before, when he crossed through the gateway into the human realm, a long time ago. He had needed to see her, to tell her in a glance: she would heal, and see him again. 22

**Culling the Herd By Trevor Mcphersen A red light blinked, and the monitor automatically switched to a feed from vector twoeighteen of the dome. “The hordes, sir. They’re massing at the gates.” Maal covered his face with his palm, a gesture he had adopted from the humans. “So soon? This is only the third day of the second summer.” “Sir, this lot, they’ve adapted faster than previous generations. Field reports state they have rediscovered their own language and made basic tools.” “Obedience, reliance at all costs, General. You know the drill.” Maal spun on his heels, the heat rising in his cheeks cooled by a single tear. ** **The Philosophy of Heat by Aleathia Drehmer Bart and Zaria both lie limp on the blanket under the oak tree at the park. Their books creased open onto their chests recording their ragged breaths in the blistering summer heat. The air is thick as sauna steam and Zaria’s head is pounding with dizziness. She can feel the sweat rolling from her skin and collecting onto the back of her green tank top. “How hot is it Bart?” she asks almost too slowly so the words sound cryptic. “Dunno sweetie, ‘bout a hundred I think.” “Oh. It feels like we are burning in hell.” “For your sins or mine?” 23

**Hearts Grow Fonder by Paul Phillips She had abandoned me – once, she was my constant companion, but now, I had been cast aside like a young child’s broken toy. She had been good for me; we whiled away many glorious days - skipping small pebbles across the crystalline lake, sharing meals under the old oak on the nearby village green – and then she left. Her kisses were scorching – heated passions flared and blazed. Her touch was electric; arousing and enticing. And then she left. I longed for her return as I negotiated the chilly embrace of her cold-hearted successor. Her name was Summer and I miss her so. ** Old Man Carver Opens a Can of Whoop Ass by Maria Kelly The TV was loud. A Miami Heat game. Old Man Carver, asleep in his recliner, sparse grey hair flying in the summer breeze through the open window, didn’t hear the intruder enter the decrepit farmhouse. Boots (the cat) heard and saw; hissing from atop the parlor table, fur rising. “Who that?” Carver shook himself awake, then looking up, saw who. “The hell with you! I aint goin’!” The intruder said nothing. Carver stood, brandishing fists. “Try me, you bastard!” Minutes later, the black-hooded figure limped up the lane, fiddling with a PDA. “I was so sure it was today,” Death whimpered. 24

**The Memory Jar by Angel Zapata “It’s a Summer Machine.” “Looks like a mason jar. What’s it for?” “It transports you back to childhood.” “Like a time machine?” “Yep.” “Bullshit. Plus, it’s too small.” “Not for a hand.” “Huh?” “Place your hand inside. Close your eyes.” “Serious?” “Absolutely.” “Bullshit.” “Do it.” “Okay.” “Well?” “Whoa, I’m here.” 25

“Where?” “At the beach with my father. He died of heat stroke when I was eight.” “You can return to him.” “How?” “You just have to shrink yourself.” “Then what?” “Climb inside.” “Thank you.” “My pleasure. Nurse!” “Yes, doctor.” “Please put the lid on this one and send in whoever’s next.”

Pepper by Michael J. Solender


It’s Not Just the Heat… by Zelda Martin It’s hot. I am dripping with sweat. I feel like I am suspended inside the lid of a cooking pot, but I’m just sitting in my kitchen, where the temperature is 95 degrees, and the humidity is at least 90%. I hate summer. I hate humidity. I hate heat. I especially hate heat when it’s accompanied by humidity, and vice versa. Why am I being punished like this? Maybe I’m in Hell, and just don’t remember dying. If I’m not dead yet, I will be soon, if it doesn’t cool off in here. Not too cool though! I really hate cold! ** FLESH FEAST by Richard Godwin I tied and tightened the leather braid around his neck, the arrant knave. He seduced virtue from the Bible. And he raped Love’s name with a trite card trick. Summer was hungry for blood and the wilderness howled for the flesh feast. On the furnace seared sidewalk I towed him away from breath. I lay in the creek with a song in my heart. I could hear the rabid dogs howling as they lost my scent. And I ate black flesh from an unknown beast. For blazing days bring sweet insanity. Heat that buckles metal needs sacrifice to still its flame. 27

The Hot Key by Elliott Cox Eric sat on his front porch drinking beer, watching the thunderstorm blow through. He fumbled with his keys, looking over each one like he was flipping the pages of an Elmore Leonard novel, everybody packing heat and nobody was afraid to use it. What was summer like in Detroit, anyway? Had to be better than this Carolina humidity. Each key held its own mystery; he could tell the car keys from the lock keys, but which cars and what locks? He didn’t know his father in life, but he knew that he would learn more than he bargained for in death. ** *SUMMERTIME MUSINGS By Ian Ayris 'There's something about summer, makes a man want to kill. Or is that just me? Probably just me.' Vultures scream. The sun beats down. 'Maybe it's the heat-blurred edges,' the man continues, circling slow, hands clasped behind his back like a Harvard professor. 'Heat-blurred edges against a cloud-burnt sky. That's it. That contrast. That poetry. Soothes a man's mind, you know?' No reply. None needed. 'And those long, hazy, stretched-out days.' The man rubs his circa '72 sideburns with blood-caked fingers, edges blurred no more. Aims a kick. And the bundle at his feet spits blood and teeth into the sand. 28


**Solstice By Jodi MacArthur Quiet windows. Quiet walls. Quiet doors. I lie on the floor. A blindfold covers my eyes. I listen to summer outside, cicadas seducing wildflowers to bloom, the bees humming. Mourning doves coo, and I wonder what they are saying, secret messages. Footsteps. The door opens and heat pours in thick like syrup. I know he carries food, and I know what he requires. His belt, jeans drop to the ground. A small package is ripped open. Product applied. Silent. The doves have stopped cooing. I can hear their wings flutter, and as he grunts over me, I fly away with them. ** **Cover Her by Erin Cole I’d sewn the quilt for my daughter, long ago, when pink still dominated her closet, now a sharp contrast to her black depression. Crafted from old sweaters, the quilt used to drape the foot of Summer’s bed, until teenage autonomy evicted anything faintly innocent from her room. Tonight, Summer traces those heart patterns with her finger, pausing on fallen tears. Despite an August heat, she wraps herself in fabric that once clothed my arms—they can no longer hold her. All I can do now is watch from the afterlife and trace my own hearts in the dust on her mirror.


Quitting the Game by Chris Hugh I was quitting the game. After all the years I'd played it for them, I was finally getting out, leaving it, the booze, the bimbos, the smoky too-bright rooms smelling of desire and desperation. I took a practice swing with my Louisville Slugger, then tossed it aside. This time tomorrow I'd be on a beach in Mexico, all alone in the summer heat. I was leaving everything behind me but the money. I looked at the deadbeat gambler groveling on the floor. "Let him up, boys." He'd pissed himself. I laughed. "I'm retiring tonight, buddy. You get to keep your kneecaps." ** *Weather or Not by Lee Hughes “Wouldn’t be so fucking bad if we hadn’t had such a shitty winter, you know, summer rolls around, you should be able to expect a little bit of sunshine, not asking for a furnace like heat, but enough to warrant me digging out t-shirts, maybe push my luck with some shorts. Not asking for bronzed tans, or sun-lightened hair. Just a level where I can wear a little less, park myself down with a cold beer, soak it up a little.” “It’s the North-fucking-Pole Tom, you want shorts and t-shirts go do some research in the tropics you whiny little bastard.”


Sold Out by Joanie Rich Dan races to the back of the store. The first two aisles are barren, but a floor model sits on the top shelf of the third aisle. The fan looks used. Does it even work? He flags down an associate to ask for a price, but she angrily points to a note taped to the base: SOLD. This was the last store in town, his last hope. He drives home. All he can do is lie naked on his bed, sweating in the darkness with all the windows open. Even here the heat finds him. He suffocates in summer's crushing embrace.

*Wicked Sun by Danielle La Paglia The sun stalked her, wringing the moisture from her body, scorching her flesh. She ran her damp shirt across her face again and pushed forward, cursing the summer and its wretched heat. A breeze kicked up, dust caked sweat to her arms and neck. She prayed for a long shower and a cold drink while the blazing orb mocked her. Catching her foot on a rock, she flew face-first into the sand, a cloud of dust filling her lungs. Choking, the heat moved in on its prey, wrapping itself around her like a mighty fist, suffocating her on the desert floor. 32

*Bowl o' Red by Eric J. Krause He sat on the gastro pub's patio, sweating buckets, marveling at those around him. How could they dress like that in this summer from hell heat? Instead of prancing around in tank-tops, board shorts, and itsy-bitsy-teenie-weenie bikinis, they trudged about in layers of sweaters, ski jackets, and snow parkas. He took another bite, and washed it down with a healthy drink of the house specialty pale ale. His waiter, dressed in a heavy coat, picked up his half-eaten meal. "I'm sorry, sir, but we're afraid that chili might be a bit too hot for you. How about a nice burger instead?" ** **A Witch's Cauldron By Laura Eno The cauldron simmered as the bloodroot hit the liquid inside. An apparition appeared in the room, coalescing into a man, his hair neatly tied in the back. "What is thy bidding?" He asked with a smile. "You're late," the old witch answered. She looked him over and then expelled a sigh. "How many times do I have to tell you, on this plane of existence you need to wear clothes, even in the summer heat. Get dressed." The man did as he was told and awaited her instructions. She looked him over and smiled. "Go set the table. Dinner's almost ready." 33

Antelope Summer By Dorothee Lang It was the summer of vuvuzelas. The ball rolled on and on, down there in the South of Africa, between all those countries of the world. Huge screens glowed in the night, green reflections of success and failure. Then suddenly, it was over. The TV channels returned to their normal daily and weekly schedules. The heat kept lingering, though. It turned lawns into patches of prairie: yellow and stubby the grass stood, as if waiting for antelopes and hyenas. Still hesitant, you went, and bought one of the last vuvuzelas on sale, and we finally learned to do the rain dance.

** *Cold Heart By Lily Childs It glistens in someone else’s hand. No matter. I have to have it. I’ve got to take it off her, assuage the rabid heat that has made me sweat and stink throughout this evil, relentless summer. Walking, marching, running now I snatch it and abscond, licking at the frozen juice as I sprint away. Sugared orange spills and drips over my grateful breasts. The mother’s shouts and her daughter’s ugly wailing do nothing to stop me in my tracks. I suck until the bleached popsicle breaks apart in my mouth and I collapse to the ground, sticky with neuralgia... and regret.


Woe, Mirror By Jason Beymer I never sleep; I'm always awake. Enchanted. Ready for her question: "Mirror, Mirror on the wall‌" Her, with the dangling nostril hairs like spiders fighting to escape. "Oh, you are, my queen. You are"—my ghostly voice trapped behind thick quartz. But no more questions come, not since I remarked on her daughter's ripening breasts, fair skin, crimson lips: a fawn pillaging jewelry from her mother's vanity while I, the voyeur, watched in silence, heartbeat nearly shattering my reflective prison. Now the summer sun strikes, and I recite empty words to an empty chamber, the heat too much to bear alone.


**DRIP by Linda Simoni-Wastila Every day you Mama flirts with Constantine in this goddamn market, maybe he you daddy. But you lick you ice cream, little pink tongue like a cat’s, flick, flick. Lick fast, baby girl, the heat’s gonna melt it. Like summer’s melting me. I ‘member when I ate ice cream with my mama. Ten years? Twenty? Dunno how old I am, but I ‘member how the cold creamy freeze my brain. What? You holding that cone for me? Spit rushes, my fingers twitch close, and you jump, drop the damn thing, laughing at me scooping the mess off the sidewalk, all greedy. ** *Dancing upon the Mountains like Black Rain By Denise Covey Ciara sat on the verandah fanning herself, wilting, weary in the Australian summer heat. She leaned back in the squatter’s chair, set for a snooze. Princess Edane was swooping her away to a cooler, misty land, when she heard a snap. A koala in the giant eucalyptus, perhaps? She loved how it shielded her from the blazing midday sun. Snap. Awake, she struggled to breathe. Everything looked surreal through a blue-grey mist. She heard a terrifying sound like a runaway train before she saw it, a gigantic wall of flame, cinders scattering through the sky, falling on her like black rain.


**A Long Awaited God Abha Iyengar A boil sat fat on the centre of his forehead, filled with blood and pus and covered by skin not ready to burst. The heat of the summer whipped his bare back. He lifted red eyes to the merciless sun. Rain, he intoned, rain. He was sick of waiting. He brought his dirty fingers up to his forehead and squeezed hard. The skin burst and bloodied pus flowed in a steady stream down his face. A clap of thunder was heard and the drops began to fall, thick and hard. He stuck his tongue out and welcomed a long awaited god.

** Forgotten Memories by: Coraline J. Thompson The heat of the day is no longer what it once was. I no longer remember its hot touch in the middle of summer, and no longer register in my mind the feeling of it on a cold winter afternoon. It was an odd day when it happened, and you'd think with it being so odd that I'd remember it, but I don't. The only memories I have are thoughts that were written in a journal I've since had to hide. You would have expected something like it on the Scifi channel. It was the government's successful try at climate control.


*Landfall Imminent By Bill Floyd Last summer the heat tore us apart. There were diversions aplenty, to be sure: environmental catastrophes, wars, lies, social networks, the music and the smoke. But the sweat cocooned us and we couldn’t hide the truth up close. You said all I ever did was run away and I said all you ever did was tackle me from behind. We both crossed lines we shouldn’t have crossed. We both said things we shouldn’t have said. Come August, I’d moved out and you’d hooked up with that jerk from work. Hurricane season was underway by then. I named every storm after you. **

**To Each Her Own Triceratops by John Wiswell Pedestrians swerved and crashed when the hadrasaurs herded across highways. Cops sweated a three-week shootout against raptors. This lone t-rex beat the heat by stalking ice cream trucks. She could hear the jingle from three miles away. The summer that the dinosaurs returned was hard on a lot of people. I’m not saying otherwise, though I do think the media overreacted. A 160,000,000-year-old apatasaurus tail swept through our living room, destroying a vintage 80-year-old Austrian dining table. Mom had a nervous breakdown. It was the popular thing to do that summer. To each her own. Now me? I got a saddle.


**Glue, and Becoming a Skeptic By Lynn Alexander I was nine when Miranda let my parakeet go. She lifted the window pane and stood in front of it with the cage, a finger holding up the door. It hopped to the sill, the door dropped like a guillotine, Glue vanished into the heat, and Miranda giggled at me from under her bangs. I spent the summer looking up at the trees, thinking that I would see Gluebird perched in the foliage. When the air got colder, I looked down, expecting her to be on the ground. By Christmas she was gone from my mind, a new parakeet in place.


*Driving the Nova by Jay Thurston A yellow Chevy Nova drives down a flat, straight, endless highway. The tan blonde bombshell at the wheel reaches for the radio, but the brunette passenger deflects her hand. “I love that Mungo Jerry song.” “It’s loud enough. You’ll wake them up.” The brunette gestures behind them to the sleeping woman in pastels and snoring old man with a long white beard and bitter features. The blonde frowns and sips lemonade. The brunette opts for cider. “I don’t how you stand this heat, Summer,” the brunette fans herself, “Are you ready for me to drive?” “Soon enough, Autumn,” the blonde smiles.


*CAST LOTS by Broadie J. Thornton Summer again. Under the overpass of the burned bridge of Life to stimulate war. Dad & Seamus aren’t here to raise the Neighborly Hostility bar. Dad’s plunge into the bottle drowned him & hacked Seamus away from us. “I’m not going to end up like Dad,” he whispered, A year since the last Battle of West Avenue. Bad eggs & rancid meat in the fridge bottom. Ma’s too sick to force the old determination into pitches, but her spirit isn’t too weak to belch laughter. The day’s heat will crisp black eggs upon porches, cook crawling veal on driveways. Glorious stench. ** **Ice Water J. M. Strother I glanced up only to see Summer Smith's abundant cleavage. She leaned forward, holding out a glass of ice water. “I can't thank you enough,” she said. I set aside the chainsaw and accepted the glass. I have fantasized about Summer ever since she moved in. There was no hesitation when she asked if I would cut down the dead tree in her yard. “When you're done here, would you mind mowing the lawn?” I recalled the chain gang scene from “Cool Hand Luke.” Oh, she knew exactly what she was doing to me. Despite the heat I quickly answered, “Sure.” 41

**Under the Waves By Jille Korsok Danny curled his legs tighter into his belly. He wrapped his arms across his chest and tucked his hands into his armpits. “It’s so hot out today,” he mumbled. “It’s summer and the heat is incredible. It’s 101.” He thought of the sandy beach and the rolling waves off Kiawah Island, and closed his eyes. “He’s here,” a muffled voice echoed. “He’s right here.” Shovels crunched in snow. Dogs barked. People shouted, “Danny, can you hear me?” Danny opened his eyes and bathed in the sunlight, clouded only slightly now by the mountain of snow that buried him in the avalanche.


*The Dog's Day By Kim Urig Ripping open the envelope, spying, “well cared for”, and a polite thank you. Filthy beast! Always panting and drooling, wagging like a simpleton, George seethes with pure hatred. While watering his garden, he plots ways to rid himself of the dog before the end of summer and a wave of nausea strikes his body. Heat stroke. The dog scampers over. Shooing him away, another wave hits him and his legs crumble. His pants wrinkle into a pool at the bottom of his shoes. George melts. Lapping greedily, the dog licks up the mess. The dogcatcher never hears another complaint from George. ** Ditz Alert by P.J. Kaiser Shrugging off his neglected thesis, Jonathan sank into the lawn chair. Sweat unleashed by the ubiquitous heat caused his black-rimmed glasses to slide down his nose. He tilted his head to peer at the strangers attending the summer barbecue. She materialized like an exotic angel before him. Strangers receded. She wore a lacy, pink sundress and blonde curls spilled onto her shoulders. Shushing his internal “ditz alert,” he trembled when she glided into the adjacent chair. She pushed pink bifocals onto her pouting face. “I can’t believe I am at this stupid barbecue. I should be home working on my thesis.”


Seasons Change by Harry B. Sanderford Stepping from the stark daylight into the cool darkness gives the sensation of entering a cave. It’s early August, still summer by anyone’s count and already it’s football season. Seems impossible in this heat and maybe it is just preseason, but it’s football. Our eyes adjust and we move to a table near the TV. The air is Frigidaire frosty, the bar our own little oasis. It’s 97 degrees on the street and here we sit, cool as your mythical cucumbers, happy as your proverbial clams. We order up, toast our good fortune, and a new season full of promise begins.

** Shred the Bowl, Save the World by Chris Allinotte “Nowhere to run, meatling,” snarled the head Icicle Monster. Behind him was Mr. Friesen’s pool – drained for repairs. In front of him, dozens of sweating, pointy headed creatures advanced across the lawn. Alright, thought Heat, let’s skate. He stepped on his board and dropped into the bowl. Glistening, screaming creatures crowded over the side, and slid quickly to the bottom. Heat pulled a sick one-eighty tailgrab off the lip and rode hard, again and again, through the crowd of monsters, crowing. “You’re snowcones dude!” The icicle things became slush on impact, and, in the summer sun, filled the pool nicely. Awesome.


High Street Beggar By Dr. Ajay Karol Saturday afternoon. I drive past the Delhi Golf Club. The intersection is free. I accelerate to avoid the tortuous wait in this summer heat, and that lame beggar. Else, she will paste her pitiful eyes on my windscreen. I have never obliged her. The signal turns red. I brake. An oil-filled pot confronts me. I peep in. The oil mirrors my face. Good omen. I look up. It is her, without her crutches. She grins sheepishly. Embarrassed. Before I can drop a coin in the pot, she flees. The angry car horns move me on. I am in her debt, forever.


In the Monastery by Clive Martyn http:\\ Summer on the mountain was always hot; when the chill of the North wind turned into the dog breath of the South. The monastery’s white walls would become too bright to look at and the temple bells would glint angrily in the sun as they spun, summoning everyone to prayer. All but one of us would move slowly, conserving our energy in the heat. Nisim the simple one, the silent boy, as always, danced, flailing his limbs about manically until sweat stained his robes. Mute from birth he was unable to express his love or devotion in any other way. ** **The Killer by Matthew C. Funk I know who the killer is." Detective Andel says to me. "Where?" I say. His shirt sticks like sour milk to his chair as he rises to study the red on the crime map. "Son of a bitch is everywhere." Andel stirs the sweat on his brow. "Hiding in gun barrels. Waiting to explode in liquor bottles. Shoving out of boom boxes. Crackling in hot sauce. Seething under our fingernails. Soaking us while we sleep." Andel traces down the dozens of unsolved cases on the board. "Inside all these red lines." "The heat." Andel scowls. "Can't put summer in handcuffs, though." 46

*Sweet Heat by Pat Washington While lying in bed, I listen to the crickets sing for a mate outside my window. Summer has peaked; school will start again soon. Every year it’s the same – where has summer gone? But I know…. It slipped away when I was merely bearing the heat of it, taking refuge in the conditioned air of my car and the office – in closed-up and artificial things. But now, this night, I soak it in; I revel in the sticky warmth of it, knowing full well that the ache of winter is relentless in its approach. Sing this woman to sleep, dear crickets. ** *HEAT WAVE By Jim Bronyaur Mack whistled as he pushed the body into the crematory. He decided that since he was still alive, it was time for a smoke break. “We’re having a heat wave,” Mack called out as the heavy door shut and flames ignited. Mack accustomed himself to talking to the dead in their final moments before being reduced to ash. Mack opened the back door and the summer sun punched him in the face. It was day nine of a record breaking heat wave. With his cigarette between his lips, he looked back at the crematorium. “So, this is what it feels like....” 47

Escaping the Heat by Alan Davidson During the summer berry festival, Kenny and I escaped the heat by swimming at Beaver Lake. Our mothers warned us of the milfoil tendrils reaching from its depths; tickling toes, trying to steal innocence. Later we played catch, displaying physical prowess to impress baking bodies. An elderly couple strolled past. She proudly displayed her beehive hairstyle as he devoured cherries and ice cream as if engaging in a sexual act. I threw the tennis ball too high. It bounced on the asphalt and lodged perfectly in the beehive. We scurried to blend in with the sun worshipers, embarrassed by our transgression. ** BREAKDOWN by Peggy McFarland Stone lifted his fedora, scratched his sweaty head. The hissing steam syncopated her tirade. (ss) summer vaca-(ss) flatland-hell (ss) where is thiss? Tex-ass? He sucked his finger, pointed upward, shrugged. All this open sspace and no frigging ssignal! Stone grabbed his ukulele from the backseat, plopped on the ground. He plucked for the heat-tendrils wriggling off the tar, harmonized with the dissipating hiss. Really? You're playing NOW? Stone warbled we are stranded in east tim-buk-tu, the car blew a gasket over you. Katie's mouth twitched. She plopped next to him. He kissed her damp shoulder. She exhaled, then released her laugh. 48

*LONG SUMMER’S REGRET by Salvatore Buttaci Eternal summer. Heat bubbles off the surface of a fiery lake. Saying “oppressive” heat misses the mark like spitballs tossed up at the moon. For a fool who never found time to learn how to swim, thrashing to stay afloat only adds fuel to the fire. I had lived eighty years accommodating Numero Uno, pitching fast steps up the success ladder where I yanked off those above me and played deaf to my heart, so bent on kindness and love, it was sickening. If I could, I’d go make things right. I’d bask now in God’s Light, instead of treading fire. ** Wind Turbines on the Interstate Highways By Vince Allen With all of the extraordinary heat from this summer there is an enormous need for additional electricity everywhere on the national power grid. There is a solution that I have forwarded to the White House. It seems an easy matter to install wind turbine generators down the medians of rural stretches of interstate highways. The rest areas could have the required power sub-stations added to them connecting them to the grid. Electric cars could then be recharged at rest areas and everybody wins. It uses a renewable resource to generate power, puts people to work, helps the environment, by being smarter.


The Summer That Changed Everything By Yogita Tripathi I was walking fast, holding on tight to a bag full of money Rs. 75,000 that I borrowed from a friend for my daughter's treatment. The scorching summer heat was draining all the fluid from my body. I wanted to take a break from strenuous walk. But I could only think of reaching the hospital soon. Suddenly, a searing pain tore apart the insides of my brain. Everything became dark. Next, I opened my eyes in the hospital. But where was my bag? I asked the nurse beside my bed. She answered," Sir! You were found lying alone on the road.�

** *The Crucible By Rasagya Kabra In the auto rickshaw, she noticed his face twitch in the Delhi heat, as he sat close to her. Gusts of hot air ruffled their hair and tortured their eyes. Not a word was said. She took her eyes off his well shaped calves and glanced at the rear view mirror in the front. She saw him watching her curiously as she re-adjusted her earring, massaging her earlobe a little - as if, by mere looking, he could understand the texture of her skin. The summer sun was suddenly lost behind the deluging, grey clouds. The sky grew dark. He smiled.


**The Wanton Fruit-Sucker By Kemari Howell The heat was nearly unbearable. I fanned myself as I watched the other, younger wives fawn over their husbands. A young redhead in a bikini sat down beside me. Humidity caused a trickle of sweat to slide between her breasts. I could see the valley of her curves: soft, dewy, inviting. She took a frozen cherry from a bowl and rubbed it against her lips, staining them red. She sucked the fruit into her mouth, pulling it out again by the stem before finally swallowing. “Honey,” my husband said gesturing to the wanton fruit-sucker, “this is Summer Davis, my new secretary.” ** *The Unfamiliar By Karishma Kambo Sun is playing hide and seek with the clouds. I dread walking along the lonely road under this alien sky. The clothes layer my body with weight and not with warmth. My bones are cold and hands are numb. Though it’s that time of the year when I used to crib about the hot burning sun. I always told myself that how much I hated summer. Now when it has changed for me this year and my wish is granted to escape that heat. I walk on this unfamiliar road and my frozen lips murmur a secret prayer‘should I wish anymore?’


*Ouster By Margaret Whittle She gazes at me with scornful eyes, “You are nothing without me by your side. How can you do this?” It’s true. She is the center of my world and I have been controlled by that, however the time to let her run free has arrived. Should I confess my distress to her? No, she would know then that her power over me is infinite. I throw open the door to the raging heat of summer and point to the outside world. She turns her back to me and banishment commences. There shall never be litter boxes in this house again.

** Sweltering Mind Games By Bolton Carley Drifting out my perfectly air-conditioned house, instant clamminess overtakes me. Droplets of perspiration form from my forehead to my posterior region. I trod heavily forward through thick humidity as the summer sunrays plummet directly upon me. Droplets turn into streams as they meander down under my sunglasses blurring my line of vision with each short stride. Cussing the blasted heat, the gushing sweat pours profusely out every crevice as I open the car door a mere fifteen steps away. Playing a personal game of Would You Rather?, I ponder planting myself on the scalding lava leather seat versus another Nebraska blizzard.


*Bliss by Sugar Wendy Staley Pure delight crossed the boy’s face as his dog shook chilly pond water over him and dropped the ball for another round of fetch. “Git your ball, Duke!” shouted the boy as he threw it and watched his yellow lab leap into the spring-fed pond. “You’re scarin’ all the crappie away, Boy!” He leaned his cane pole against the big ole sycamore tree, grabbed the rough hemp rope, and let out a Tarzan yell as his body cannonballed the water. All thoughts of summer’s heat and school starting soon floated away in the rippled pond. “Now look who’s scarin’ the fish!”

** *Outcasts by Rachel Blackbirdsong An old cat saunters lazily across the hot summer pavement. Its paws scarred and numbed from homeless wandering, have become immune to the heat. Spying a mouse scurrying to a nearby garbage can, it focuses before striking, tasting delicious throbbing meat. Dragging its still-breathing prey to a darkened corner, it feeds—its first meal today—before taking time to clean itself obeying ancient instincts forged on Egyptian soil. Another cat nears smelling a fresh kill. Hissing and yowls reverberate off alley bricks as they claw bloody lines onto each other. One cat scurries away wounded, the other licks old wounds purring.




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