The old woman pulled the dress shirt from the wicker basket and pinched it to the clothesline. The clothespin creaked its rusty spring tight as she squeezed the wooden legs. Her young grandson stood up on the porch and pointed.
“Look Grandma, at the light!”
The flash silhouetted the simple shape of the shirt on her eyes as the clothespin closed its mouth around the line.
“The Meek” © 2011 Joshua Mayes
I went to Sizzlers last weekend and while I was eating somebody died. It was my first time at any Sizzlers, and a Sunday, and it was also the 94th birthday of the elderly lady who went away. They say that old people can control their death, to wait to die. Did she postpone, holding on and on until her 94th birthday? Did her soft gnarled grasp on life slip a little as she sat in birthday pants in the warm sunshine which came through Sizzler’s windows, surrounding her and the more recent generations of her family as they celebrated by munching on bottomless salad buffet? When grandma had pinned to her chest the golden pin of a Scottie dog with its winking green eye, a gift from them all, did she know she would leave the world wearing it? Initially when the ambulance was called we asked the waiter how she was doing. “Let’s just say,” he said, “this isn’t the first time someone has died here.” But when you eat at Sizzlers you’re already in heaven. Time slows at Sizzlers. The pace of forks and steak knives lifting up and down, grazing back and forth becomes pleasantly lethargic. There are clocks ticking pseudo seconds. There are dark carpets and deep booths. She inhaled large helpings of family and friends. And after dinner, before dessert, she just said goodbye.
“94” © 2011 Hillary Elmore
I’ve found that when I furrow my brow in the middle of a conversation, the person I’m talking to always opens their eyes ever so slightly as if in surprise to my reaction toward the nonsense being spilled in my direction. Some emotional responses to unpleasant conversation are very hard to control. It takes either a well trained or an indifferent mind to remain expressionless.
“Inhospitable Conversation” © 2011 Tom Barker
My dogs are thick and woolly and want nothing more than to tunnel under the snow or dig maniacally. They pounce. They wear no collars and when we come home we nap together or I drink tea while they snore. And I want their dreams. After a while the tall one noses over and looks at me with long eyes. Its time again to tunnel and pounce.
“Human Nature” © 2011 Alex McPherson
Rotten sunflowers stink. They mold to such a putrid degree that the produce guys can more than smell the odor from across the crates of foodstuffs where they are turning cantaloupe. If you smell it, you’ll gag. If you gag and you’re not on guard, you will lose all those free peaches the produce guys gave you twenty minutes ago. And once you drag the sunflowers out of their bucket in an embrace that smells of screaming limburger and into a giant trashcan, the best way to remove the offending flowers while keeping them at the farthest distance is to drag them behind you on a cart. The bucket you can’t—although you should—throw away. If you risk a peek down inside the tall black bucket to the mess multiplying below, you could very well make out mustard-colored congealed blobs of bacteria slopping around. But just don’t peak, because you will be forever reminded of soggy socks. And, if you are not very careful when you inevitably have to empty said bucket into the leaf stained double wide sink, and then poke that which doesn’t drain down the grate with a boutonniere wire, you will splatter sunflower bacteria on your shoes. They too will stink.
“Advice From One Floral Assistant to Another” © 2011 Hillary Elmore
Nothing could have prepared her for the unexpected chain of thoughts. At first they were scarce infrequent thoughts like a fine dusting of snow barely covering her mind. As the thoughts built upon one another they became cold, icy thoughts crystallizing into new ideas coruscating with vivid colors. Turbulent dancing images of past, present, and future centering briefly in her consciousness before being swept away by the gentle but steady winds of reason – an eternal breeze. Change was inevitable. So it began with just one small, silent thought, and then another. It would be a new life, a new beginning, a fresh start. She took a deep breath and the first step into an adventure of uncertain endings. It was not however, an uncertain beginning, but a singular conscious decision to walk in a different direction.
“A New Beginning” © 2011 Tom Barker
A single water-wing floats in the moat of a melting sand castle as the waxing tide wipes clean the markings of their struggle.
“Buoy” © 2011 Joshua Mayes
In 4th grade I nurtured a devouring affair with a holiday ornament, a reflective golden ball, broken soon after our betrothal by my mother’s treacherous cat. The doctors said I had OCD.
That summer, traveling with my family, I arrived at Marineland pale, mute and desperate inside my crumbling head. Beyond my placid, jumpered exterior I screeched silently as if my guts were cobbled of styrofoam coolers. I hesitated through the turnstile, allowing the cold metal shaft to press directly against my bare torso, my thin arms and long-fingered hands limp at my side. My parents and my stupid brother craned for sights and views, delighting in the sheer eddy of consumption. Sluts! I thought, people without focus disgust me. My neck hurt and I dropped the ice cream cone they bought me. The sherbet melted instantly on the roasting blacktop. I hoped the single scoop of orange sherbet would help me to reconnect, but it was of no use, my greedy vision was failing. I broke out in the lightest of sweats, unnoticeable, quite lady-like.
We arrived together at the Grand Water Stadium just as Bubbles the pilot whale began her performance: jumping hurdles, leading us with her bulbous head and natural smile. Chants of Christmas ball, Christmas ball luged deeply down my neural pathways. Don’t leave me until I’ve found another! I cried out loud to my horror, my parents looking quizzically down at me as I looked quizzically up at them. Golden ball, you were my golden light; you reflected only me and now you are gone…
I am treading water now, my head bobbing barely above the surface and as my pedaling feet misfire so bends my neck backwards, everything going under except my open mouth. It wouldn’t be long now until I would be as irretrievable as my thoughts. Far away, in a grand stadium, Bubbles leaped effortlessly through a series of fiery hoops. As I sank to the bottom of the ocean I felt her joy, her extraordinary happiness.
I cringed on the aluminum bench. My heart slowed, then I saw it and fixated it, my successor. It was silver and shimmered ruthlessly in the Western sun. It wiggled blindingly and crushed me like thunder, completely repossessing me, no more me, only it… and then Bubbles… soaring 100 feet, Bubbles, going into orbit, stalling delicately at the climax of my attention, gulped her reward. The roar of the crowd was deafening, a standing ovation. The pilot whale was churning victory laps but I could see inside her and held fast to what I saw.
“Bubbles” © 2011 Alex McPherson
I came out the closet with a dress on. My mom was upset because it was her favorite dress. My dad was upset because I am me. I cried like a girl. I wish I were one.
“Mixed Emotions” © 2011 Anonymous Student
On his first day in Hawaii he donned his wet suit and caught the first wave of the ocean. He rode that sucker in to the beach. All he saw was blue and green and it felt like he was flying. Just like riding a bike, and as he sloshed off the surfboard a foamy wave crashed in, which scooped the wide board, faded paint and all like it was no more than toothpick and dropped it on his head. Hot red blood mixed in with the grey salt water, it flooded from his broken nose. The doctor told him to start golfing.
“Numero 71” © 2011 Hillary Elmore