Category Archives: Wk #14 – I can’t wait

Week #14 – I can’t wait

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

The theme is I can’t wait

Waiting by Michelle Elvy

I can’t wait by Darryl Price

for romance to be accepted as the natural order of things. for the stars to reveal
their white hearts to us. for trees to finally move a little faster and join us. we are after

all causing the earth to die. lucky for us death is different for her. it is not a sleep.and
is not melting away. it is coming back to life from blackness, from stillness. we

are the only ones who want forever to be forever. everything else is finding new ways
to dance among the stones. the sun is not an only child. it loves right through the

night. its morning is connected to each morning. that’s better than forever. we’ve
always only had each other. but the shadows who make the illusions that bind us here

would much rather we spend our days cowering under the roots
of a gnarled sky than pitch a tent and celebrate that it’s raining. you’ve

always known

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Arrivals by Matt Potter

The key scratched in the lock and his travel bag skidded across the floorboards as he threw it inside.

Floating candles glowed on tables.

‘His’ and ‘His’ towels hung in the bathroom.

The poppers, the Viagra, the chorizo – all had been ordered and all had arrived.

I hugged his broad shoulders, kissed him long on the lips, and then I saw it – a tattoo.

“Where did you get this?” I asked, fingertips tracing the 666 on his forehead, red and bumpy.

“What?” he said.

I looked into his eyes.

“Oh, that,” he said, hand closing his fringe over the new scar. “It’s a lot less offensive when I stand on my head.”

He smiled, walked down the hallway, and closed the toilet door behind him.

My knuckles rapped softly against the wood.

“Who is it?” he said.

“I think we need to talk, Nathan. What’s happened?”

He opened the door a crack, fully dressed. “Oh, you know,” he sighed. “My endless search for meaning. Sometimes things can take a bit of a wrong turn.”

I reached for his forehead through the doorway but he flinched.

“No,” he said.

I stood beside the closed door for a full five minutes. Once, perhaps, I heard muffled sobs.

“Can I get you anything?” I asked.

“Some chorizo would be nice,” came his voice from the other side. “You can leave it on a plate by the door.”

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Eighty-Eight by Martha Williams

“I like yellow and I want to live ‘til I’m eighty-eight.”

“Is yellow your favourite colour?”


“Mine’s pink, and I want to live ‘til I’m eighty-eight, too.”

“You can’t pick the same age as me.”

“Why not?”

“OK, you can.”

But Susie moved house, so they didn’t live to eighty-eight together.

“I’m going to live ‘til I’m eighty-eight…” She felt daft. “Like Gran.”

He heard and as she babbled on about her first kiss and Auntie Jean being Dad’s real mum, she realised that things you can’t prove can be more intimate than things that are true.

He smiled, “I kissed a bloke once, on a school trip. And I’m going to live ‘til I’m eighty-eight, too.”

He was serious. She traced her fingertip around the contour of his lips and decided to marry him.

When he slept, and she was about to, she did the maths. Not every night. But on their honeymoon she figured they’d manage a silver wedding. When the girls were born, she guessed she’d be a granny, maybe great-granny. When he died, she counted seven years alone.

Eighty-seven was a busy year, getting ready. Eighty-eight a reflective one, bathed in nostalgia… her youth, their youth… and the reality of a new life: Great-granny after all. She gazed at her albums, mementos, certificates and certainties, and gave thanks for each and every one.

Then, the day before her eighty-ninth birthday, she woke as curious, as alive, and as expectant as she had ever been.

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The 8 O’Clock Pig by Heather Taylor

Sittin on the doorstep
Pullin on me boots
I can’t wait
White dog
Ruby wants to hunt
Lickin my chin
She can’t wait
Paws blasted by gravel
Tail waggin
Eyes on me
Tracking gear on
Rifle at half cock
We crawl under the fence
It’s 6 a.m. darktime
The grass is crunchy
We run
The pig won’t wait
Ruby goes hard down the game trail
I hear from the ridge
V8 grunts
She’s got em
A hundred metre find
Run through the supplejack
Cut up the bank
Good marks in the mud
Splash through the creek
They’re mixing it
Grab the hocks
Lay on it
Flood me jacket
Out with the knife
In with the knife
Hit the heart
Ruby pulls it downstream
Blood up me elbow
Look at the hooks
We’re soaked
It’s the 8 o’clock pig
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Qean by Matthew A. Hamilton

Ted was born premature. He was an impatient child. He was also a genius. He was reading by the age of three. He graduated high school at fifteen. He enrolled at MIT. He studied Persian, Mandarin Chinese, and Farsi in his free time. He graduated a year early. A month later a man from the CIA rang his doorbell.

“How would you like to work for us?” he asked.

“He’s only eighteen,” Ted’s dad said.

“We’re okay with that, sir” the man said.

“What is it that you need him for?” Ted’s dad asked.

“Can’t tell you that, sir,” the man said.

“I’m not going to let him go, then,” Ted’s dad said.

“Like you said, sir, he’s eighteen. Legally, you can’t stop him.”

Ted was breaking codes a week later. He couldn’t believe it. All the cloak and dagger games he played not so long ago evolved into real life scenarios. Best of all, he was making a six figure salary.

Codes were intercepted between Iran and China. After studying them, Ted claimed China was giving Iran blueprints for a nuclear weapons facility. The building was currently under construction. The information was passed to the President.

“Are you sure?” the President asked.

“Yes, sir,” Ted said. “Absolutely.”

The President gave the go ahead.

An MQ-1 Predator was deployed. Target was destroyed.

The next day, Iranian TV reported that a hospital was bombed in the city of Qean, killing five hundred people, mostly patients.

Washington denied having any involvement.

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Are we there yet? by Susan Gibb

The question trills in a loop in his head: “Are we there yet? Are we? Are we there?” Two six-year old voices in harmony, twins, a boy and a girl.

He is driving alone on the same roads that he had with his wife beside him, the twins strapped in their seats in the back playing a game that he’d hoped would keep them busy. It was a long ride to Grandma’s house for Thanksgiving.

He makes himself do it, though he hasn’t seen his in-laws in years. Just makes the drive up there, just to see how many times he can safely maneuver the curves and the snow. That curve. That curve in snow.

The radio has been turned up loud to drown out his thoughts. Now, closing in on the place where it happened, he turns the radio off. Snow falls like a sky full of parachutes. Slowly sideways, landing in big splats on the windshield before the wipers sweep the bodies away.

There it is–up ahead–the spot where they went off the road. He looks down at the speedometer. Thirty. That’s just what he was doing that day.

He speeds up just a bit, holds tight to the wheel because Lord knows, he was being careful then. The car starts to slide–just a bit, just for a second–but smoothly rounds the bend and goes on. He’s made it safely through it again and he’s crying.

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2 a.m. by Catherine Russell

An eternity lies
between now
and sunrise.
I can’t wait for the dawn
to dispel the demons of the night-
the monster under the bed
and the boogieman
hiding just out of sight
into nothing more
than a pile of clothes
or oddly placed stuffed animals.

Mama says its just my
that the dawn changes nothing-
only reveals what was there all along.

I know better.
Children see the things that adults turn away from.

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wait by Randal Houle

I can’t wait. I mean, I can’t. wait, the whole thing is your fault.

my gawd, the pressure to perform and I didn’t even stop by last week, but did you call? text? email? fax? I have a fax machine now, and paper, and ink, well, toner…and I kept the landline and the cell phone and I have unlimited everything but did you look up from your farmville? your island? your sims?

it’s driving me crazy. why aren’t you doing anything? say something.

you have the same 24 hours I do, and yet, here it is, the thing, that I…must…say…is…

forget that, it’s not important, just listen to me now:
you have letters, flowers, fedex, ups, even snail mail, and now email, IM, txt, chat, video, audio, braille…

or you can try one of these: draw with sand, on rock, and in the clouds. you can shout, whisper, rasp, clap, sign, or…are you listening to me?

so you’ve done it, you’ve really done it and now thanks for coming over and reminding me what a shitty friend you are, because I’ve been waiting to tell you about all the ways you could’ve contacted me, friended me, twittered me…but now, I have no time, I can’t wait for you. I. just. can’t. wait.

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Violent Impatience by cubehermit

Like some sort of industrial breezeway, everything in the pick-up area of E Terminal Arrivals suggests speed, motion, no stopping, no parking, get in and get out, flashing lights, hurry up. I turn on my blinker and pull alongside the cones, put the car illicitly in park, and reach for my phone, texting, “I’m here.” A wash of excitement pours through me, anticipation of her presence, her touch, her smile. Suddenly someone is right outside my driver’s side window and I turn my expectant smile toward them. But it’s not her, it’s a petite woman in an azure top and gaudy white necklace, face twisted up with rage, neck veins bulging, screaming, “…holding up a whole line of cars! You can’t park here!” Her spit flecks my window. She is gesturing wildly at the cars behind me, and I wonder why they didn’t go around me since there is plenty of room to my left and my blinker is on. As if on cue, she turns to them and screams, “Just go around her, she’s ignorant!” I feel bad for her, embarrassing herself by screaming at strangers in public. She had a long day, a bad flight, has a bad relationship with whoever is coming to pick her up, stuck in the line of cars that was here before I arrived and will be here after I leave. Then it creeps in, the rage, blossoms from the base of my spine up through my organs and into my throat.

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Shooting Stars by Elizabeth Kate Switaj

—Can it wait until morning?

Emily was shaking Mark’s foot.

—It’s 1 am. The Leonids will peak in an hour.

Two cups of coffee later, they headed for the woods. Mark kept a hand on his wife’s shoulder because she had banned flashlights so their eyes could better adjust to the dark. When they reached the meadow, they lay down side-by-side with her head on his chest.

Several meteors had streaked through the sky when Mark told her he was going to stop hunting.

—Why now?

—Because it bothers you that you’re turned on by it. I’ve heard you throwing up in the morning.

—That’s not the reason . . . I went to the clinic today. I’m pregnant.

Mark wrapped his arms around her. —I thought that might be it. I also don’t think you’d be so . . . aggressive if you didn’t need to think you were punishing me in some way.

Emily laughed. —You know me too well, but what difference will it make if you stop? I’ll still be imagining . . . and you’ll still eat meat.

—I’ll stop that too, but on two conditions. One: we name the kid after one of my parents. Two: you never stop fucking me the way you’ve been.

—Deal. Hey, did you see that? I don’t think I’ve ever seen a meteor that bright.

—Yeah. I can’t wait to be a dad.

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Can’t Wait by Linda Simoni-Wastila

I can’t wait till I’ve saved enough money from this goddamn gig slinging tacos at the Tastee-Kone and can pay off my old man for the Chrysler cuz then I am so out of this numbfuck place, this tired valley full of dumbshit farmers and their almond trees, and me and Mariah will drive up the coast, past pussy Big Sur and Russian River and disappear into the woods, maybe Oregon, hell, who knows, just like all the hippies did thirty years ago, and she’ll grow organic shiitakes and reishi on moldy logs and I’ll farm sensi from the killer weed seeds hidden in the origami crane, the one the Japanese woman on the corner gave to me two years ago in the Haight when I was high as a fucking kite, my right eye bashed in because The Dude said I owed him money, but I needed to score, and this tiny Jap, lady really, though all her stuff was in plastic bags, was selling these folded-paper creatures on the corner, a buck each, and I looked at the money stashed in the cup between her knees, my hand fisted and spit gushed in my mouth just thinking of the baggie, but she looked up at me, her white-streaked hair tied into a tight little — what do you call it, a chignon? – and anyway, she looked up at me and handed me this crane and said, “I will pray for you.”

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I can’t wait by Barbara-Lucy Hosken

I’m in England now and I’m on my way to see my Aunt. She is
Ninety-eight and going strong in spite of having cancer
about 30 years ago. She is my only living relative of that
generation, and I’ve always loved her. She was my mother’s
sister, but a much nicer person that Mother ever was! Every
year she baked and iced a beautiful cake for my birthday for
as long as I can remember and sent it to me wherever I
happened to be,till she was no longer able to do it. She
used to be a confectioner, so her cakes were always superb.
Now she’s living in a Retirement home where I hope to see
her within the next few days. She is still very aware of
everything around her. She gets up every morning and
dresses carefully, making sure that her outfit is welll
coordinated. She ‘makes up’ before she has breakfast, so
that she is always ready to be seen – even by her carers.
I’m getting more and more excited as the days fly by. I can
hardly wait to see her.

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Limboland by Kim Hutchinson

She was a forward-motion girl. She never bothered to learn to walk as a baby. Instead, she stood up and ran.

Her thoughts began with “I can’t wait/stand/continue…” at least ten times a day. The rest of the time, she mentally hurried others along.

Now, life was all waiting. There was nothing else she could do, imprisoned by words on paper, a process playing out.

She was stuck in limboland while her fate was being decided. She wasn’t scared anymore, but she was tired.

Waiting is exhausting.

Maybe life was nothing but waiting. Hers had seemed to be.

Waiting for the first day of school. A driver’s license. A new job. A letter or an email to arrive. Approval.

Waiting for love.

Waiting for “go,” then running until “stop,” or until she collapsed, exhausted.

Maybe the problem was language. The French pass time. The English spend or kill it.

Yesterday, while waiting, she listened to an old man’s story about his youngest grandchild. His son and daughter-in-law had given up, stopped hoping for a miracle. Then, a pregnant young woman working in a dollar store had asked: “Do you know anyone who wants a baby?”

Maybe the trick was to stop waiting.

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Ideation by Al McDermid

I hold it in my hand, feel its compact, substantial weight, and marvel at the mechanical precision. I insert a single bullet, my only bullet, and spin the cylinder. I listen to it purr, and when it stops, I pull back the hammer; the cylinder locks with a loud click. But I don’t know where the bullet is, so release the hammer and ease it back into place, and set the piece on the table.

I pick up instead the sliver of carbon-tempered menace by its walnut handle, admire its balance, the precision of its edge, so lethal a mere thought could move it through flesh. I sharpen it nonetheless, push it lovingly across the stone, the rhythmic act a meditation.

I stand at the far end of the platform, where the train enters the station, only beginning to slow. I toe the edge, well inside the yellow warning strip, close my eyes and the train rush by as if it’s nothing but hot wind.

I cannot reach the edge at the top of the tower that houses my office, but he wind here is cooler, stronger, and unrelenting. I sense I would fly for a time, fly across the seemingly endless sea of light that must, from space, appear as an incandescent stain.

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“You know about the shame that’s always waiting.” by Ryder Collins

Look, I know you and I aren’t on the same wavelength. You watch America’s Got Talent, you’ve never worked food service, you tip like a cheap bastard because of it, and you’ve never been properly laid. Ever. No matter how hard you wished.

Cos you’ve never tried to get laid properly. That would make you a perv. Especially if you tell your husband/wife/nanny/officeboy/babysitter/crossing guard that the old-fashioned deep sea diver’s suit is what does it for ya.

You know. The one with the round helmet that screws on. It’s like Frankenstein undersea.

Homegirl feels like Frankenstein sometimes and sometimes Homegirl’s felt like she was fucking Frankenstein. That’s why she’s narrowed it down to two guys who don’t remind her of re-animated corpses – Punkboy and Richboy.

But this was all about you.

Have you ever had a Punkboy? Have you ever had a Richboy? Ya ha deedle deedle… Homegirl doesn’t care about money and Homegirl doesn’t care about hygiene so much. I know you do. I know you spent the last hour cleaning your bathroom, collecting the hairs from the bathtub drain, scrubbing the soap from the sink, wiping the piss and blood and cum from around the toilet bowl all the while pretending it doesn’t exist.

& that’s why I worry about you.

& that’s why you’ll never be a part of Homegirl’s world.

Not until she realizes she’s pregnant; not until she realizes how much the body can let you down.

Just wait; I know you know.

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Queue by Dorothee Lang

She never had been good at patience. Reliability, understanding, self-discipline, even humour – no problem on those fronts. But having to wait – for a bus, for a waitress, for a reply – pulled her strings.

“And it gets worse,” she confessed to a friend. “Last week, I got in trouble after I tried to sneak up to the front of a queue. A woman almost hit me with her handbag.”

“Get a garden,” her friend advised. “It’s a great way to learn patience and tranquillity. You can’t rush flowers, and they will calm you.”

So she went ahead. She didn’t want to wait, and thus ordered one of the new ready-to-grow gardens with roses, lilies and other flowers included. It arrived in a huge green parcel. She unrolled it and added water. Then she sat down, and imagined to be a flower in her own garden.

It all went well at first. The garden grew happily, and being a flower induced a general feeling of tranquillity. She still had difficulties with queuing for a bus, but she was better prepared now: she always carried a pop-up flower book with her.

Then the snails arrived. They circled her flowers, then started to queue in front of the petals, set to munch one after the other. She tried to practice understanding and ease, and offered to get some snail snacks. The snails agreed, but lost patience while she queued at the counter, and chewed up the petals until all tranquillity was gone.

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“The Really Useful Shopping Trip” by Michael Webb

He looked at me, brown hair nearly in his pale eyes, speaking with the earnestness of a 3 year old who will not be deterred. He’s holding an expensive, battery operated toy.

“I can’t wait to open this.”

After a health crisis erupted in his family last night, my wife and I, a decade after we dealt with our own 3 year old, are suddenly caring for our nephew, all bony legs and certainty in the early morning hours. He had coped marvellously with waking up to his aunt where Mommy should have been, and now here we were, making a run to the colors and sounds and mercantile madness of our local Target, needing the fruit snacks and apple juice that no longer populate our house.

We get into line, neither of us having slept well after the sudden events, smiling at his enthusiasm for this new adventure he’s on. He doesn’t really know, and can’t fully understand, why Mommy and Daddy aren’t home.

“Can I open it now?”

“No,” my wife warns. “When we get back to our house.”

He doesn’t need another toy or more DVDs. His parents, if not otherwise engaged, would tell me this- he doesn’t need it, and they don’t want to have to store it. But something about this situation and his eagerness puts the toys into the cart. It’s a horrible lesson- spending money makes you feel good! – but my sympathy overcomes my wisdom.

That, and my weakness.

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Zeno by Stephen Hastings-King

Zeno is keening for shore. Under full sail, cutting through the water, leaning in: the boat makes no headway.

Full of sail & full of rum he heads in beneath a sheet of aqua sky. A marble in a maze pink sun traces an irregular trajectory through magnetic fields in which polarities rapidly reverse

Cutting through the water and making no headway while across the yellow sky a green disc sun rolls around a thumb-sized lighthouse in the haze and heat with the three others asleep by the wheel and empty bottles of rum on the table below, Zeno photographs the sun. If he ever puts in he will storyboard its meanderings. Only then will he begin to know because a knowing limited to states is not a knowing at all.

And he will tell her what happened when he sees her where she waits, in the somewhere where she waits because she has forgotten how not to and because time passes and because so much fades.

Zeno is keening for shore. But under full sail, cutting through the water, the boat makes no headway. The sun hesitates interminably. The three others never awaken. The coast is always the same distance away.

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After the War, Before the Fall by Kelly Grotke

“This family moved to the city after the war, and we’ve hung on like ticks on a dog’s ass ever since,” his father would say. “Someday, one of us is going to explode. You’ll see.”

Maybe that’s what happened. The father’s words became the son’s private epitaph. Not the pious version carved into stone, spoken by no one and sitting over in that mute field of words at the edge of town. He hated visiting the cemetery with her, it was like trying to pick out a lie in the universe somewhere and it made his head hurt.

But today was shopping day. Supplies and security, and always, always the long deliberation over which pastry to choose for Sunday breakfast. You always take the same one, he could have told her. You always take the cheapest.

The bus was full. His mother took the nearest seat and he settled in behind, backpack full and pushing into the crowd. So many people, he started to feel awkward and ashamed, he wished he’d worn more clothing but on such a hot day… And so it was that he fixed on his mother’s hands, gripping the metal back of the seat in front, moving, tightening, moving again as if in search of the most enduring surface.

Shelling peas, sweet green summer peas, tension to break the skin and then grace as they fell into the metal bowl. I can’t wait, I can’t wait any longer, I’ve got to get to the bar.

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The Graduate’s Lament by Michelle Ong

You know, I couldn’t wait to grow up. I left my hometown right after
graduation and moved to the city. It took a while to find an apartment
and a job. I had no work history, credit, or references. I had to
settle for the service industry. I juggled a couple of shifts at
different joints, but still barely made enough to cover everything. I
thought when I got here it would be all about staying out, hitting
clubs, meeting girls. Now it’s just about getting enough sleep so I
don’t get fired, saving up enough to turn the electricity back on, and
paying my landlord before she evicts me.

My parents and the teachers used to say I didn’t understand the real
world. I used to tell them they didn’t understand me. I knew what I
was doing. Everything would be easy. All you gotta do is find a job,
right? Now I can’t even imagine how my parents can afford the house,
the nice furniture, the cars, everything. They say I’m always welcome
back. I can’t wait to go home.

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Bouncy with Anticipation by Katherine Nabity

The first time it happened, Darcy was seven years old. She was staring at the Christmas tree, all glittering and untouchable with tinsel and glass ornaments.

Tomorrow morning, she would wake to a pile of presents beneath it. Darcy could see them now. Big ones, and less desirable small ones. The foil bows, the Santa Claus and reindeer patterns. In a frenzied rush, she’d rip and tear. She could hear the paper and tape give and feel it beneath her fingers.

And then she was there. In the midst of gift-giving chaos.

An Easy-Bake Oven. Pretty-in-Pink Barbie and a bunch of outfits. A Lite-Brite. Books from her aunt and uncle. Socks.

Just as she was about to dress Barbie as a ballerina, Darcy was standing in front of the tree again, not a bow or gaudy wrapper in sight.

Darcy grinned. Tomorrow, she could do it all again.

The next morning, she recognized all the presents. The biggest, the Lite-Brite. The smallest, socks. It wasn’t as much fun as she thought it would be.

The jumps happened every time Darcy was bouncy with anticipation. Christmas. Birthdays. Visits to the circus, the zoo, amusement parks. When she was older, school events and dates.

The process was exhausting and draining. Hours passed twice. Enthusiasm had to be faked to keep other people happy.

But Darcy couldn’t help it.

She just couldn’t wait.

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Instant Information by Jen Rose

I forgot how to wait
Some time ago
So in bursts I watch the world.
Tiny scraps of thought
Shot into fiberoptic threads
Transmission to the eyes
Of those who care to look.

Friends and acquaintances
And a stranger or two(hundred)
Tick through a timeline.
Refresh, compulsive.
Never miss a beat.
In tune, first to know
Of road trips and broken arms and earthquakes.

It’s a matter of convenience.

But is it too much to ask sometimes
For a cup of coffee
And a little more than 140 characters?

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Wanderlust by Kait Mauro

“Nothing,” she’d answered his question. “I am afraid of nothing.” And at the time she had believed it but now she knew better. She was afraid of this waiting game, this cycle of excuses and constantly putting things off. She’d been aware of it since she was a child, watching as it quietly consumed the people around her.

Life begins when you get to college, begins when you graduate. You’ve arrived when you own your own house, pay off your loans, find ‘the one’. Life begins when you read this many books, travel to these places, when the scale reads this number and you can fit into those jeans. When your test results come back, when your children get their own lives, when somebody loves you. When you’re finally worth enough to take up some space.

She knew herself a little better now but there was no longer anyone to ask the questions, nobody to answer. She could have told him all the things she wasn’t afraid of — uncertainty, strangers, being alone. She wasn’t afraid of not having a home. She wasn’t afraid of having no money, of not speaking the language, of failing. She wasn’t afraid of sleeping on strangers’ couches or only owning what she could carry on her back.

No, she was a rare breed. Heart belonged to no one and the entire world was her home.

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First Weekend Date by Ann Testa

She rolls over. The rash that runs splotchy around her ankles grazes the slightly damp sleeping bag, pierces through her dreams and brings the ceiling of the tent into too sharp a focus. She looks over at Gene, even unconscious, he is overly sharp, too… present.

Her intentions for the camp stove outside, with its promise of coffee, crashes into the tent zipper and her thoughts pitch into an increasingly loud pit of aggravation. She had wanted a cabin for their Smokey Mountain weekend…the kind with a Jacuzzi. Of course nature boy has a tent…wouldn’t it be romantic… no this is not romantic!! …what is wrong with this god damned zipper!!!!

“Good morning sweet-pea…you ready for the big hike today?” Gene’s warm southern lilt washes away her aggravation, leaving a vacuum where desperation floods in.

“Good morning…hon…uhhh… I think I have poison ivy… even the thought of hiking boots makes me cringe. You go ahead today; I’ll hang here, lie in the hammock, listen to the creek, and make you a nice hobo dinner when you get back.”

Civilization calls to her like a Schedule I narcotic and lovely Gene is taking his sweet time. She busies herself with calculations. Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg? With the half hour drive to Gatlinburg… that will still give me over three hours in town with return time to spare before Gene gets back. She smiles at him and waits with the same anticipation as sneaking cigarettes in Jr. High.

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The Waiting Game by Derin Attwood

The invitation lay on the table, opened, despite being addressed to me. For dinner tonight.

Definitely no! Other dinners with Anne and Bill were tedious, bitchy and back stabbing. I don’t want that. Anyway, any invitation this late in the day requires a phone call.

I flick open my laptop, best answer immediately.

Ping! “You have mail.”

John has been playing with my computer again. I’ll read him the riot act, yet again, later. It may let me know instantly that a message is waiting, but it’s distracting when I have a client.

Click ‘open’. dear soose opened the mail accepted tonights itll be fun i know you can rearrange see you there doll ..**()()**.. john

Grrr, He is beginning to irritate me intensely. I hate bad punctuation as much as no punctuation. What the hell is wrong with looking at spell check? And my name is Sue or Susan. This can go no further.

Dear John,
Thank you for accepting the invitation to Bill and Ann’s. I shall meet you there.

Dear Anne,
Thank you for the invitation to tonight’s dinner. Unfortunately, I can’t make it. John and I broke up this afternoon. As you and he are such good friends, I know he will want to be there, and I wouldn’t want to make him uncomfortable. Do have a lovely evening.
Bcc to Bill.

NOTE IN DIARY … ring janitor … change the lock on front door.

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Early in the Fall by Martin Brick

His hip made a soft, wet, popping noise, like a boot struggling free of mud. Hurt like hell too. So he decided to stay right on his back.

Even if he couldn’t roll over, his couldn’t wait any longer. Drinking coffee since dawn. Only option left was to wet himself where he lay. Least of his problems, really.

His pants weren’t wet from blood, which meant it wasn’t a compound fracture. He imagined he could still die from internal bleeding. But he wasn’t lightheaded at all, a good hour after the fall. Arteries probably intact.

He had a clear view of the treestand. Too old to be twenty feet up. Too old to be hunting at all. But since Mona died, not too much else to do with his time.

The house was empty, and he didn’t tell anyone else where he was going.

Too early in the fall to die of exposure. He’d survive the night.

Few others hunted those woods, especially on a weekday. It could be days before anyone found…

How long does starvation take? He’d dropped a few pounds without Mona’s cooking. A head start?

Bears, he thought. Or coyotes. Wolves weren’t unheard of.

His rifle was next to him. He’d fired two shots trying to attract attention. No avail. Still had three shells in it. And five in his pocket.

How many coyotes might there be?

He thought about Mona. Felt the rifle. Thought, no, I’d better wait.

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I Can’t Wait by Jodine Derena Butler

I can’t wait
to get you
where I want
you to be:
on your back
with your hands
tied & your
legs spread
so I can look
at you with
& you can’t
do a damn thing
about it

I will take
what is mine

& have my way
& fuck you
till I am
& you are
left wondering
what day
of the week it is
& whether or not
the wet patch
under your butt
is on your side
of the bed
or mine

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Endangered Species by Bernard Heise

Looking around for sharks, he takes a final breath, bends at the waste, and glides down. When his fins enter the water, he kicks. Just enough to maintain momentum without accelerating the heart. A few more kicks and he’s thirty feet deep, settling lightly on the coral where he can see them at the drop off – parrot fish, trigger fish, a few groupers. And two beautiful Napoleon wrasses. He wants one, but they must come to him. So he waits, counting slowly – 1… 2… 3…. The wrasses hover and drift – 39… 40… 41…. One finally faces him and moves a little closer, with an open mouth and dull eyes. He senses a tightening urgency in his chest, and so pushes off from the coral and swims towards the fish, taking aim along the shaft of the spear. When the wrasse turns, he pulls the trigger, and the spear surges forward with a metallic click and runs through the shoulder of the fish. The stricken wrasse plunges towards a crevasse in the coral while he pulls sharply on the line. But his heart pounds, his lungs burns, and he knows he must abandon his pretty prey. He drops the gun and kicks, looking up towards the dappled light. Fingers fumble at the weight belt, which releases and drops. Thighs pump, arms reach skyward, yet with the surface still seconds away he realizes that he just can’t wait — his mouth is open and gasping as his vision darkens around the edges.

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I can’t wait by Steven Stucko

I can’t wait for her PSAT results. I can’t wait for someone to clearly explain magnetism to me so I really get it. I can’t wait for 2012 to be over. I can’t wait for my meds to kick in.

I can’t wait to finally trust someone again, especially if there is a power imbalance like with government and citizenry, or a father and his children, or when the power is supposed to be equal like with races and religions, or with a spouse. I can‘t wait to learn Tivo.

I can’t wait for the bug I can’t get out of my eye to die already and be absorbed into my body. I can’t wait for her to lose the triceps flab as expeditiously as she lost the weight. I can’t wait to realize that a mere list of imaginative non sequiturs constitute nothing other than insecure pretension. I can’t wait for Tom Brokaw to clear his throat. I can’t wait for her to give AA a second chance.

I can’t wait for my brother and sister to feel, as I do, the rush of supportive energy and the loving presence of our father who died the day before Thanksgiving. A week before he died he said something quite profound to us: he said he was “looking forward to possibly learning some of the big answers to some of the big questions.” He waited until he could wait no more. I realized then that life’s greatest gift is time.

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Short Term Plans by John Wentworth Chapin

I have been planning this vacation for months. I’ve heard people say that New York City is the gayest place in the world, and I can’t wait! I don’t think I’ve ever put this much into plans before – hotel, restaurants, museums, tours, shopping, bars, shows – it’s going to be perfect. Every day is booked, but not in a bad way… in a very, very fun, perfect way. And when I say perfect, I mean perfect. I wonder if we’ll see any celebrities. We’re in the lottery for a couple of TV show tapings, even! People said that three months was too soon to be vacationing together, but I had a good feeling and I went ahead and booked it anyway. Our room will have a balcony overlooking Central Park, for God’s sake! I can’t wait! It’s going to be expensive, but it is booked and I am going to enjoy every single minute of it. Walks in the park. Empire State Building. Ethnic food. Broadway! Broadway, for crying out loud! I can’t wait! I have been singing showtunes my whole life and I am finally going to see not one but three Broadway shows in ten days. Is that the shizzle or what?

The only thing I am more excited about is the day we get back home and I break up with this miserable queen. I can’t wait.

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Fill ’er up by Michelle Elvy

On my way to work this morning, I saw two cows fucking – OK, I guess it was a cow and a bull. They were right on the side of the road, no kidding. Not down in the pasture, or up the hill, but on the gravel shoulder, right there, so close that I had to slow my car to pass. And when I did, the one closest to me – the one on the bottom, the cow – looked right at me. Big bored browns, long lazy lashes. Like they know a lot but ain’t ever gonna tell. Made me think of that girl Peach – her eyes are like that. I’ve never actually talked to her, but I see her standing on the corner by the gas station. Skinny legs, rounded shoulders, bangs down to those eyes. I don’t actually think about fucking her. Well, maybe I do. But really, when I see her, I remember things I’ve nearly forgotten.

Sometimes I fill my Chevy just to have a look, and sometimes she looks back. In that moment I forget my wife who don’t look at me, kids who don’t hear me, supervisors who don’t listen. In those moments, I forget that I usually don’t look forward to much at all.

Sometimes I can’t wait to fill my Chevy.

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The Editors of 52|250 wish to thank Michelle Elvy for her photograph, Waiting, this week. This picture was taken in Alaska, where the fog rolls in and surrounds and there’s nothing to do but wait.

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