Bus Stop

With short steps she approached the bright green metal bench and sat down, being careful to use her hands to bring her coat tail forward and not let it scrunch under her. Next to the bench on her left side stood a sign fixed on a wooden post It simply stated, “Bus Stop”. Her hat, a flimsy thing, an upside down bowl shape with some gauzy material around the front, was held on with black hair pins. From underneath the hat strayed grey hair, turning white, combed but limp, not styled.
The red coat she wore was in stark contrast to the bright green bench color. They clashed, each fought for any passerby’s attention. The street, layered with fresh autumn leaves, was empty of vehicles. The leaves stirred, sometimes swirled, in the not too cold and intermittent breeze. Even so, she drew the collar of her coat tighter.
Faded blue eyes, once deep pools of color, surveyed the street up and down. With nothing seen, she leaned back into the bench, resolved to wait, age spotted hands folded one over the other.
The breeze tumbled the leaves again and brought the smell of smoky leaf fires from somewhere else, farther down the street. She closed her eyes, drew in that golden smell, so familiar and yet distant, it had a name, it was on the tip of her tongue…a burn pile or something.
The noise of a passing car drew her attention. Tires mulched through the trees fallen foliage. She looked again, up and down, did not see anything else, and settled back once more.
In time, a man walked her way with a newspaper and using a spiral shaped wooden cane. She noted how his steps were very deliberate as he made sure each footfall was properly planted before the next succeeding one was attempted. His coat was lighter in material, a grey windbreaker. He wore a flat ivy cap, herringbone patterned, around which curled his thin grey hair and bushy, long side burns. A large nose parted the thin moustache above his upper lip.
He asked, “Is this seat taken?” gesturing towards the empty half of the bench.
She moved more to the side, “No,” and tucked her coat in tighter to he thighs.
With care, he maneuvered into a sitting position on the open bench seat. “Thank you,” he said, “It feels good to sit down.” Continue reading »

(12)

When in Rome

The mountain town, where I taught at the four- room schoolhouse, was snowed in all winter. The café and gas station remained open for twenty winter residents. With the mountain blocking the sun, darkness came early, but tonight a full moon reflected off the snow.
I was the only female in the cafe, sitting among a sea of baseball -style caps with company logos. Continue reading »

(14)

Featured Authors

Coffee Break

The world is full of brave men. Tommy isn’t one of them.

For three weeks now, since starting his new job in London, he’s been visiting the same café at lunchtime, sitting at the same table, and watching the same woman out of the corner of his eye. She’s had his attention from day one, and he’s still not entirely sure why.

It’s mid-October, and the entire café is decked out in oranges, greens and purples; there’s a carved pumpkin sitting on the windowsill and little spiders, crafted from pom poms and pipe cleaners, dangle from the ceiling. Tommy’s never been particularly fond of Halloween – his parents love throwing parties and dressing up, so, naturally, he does not – but he does love autumn. It’s the colours he likes best; the warm browns and the burnt oranges. Perhaps that’s why he likes this girl so much.
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(16)

Fingernails, Please

“Fingernails, please.”

The girl smacked her gum, fussed with her hair a little, and turned her attention back to her phone. After a few seconds she glanced up again, clearly irritated: “Well?”

“Right. Um.” Thomas suppressed the urge to look at the fingernails she was currently wearing. “Color?”

“Green. Do you have something in a sort of limey chartreuse, maybe?”

“Uh, yeah, the list’s over here –” But his customer had turned her full attention back to the phone, and was clearly ignoring him. Thomas cleared his throat. “Do you want lime, or chartreuse?”

“Uh… yeah, lime. Sure.”

“Length?”

“Eighteen millimeters.”

Thomas winced. The long ones were always worst. “I’ll be right back.”
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(9)

Rain

As I race along the highway on the slick wet streets, my hands death-gripping the wheel, I realize how at any second I could crash.

I could hit an extra wet patch.
I could have a stroke and pass out.
My tire could blow.

Then Bam. Flip. Crash.

It’s over.

Actually, truth be told, often as I drive, I have this unfounded, crazy fear that a foreign force will take over my car and send me careening into a concrete barrier or an 18-wheeler. (Not sure my anti-depressants are still working.)

Every breath seems precious.
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(5)

Love In The Time of Starbucks

In a Starbucks, they got the wrong order: Anna went to Sam, Sam went to Anna. Perhaps it was fate, or so Anna said, when in reality it was nothing more than a hung over student on minimum wage completely disinterested in what he was doing. But fate came in strange forms. Fate might even be a hungover student who had been using the dirty mugs as a makeshift bin, vomiting into them and playing God that he wouldn’t accidentally serve them under the guise of skinny lattes with a complimentary double bile shot. Sam and Anna sat together for the rest of the afternoon, and then the afternoon a week later, and the week after that. They always met at the same time, sitting at the same table, with the same orders that had once been misplaced.
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(8)

No Talking

All twelve lobsters, my father’s head-fishmonger bonus this year, arrive with irate claws bound by thick elastic bands on Thanksgiving morning. They crawl over one another in a splintered wooden crate, just as my nine brothers and sisters and I do in our cramped living room. Soon, the lobsters, subdued and blushing red, perch on mismatched plates set on two pushed-together tables covered with thin fabric. Great cracks and snaps punctuate our meal, our father at the head of the table, eyeing us, our hands and faces slick with ocean juice, creamy butter, and boiled tap water – even baby Reggie’s, who plays with the forsaken carcass of my father’s first lobster. Continue reading »

(16)

Pinned

“Think Houdini ever reached a point where he started to escape unconsciously?” mused our bachelor brother, the only one of us to have made it out of his twenties free of lifelong commitments. This Thanksgiving, though, he was supposed to have brought the woman he had been with for almost a year. The seat next to him at our parents’ table was unexpectedly empty. So were our disappointed parents’ seats – now that they had excused themselves to play with their grandchildren. “That he just started picking locks like other people pick their teeth?”

With that, he touched index finger to canine and dislodged something dark. Suddenly, he pulled his hand out to stifle a cough. When he placed it, palm up, on the tablecloth, there was a bobby pin perched perpendicularly across his love line.
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(6)

In a Perfect Dream

Eva sought a session with the psychologist because she was having imperfect dreams. They were not nightmares exactly–merely dreams that were less than perfect and, frankly, an insult to her dignity. “In a perfect dream, I would not be trotting among a herd of peccaries. No, I most certainly would not be a peccary,” the slender, blond, well-groomed woman shook her head as she spoke, her glossy lips tight with disappointment and disgust. She was almost thirty years old, but somehow her hazel eyes, now wide with distress, made her appear younger.

“In a perfect dream, and I realize it is only a dream, I would be running with a pack of wolves or a pride of lions. I would be fast and fierce and feared. Or I would be able to fly like a bird or be noble and respected like a bear.”
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(8)

Story about My Dad’s Garage

My dad used to keep a lot of old stuff in the garage, like toy trucks and jars of dead bugs and stuff. I liked digging around in there. One time I found a box of shotgun shells, and I taped them all together and put them in the high grass in the backyard before my dad started mowing because I wanted to see if the lawnmower would blow up. Continue reading »

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