Week #46 – Another world

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

The theme is another world.

the light by Jennifer L. Tomaloff
Gum . by Susan Tepper

At the rim of the spaceship there’s a ladder and a rail. I don’t understand why because they won’t let us go outside. I don’t understand why because the spacemen went outside. They got to walk on the moon. We bought first class and we are stuck inside all day and night. It’s not good to be confined without fresh air. I mention this to Dad who just laughs and pats my knee. Well it isn’t. I know that for a fact. But Dad just reads his newspaper and chews gum. Every few hours a new piece of gum. Have some gum he tells me. I frown and look away. Gum gives me headaches. But he doesn’t know that. He’s just the Dad. My mom knows that but she stayed behind. She said she’d take her chances.

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Moving to Another World . by Susan Gibb

She was already half-melted into the new dimension when he knocked on her door seeking a cup of sugar. When she answered, he was taken by surprise.

For her part, she was quite nonchalant about the transition. She half-smiled, the left side of her face nearly transparent. “Come on in,” she said, swinging the door open wide and hopping back on her right leg to let him by.

“I’m sorry to bother you, if you’re busy,” he said. He wasn’t sure how long the whole process took. He’d never known anyone before who’d made the shift. He couldn’t help staring. Her blouse and jeans unraveled slowly across her body like a west wind clearing the plains. As he watched, her left breast turned a silvery color, wavy like heated air rising on pavement in a hot summer sun, then disappeared.

“No, it’s fine,” she said, and led the way to her small kitchenette. “I won’t be taking any of this stuff with me and I’m happy someone can use it.” She reached into a cabinet and pulled a full bag of sugar off a top shelf. She almost lost her balance.

“Why are you leaving?” he asked. He was disappointed, for she was quite pretty.

“New job, a promotion,” she said. “My name’s Cherise.” Her nose and mouth faded away with her words.

“I’m Charlie,” he said, and caught the bag of sugar before it dropped to the floor.

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Vicar Apostolic to Cher Monseigneur . by Aaron Robertson

Kororareka burns. Chief Kawiti’s attack
that has threatened for days finally falls and breaks
upon the town at dawn; its garrison hard pressed
to hold his quick advance, whole streets already lost
in an infernal blaze. The Anglicans are spared,
yet fierce fighting surrounds their church, frequently scarred
with musket shot by each exchange between the lines.
All others, as I write, resign themselves to turn
and flee from half-built lives to boats anchored at bay,
whose cannon, calmly poised, must soon sound in reply.

Do not fear how we fare, my very presence here
sees our mission made safe from the violence that tears
apart a morning’s peace. This episcopal ring
is worth more than its weight when witnessed by a throng
of native eyes, and none would dare to confront I,
Pikopo, in the flesh. Confined so far away
in Lyon from these shores, your continual need
to question my resolve implies a faith unmade.
Such doubts are better saved for those who kiss your hand,
leaving me to my work amongst still-savage minds.

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A Day of Remembrance . by Eryk Wenziak

All wanted him to remember to do something.

He did something.

“Was that it?” he asked all.

“No,” said all.

He did another something.

“Was that it?”

“No,” all answered.

He did something else.

“Was THAT it?” he asked all a third time.

“No,” all said, “I apologize. It was indeed something.”

“I wish you’d told me that, then, all,” he said. “I knew it was something!”

“Well, you see, after you finished doing something else I remembered it was something that I wanted you to do, not another something or something else which, had I remembered it was something from the beginning, I would’ve stopped there and congratulated you on doing something. Again, I apologize for all this.”

“Then, is that all, all?”

“That will be all,” all replied.

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Fresh Air . by Mike DiChristina

Standing in the dark morning cool of the front hall. Summer. Everybody snoozing – Ma and my little bros still crashed. Garbage truck grinds down on the street five floors below.

Tap tap.

I open the door. Ricky from 12G, a knapsack on his back, hands in his pockets.

“Yo,” Ricky says. He blows a purple bubble.

I ram a handful of Cheerios into my mouth. I put my Yankee cap on crooked. My old man’s army bag slung over one shoulder, stenciled with his name my name all my eleven years. Pat my back pocket make sure I got my camp papers.

I follow Ricky down the stairwell, outside onto 157th Street. We get an egg sandwich. Ricky rips it in half and we eat it on the A train down to the Port Authority.

“Gate C5,” says Ricky.

We take the escalators up, standing close, our shoulders touch. At the gate, a table with a sign for the camp, boxes of donuts. Lady with a clipboard. A couple kids in plastic chairs.

“You boys Fresh Air?” the lady says.

I take a chocolate glazed.

“Have a donut,” she says.

Me and Ricky with fifty boys on the bus. AC. Seats soft, clean. Tinted windows. The bus spirals down the concrete ramp, into the Lincoln Tunnel.


Tunnel’s tiled walls stained brown. Lights turn everybody green.

At the end of the tunnel, we whoop.

Ricky grabs my hand and squeezes it tight as we rumble into the sun.

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Divine Wind . by Linda Simoni-Wastila

The hose squirms in my hands, a fat serpent. Water hits concrete, whirlpools in the chasm below, and steam mixes with smoke that smells like burning tires. The wind drifts the cloud over me, over the ocean and smudges the coming night. Two days ago when authorities called for all firemen to report to the No. 3, I wanted to hide. My wife whispered, “Be a savior for Japan.”

When I drink my tea, steam caresses my face, reminding me of Misaki’s hands cradling the bowl as she places it before me. Outside I am surprised at the sky’s brilliance. I gather stones, not smooth river rocks but sharp angular ones that sparkle with mica. I build the cairn under a wild cherry tree sheltered from wind. In the yellowed photograph, my grandfather’s face calm, serious under the scarf of the rising sun tied around his forehead. He flew his ninth flight 67 spring times ago; when he returned, they shot him for failing to dive into the enemy ship with open eyes. I weight the picture with the top stone, reach for blossoms fragrant, already wilted, and lay them prostrate before the tower.

My arms ache. I think of my wife pouring tea, of my grandfather unable to fling himself to his death. I think of flowers already withered and the invisible seeds of energy falling around me, on me, swallowed by me. I think of honor. Below, steam still rises.

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Grand Island . by John Riley

Chained to the steamboat’s smokestack, Emperor watches his son limp down the Texas Deck. The morning’s first light is clearing the mist off Grand Island’s deepest cove.

Vanity had driven him to make his progeny from mud and sticks, Emperor thinks. Now we’ll both come asunder by noon.

“The engine is ready,” Corporeal says. “Tell me, father, are you up for a boat ride?”

Delighted by his own wit, Corporeal dances a jig until his legs collapse with a mushy crack. Falling forward, he grabs Emperor’s sturdy legs hanging above his head. His face smears a trail of mud across his father’s woolen trousers.

“I made your legs from dry cypress limbs,” Emperor says.

Corporeal squints up at him. “Shoddy workmanship,” he mutters, “is the death of us both,” and sinks to the deck. His neck’s dried mud and straw wattle sways as he begins to drag himself toward the steamboat’s ornate staircase.

“You were able to knock me out. To chain me to this chimney.”

“And I’ll be here to see you smolder.”

Emperor watches the cracked soles of Corporeal’s useless feet slip down the staircase.

The silhouette of Grand Island looms. He’d once been content, alone on his boat, in that island’s shadow. Throughout the night, as a loon cried for its mate, he’d struggled to think of what he should have done differently. Only when the loon fell silent, did he relax in his chains

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End of the Line . by Al McDermid

Every weekday, a sea of humanity, over 2 million strong, surges through the turnstiles at Shinjuku Eki, the busiest metro station in the world. And every weekday morning, not only do I join this morass; I must also swim against the current, entering the station as most are leaving. Thankfully, this is the worst of it. It takes me nearly two hours to reach the school where I teach, but since it’s a cross-commute, I always get a seat, at least in the morning.

Then one morning endured that crush for the last time, though at the time, I didn’t know it.

It was unseasonable warm that spring day, so the vent windows along the roof were open. My school was rather rural and despite the onslaught of suburbia, a few fields still line the tracks. As the train neared my stop, a wave of nostalgia flooded over me, triggered by the scent of freshly plowed earth. When the train pulled to a stop, I found that I could not move, that I was inexplicably glued to my seat.

When the train arrived at the terminus, I had no choice but to exit, so I walked to the connecting station, figure out which train would take me farther into the country, and boarded.

I’ll decide what to do next when I reach the end of the line.

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Fragments . by Karla Valenti

It is raining today, that unforgiving wall of water, the kind that washes away one world and leaves you gazing out at the possibility of another.


You wake into your dream, opening your eyes to a site that otherwise lies dormant within your daytime mind. Before you, another world begins to form while the threads of all you know unravel behind you.


She gazed at the painting on the wall, its colors evoking a memory she’d once had, many lifetimes ago. She couldn’t quite place it, this other world spinning before her, and yet her heart mourned at the recollection of a fall and the death that enveloped her as she sank.


They say he stood in the same spot for ten hours, didn’t move an inch. They asked him what was wrong, if he needed help. He just stared back, his face a blank washed out shadow of the great
man he once was… in another time, in another world.


For months I carried him around with me, everywhere I went. I talked to him, I thought of him, I shared with him my every hope and dream. Throughout this time, he was mine, sharing my body and my world. And then one day, there he was staring up at me, no longer simply my own, bringing with him another world, for now and evermore.

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Lady . by Len Kuntz

She speaks in barbwire, sharp twists of metal. When she breathes, it’s through her mouth so her tongue shows ebony in a pool of oil. She sings nursery rhymes about dismembered animals, dancing corpses, bones banging bones. She dreams of another world where people might think her normal.

As a child she liked to read. Just as there are some things that shouldn’t be seen, there are those that mustn’t be read. Her brothers gave her magazines with monsters in them, men gnawing on women, women on women. They told her she could be eaten, too. They said they would show her.

In front of a mirror, she always focuses on her eyes. Off center of the black dot is a fleck which is really a door. Once upon a time it was a trapdoor, but now she imagines it opens up into the black-sheeted sky, to another galaxy with good mysteries, lacking evil.

The bus driver shakes his head when she tries to sneak behind a suit. It’s December, bitter cold. There’s a heat vent she sometimes sleeps on, but some boys found her once. They had metal bracelets around their fingers and they took turns. It was like her brothers all over. That is where the black oil came from, that is why she speaks through barbwire, her words crumbled Blue cheese.

“Yo, bag lady!” a kid screams.

He’s got that right; she’s a lady. Even now, she still is.

But just to be safe, she runs anyway.

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Beyond (Within) . by Maude Larke

In a gray land a magenta wall rose and traversed the waste and the gray folk lived away from it in fear: “Beyond that wall the wind lurks; it will sweep you through the crack between the sky and the earth,” they told their dappled children. One day a yellow boy was entranced by the color and dared to climb the magenta wall and stand against the sky. Beyond the wall were gardens of flowers and butterflies and trees that sprouted color and he knew that those who crossed the wall were swept into smiling rainbows for them to use as hammocks. He brought some of the beauties back to show the gray folk; but all they could see were wilted buds, a dead butterfly and an eccentric boy.

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Plan B . by Matt Potter

“Put it down to experience,” Tess says, beginning our next ascent.

Our glockenspiels glint in the sun. Ahead of us: eight more glockenspielers. Ahead of them: Wanda our blonde-bobbed Manager, high-stepping in leatherette boots and cowgirl fringing, waving a baton in the refugee camp breeze.

Booooooooooompppp sounds the tuba, wrapped around a lumpen guard bringing up the rear. Any slower and he’d be marching backwards.

The Happy Times Elevenette is the camp’s official cheer-up squad, marching the hilly streets dispensing goodwill. Tess and I are seconded from our English-teaching positions.

Clunk, ting, ping, sounds my hammer on the gleaming keys. One more bum note and I’ll be struck down by lightning.

“Wouldn’t it be easier if Wanda just learned to do her job?” I say, spying refugee residents (‘clients’ in the official parlance) curtain-twitching at their windows.

In over her head managing the camp’s education and activities programme, Wanda has morphed her job into something she can do: a weekday version of her weekend brass band-conducting hobby.

Wanda high-steps aside as we crest a curve, evil-eyeing me through Jersey-cow-length false eyelashes, and waves her baton: dispensing rhythm or casting a curse, I can’t tell.

I hammer a high C.

“It’ll look good on your C.V.,” Tess whispers.

Marching down the hill, I think of verbs I could be declining in my classroom-tent. And of my growing bank balance, each jolting step, each clunking hammer-dong more money towards the hitman I’m paying to release us from this tinkling hell.

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Last Ride . by Kim Hutchinson

“Boy, run home.” A child looks up to see a majestic warrior, a Shawnee chief with hazel eyes. “The soldiers are coming. There is war and you might get hurt.”

Weary of weariness, devoid of dreams, the buckskinned hope of many nations stands near a millstream with his hand on the head a white pony.

A stamp of his foot had shaken the earth and united scores of thousands. The power of his voice had moved men who did not understand his tongue.

His cause was finished. The tides of war and time had turned. His alliance was splintering. His one great love, a woman who had taught him of Shakespeare, the Bible, and Alexander the Great, had married, refusing him because he would not adopt the manners of her people, the conquerors, because he would not—could not—deny his own people or himself.

He could see the future. His ancient way of life would soon be gone. “My body will remain on the field,” he has told his warriors.

He is the first to see the enemy approach, the first to leap on his horse to meet them.

As he gallops to his death, he stops to toss a sack of flour at the door of a farmhouse, saving a family of homesteaders from starvation.

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The Assistant . by Stephen Hastings-King

She walks quickly past the same series of four buildings again and again like there is in this place a single series of four buildings copied and pasted end to end.

A Voiceover accompanies her:

The Assistant is lost again in a grid city. Again she feels disconnected from the world. Where she is the sound has been switched off.

She walks quickly arms folded around her midsection.

She likes being an assistant. She admires her employers for their belief in continuity. She seeks direction through imitating them. To be an assistant is to be a disciple.

Q. I want to believe but I cannot believe. What should I do?
A. Act like you believe: eventually you will forget you don’t.
It is knowing that gets in the way. She wishes she had never read that.

There is in this place a single series of four buildings.

She works with a mirror on the Employer’s comportments. She reflects on her new expressions in windows. She practices acquired speech while walking The Employer’s dog. With time, they will feel natural.

But as the months pass things begin to change. She realizes that the Employer has also been adapting to the Assistant. The comportments that were to guide her are imitations of her own.
Again, she feels betrayed.

1 2 3 4

One day she came home from school to find her father hanging in the kitchen. She would not want me to tell you. But specimens cannot hear.

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Mirko’s Mountain . by Andrew Stancek

Mirko waits for his father to catch up. The climb is steep; the afternoon sun is baking.

“Time for us to get out of this hellish city,” Father said in the morning, surveying the wreckage of the apartment. “Mountains, real air, shepherds, zincica. I’ll take you to Rosutec; show you where I proposed to your mother.” Mirko snorted. Many promises under the bridge, many lofty plans. By nightfall Father was sure to be drinking with Janka or Dasenka or Lesia somewhere.

“Can you give me some grocery money?” he asked. Father opened the fridge, saw the yawning emptiness.

“You wishing you were back with your mother? Roast pork, dumpling, sauerkraut?”

“Hell, no,” Mirko laughed. “More excitement. But can I have money anyway?”

Father roared, “Chip off the old block,” handing him a hundred-crown note.

But before noon they are on the train to Zilina and now are climbing. Mirko looks back. In the city Father stops at every street corner to catch his breath; here his face is flushed but his step has spring.

When Father steps over the last boulder, they admire the vista. The meadow is flecked with grazing sheep. Wood smoke rises out of a shepherd hut, rock crags, tree-covered hillsides, rising mist. A village no more than a speck lies below them.

“All these things I will give you, if you fall down and worship me,” Father turns to him.

Mirko kicks a stone, laughing. “I’ll take it; I’ll take it.”

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Dómine, non sum dignus . by Doug Bond

Train station’s not far, not even a mile, so we leave the cars off the side of Dad’s drive. The four of us holding longnecks rustled up from the basement fridge, Dad says, “Time of your life. Enjoy!”

Gene carries the suitbag with all our stuff for the New Year’s party packed in, and Frank’s got the big duffel. We stash the extra Rolling Rocks into Cresci’s coat pockets. There’s still some light, so I herd them up the short-cut through the cemetery.

I tell them it’ll take us fifteen minutes, tops, and light up the joint, start reciting the names I’d known as a kid: Luciano. Caruso. D’Amico. Arciola. Valiante.

Once we’re among the stones, Cresci gets animated and runs over to the Salvatore Mausoleum. Gene follows and when he tries the door, the latch lifts and he freezes.

“Push up and swing it out,” I say. The door jamb scrapes the footstone in front and stops, but there’s room for us to squeeze through one at a time. Frank’s the last one in and he leaves the joint out on the icy path. It’s been a long time since I’ve been inside.

Cresci starts into some mock Latin, crosses himself. We’re belly-laughing so hard, we’re sweating, and I say, “Shhh!” putting my ear up against the cold hard casket.

For a short while we’re locked, perfectly still, listening, and then all at once we hear it, the resolute signal blast of the inbound train heading for the station.

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This is not a Story . by Martin Brick

…because a story has conflict. David Mamet asks, Who wants what from Whom?

Here our protagonist simply noticed a Facebook post. She commented on a friend’s status. An old mutual friend. One he never tried to find, because he knows it all. Distant city. Married. Kids. The mutual friend fills him in periodically.

Years ago they had a little thing. A thing that never blossomed. Back in college, where all things that make good memories come from.

If this were a story there would be conflict now. Her picture would lead him to dwell on some complicated drama that kept them apart. But in actuality, the story is dull. He was with a different girl for a while. And when they broke up, she was with someone. Kind of back and forth like that. The time was never right.

Or better, seeing her would lead him to dwell on the current state of his life. He’d be alone. Or with some shrew. The tiny profile picture would lead him to imagine another world, some immensely better parallel existence in which they lived like those sepia-toned couples who inhabit picture frames when you buy them.

But it didn’t. Our protagonist is fairly happy with his life. Sure he misses the girl. Sure he even pours a little whiskey after telling his own wife, I won’t be up too late. Lying. Sure, he does imagine the parallel world. He’s curious. A little melancholy. But not angry. Not really enough for a story.

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Dans la lune . by Guy Yasko


She is drawing the hermit from Led Zepplin IV in the margin of her
dictée. The hermit’s lantern illuminates a forest of misplaced and
forgotten accents.

I stare at her legs. Her toe rise and fall with her pulse. I look at
the clock on the wall and count. Fourteen times four is 56.

Surprisingly low.


Paris Match:

Mastroianni et Deneuve. Depardieu et Deneuve. Bardot et Deneuve. Une
semaine avec Deneuve.

Deneuve, Deneuve…


All details of my environment are gone. All i know is that i am warm.

A voice calls my name:

— Etienne, Etienne.

Each syllable seems louder.

— Etienne, s’il vous plaît, répondez à la question.

— Umm…Je ne sais pas, Madame.

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Watching Them . by Robert Vaughan

I notice the finches have returned to our feeders today. I miss Dad; he would have been the first to notice. He adored swapping stories about birds. Who are the newcomers, any returners, which peckers.

Jimmy was on his tenth game of xBox. And Donna lay on the couch, glued to the tv. Glomming down a bag of pretzel rods. I switched it off. “Enough,” I said.

“Mom,” she complained.

“You can practice piano, do schoolwork, anything but vegging out on the couch.” I felt hypocritical, recalling those scores of after-school movies I watched at her age.

“Studies show-”

“Yeah, whatever.” Donna shuffled off to her room, her 5 foot 2 frame carrying enough weight for both of them.

I sighed. Back out the window, I notice the Blazer in the Wilkinson’s driveway, our snowbird neighbors are back from Florida. I hope I’d remembered to put Jack Wilkinson’s porn DVDs back in alphabetical order. By title, just like he prefers them.

A robin flies past, an assortment of twigs in her beak, building a nest in the lilac bush. Her mate is perched, at attention.

Do they watch them together? Those movies?

I was going to tell my husband, then I decided it would be my secret. I’m sure he has some. He doesn’t even know the Wilkinsons asked me to watch their things.

Actually, what Alice said was, “Keep an eye on the house.”

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Before the Dance . by Matt DeVirgiliis

Inspired by Raymond Carver’s Why Don’t You Dance

The house was all but empty. Just a pair of rocks glasses sat on the hardwood floor in the center of the living room.

A man walked through the house, examining each room, making sure nothing was left, a whiskey bottle in his hand. Most of the furniture had sold already; the leftovers were in the driveway. He made his way to the living room and sat down next to the glasses.

A woman walked in from the kitchen. She sat next to him as he poured what was left in the whiskey bottle into each glass. “They could’ve given us more time to make a payment,” he said.

“It’s been eight months,” she said. “Too long.”

They sipped their whiskey and held hands.

“There’s a three-car garage here; a pool; a basketball hoop,” he said.

“Memories that you’ll take with you. We can start fresh. Rent. Not be shackled to one spot.”

They finished their whiskey and the man shook the empty bottle. “We’re out,” he said.

“I’m going to a hotel,” said the woman.

“I think I’ll stay here one last night,” he said, “but I need more whiskey.”

They got up, walked to the door, and looked around the bare house. He put his hand on the small of her back as they walked outside into the crisp Spring dusk and he closed the door.

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Another World . by Darryl Price

wants war with another world.
You are not like us. Don’t say you
hunger in the same way. We have
God’s word that you must be destroyed
in order to ensure our own
safety. God would not lie. God does
not lie. There can be only one
true world, but not if you are in

it with us.There is no room for
the unbeliever. There’s only
the faithful willing to die, to
kill,to sacrifice even their
children to earn God’s forgiveness.
But I tell you snakes hidden inside
these poor men’s minds you are wrong
and you have always been wrong to

assume God wants anything to
do with you now. There are worlds on
each and every surface you touch.
Inside every shaft of sunlight.
You don’t have to believe me. Your
hearts are constantly telling you
this message. You must listen before
it is too late to seek life.

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Inspiration . by Catherine Russell

Every writer has his muse, but not all keep them locked in a cage. The creature glared at his jailer from his small prison, knuckles almost white from gripping the bars, though the rest of his skin glowed a healthy, deep emerald – proof to his captor that he took good care of his charge.

“Everyone knows that aliens live much longer in captivity than in the wild,” said Vincent Saint James.

“That’s parrots, you ninny,” said Fremd, blowing back long thin tentacles than had fallen across his eye. “And that’s not proof that enslavement is preferable to freedom-”

“Yeah, yeah, here, Cyclops-”

“The name’s Fremd”

“Whatever. Have another sardine, and tell me what happens in the next scene.”

The alien glowered at him, then took the fish and complied. Until he made it back to his home planet, the New York Times Bestsellers List would have to do. Too bad the idiot couldn’t get his name right. He’d love to see it plastered along bookshelves across this miserable planet.

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Not Today . by Deborah A. Upton

He wasn’t going down the mountain today—besides, he’d much rather stay in the mountain valley, away from the hectic life in the city below. Picking a wrench off the floor, he tried to loosen a bolt under the truck. He saved a lot of money working on his vehicles in his garage. Fighting the bolt some more, he cussed under his breath. No, he wasn’t going down the mountain today, even if it was for his own brother’s funeral. They hadn’t ever been close anyway—it was as though his brother lived in another world. He gave the bolt a yank, knowing he had been the one who had taken their mother’s money in her final days, not his brother. He yanked again, causing the truck to sway. Falling off the jack, the rear axle fell on his foot, which instantly started throbbing. Surely it should be numb longer than this, he thought. He had taken his mother’s money and it was all gone, just as his brother was gone. It probably wasn’t a good idea to be alone, he realized, but there was no way he could go down the mountain today, even if he wanted to.

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The space between . by Alexandra Pereira

Summer mosquitoes always found succulent skin to poke under papa’s porch. Even with the lights turned off, and Jimmy’s cigarette smoke hole-punching the air, they would dance around lazy eyes like distracting shadows and slumberous finger puppets. Sometimes a slap would pierce the silence, and under the misty moonlight, a shade of smeared blood exposed the victorious murderer, who smiled self-satisfied at his impeccable aim.

Now and then, Grandpa would try to catch one with his parachute hands, thinking he had squashed it into his sweaty palms. Triumphantly, he would open his fingers, only to see the bloodsucker fly dizzily into the free air.

Grandma couldn’t see well, but we knew when she felt them, “Moosekitos, moosekitos,” she would whisper, shaking one off her knee, another off her chin. But she would never kill them, or curse their unwelcomed presence, for bad luck would torment the family.

Betty liked to sing to them. “The music soothes their desire to attack”, she would say. I felt the more she sang the more mosquitos seemed to be hovering around us with a greater craving for our blood.

Night after night, during those scorching summers, we would summon ourselves to their torture; the price we paid for sitting outside gazing at the enchanted northern lights that stretched above us like woven carpets of stars.

In the morning, under the first rays of daylight, the red moles emerged; unmasked, and unashamed. A nuisance we never invited, invaded our bodies transforming our fingernails into weapons.

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Secret World . by Walter Bjorkman

There is a fortress not made by man that holds a place where I hid the most, formed by four fallen trees still growing in a place called Bliss. The limbs arch out over a grassy hill hanging over the harbor – statues, tugboats and dogs being walked, all unaware of the space between the convergence of the trunks. I crawled in there over childhood worries whenever I needed to be alone, but never did I cry so much as that day. The thick growth of summer muffled even a nine-year-old’s most intense sobbing.

That day my swift, mad rush to my secret world started after my approach to the bed in pure but nervous joy, as my hero – his also, hit the game-winning homer to beat the cross-town rival Jints in the bottom of the ninth. I always shared the tidings at his bedside since opening day; we would rejoice or bemoan together over dem Bums’ triumphs and defeats. That day I received no reply and I realized he was sent home to die, not live. After a few hours hidden, I emerged from the wooded burrow, crawled out to perch on the outstretched limbs as the harbor lights dimmed, looking out in stony silence beside the craggy slope just to the north, known as Dead Man’s Hill.

Three months later the Dodgers fled to the west coast, leaving a young boy with no heroes at all.

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Pandora’s Box . by John Wentworth Chapin


It’s blistering hot on the balcony, and everyone’s trashed, including you. They’ll be hooking up, puking, passing out, fighting, talking about old cartoons, crying, the whole human drama. The only way you can sort everyone out is Monday morning: the pretenders ride the train to work and the fuckups are sleeping in.


Mrs. Horne is in her chair near the window, a blanket on her lap, bright sun streaming across her shins and feet. She was parked here about an hour ago, bathed in warmth and looking at the bleak institutional lawn beyond. For the last twenty minutes, she’s been getting colder as the shadows lengthen, but the staff is busy with the folks who really need them.


Our children: a dream. Tall, my hair, your skin – beautiful. If you were mine for more than just tonight, I’d imagine more, but I’m going to stop there, before the darkness sets in.


I want to put the lilies down in front of their gravestone; the florist put a green easel on the back so they’d stand up. But something in me can’t stand to bend over like that in front of the grave – I was going to throw up or scream and that would piss my sister off. I kick the leaves away but end up leaving the flowers on the stone. My sister stubs out her cigarette at a safe distance.

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The Other Side of Better . by Michelle Elvy

Running up a hill
tripping upwards
falling downwards
making deals with the devil
or God — whichever works better

Radio’s on
Bush is burning
I turn it up and feel me yearning
for your devil grin and thunder heart
or God — whichever is better

As I listen and wait
I soon find myself
in a song
it’s you and me…
in tune
It’s you and me who won’t be unhappy…

in love and singing
this is better

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We thank Jennifer L. Tomaloff for providing this week’s artwork. Here is what she had to say about the origins of this eerie another world:

This photograph was taken while on a spring retreat in the northwoods of Wisconsin. The glow of green and orange, along with the sound of the wind slithering through the pines made this particular night feel very surreal.

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Filed under Wk #46 - Another world

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