Week # 47 – Blind Spot

Welcome! Here is this week’s Flash, posted in the order received.

The theme is blind spot.

She knows by aLnym (Aljoscha Lahner)
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Corner . by Susan Tepper

On the corner the man with the dog sells pencils out of a cup. They are lined up yellow and perfect. The erasers up and the point part down. Each with its pink unused eraser. The kind I like to chew. I’m dying to steal one. How will he know? I ask my brother Tom. How will he know he’s blind? Tom says the dog will know. That the dog is trained to protect the man. The noon heat is killing me. Fumes from the cars are thick. I’m not going to mug him I say. I just want a pencil. Then pay for it Tom says. No I’m thinking. I want it free. The blind man doesn’t need money. Look at his shoes I tell Tom. Real leather and shiny. We have sneakers. He has more money than God. Tom says he’s going to let the dog bite me. He says it will leave a large gaping wound. Probably in my leg. Will it scar? I say. Tom says for sure. For sure and then no one will want you Rachel.

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The Line . by Karla Valenti

There is a place not far from here, a tiny spot of space where people like to go to forget. It’s always quite busy, as there are many with much to forget. Sometimes you have to wait for days before you get a turn but people don’t seem to mind because it gives them time to collect their memories. You can see them as they stare ahead, their eyes open to their past, trying to recall each moment so they can let go of it once and for all. As their turn approaches, they seem more desperate to remember and so they spend more time away. They seem to get heavier as they get closer to their turn, as if the weight of their memories was becoming unbearable. Sometimes they cry. When their turn is up, they step on the spot and close their eyes. For that one instance, they are blinded to their past, they have no memory of who they were or how or why, they only know to be. And then, the moment is over. They always look up surprised to be there and then they simply walk away. They never look back at the long line of people waiting behind them for their turn to forget.

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The Blind Spot . by Susan Gibb

She was beautiful once, a few years ago. Street life has since pock-marked her face, dotted her arms with bruises that scream purple, mellow to yellow and green, or fester if the needle was dirty.

She takes out a comb and makes a part in her hair down the middle but just a few inches down it catches on knots and her arm, painfully heavy, drops away, leaving the comb there like a butterfly perched on her ear.

It takes a long time but she gets it untangled. Spits on the ends to curl them around her finger, slowly drawing it out to let them hang there to dry. She pulls out a small round mirror, peers between cracks, presses down with the palm of her hand to level the shards back into one single image. Or at least as close to one as she can.

Her hands flipper through the large plastic bag, come out with a scratched and dented tube of lipstick. The color flares up like a lighter. She leans close to the mirror and paints on the memory of lips. She finds a clean sweater, changes her jeans, and goes out to stand by the curb.

He comes by at the usual time and she hopes to catch his eye. Last Friday evening she recognized him, thought he might have recognized her. He stares, slows his step but doesn’t stop. She smiles but he keeps walking by.

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From the Balcony . by Christina Murphy

He liked to sit on his balcony and watch the people go in and out of “The Blind Spot” bar across the street. He felt he knew many of the regulars, who came a few hours after sunset when the bar’s sign flashed neon red letters that lit up the street.

He had worked in construction but was retired now. His knees began to give out after thirty years on the job, and when he could no longer climb ladders, he knew no one would hire him. It was a young man’s job, and he had too many years on his face to be the type of guy anyone wanted these days.

His hands were gnarled from his years on the job pounding nails and laying shingles and lifting heavy coils of copper in the hot sun or the cold of winter. Often the flashing red of the bar’s sign would show upon his hands and look like blood in the cracked skin of his knuckles. He’d swig down another beer and wonder what had happened to his life.

About 11:00 o’clock he’d call it a night. He’d fall asleep with the music still echoing from the bar and the red light flashing against his bedroom wall, forming bits of letters that took on odd shapes. He liked to believe the letters watched over him as he slept, filling his dreams with images as his mind surrendered to a darkness he’d accepted and no longer feared.

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Loneliness . by Robert Vaughan

The two lovers recline, sweaty, exhausted, bodies entwined.

He clears his throat, says, “That was great. You’re really something, ya know?”

She arches her back, moves her leg off his. Whispers, “You too.” Now is not the time to get into it. She forces a smile, says, “I’ll be right back.”

“I’ll be here,” he says. Pats her butt as she stands up.

She stares into the bathroom mirror above the sink. My god, how you’ve changed. It’s not the deepening lines. Or her marble green eyes, getting weaker, fuzzy. It’s not the minute scar on her neck, her last melanoma removed.

Nothing will appease the growing pit in her stomach. It gnaws at her from the inside out. No longer a blind spot, it defines her.

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Sightless . by Len Kuntz

It begins like a migraine, with a trail of effervescent spots throbbing black across her corneas. Her left hand tingles, goes numb. A branch cracks inside her skull.

And then she’s blind.

At first she thinks it’s a power outage. She crumbles to the bathroom floor and waits for the lights to come back on, but they don’t.

So, she moves forward in life. She makes the kind of moves a newly sightless person would–ramming into coffee tables and chairs. She accidentally sticks her fingers into other people’s cupcake cream, into other people’s nostrils, into light sockets.

Her husband cackles. He says she’s turned into a funny woman, that he might be able to stand her this way. Instead of beatings, he can play pranks now, rearrange the furniture, tell Helen Keller jokes. It’s not a fair exchange, but the heart always saves itself somehow.

Being blind teaches the woman-the wife-someone’s daughter how to listen better.

Now she doesn’t even have to use a monitor to hear the baby breathing all the way down a hall, to know that the infant is just as frightened as her.

She can hear her husband crushing peanut shells and whispering “something-something six o’clock” into his cellphone.

She hears a plane above their roof. Hears a bird pecking in the feeder at the sink window. Hears a dog’s distant yelping. Hears her mother’s voice telling her, at age ten, to be careful who you trust, that boys don’t always have the best intentions.

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Stiletto . by Michael Webb

“Didn’t you see how she was looking at you?”

I drove on, the road nearly empty, my brain processing friction, velocity, angles, momentum, speed. The calculus of a body, moving through space. Leaving point A, heading for point B. “52nd Street” blared from the stereo.

“Didn’t you?”

“Who?” That seemed safe.

“That woman. Jessica.” My wife spat the words out.

Nick’s assistant, Jessica. Jessica with the doe eyes and low cut top and too high heels.

“How was she looking at me?” There was only one place conversations like this ended.

“She wants you.”

“Don’t be ridiculous. I’m married, for one thing. “

“Oh, she does. She wants you. You don’t know. You don’t understand how women are. You don’t know what we’re capable of.” That was true.

“I don’t think she’s like that.”

“We’re all like that,” my wife said firmly.

“I doubt it. Not her, ” I said softly. I accelerated a little bit more.

“You never think women do anything wrong,” she told me. “Never. I wouldn’t trust her with you for one second. I’ll slit her throat if she touches you.”

I thought she was wrong, but I had been married too long to say that.

“Would you?” she said, rubbing her nyloned foot. Her heels were high, too.

“No. Of course not.” I pulled through a stoplight, glancing around for cops.

“You know you love the knife,” Billy Joel told us.

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Wife . by Lou Freshwater

On the day she died my mind was flooded with images of her, mixed up, no order, just chaos taking up space as if to hold back the absence which was beginning to take its own form and which over the next days and weeks would strike me down, not until I was on my knees but well after, grinding my curled up and hopeless body with the gravity it alone controlled until the pain and loss felt as if it was breaking my bones not by snaps, but by a slow ache and giving in to the pressure. In these days I wanted to escape the images, and there were so few ways to help me do this. Even drugs and alcohol only softened the edges, blurred the center, slowed the herky-jerky slides of her living a life she no longer had. We, no longer had. But years have passed now, and those images have changed or disappeared. What used to be a scene has broken into fragments and blips of her on a screen I can’t control or manipulate. I feel a crushing guilt about this. I wished her away. I begged her to stop coming. I could not take the pain I should have been able to endure. And now, as time unfolds in front of me, I wonder what will be left of her. Will I be able to see her when I need to, or will she completely retreat into an unbearable blind spot.

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blind . by Linda Simoni-Wastila

what world is this

when in the parking lot

a man squeezes breakfast

from catsup packets

the girl squats

by Xerox boxes

she calls home

and you send back

your triple-slam

with eggs too runny?

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The Right Time . by Nicolette Wong

The barricades pierce her heart in a blind spot of hope undone. Like a dead bird in the air falling to the battlefield, between distorted faces and arms entangled in blood, dust of broken will that would forever be fooled by a grand promise. Her voice breaks against children’s laughter, ambient music in her studio and the stillness I am trying to hold, over the phone.

‘He called the whole thing off. The photo shoot. The banquet,’ she sobs.

My friend is a sturdy woman with wide shoulders, wavy brown hair and a jolly gait. I imagine her falling flat on the floor, a crucified victim surrounded by curious children. The paint on their hands would dry in an instant when they saw the light had gone out of their teacher’s eyes.

‘Did he say why?’ I ask.

‘He loves someone else. A young man he met at work.’

The man who left purple roses scattered over my friend’s drawing table, to go home and sit between his mother and sister in front of the TV screen? Now he must find his private sphere so he can lock lips with another man who ignites the fire in him, tearing apart the composure he has feigned for years. He will emerge a glistening man, fresh-faced with joy and sanity.

‘I don’t understand why it took so long for him to tell me,’ my friend says.

‘I’m sure things happened at the right time,’ I say.

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Dinner . by Al McDermid

I didn’t notice it sitting there, in the middle of the table, when I first walked into the kitchen. I should have, but I didn’t. I poured my coffee as usual and stood in front of the sink drinking it, looking out at the not entirely unremarkable red brick wall of the neighboring building. Flecks of peeling white paint suggested traces of an ad that no one had cared about for fifty years. It obviously predated the construction of my building by a very long time. Were I inclined, I could have reached out and touched it. Instead, I thought about today’s trial, and the almost certainly guilty scumbag I’d be defending, and how, were he a successful criminal, he could have afforded his own attorney.

I finished the coffee, set the mug in the sink, turned to leave, and there it was; fat, pink, and severed. Its eyelids were closed and I wondered if the butcher had done that as some perverse gesture of respect. I didn’t know why he would have but I’m glad he had, though I couldn’t fathom why it was there, this head minus its hog; the roasting pan should have tipped me off.

I glanced at my watch, picked up my case, and left for work. Thinking about dinner would have wait.

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I Took My Blind Spot . by Darryl Price

Out for riding and

Oh she did jump the
Overgrown hedges
So beautifully

Such that the little
Purple flowers thrilled

Themselves several
Shades deeper in the
Quickness of her flight.

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What You Don’t See . by Kim Hutchinson

Spot the Chihuahua was born blind. The kids called him Spot because they thought it was funny and, well, he wouldn’t know any better, would he?

You would think that a tiny blind dog would be on the timid side, but not Spot. He confronted Dobermans and Great Danes without hesitation, just a little confusion as to why their prime sniffing area was so high off the ground. He chased squirrels halfway up trees, following their scent and footfalls, and he wouldn’t let Mr. Kane, the cranky old neighbor, anywhere near the yard, even to return a lost ball or Frisbee.

When it came to catching flying discs, he was the block champ. Nobody could figure out how he did it, but he would leap four feet in the air to catch one and never missed. He was never happier than when he was trotting up with a teeth-marked neon-colored circle of plastic in his mouth. Blue ones were his favorite. We could never figure out why.

Maybe that’s why he developed a fondness for chasing cars, something to do with the Frisbees. It was always the left rear wheel he was after. A couple of times, we found him blocks away, shaking and barking in rage and frustration at the left rear wheel of a parked car.

Spot weighed less than ten pounds, but he just couldn’t see the point of being afraid of anything. I’m glad he never saw it coming, the second car.

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Rain . by Jesse Peacock

I’m hypnotized, watching man fail against nature. The slim black blades frantically arc from one side of the foggy glass to the other, but they can’t compete with the relentless drumbeat of water surging from the darkened sky. The water comes much faster than the wipers can sluice it away.

I can’t stop myself watching the battle as I change lanes, lazily flicking my turn indicator. I don’t see the headlights behind me until it’s too late. A horn blares and my car flips. When it’s upside-down, the wiper blades work against nothing. My hair hangs loosely against the roof of the car.

I lose some time, because the next thing I know, I’m lying on rough asphalt, the rain pouring so hard into my open mouth that I gurgle. Some of the rain is hot on my face. Some of it is freezing. The red and blue lights flash against my closed eyelids.

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Bluebird . by Guy Yasko

I wake to the rain on metal roof. I want coffee and breakfast, but i’m
not ready to be wet, not yet. I move up to the driver’s seat. Why not? I
check the mirrors. There’s nothing to see; too many raindrops, too many
blackberry bushes.

Dexter’s books are on the dash, some half-open, spine-up. I peek. The
feeling of excitement disappears in the teachings of Don Juan. I fall
asleep.

When i look up there is a woman at the door. She doesn’t knock. I crank
open the doors. Rain drips between us.

– I was looking for Dexter.

– Not here. Check his place?

– Not there either.

– Well, come in out of the rain at least.

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Not knowing what I know . by Doug Bond

The smiling parents turn their back, both at the same time, for just a
second to look at the high school boy who caught the Frisbee at the
very last moment and rolled over like a stuntman on the sand. That’s
when the toddler’s little legs get pulled under and I see it.

There’s a soundtrack playing in my head when it happens and it happens
this way all the time. Sun skitter, dogs, kites, laughter. Slow motion
pink pale splashing and the wave washing away from shore. It’s a
disease, this jolt I’ve grown close to and the wonderfully deep
screaming that looses inside.

LOOK NOW! HELP! PLEASE! Someone tell them. I can feel my mouth
opening. I’m about to…but the wave really only came calf high and she
runs giddy-scream backwards and mom and dad, still smiling, hold her
tightly, not knowing what I know, that someday, it will come to her,
in a place they know well and I won’t be there to make it not happen.

It could be a canoe, the one they will leave at the edge of their
pond, the rope swing, a rifle on the wall, an unlocked door or the
drunk man in the Buick down the street. Let me tear out my eyes,
beautiful girl, and place them where I know that you’ll need them,
like I should have know for my own little boy, who like you, was
staring straight ahead and couldn’t have seen anything other than
light.

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Witness . by Andrew Stancek

“Nobody will ever give us a chance. Even a demolition job, damn it,
all brawn, no brains, we get turned down. I need cigarettes, Mirko,
sauerbraten, beer. Your father gave you a hundred crowns. But how
often will that happen? ” Duro blew on his hands, spit the cigarette
butt out of the corner of his mouth.

Whom is he trying to convince? Mirko thought. “You’re sure he doesn’t
deposit every day?”

“He’s a cripple, Mirko. The bank is a long walk for him. Every three days.”

Mirko took a deep puff. Stealing an apple or a kohlrabi walking past
a fruit stall was child’s play but this was armed robbery. Prison, not
reform school. Maybe he could still go back to mother’s, smile at his
stepfather, gorge himself. Duro was bound for prison now, or later.

“Where do you want me to stand?”

“Street corner. Whistle if anyone’s coming.” Duro marched to the
newspaper kiosk, pulled the mask down, hefted his wrench, knocked at
the side door. “Evening paper delivery, Mr. Zajko,” he called out.
The door opened.

“Little early today, aren’t—.” The wrench smashed down on his head,
Duro leapt in and out in seconds, stumbled toward Mirko, stuffing
bills into his pocket.

A blonde pranced out from behind a tree across the road. Mirko last
saw her snoring in his father’s apartment. As Mirko ran by, she
rubbed her eyes.

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Sweet Revenge . by Tom Allman

Delores’s Family told her that she was being paranoid; which proved that they were out to get her! Her Cat, Mr. Puss, confirmed her worst fears. “Darling, your loved ones mock you whenever your back is turned.”

Delores decided to have a third eye grafted into the back of her head. She took a “ME” weekend and had it done on the sly. It was neatly covered by her mop of auburn hair. “I’ll show those eye-rollers and tongue-sticker-outers,” she fumed.

The duplicitous feline told the rest of the family what Delores was doing. “He’s been so helpful and given us such good advice since the operation,” they all said.

When she returned home they followed her around striking lewd poses and making “do you want your face to freeze like that” expressions. This was the last straw.

Terrible and irrevocable things were said, dishes and collectibles hurled. This home was now broken. His job complete, Mr. Puss lay in a laundry basket grooming the area where his testicles had been and savored his sweet, sweet revenge.

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The Red Dot . by Kevin Balance

In the forest through the trees camouflaged by a dark bower of ferns sits a big red dot plumb on the ground as in a landscape in a gallery at the musee des beaux arts. Some even look right at it but still march idly on. Working not with his eyes but with his trowel and spade the peasant finds this spot that transports him to anytime, anywhere. He begins to see things from the corner of his one unpatched, glass eye. He becomes a Tiresias in Greece, a Soothsayer in Rome.

Over summers and winters of ignored augury a history begins to form. A myopic paradox builds on itself—grows stronger and more verdant with each penned text. An archetype is born squarely on the big red dot. The circle holds strong for a long, long time until the rogue muse frays its edge. And in that fray a bartering occurs: eyes for eyes, archetype for evolution. So with an unseen splash our play begins.

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Genus Octopoda . by Mike DiChristina

Anne-Marie squinted as she read the sign next to the octopus tank at Sea World.

“Convergent evolution,” she said.

Jimmy rapped the aquarium glass, but the pink octopus remained motionless, tucked in its cave, its unblinking eye catatonic.

“We evolved on different paths. Humans and octopuses. Octopi?” said Anne-Marie.

“Octopussy?” said Jimmy. He slipped his hand into the back pocket of her cargo shorts.

Anne-Marie said, “We both have eyes. Evolution found a different way in each case.”

Jimmy stood behind Anne-Marie, wrapping his arms around her waist. He pressed into her sun-warmed body, nibbling her ear, tasting lotion. He slipped his hands into her front-facing fanny pack.

“Wow,” he said.

Anne-Marie continued reading.

“Eyes have different anatomy, same result: sight. Like bat wings versus bird wings. Different anatomy, same result: flight,” she said.

“A poem,” he said.

“The octopus did us one better, though,” she said, “No blind spot.”

He covered her eyes with his hands. “We have a blind spot?”

“Back of the eye. Where the optic nerve enters the retina.” Anne-Marie ducked away and flip-flopped toward the stingray tank.

“I never saw any blind spot,” Jimmy said, following her.

“Your brain fills in the blanks. They have cool experiments that prove it,” she said.

He leaned over the railing and scratched a baby stingray’s back.

“Where next?” she said.

“Squid?” he said.

Anne-Marie said, “Or we could go back to the hotel and make our own eight-legged monster.”

“I hadn’t thought of that,” said Jimmy.

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Blind Spot . by Katie Welch

He is my blind spot, the part I’m oblivious to, the part I refuse to see.

He has robbed me so many times, over and over and over again, but still I see nothing.

Merely a mirage. A shimmer on the horizon.

I can hear him; his smooth talk, like an eel, cool and shining and so slippery you cannot get a good hold, you just watch as his words slip away back into the depths of the air.

I can smell him, his stale cigarettes; his signature perfume. I never touch him though, that is forbidden, he pulls away if I dare to inch forward.

I ran away, but he tracked me down, and still I don’t see the damage and destruction I allowed. Others point it out, slam it in front of me, showing me pictures and telling me truths. But I am blind to this, because deep inside he feeds me, a part of me that I am blind to, it is a meeting of our darkness, tentacles reaching each other through the distance, a tugging, a needing a longing, a destroying.

Perhaps I am his blind spot too, perhaps he only sees the outer me, the smile, the lies and the perfume bought in airport lounges.

Perhaps I need a special mirror, attach it to my emotions so they can reflect from all angles.

I could buy one, but I don’t. We are a car crash in slow motion neither of us can escape from.

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Interview (Inner view) . by Alexandra Pereira

“My son, you ask? Oh he’s a hell of a guy. Loves ping pong and squash but hates washing the car and helping his mother with the dishes, whenever he visits. Not a manly thing to do, but being an only son he’s gotta help around the house sometimes, heh heh. But Claire and I will do everything for him… Oh ya – my wife and I have a great relationship. Wonderful woman. And we’re so lucky to have a great son. I mean Rory means everything to us… Claire… Claire had… well, she couldn’t get pregnant easily so we went through a difficult time — very difficult. But all that’s gone now. Rory came and grew up and went to college and has made us very proud… No, he’s not finished his course yet. Not easy studying to be doctor. I mean Rory’s extremely intelligent, he’s just ah… had bad luck with some professors, that’s all. Otherwise he would have finished ah… ’bout three years ago… Ah, ya… it’s cost us a hunk of money, and we’re not rich, but we’ll do everything for our little Rory – well, he’s really not that little anymore, heh heh… Naw, that’s just lack of sleep. He’s been real tired. You know, staying up late, studying, and all… Really? Nah, couldn’t have been our Rory! Rory’s studying in the east coast, Pennsylvania, not Nevada.”

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Coming Clean . by Deborah A. Upton

“Are you blind?” Deanna yelled, tension pulsing in her neck. “How can you sit there in one spot all day long,” she was looking at the worn-out recliner her husband sat in, “and watch that damn depressing crap?”

She didn’t wait for his reply. She let the wind help her slam the back door on her way to the garden plot, where she fell down on her knees. As her body shook, she dug into the freshly turned soil, filtering it between her fingers. An earthworm fell to the earth, landing on the pile forming on the ground, and immediately went to work. Deanna paused to watch. She wasn’t used to seeing such industry in her garden, except by her own effort. She watched as the worm took dirt into one end, knowing it would eventually come out the other. She didn’t mind that kind of crap, though, because at least it was productive crap.

Suddenly overwhelmed with anger, she burst into sobbing, hysterically. How dare him to be so blind to my need, she thought. He’s not even as good as a worm. Unable to control the sobbing, she purged herself of the anger from deep down inside. It felt good to come clean.

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A Time to Remember . by Catherine Russell

The hunter stalked the high school dance like a panther stalked its prey.

Through the foilage, he peered at the festivities within. He brushed aside golden curls and watched the roiling sea of taffeta and tuxedos amid a riot of streamers and tinsel. A lone banner declared it was ‘A Time to Remember.’

On the building’s west side, the social outcasts grouped together, casting furtive glances at the dance floor. Spiked punch did little to alleviate their anxiety. One awkward teen looked especially forlorn as the object of his desire crossed the makeshift stage to accept her crown.

Perfect.

Outside the gym, the camoflauged youth pulled a gleaming silver arrow from his backpack, fitted the deadly instrument into his bow, and waited. The crowned couple descended the stage and danced amid a wide circle of admirers. The King spun his partner westward, and the hunter loosed his arrow – into the heart of the unsuspecting girl. She stumbled, fell from her partner’s grasp, and was caught by her most unlikely suitor.

Amazed, he pushed his horned-rims up the bridge of his nose and helped the girl to her feet. “You fell…”

She looked into his deep brown eyes and smiled. “Yes, I did.”

Then the King pushed the outcast away, grasped the girl once again, and resumed the dance. It was too late. Eros’ shaft had hit its mark.

The god slung his bow over his shoulder, zipped up his hoody, and smiled.

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Garden . by Stephen Hastings-King

Above the arrangements of leather belts cast iron wheels and saw blades hovers the rotting hull of a boat manned by ghosts in flannel who endlessly repeat the same slice of a long-ago winter voyage; in every photograph groups of them gather to peer at the strange electrical flash originating beneath the surface of the water between them and a section of Labrador beach littered with heaps of ice like walruses sleeping.

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Good with the big picture . by Matt Potter

Get the angle just right and you can create a pile-up.

I’m the Good Samaritan of Highway 57. Twice I’ve been cited for a Medal of Bravery but I’ve turned it down.

I don’t want the scrutiny medal-giving brings.

I live atop a cliff behind a clump of trees, in a Frank Lloyd Wright knock-off bought in the last property bust. From the balcony you can see for miles across the ocean, and even in winter, as the sun sets, it’s a million dollar view.

But there’s no welcome mat in front of my door and I work long hours in Emergency at the large hospital twenty minutes up the coast anyway.

Have you seen my photo in the paper? I always have a serious expression on my face, am usually in a white coat and probably look completely unapproachable but there I am, and pasted in my scrapbook: Local Doctor Saves Another Life.

I keep it in a secret cavity the Frank Lloyd Wright wannabe designed, under the kitchen floor. Dragging it back from the bushes atop the cliff without gouging the lawn is a challenge, but neatness is next to godliness in my profession.

Catch the glint of the afternoon sun in the large mirror and rush hour on Highway 57 somersaults to a halt. Half an hour later I’m working miracles with battered bodies and there I am in the local newspaper again.

My ex-wife had four children after we divorced.

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sightless . by Walter Bjorkman

monk lips bleeding green
trees burnt to ash
of black shadow

No, you will not
suffer – my yellow
matchbox hands will

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The Scientist’s Wife . by John Wentworth Chapin

Steven blurts it out: he cheated on her, broke into the lab, time-travelled back, fixed it. Technically, no cheating… they wouldn’t even know he broke in at work. Now it is all fine…except his conscience: fancy dinner and confession.

“You’re ridiculous. Time travel is impossible, Steven.” Her lobster tail is getting cold, drawn butter congealing.

He persists. “For the sake of this $200 meal, let’s pretend it’s not…. So are we good?”

Luann sighs, sucks a claw. “You think I care if it physically happened? If it temporally happened? You didn’t just fantasize. You screwed her – so you cheated. Pour more Perrier Jouet, asshole.”

“But it never happened! The universe has no record of it!” Steven looks triumphant: NASA-nerd triumphant, like when he beats a video game. She has no patience for it.

“Do you remember it?” Luann asks. “Did you get off?”

He nods.

“So there’s record.”

“But I made it so I never even met her!”

“Plus, you are a work-breaker-inner and coverer-upper.”

Steven’s brow furrows and he considers the diagonal weave of his napkin as it curves at a fold.

“Okay, Mister space-time engineer. You didn’t meet her. You didn’t boink her. But I’m a therapist… and I know you will. Or did. Or whatever.”

Luann tries to enjoy her lobster. She knows her husband: he’s sneaking back to the lab and this meal will never show up on the Visa bill.

Steven knows she knows: time travel is better than bulimia.

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The laugh which was always there . by Michelle Elvy

When Henry Watson’s 1980 Buick LeSabre skidded off the road, he expected to see his life pass before his eyes. They say that happens, the whole birth-to-this-minute flash. Instead, he saw only parts of it, some parts he’d never seen before, like when his daughter found him masturbating in the closet — he’d felt mortified, almost zipped himself. What he saw now, in the moment the LeSabre careened round the corner and dived into the muddy ditch, was not the look of disgust he’d assumed (which had covered his face) but something else entirely – amusement or possibly even understanding. The masturbating turned into blending malts in the kitchen with the lid left off: there was his wife in the corner, long before cancer ravaged her perfect body, her mighty laugh exploding at the eggs on the ceiling and the malt powder on his checkered shirt, her soft hand caressing his unshaven face. There were other moments, too: a sudden and violent slap across the face of his three-year-old son which he’d regretted for thirty years, a blinding sunrise in Athens, a scowling man outside the shop where he purchased his coffee every morning for thirteen years, the whitetail of a buck gamboling away yesterday as he lowered his Browning and didn’t fire, a waterfall somewhere in upstate New York – roaring like his wife’s mighty laugh which was here again, too. The laugh which was always there, even as he lost sight of everything and the world went black.

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We would like to thank aLnym for this week’s art. We asked the artist about this piece and this is what he wrote:

This is the first piece of a set of paintings for my portfolio. When I paint I don’t watch the colors which come to me. I basically just watch the saturation and dark- or lightness of the color to match into the painting. The work is a process of painting layers over layers… a technique and style. already present in other pieces, but not as clear. Therefore this work is an important cornerstone for me.

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